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Can Rays fans still wear their Carl Crawford jerseys around town?

Big League Stew

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The Tampa Bay Rays held a fanfest at Tropicana Field on Saturday and reliever J.P. Howell(notes) had but one complaint about the masses who attended.

Too many fans still wearing Carl Crawford(notes) jerseys and J-shirts while shuffling around the stadium, he said.

From The Heater:

"I'm getting a little sick of that," Howell said. "We need to do something about that, have a sale on some others or something. Get over it — he's out of here."

Crawford, of course, now plays left field for the Boston Red Sox after signing a seven-year, $142 million deal in the offseason. Though he played for the Rays for nine seasons and didn't go through a Lebron-level split, he'll be an enemy the next time he takes the outfield in St. Petersburg.

Still, I found Howell's comments rather interesting because 1) I didn't know that players paid attention to such things and 2) there's enough wrinkles in case that it makes for a pretty fun debate about the phenomenon of wearing the jersey of a former player. Among them:

• Crawford was the original superstar, so it stands to reason that so many people bought his jersey and still have an allegiance toward the player who carried them to relevance. In fact, maybe it's the only piece of Rays gear that they own.

• But that Crawford now plays for one of the Rays' biggest rivals certainly plays a role. This isn't Adrian Gonzalez(notes) leaving the San Diego Padres to play at Fenway Park. Would Howell have been as peeved if Crawford was now playing for the Angels or Giants? Would fans have a better case for wearing it had he switched divisions and/or leagues?

• Back to a point in favor of the fans: Crawford hasn't been an ex-Ray for that long and with the way economy is, can players really expect fans to change their shirts so quickly? Can't those fans wield the old cliché — "it's about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back" — in their own defense?

• On the other hand, can these fans really show up to the next Red Sox-Rays game sporting Crawford's jersey? That's different from wearing it to a fanfest, no?

Look, there are a lot of things going on here and there really is no answer. But I'd like to hear your view: When is it acceptable to wear the jersey of a former player? Are these Rays fans who wear Crawford jerseys committing a Fashion Ump faux pas like the one guy who put his first name on the back of his Rays jersey?

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