An Open Letter to Dick Vitale regarding Rays fandom

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Dear Dickie V,

You don’t know me. My name is Michael Lortz and I am the owner and writer of this site. I also have a twitter account of a similar name. On Friday, June 17th, we had this twitter exchange:

Dickie V 06182016

The reason I am writing this blog post is to answer your question: “What have u done?”.

Let me first state that I am not usually comfortable with fandom comparisons. I am no bigger fan than anyone else, and I don’t flaunt my ability to be a fan in front of anyone else. I believe there is no quantifying fandom; it’s a feeling, not a measurement.

I also know you are a long time Rays fan. You’ve been loyal to the local team since they started. I often link to your 1998 video on how great Tropicana Field is. You supported the Devil Rays since Day 1. And yes, you have had your season tickets since that day. There is a reason you are in the Rays Fan Wall of Fame. I don’t and never will question that.

Before I answer your question, let me say I don’t think it is fair to use your celebrity and your income as proof that you are a better fan than I or anyone else. If I could afford to go to more games, I would. I’m sure there are plenty of other Rays fans who feel the same. I’m not a basketball Hall of Fame announcer, I’m just a regular guy trying to pay his way through grad school so I can find a better job, find a better place to live, and hopefully buy more Rays tickets. I’ve been blessed, but not in the ways you have. So comparing us is unfair.

But since you asked, here is what I have done:

I’ve written about the Rays a lot. When I say a lot, I mean hundreds of articles since 2007. The website you are reading is my latest home for writing about Tampa Bay baseball. This website has been active since 2014, is updated everyday, and has been read by many of your colleagues in mainstream sports media. This website has also lead me to write about the Rays on other prominent baseball sites. The research in one of those articles was mentioned in a Pinellas County Commissioner meeting. So I like to think I am affecting public discourse about the Rays and their business.

Besides that, like you, I have been in an official Rays video. I was an extra in a 2011 Tropicana Field ground rules video (see @ 1:46).

While you have spent thousands on season tickets, I’ve probably also spent over a thousand dollars on tickets. I was a partial season ticket holder from 2009-2011 (keep in mind our income differences), I also attended a World Series game and Game 162. I saw both Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza’s no-hitters and BJ Upton’s cycle. In total, I would guess I’ve been to a few hundred Rays games.

Does this make me any less of a fan than you? Does it mean I haven’t supported the Rays as much as you? I don’t think it does.

One thing I have never done and what I believe you are guilty of, is insinuating other Tampa Bay residents don’t care about the Rays. You’ve called attendance “pathetic” on numerous occasions. Yes, it’s lower than almost every other team in Major League Baseball. We both know that. But you should know this isn’t only the fans’ fault. Yet your comments make it seem clear that is your idea – that other fans need to support more.

I believe you could be doing more. You are the most popular Rays fan in mass media. Everyone knows who you are. Are you working with the Rays marketing team to get fans to the park? You did that in the past. Are you campaigning for Mayor Kriseman’s Baseball Forever or for Tampa’s efforts to woo the Rays? Are you doing anything constructive to help the issue? Or are you just complaining?

I like to believe that my actions go beyond merely buying tickets. When I agree with something the Rays do, I write about it. When I disagree, I write about that too. That’s what I have done.

I’m not mad at you, Dickie V. You are one of Tampa Bay’s most famous and recognized residents. You are a basketball legend. Your charity work is beyond compare. But I think when comes to commenting about the Rays, their fans, and their attendance, you have been offbase too often to be credible.

I’m open to talking about this further, if you would like. I know you are at the ballpark often. I try to go once a month. If you wish to reach out, my email address is on the front page of this website. Let’s work together, baby!

Best and Go Rays,

Michael Lortz

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5 comments for “An Open Letter to Dick Vitale regarding Rays fandom

  1. Dick Vitale
    June 28, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Enjoyed ur honest feelings & respect anyone that works hard for their dollars / I realize that not everyone is blessed with the finances to buy tickets . I resented ur inial approach about my support . Remember I have not always been fortunate to go to games as I desired growing up . Thanks for your comments & Let’s Go Rays! Dick V

    • Michael Lortz
      June 28, 2016 at 3:43 am

      Thank you very much for the reply. And thank you for reading. Look forward to seeing you at games! Go Rays!

  2. Allen Montgomery
    June 29, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Hey, I love Dick Vitale, especially his basketball calling, which I have not heard in years. Michael Lortz did a fair and kind blog about Dickie V. It is good to see the two of you communicating, and I hope you’re both rewarded with a friendship and I agree with you both——go Rays!!!

    • Michael Lortz
      July 3, 2016 at 6:04 am

      Allen
      Thank you for the comment! We all want to see the Rays do great things!

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