I will never forget the day it looked like Major League Baseball would be coming here. Once the news broke about a potential move of the San Francisco Giants to St. Petersburg, no one could talk about anything else.

If you lived in the area, you remember how exasperated people were with MLB. There were so many false starts and teases to get our own team, but the deal with the Giants looked real. There was a signed contract to sell the club to Vince Naimoli and his Tampa Bay investment group.

My phone rang constantly that day with people wanting information. I saw “Tampa Bay Giants” signs suddenly materialize. I even remember the honking of car horns in celebration. The Giants never moved here, of course, but baseball owners were finally convinced to award an expansion team that is now known as the Tampa Bay Rays.

I bring this up because there was a time when passion for baseball here was real, but we also know the problems now.

The Rays’ new season begins Tuesday at Tropicana Field, amid much optimism about the team. Sports Illustrated picks the Rays to win the American League pennant, and even if that doesn’t happen it’s almost certain they will be among the top contenders again.

However, they also will almost certainly be near or at the bottom in attendance again. There might even be lower crowds than normal this season, if that’s possible.