Rays fans turn newspaper ad tables in thanking Carl Crawford

By now, the full-page thank you in a local newspaper has become the clichéd way for any athlete to thank the fans he's not-so-regrettably leaving behind because his old team won't pay him as much as his new team.

But how many times have we seen it work the other way around?

Unless I'm mistaken, the Tampa Bay Rays diehards at DRaysBay have become the first fans to thank a departing star via a paid advertisement in the dead-tree edition of a nearby publication. The above thank you to Carl Crawford(notes) — who's heading to the rival Boston Red Sox — is running in Friday's editions of the Tampa Bay Times.

You can download a bigger version here.

Though most athlete ads are greeted with cries of "gee, ain't that classy?" (responses that are undoubtedly manufactured by fresh feelings of vindication), this action of grateful Rays fans hasn't escaped the skeptical eye of others.

In fact our old pal Drew Fairservice took issue with it over on Walkoff Walk:

He's only a baseball player. You thank him by showing up to watch games (Rays attendance joke goes here) and supporting the team with a online shrine. Does Carl Crawford really need to be thanked again?

Maybe, just maybe, if you squint your eyes just cynically enough, this looks like it might be more about DRaysBay than Carl Crawford. I find it hard to believe that anyone is this maudlin, this sentimental about a baseball player after nine years.

I don't disagree with Drew on his first point. Enough of my money and attention goes toward making these guys stupidly rich. That's thank you enough and one that sometimes seems unappreciated when you hear comments like the one from Edgar Renteria Friday. I personally wouldn't spend any of my money with the sole intention of "thanking" a player.

Now, if there were an ulterior motive or any measure of self-promotion in DRaysBay's show of gratitude, I not only say "so what?" but I stand up and applaud them. I have no doubt that they really feel grateful for Crawford's contributions over the last nine years and advertising their passion is great for both their blog and brand.

Plus, as fans of a team whose support is often questioned (even by current players), it's completely worth the effort to tell the world that Tampa Bay's entire fanbase doesn't solely consist of old people and, uh, old people dressed up as empty seats.

Their money, their outlook, they should thank who they want.

Now let's wait to see how Carl responds.

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