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Hot Takes Blog

  • Ben Franklin once said “Nothing is certain except death, taxes and the Rays having attendance issues.” I may have made one of those up, but we know it’s true. The Tampa Bay Rays are currently one of the best teams in baseball, yet they are 29th in attendance. They are above the Miami Marlins, who are one of the worst teams in the league. With ownership frustrated with attendance issues, the new stadium shouldn’t be in Tampa, it should be in Orlando    During the opening series against Houston, three out of their four games had an attendance over 15k. The following series, at home against the Rockies, had their attendance over 10k. Taking away games against the Red Sox and the Yankees (Rays fans know, it might as well be an away game) their attendance broke 10k three times, their 2 games against the Dodgers and the Memorial Day game against the Blue Jays. What’s worse is following that Memorial Day game, less than 6,000 fans showed up to the second game against the Blue Jays the next day. That is the lowest since Sept 5th, 2017...when Hurricane Irma was about it hit. Since 2011, the Rays have never been over 29th in attendance.   I watched the Rays take on the Yankees at home for the first time this year and the crowd was erupting...when the Yankees did something.    ***But Chase, it’s always that way when New York or Boston come to town.***   You’re right, but this team doesn’t deserve that, not anymore. This team deserves a fan base that will attend the games, and not depend on their rivals to fill their seats. That fan base isn’t in Tampa, it’s in Orlando.    ***But Chase, it’s in St. Pete and I don’t want to drive over the 275 bridge. And besides, that’s baseball. No one likes baseball.***    Okay, let’s look at the most popular sport in the country, the NFL. Since 2008, the Buccaneers have never been higher than 23rd. That’s the NFL, the most popular sport in America...and they can’t break into the top 20. Better yet, their stadium actually in Tampa, not St. Pete. It’s not the location, it’s the city. Tampa is that friend that always makes excuses for not wanting to hang out. “Well, I don’t have a ride,” I’ll get you. “Yeah but I don’t have any money” I’ll spot you. “Yeah but…” We get it, you don’t want to go. The new stadium shouldn’t be in Tampa, it should be in Orlando    According to Forbes’ yearly team valuation, the Orlando Magic made $223 million in revenue and $40 in revenue per fan in a metro area population of 2.4 million people. The Rays made $228 million in revenue and $33 in revenue per fan in a metro population of 3 million. It should also be noted that the Rays play as many home games as the Magic play regular season games.    Attendance has never been a problem for Orlando. Since joining MLS, Orlando City has been in the top 6 in attendance every year. Their ECHL team, the Orlando Solar Bears, have been in the top 7 in attendance since 2012 and that is a mid level hockey team. Since the Dwight Howard trade, the Magic have been in the top 20 in attendance, with the exception being the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season where they were ranked 23rd. Not to mention, the Pro Bowl brought in 50,000+ for the three years it’s been in Orlando.    ***But Chase, you just mentioned that Tampa has the higher metro population.***    Yes, but the tourism numbers help make up for that difference. According to Worldatlas.com, Orlando is the fifth most visited in the country with 48 million visitors. Not to mention, that Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state. ***But what about the people who live in the state?*** Orlando is easier to drive to than Tampa. To OrlandoTo TampaFromApprox TimeFromApprox TimeTampa1 hr 30 minOrlando1 hr 30Gainesville1 hr 45 minGainesville2 hrsJacksonville2 hrsJacksonville3 hrs 15 minDaytona1 hrDaytona2 hrs 30 minMelbourne1 hr 20 minMelbourne2 hrs 30 min The biggest issue this move would face is location. Lake Nona is a budding community and you could put it there or buy some land and demolish the buildings that are on it. I know one building Orlando natives have in mind, and it rhymes with I-4 piesore. Or not move the stadium there and just demolish it anyway.   I’m not a business expert or anything but we are in danger of losing the Rays. An agreement was reached for a piece of land in hopes to build a baseball stadium in Montreal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he won’t think about an expansion team until the Rays and the Athletics get a new stadium. The A’s are making progress toward a new stadium while the Rays are hitting a snag. The Rays ownership tried to get a stadium in Ybor City however, the plan fell through. Even Rob Manfred blasted the deal citing the county’s commitment among other things. We could very well see Rays ownership pack up and head to Montreal due to these attendance issues. I would much rather see the Rays stay in the state rather than them go elsewhere. - Chase Bunker  
