Not awesome, baby.
That’s how Dick Vitale feels about recent moves by Tampa Bay Rays management that have depleted the ranks of the team’s prized players, just in time for the start of the Major League Baseball season.
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The longtime ESPN college basketball analyst and Lakewood Ranch resident has been a Rays fan and supporter since the franchise’s inception in 1998.
Vitale, never known for being shy, has used social media and the airwaves in recent days to vent his frustrations.
In a tirade of recent tweets and during a radio interview Wednesday, he has taken exception to trades that dispatched the popular Evan Longoria, promising pitcher Jake Odorizzi and the slugging Steven Sousa Jr. and DH Corey Dickerson, who was traded Thursday to the Pirates. Also gone are pitchers Brad Boxberger and Alex Cobb and first baseman Logan Morrison.
“Not FAIR TO FANS!” the perpetual season-ticket holder barked in a tweet on Tuesday.
Vitale estimates he has spent more than $250,000 over the past two decades on season tickets. He is demanding some more bang for his buck on the 2018 roster.
“We’re paying major-league prices for minor-league baseball,” Vitale told Tampa’s WDAE 620-AM. A recording of the interview was posted by fellow frustrated Rays fan Lenny Fraraccio of Brandon, aka @RaysFanGio. Fraraccio is calling for fans to boycott the April 13 game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg against the Philadelphia Phillies. On Twitter, Fraraccio said he wants to send a message to the team’s ownership.
During the WDAE interview, Vitale also had a message for Rays owner Stu Sternberg — sell the team to somebody who wants to win.
But the acquisition of former outfielder Carlos Gomez did slightly assuage Vitale, who had tempered his tone somewhat by late Wednesday evening.
“I’m not a happy guy about the @RaysBaseball,” Vitale tweeted. “Just a frustrated fan that wants Rays to top @Yankees & @RedSox.”
Vitale, who is not looking forward to a long “rebuilding” process for the Rays, goes on to say that the team’s owners are good people, “but giving up key players is a nightmare to loyal fans like me.”
Vitale and others who root for the Rays will have their first chance to see their team compete as spring training games begin Friday. A split squad of Rays will host the Bradenton-based Pittsburgh Pirates in Port Charlotte. Meanwhile, the Sarasota-based Baltimore Orioles will host a Rays split squad. Both games start at 1:05 p.m.
Tom Alberts: 941-745-7040, @alberts_tom