The Rays play in a very unique situation. They are one of the few teams in Major League Baseball surrounded by four Minor League teams. Although they compete for the same entertainment dollar, the Rays and the teams of the Florida State League usually co-exist in an awkward harmony.
On Wednesday night however, an employee of the Daytona Cubs took an unprofessional swipe at the Rays’ fanbase. While visiting Tropicana Field following a day game against the Bradenton Marauders, Daytona Cubs Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations Robbie Aaron commented on the Rays attendance.
There was no reason for Aaron to make that comment and even less reason for the Florida State League’s official Twitter account to retweet Aaron.
Granted, the Daytona Cubs draw well for a Florida State League team. The Daytona area is a solid minor league market. The Cubs finished second in attendance to the Clearwater Threshers in both 2013 and 2012. They also set a team attendance record last year with an average of 2,518 fans per game and 146,079 total.
But the 2,895 the Cubs are currently averaging (as of 5/21/2014) is still far below the 18,367 the Rays are currently averaging. Aaron should know better than to make a statement like that, even in jest.
Professional sports teams and their employees usually don’t say anything critical about the business affairs of other franchises. It is surprising to see Robbie Aaron comment on the Rays affairs and even more surprising for the Florida State League to retweet it. Would either dare comment on the attendance of the Dunedin Blue Jays, a team consistently on the bottom of the Florida State League?
Although the Rays probably won’t make a big deal of it, they should request an apology from the Daytona Cubs, their Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations, and the Florida State League. While they compete for dollars, all teams in the Florida baseball market should be working together. To do otherwise is bad for the business of baseball.