How can a Major League Baseball player endear himself to his new team immediately? Make sure to shower the fan base with praise. Unfortunately for new Seattle Mariners outfielder Mallex Smith, that compliment came at the expense of his former team’s fanbase.
Smith took a shot at Tampa Bay Rays fans during his first press conference with the Mariners. When asked what he’s looking forward to the most now that he’s with the Mariners, Smith said he was excited to see people in the stands.
"What are you looking forward to the most, playing with the Mariners?"
Mallex Smith: People in the stands!
— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) January 24, 2019
That’s definitely a comment on the Rays consistently having the worst attendance in baseball over the past decade or so. The team actually finished 29th in attendance in 2018 — ahead of the Miami Marlins — but have finished dead last in attendance every year from 2012 to 2017.
The Mariners finished 14th in average attendance in 2018, according to ESPN.
Smith is not the only player to point out the Rays’ attendance issues this offseason. Rays outfielder Tommy Pham said the team has “no fan base at all” during an interview with MLB Network Radio in December. That could make for an awkward situation when Pham plays in front of those fans in April. At least Smith waited until he was gone before he said anything.
Rays fans will have an opportunity to let Smith know how they feel in August. Smith will return to Tropicana Field as a member of the Mariners on Aug. 19.
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