As I sat and watched Game Seven of the American League Championship Series between the Red Sox and the Rays, I asked myself a very interesting question...
Where were all these fans three months ago?
For a team that has been one of the best stories baseball has seen in the last couple of decades, the people who are coming out of the closet and saying they are Rays fans might be as hard to believe as somebody saying they were hardcore Red Sox fans before they won in 2004.
People were practically crying in the stands when David Price got the final out against J.D. Drew in the eighth inning. Putting their hands to their face and saying a prayer to the sky like their lives depended on it.
Where were all these people in June when Evan Longoria was hitting bombs and the Rays were steamrolling the entire American League East? Hitting up the early-bird buffet, maybe?
As far as attendance goes, the Rays averaged just over 22,000 a game this season, five thousand more than they did in 2007. The Baltimore Orioles, whom the Rays finished 28.5 games in front of, drew more than five thousand more than the American League Champs. Not really something to be proud of.
Now the Rays have to take the tarps off of some seats at The Trop? What gives?
Now, I understand that when a team in your area is in the playoffs you want a piece of the action, but this might be the worst case of bandwagoning we will ever see in a long time. Before this season, how many people in the stands at The Trop knew who Price or Ben Zobrist was?
It's really is amazing to see how a stadium that was so empty just a few months ago is now full of people who I'm sure are claiming to be complete diehards. How many actually went to a Rays game before August or the playoffs? That would be an interesting survey to conduct.
Maybe it's the fact that there isn't the famous celebs other than Dicky V sitting behind the dugout like there is in New York or Boston. Or more likely it's because 95 percent of Tampa didn't give a damn about the Rays until July 2008.
So, as the Rays go to the World Series, you know for a fact that Fox and Joe Buck are going to concentrate on the "dedicated" Tampa fans.
It might make good television, but is it really good for the image of real fans?
How much you want to bet that these new Rays fans are dropping "we" when they talk about them?
That would be the worst.
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