Let's get some things straight before I start ranting-
I'm a big supporter of the way the ownership of the Tampa Bay Rays has turned that teams around. As a buddy of mine put it, they've taken a steaming pile of crap and turned it into one of the most talented teams in baseball.
I'm a big supporter of the way they did it. Smart drafts, good signings, hard work and teamwork.
I'm a big supported of Joe Maddon. I think he's an excellent coach, and has clearly worked wonders with the chemisty of the franchise.
I'm a big supporter of the AL East. Love the teams in it or hate them, it's by far the best division in baseball.
So given all that support, why am I rooting for the Phillies to pull the "upset"?
Honestly, it starts with a band- and ends with a -wagon.
Yes, Rays "fans"...I'm scowling in your direction. Rarely have I ever seen such a disgusting display of fair-weather fandom, badwagon jumping, and utter hypocrisy in my sports-watching life. We all get to see you now on national TV, dressed in your team gear, waving your cowbells, living and dying with every pitch.
In the words of the modern American teenager....PUH-LEEZ!!
You are a bunch of phonies. In fact, you really redefine the term "bandwagon". And it sickens me.
Let me pause for a moment so we're clear- Like I said at the outset, I LIKE the Rays. I think they're a strong team and I respect what they've done. I'm not talking here about fans of baseball who happen to think this team is worth watching, or pulling for.
What I AM talking about is Mr. Face Paint in Section 122. Mr. Mohawk with the 64-ounce beer. Ms. Rays Groupie on the cell phone behind home plate.
STOP acting like this team is your lifeblood. Stop praying in your seats when they blow a lead. Don't you dare show up to these games decked out head to toe in $300 worth of Tampa merchandise. Because you are full of it.
You don't love this team. You didn't suffer with them when they were down. You didn't agonize over 10 years of astonishingly bad baseball. You didn't have to. You simply didn't even both to show up.
Since the Rays inception year of 1998, during which numbers were actually respectable, game attendance in Tampa has been pathetic. At best.
1998: 14th (of 30)
2005: 30th (DEAD LAST)
That's embrassing. Many years you were worse than Pirates fans. Than ROYALS fans. You did nothing to support an expansion team that brough the game to a baseball-starved state.
What's that? Oh, the team was too bad to watch you say? Why waste ticket money on losers you say?
Then how do you explain 2008? "Your" Rays are in first place for nearly the ENTIRE SEASON and attendance was...
(wait for it)
26th. Out of 30. Worse than the Padres. Worse than the Orioles. Worse than the Reds. Worse than the MARINERS.
SERIOUSLY?? 26th?? For a first place team? Rays home games drew barely more than 22,000 fans on average. I've seen more people at my barbeque! Not until your boys are in the PLAYOFFS- WINNING in the playoffs- do you bother to start coming in numbers.
So forgive me if I'm a little bitter that you get to watch your beloved Rays move on. It's just that a lot of true fans have had to watch their teams head home for the winter. Most didn't even get the thrill of a playoff sport. And yet you are all lining up for tickets.
Do I think the team deserves to be here. Absolutely. But you fair-weather fans do not deserve to share in their success. Watching your behavior in the stands has irrevocably turned my stomach. With apologies to Joe Maddon and the players who have worked their tails off...I'll be rooting for the senior circuit from here on out.