Even granting that if a Slappy Rodriguez or Milton Bradley had done it they’d be getting raked over the coals, I don’t blame St. Derek of Pasta Diving for his acting job — I blame the umpires for yet another ridiculous blown call, which fortunately ended up not costing the Rays the game. Not just Barksdale — although I can’t believe he didn’t hear the ball squarely hit the bat, the home plate umpire really doesn’t have a great angle on that play. But wasn’t anyone else paying attention?
I’ll grant that being an Expos fan gives one a special bitterness in this area, but I note that this game between the two best teams in baseball — and with countless local Yankee fans to inflate the gate — was played to about 80% capacity, and the Rays are 9th in the league in attendance. (They are only about 200,000 ahead of the Pirates, a genuine small market that hasn’t had a decent team since the first Bush administration.) Funny, but I don’t remember seeing a lot of stories about what a horrible baseball market Tampa is and when they’re going to be contracted. For the record, the 1983 Expos — after one (heartbreaking) post-season appearance and enduring their second straight bitterly disappointing season, and in a park at least as bad as the Trop — were second in the league in attendance. I’ll have more to say this weekend, but let’s just say that there’s substantially more evidence that Montreal could support a well-capitalized team in a decent stadium than there is that Tampa could.