I've gone to see the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies this season at the Trop and I have to admit that I am embarrassed and disgusted with many of the Rays fans in the area.
My question is: Do you think if we went to any of the aforementioned team's stadium that we would see anywhere between 30 to 40% of Rays fans filling up their seats? I'll go ahead and answer for you. Absolutely not! Then, why is it okay that we allow our rivals to fill up our seats in our stadium?
The Rays are still a relatively new franchise and I understand not many people cared about them until last season when they shocked the baseball world by embarrassing Boston and New York to take the AL East and represented the AL in the World Series. The Rays are still a solid team that are once again knocking on the playoff door, even though the league is better prepared for these exciting young players. Yet we, as fans, allow our rivals to push through the gates and bully us in our own house. The nauseating chants of, "Lets go, Red Sox!" reverberating throughout the Trop is sacrilege, although, I love it when we drown them out with our "Boo's." If we tried something like that at Fenway, we'd be escorted out in gurneys.
Even the Buccaneers had to go through this same ordeal. Packer and Bears fans filling up the Old Sombrero made going to Bucs game unbearable. Well, that and they were absolutely awful, but once they started winning and making postseason appearances the Packer and Bears fans became less and less visible.
So, why is it now that the Rays are winning we still have to endure a sea of colors not associated with our great franchise?
"St. Pete is too far." This is my favorite excuse. Hop on 275 S from wherever you are in the Hillsborough area and it takes 20 to 30 minutes. I got on the interstate late for the game yesterday and dealt with minimal traffic. I still had time to have a bite and an adult beverage before I sat in my seats. Why do the Yankee fans make it?
"It's too expensive." The Rays are considered the most affordable sports franchise in baseball. Philly fan seems to think it's cost friendly.
"The Bay area's a melting pot of people from across the U.S." Absolutely. That's why we have to teach our kids that're born here that you root for the home team. I have family and friends that represent other sports franchises because that's where they grew up and that's what they know, but one thing they all have in common is they teach their children to root for the team in the city in which they were born.
We have to quit making excuses for ourselves and we absolutely have to develop an identity. These teams who have been around for centuries all have fan bases with an identity because they're relics of a time when baseball was considered "America's Pastime." We need to step up and fire back, not physically with violence (and our fan base has to quit getting baited by these neanderthals into throwing fisticuffs. I'm not saying don't defend yourself, but don't enable it either), but by filling our stadium with our fans and truly representing the Rays with dignity and class.
I don't want to have to look down on this franchise in a hundred years and say, "Now we have a true fan base, and it only took us this long." We, and only we, have the power to complete this task. We're the only ones that can put a stop to these unholy invaders. We're the only ones that can make it happen.