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ESPN defends use of 7-year-old photo for Rays story

6:25 PM, Jun 24, 2011   |    comments
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ESPN used this photo from a 2004 Devil Rays game, as a hurricane threatened the Bay area, to accompany an article about the team's attendance woes.

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA -- On Friday, ESPN fired back about its controversial report suggesting the Rays must move out of Tampa Bay, by defending its use of a seven-year-old picture to illustrate poor attendance at Tropicana Field.

Previous Story: ESPN article uses old photos to portray Rays attendance

The network chose a photo from a 2004 Devil Rays game, as a hurricane threatened the Bay area, to show a sparse crowd. There was also a picture ESPN now says came from a 2010 batting practice, rarely attended by most fans.

"We had a publishing deadline...in order to save time...the editor who posted the piece used a photo that was already in the system in another piece," network spokesperson Kevin Ota told 10 News. "I don't think the photos unfairly represented the fact that Tampa Bay has an attendance problem."

Friday afternoon, the topic was still the talk of the town on sports talk radio.

"Clearly they don't want to admit fault," said Toby David, host of "The King David Show" weekdays on 1010 CBS Sports Radio, "for them to say, 'Oh, that's alright that we used this photo?'  No, it's not alright.  Use a photo from a game that's from this year, even if it's the worst game."

Rays fan James Buberger also told 10 News he didn't think it was fair.

"Now that's become the story.  The photos are the story.  The story is no longer the story and that's disappointing," he explained.

ESPN also pointed out the photos were taken down after a couple of hours.

Rays team officials declined to comment.

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