Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline this past season, outfielder Tommy Pham was traded from the Cardinals to the Rays. Pham, coming off a stellar 2017, had been disappointing for St. Louis in 2018 and ultimately fell victim to a crowded outfield situation. With Tampa Bay, though, he found his old level and then some: .343/.448/.622 (194 ) in 39 games.
That seemingly makes Pham a key piece for the Rays moving forward, even as he enters his arbitration years. Pham, though, doesn't exactly seem enamored of his time in St. Pete, at least from the "fan enthusiasm" standpoint.
To repeat the money quote from the image:
"It sucks going from playing in front of a great fan base to a team with really no fan base at all."
Those, folks, are some pointed words. Cardinals fans are of course famously enthusiastic about their hometown nine, and this past season they drew more than 3.4 million fans while averaging more than 42,000 per home contest. Those figures trail just the Dodgers and Yankees. The Rays, meantime, drew 1.15 million total and averaged just more than 14,000 per game. Only the Marlins fared worse.
So, yes, in being traded from the Cardinals to the Rays, Pham went from playing for one of the most vigorously supported teams to one of the least. And he noticed. Pham has a history of candor, and the Cardinals front office not so long ago was subjected to his unsparing estimations. Criticizing fans, though, tends to not go over so well, even when the team in question doesn't have so many of them. That much was apparent when Pham got into a back-and-forth with Rays fans on Twitter regarding his comments.
Respect is something that’s earned not given when you have a team who wins 90 games and has more Yankee and Red Sox fans at there home games that’s a problem so why don’t you look at what I’m saying and agree instead of hating on the truth— Tommy Pham (@TphamLV) December 27, 2018
Click through for the entire exchange.
While it's perhaps unwise to criticize fans in a public manner, it's hard to argue against what Pham is saying. There are, as Pham indicates, reasons for the paltry attendance, but that doesn't undermine his general point. As for those reasons, the Rays of course play in what's on the short-list of worst ballparks in baseball., their long-term future in the region is uncertain at best. All of that exacts a price at the turnstiles. None of that, though, makes Pham's comments inaccurate.
Speaking of which, might this mark the end of Pham's Tampa tenure? If that does happen, then it'll be because he's about to enter his higher-salary years and not because he broadsided the paying customers. Whatever the case, expect Pham to continue speaking his mind, often in pointed fashion.