by Jodi McLean
Tonya & Jodi
Yes, I know, I have really been on a sports kick with my posts. I’m really not this one-track minded; it’s just that it’s Fall, and that’s when I catch the Football Fevah. Plus, we are approaching the baseball post-season and I’m an avid baseball fan these days, so I’m riding that heat wave, too.
Not-so-much with the basketball this decade (although I loved the Pistons in the Isiah Thomas era) and I’m really not that into hockey, so you won’t be bombarded with posts about all-things sports.
Here is my current beef. I live in St. Petersburg, FL now. I was born & raised a Detroit Tigers fan. My Grandmother is probably looking down on me (and sis) with disapproval that we are cheering on another team than her beloved Tigers. Grandma listened to EVERY Tigers game on the radio long after she couldn’t see the TV. Some of my fondest memories of Grandma Fritch are of her sitting up in her chair in the dark, listening to Ernie and Al on WJR. I’m choked up just thinking about it (in a happy way!) Grandma taught me to watch the game with the TV on mute and listen to the play-by-play on the radio.
I now live maybe 5 miles from Tropicana Field. I go see a live baseball game at every opportunity. I have as many Rays hats and tee-shirts as I have/had Tigers gear throughout my life. Why change allegiance? I haven’t. I still love the Tigers and want them to win. BUT, I love baseball! I LOVE having MLB in my current home-town and I will support the home-team completely. I cheer for them, I buy the gear, I buy the tickets. I’d like to think that I am doing my part to ensure that there will always be MLB in St. Pete. (On top of the fact that the Rays are a dynamic, entertaining, talented team!! Have you bothered to watch??!!)
I am SO OVER the Yankees and Red Sox fans, who have now chosen to live in Florida, dissing the Rays and laughing at the attendance at the games. If you watch baseball or read the sports news, you know that Rays attendance is abysmal, even with their phenomenal play. WHY?! I don’t get it. Don’t tell me it’s the economy…fans in Detroit still buy tickets, and I know what the economy is like there.
SHEva Lori reminds me that Florida is a transient state. Very few people were born and raised here. Plus, the Rays are only 12-years old this year, so we haven’t really established any sort of history or legacy for sports clingers-on to glom onto like the Red Sox and the Yanks. I mean, both of those teams have been playing ball for a century. Their baseball tradition has been passed down for generations and today’s adult fans were born & raised to be fans of their team. I get it. But that won’t happen for the Rays for another decade or two. Meanwhile, the Rays are still getting established…so back off with the judgement of “bandwagon fans” and “team loyalty.”
(Side note: as I write this post, I am smack in the middle of a Facebook argument with a Red Sox fan living in Florida over this very topic. )
Am I a bit overly emotional about this debate? Yeah, probably. But I adore driving 5 miles down the street, knowing where to park that I won’t get ticketed or towed if I have to leave my car there overnight (shout-out to Ferg’s Sport Bar!!) and watching some amazing professional baseball. The Rays play in the AL East. The Tigers, the Yankees and the Red Sox come to town with regularity…who wouldn’t pay and cheer fiercely for that continued opportunity to physically participate in such competition?
Just sayin’; Yankees & Red Sox fans who live in Florida, if you are a true advocate of baseball, STOP with the constant snarky remarks about the Rays and support your Home Team!!! You don’t have to convert, we just need to keep MLB in OUR TOWN. Open your minds.
Jump on the bandwagon! Go RAYS!