The two best players on the Tampa Bay Rays, including the face of the franchise, called out the team's fans, complaining that low attendance at Tropicana Field on Monday night was "embarrassing."
Evan Longoria(notes) (to reporters) and David Price(notes) (on Twitter) probably meant well when they wondered aloud why only 12,446 fans — the fourth-smallest crowd of the season — turned up when the Rays could have clinched a playoff spot.
Longoria's take, Via the St. Petersburg Times:
"We go out there and play hard for 162 games," Longoria said, "and for the fans to show the kind of support they're showing right now, you kind of wonder what else you have to do as a player."
"Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands....embarrassing"
Jeez, what is it with Tampa Bay athletes who live in glass houses?
No matter their good intentions, no matter their honesty, no matter if they have reason to be upset — even if they were 1000 percent correct — what Longoria (pictured right) and Price did was a mistake.
It's a cardinal rule: You don't criticize your fan base. It's stupid. It's ignorant. It won't get you what you want. It makes you look entitled, spoiled, narrow-minded and short-sighted.
The timing was poor, too, after losing 4-0 to the Baltimore Orioles. No matter how well you're doing — and the Rays are having a great season — nobody wants to hear how bad the attendance was on a night when your team is shut out. It's an obvious lack of perspective.
Longoria later said he was "just trying to rally the troops and get more people in here," which I believe.
Price already backtracked, saying, "If I offended anyone I apologize" — which is the classic non-apology apology. He's probably sorry, though, for one reason or another.
There are many reasons the Rays lag at 22nd overall in attendance. Start with: Bad stadium, bad location of stadium, bad economy. There's more. It's all irrelevant to Longoria and Price criticizing the fans.
It's just bad policy, scolding people for not paying their own money to watch you.
It's as if Longoria and Price are saying, "Well, I'd pay to watch us play. What's wrong with you?"
[Photos: Rays in playoff hunt]
Longoria and Price might like to think of themselves as Joe Averages, but it's just not the case when it comes to money. You know what? Not even that matters, if you're a player.
Here's what you say after a reporter asks you about poor attendance:
"I'm grateful for the fans who do come, who watch on TV, who listen on the radio and who keep track of us on the Internet. Thank you."
* * *
Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave