Rays Contention Status Could Affect Johnny Damon’s Cash

The Rays playoff hopes are livelier now than they were a week ago, meaning most of the talk about a post-contention season can be shelved—for now, at least. The majority of those conversations revolved around who would trade for James Shields and B.J. Upton, but the player who may stand to lose the most should the Rays fall from contention is Johnny Damon.

Damon’s contact includes attendance incentives, with the Scarlet Iscariot standing to earn $0.15 million for the Rays reaching various totals (1.75, 1.85, 1.95, 2.05, and 2.15 million according to Cot’s Contracts). All told, that’s $0.75 million. A smallish sum for a player with nearly two decades worth of big league paychecks, but a significant amount of real-world money. Even before the season started, it seemed unlikely Damon would reach most of those incentives based on their history:

Attendance by season
2010: 1.86 million
2009: 1.87 million
2008: 1.81 million
2007: 1.39 million

An average draw of 17,149 through the gates (entering Wednesday) puts the Rays on pace for fewer than 1.4 million. That number is skewed, as the Rays are yet to host the Yankees, Red Sox, or any post-game concerts—all historically good draws—so the real total is probably closer to the 1.6-1.8 million range.

The Rays would have to average roughly 25,000 fans per game over a full season to reach two million, so go ahead and wipe the incentives above that mark away. It also appears unlikely that the Rays would draw more fans than they did last season, when the club got off to a hot start.

Therefore, Damon’s only chances at collecting extra cash are the 1.75 and 1.85 million totals. Projecting attendance is difficult, but it would seem like the Rays can get over the 1.75 million threshold should they remain decent, if not competitive. The 1.85 million range, though, may depend on how good the team is after the deadline.

It’s only $0.15 million, but it’s $0.15 million Damon—and the Rays—hope he gets to cash in on.

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