Rays have a fresh, creative marketing plan

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zztop-100316.jpgYou have to admire the Tampa Bay Rays. They are the little engine that could, the young kid who stood up to the neighborhood bullies of the AL East and delivered a few bloody noses on the way to the 2008 World Series.

But despite the team’s recent run of success, the Rays have had a hard time drawing fans to the Trop, averaging just more than 23,000 fans per game in 2009, which ranked 23rd out of the 30 teams.

In order to inspire the masses and convince them that watching baseball in a tomb is a good idea, the club has come up with an aggressive marketing plan that includes advertisements with snappy drum music, an official team drink (Raytini, anyone?) and much, much more.

Take it away, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times:

Come to Tropicana Field, the pitch goes, and the Rays promise an afternoon or evening of fresh giveaways, creative T-shirts, teenager specific hangouts, local entertainment, post-game fireworks and some well known Saturday night concerts with bands that range from ZZ Top to The Go-Go’s.

I’m all for fresh giveaways, and nothing sounds more thrilling than a creative T-shirt, particularly if it comes launched from a fresh and creative T-shirt cannon. I’m even willing to brave the side effects of smoke inhalation — Raytini in hand — to take in an indoor fireworks show.

But I have a problem with the Rays’ choice of post-game musical entertainment. ZZ Top? The Go-Gos? Is that really the best they can do? Given that St. Petersburg is often referred to as “God’s waiting room,” I question the wisdom of booking such contemporary acts.

Pat Boone, who is apparently among the new wave of BALCO clients, would seem a better choice for the fan base. And he’s available

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Mark Melancon thinks Lewis Brinson “disrespected the game”

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The Marlins and Giants have some bad blood with each other. On Monday, closer Hunter Strickland had a meltdown, blowing a save after allowing three runs to the Marlins in the top of the ninth. Lewis Brinson drove in the tying run with a single. He could be seen flipping his bat and yelling something in excitement on his way to first base. Brinson ended up advancing to third before Strickland was pulled from the game. On his way out, Strickland started yapping at Brinson. In the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger and broke his hand. The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a first-pitch fastball, which led to Dan Straily hitting Buster Posey.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Giants reliever Mark Melancon went on KNBR’s Tolbert and Lund to talk about Brinson’s behavior. Here’s what he said:

My perspective was that he was disrespecting the game. I’m all for being excited and being happy you got a base hit there. There’s nothing wrong with that. But holding the bat out too long and flipping the bat, then rounding first and continuing to jaw. To me, it looked like he was looking right at Strickland. That’s just showing a guy up and it’s not needed. You know? Be happy, celebrate with the team. Do it right. But don’t rub it anybody’s face. That’s not the right way to go about it.

For what it’s worth, Strickland didn’t say much about the incident after Monday’s game. Via KNBR:

If players celebrating upsets the Giants so much that one of their players gets angry, punches a door, and breaks his hand, perhaps it’s unhealthy for them to focus on such behavior. Take a new philosophical approach so that your players don’t unnecessarily wind up on the disabled list for long chunks of time.

Brinson is 24 years old and hitting .180 in his first full major league season. Of course he’s going to be pumped up when he gets a big hit. Let the players have fun rather than policing their behavior. Maybe it’ll help bring fans back to the ballpark.