Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Wins the Battle of the Fans, Red Sox or Rays?

Anyone who has watched (or attended) Red Sox games hosted in Tampa Bay has been shocked, awed, and even overwhelmed by the huge amount of Red Sox support in "enemy territory". It is a similar situation in Baltimore, but not to the level that it is in Tampa.

You've all read various articles about the lack of enthusiasm of the Rays fan base, and their late arrival to the show. According to Ballparks of Baseball, Tropicana Field has a seating capacity of 43,772. If that is true, get this. The publicized attendance for the first two ALDS playoff games in Tropicana Field were 35,041 and 35,257. More people attended a mid-September game against the Red Sox (September 17 - attended by 36,048). That means the first two playoff games ever for the Rays had approximately 8,000 empty seats!!!

2008 is the very first season that the Rays have made the playoffs, and did it as AL East Champions. I for one, and very impressed, and if I were in Florida, I'd be incredibly excited about playoff baseball meaning something in my own home town. Where are all the Rays fans? Perhaps there are only 35,000 fans in total, who knows?

Anyway, what I am curious to see tonight, is whether or not the influx of Red Sox fans to the game fills the park, and what the ratio of Red Sox to Rays fans is. Don't you think it would be incredibly embarrassing to get overwhelming cheering and support for the Red Sox that drowns out the local support for the Rays in their own park?

To be honest, I wish that would not happen. It's just not right. The Rays have done something incredible this year, and deserve strong home crowd support. They should not have to suffer through an enormous cheer going up when a Sox player (JD Drew tonight?) hits a home run, or when a Rays player strikes out to end an inning. Not on their own field. Until the Rays fans can muster enough support to sell out a home playoff game, they do not deserve the title.

I know there are good Rays fans out there (at least 30,000 or so). Get out there and support your team!

That all said, a brief moment of business. I'm looking forward to these first two games. Dice-K is strong, healthy and rested. No excuses. He needs to pitch well, keep them in the game, and hopefully get through at least 6 innings, if not 7. Then, the big question will be how Josh Beckett looks in game 2. If we see the Beckett of last year's playoffs, we'll be in good shape. If he pitches like he did in the ALDS, I'm worried. We need to win at least one of those two games, and then return to Boston for 3 straight. We've played the Rays well in Boston, and we would have a chance to turn up the pressure. Losing both in Florida would not be fatal, but would turn this into a slow tug of war as they even it up back at home.

Let's get it on!


Matt said...

I don't know why I think this, it goes against everything I have seen, but I think Dice-K is going to pitch a great game tonight. I think we might see something like the game he pitched in Oakland to start the season.

Rooster said...

I like the way you think. From hearing Dice-K and knowing how 'Tek will prepare for this, it is possible you will be right! I sure hope so!

Just let him load the bases, then he shuts them down (and gives me a heart attack).

MCG said...

I went to a Rays game about three weeks ago against the Twins (a FL loss)recently...very cheap tickets ($5) good food and lots of fun. I have lived in Florida for only a couple months and have not yet met someone from Florida, so I feel many fans have prior committments to "home" teams but I do feel this AL League playoff with Boston will conjure a new allegience unless of course a Red Sox fan like me. The stadium is not actually in Tampa, it's far out. Oh yeah, another factor, the seats in Tampa aren't so nice and go up really high and left unsold because of distance from the field, heat, etc., and are often even covered.

Go Sox! Cheers to Rays.

Peter N said...

FW, boy, were you RIGHT!
Hi to you, MCG.
Rooster, I replied to your email and I KNOW you enjoyed last night. I sure did. If Beckett can return to his playoff form, the Rays will be going north down 0-2. I so hope it happens! Pete GO SOX. GO JOSH. GO SOX.

Rooster said...

mgc - Thanks for those insights. I was actually impressed by the Tampa crowd in the first two games. They were loud, and supported their team. The place looked like it had open seats, but like you said, they looked way up high in the corners and scary. That translates into a bad stadium design I think.

I was glad to see the Rays fans getting into it. Not so glad to see Beckett get knocked around.

I'm going to the game this afternoon! Can't wait.

Hey Peter - Got the email, thanks!