Like other sports leagues, Major League Baseball is at least considering the possibility of having to play games in front of empty stadiums in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As Evan Longoria reminds us, the Tampa Bay Rays may already be used to that.
Longoria, who spent the first 10 years of his career with the Rays, was asked on Tuesday about the possibility of MLB not allowing fans to attend games in order prevent the spread of coronavirus. The third baseman took a swipe at the Rays before saying he hopes it does not come to that.
Evan Longoria, former Tampa Bay Ray, on the prospect of playing in empty ballparks: “I mean, I played in some nearly empty ballprks…” But in sincerity, he added he really hopes it doesn’t come to that.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) March 10, 2020
It’s no secret that the Rays struggle to get fans to attend games. They rank at or near the bottom of baseball in attendance every year, and they averaged less than 15,000 fans per home game last year despite winning 96 games and reaching the postseason. This is a franchise that has explored the idea of playing half of their home games out of the country, so Longoria has a point.
Some will say Longoria’s joke was in poor taste, as the coronavirus outbreak has become a serious concern worldwide. However, we highly doubt Longoria’s intention was to make light of the situation. He was stating a fact, after all.