  • Posturing, politicking and picks. It’s NFL draft season and the number one overall pick is up for sale. But don’t get it twisted, you won’t hear anyone from the Cardinals say they’re selling. On the contrary, all you’re hearing right now is how Arizona is scheduled to work out and meet with Murray, all you’re hearing right now is how Kyler is a perfect fit for 1st year head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, all you’re hearing is ‘With the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select, Kyler Murray. Quarterback, Oklahoma.’ But here’s the thing, that’s exactly what Cardinals GM Steve Keim wants you and every QB-desperate team to hear. Before I get into any of this, I just want to make my views on Kyler Murray the player extremely clear, I believe he is the best Quarterback in this draft and has a chance to be a very good player in the NFL. Kyler being talked about as the number one pick is exactly what should be happening based on his talent and his projection to the NFL game. With that being said, he’s not going to be the first overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft.    Yes, Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray when he was the head coach at Texas Tech. Yes, Kingsbury said that he would draft Murray first overall before he was fired from Tech and hired as the Cardinals coach. And yes, Kingsbury runs a high-octane air raid offense that most college quarterbacks nowadays are used to. All these things are true, and yet I’m telling you that the Cardinals aren’t going to take Kyler number one. I look at the arguments being made, and I think ‘Yeah, but’ in every instance. Yes, Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray to play at Texas Tech, but in college recruiting coaches will recruit anyone with 4 and 5 star rating, it doesn’t mean they’ll play/thrive under that coach’s tutelage. Yes, Kingsbury said he would take Murray first overall when he was at Tech, but that’s what you say as an opposing coach and even if you believe Kyler is the best QB in this draft, it doesn’t mean you think he’s a better player than the guy you have under center right now, Josh Rosen. And Yes, Kliff Kingsbury runs a high octane Mike Leach-style air raid offense similarly to OU head coach, Lincoln Riley, who learned under ‘The Pirate’ himself for 6 seasons as an assistant at Texas Tech. But unlike Riley, Kingsbury consistently chose a Quarterback architype that isn’t close to Kyler Murray. Yes, he had 6 foot nothing semi-mobile Baker Mayfield as his starter early on, but guess who he benched him for? 6’5 pocket passer Davis Webb. After him, 6’3 gunslinger with a rocket arm, Patrick Mahomes. Clearly, Kingsbury has a type and 5’10 mobile quarterbacks ain’t it, chief. Sure, you can point to Johnny Manziel when Kingsbury was the OC for A&M as a QB architype similar to Murray and that’s fair, but I can’t speculate on how much control he had over the QB choice during his time in College Station. Maybe Kingsbury loves Murray, maybe Kingsbury thinks Murray’s a perfect fit for his system, but history points to that being misguided and in my opinion, flat out wrong.    But let’s be real here, none of this matters. Kingsbury isn’t making this decision, GM Steve Keim is the one running the show here. Keim is the one that is going to have to answer to drafting Kyler with the first overall pick after giving up assets last year to move up and draft current starting QB, Josh Rosen. I think most people would look at the Cardinals roster, the team Keim helped build, and say ‘they have some pieces but this roster is far from competing for a title.’ I’m sure everyone in the Cardinals organization would agree with that crude assessment. The question I am left with is, what is the best way to build this team? The simple answer remains, use the number one overall pick in the most efficient way possible and personally I don’t think drafting a QB in the top-10 in back to back years screams efficiency. But above just logical thinking and beyond my own opinions of this roster, the thing that makes me think this has never been real is the disconnect between the talk and the action. Simply put, I think that if you knew at this point you were going to draft Murray with the first pick, there would have been concrete reports that Arizona was shopping Josh Rosen. The act of not shopping Rosen does not align in my mind with the action of deciding Kyler is your guy moving forward. The argument to be made here is as simple as, GM Steve Keim is just waiting out the market to get a better deal for Rosen. I don’t buy that, I don’t buy that Keim is willing risk allowing the draft to come, picking Murray at 1 and seeing Josh Rosen’s trade value drastically fall.   At the end of the day, I go back to one thing and one thing only, it’s too loud. Everything surrounding Murray to the Cards is too loud, and it’s gotten to the point where it feels orchestrated. It feels like a clever GM decided he needs to build the value of his most important asset, it feels like he knows Rosen is his guy, and it feels like Keim knows his boat has a lot of holes that need to filled before it starts to sink. As much as I lay out some facts to make my points logical, this is as simple as I smell something fishy.