Saturday, June 20, 2009

Your Guide To Jumping On The Rays Bandwagon

I have a startling confession to make. Please make sure you are seated (which you probably are because honestly, who uses a computer standing up?) Are you ready for this? Are you sure? Ok, here it goes...

I grew up a Mets fan.

There you have it. I can admit it. My first regular season Major League Baseball game was at Shea Stadium. My favorite player when I was a kid was Howard Johnson. I learned how to read a baseball box-score by reading the Mets box-score every morning in the St. Petersburg Times. I even have a copy of the New York Times from the day after the Mets won the 1986 World Series. The day that Vision Cable stop giving us the channel WWOR was a sad day in my youth, as I would no longer be able to see Mets games on a daily basis in my Clearwater home (unless they were playing the Braves or the Cubs, the 2 teams that dominated the airwaves with TBS and WGN respectively).

Then came March 9, 1995, the day that Major League Baseball announced an exapnsion franchise would be awarded to Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays were born. My allegiences were immediately switched. My mom bought me a Devil Rays hat and tee shirt that week (and yes, that hat had a purple brim).

It is now 2009, and there are still some who live in the Tampa Bay area and still show up to Tropicana Field in pinstripes or red. You all make me want to kill you in the nuts, especially those of you who wear bright green Yankees/Sox hats. But, the Rays' bandwagon is growing around the nation.

Here is your guide for what groups of people should jump on the Rays' bandwagon, how quickly you should do it, and the approximate success rate:

The Owner: You have been a lifelong fan of a team in major market, say for example, the New York Mets. You have done very well on Wall Street and decided to buy a the Tampa Bay Rays. You own the new team, your money pays the players. The better your team does, the higher the attendance will be and you will make even more money for yourself. You should set the example for others in the area by becoming a Rays' fan immediately. Success rate: 100%, and we all thank you Mr. Sternberg.

The Transplant: You grew up in New York, Boston, or anywhere else in the country that has a Major League Baseball team. When you graduated college and got a little older, you realized how nice the Tampa Bay area is and so you moved there permanently. You still can't get over growing up watching Micky Mantle or Carl Yastrzemski, and now you wear the jersey of Derrick Jeter, David Ortiz, or whatever high priced free agent that won't pan out that your team just signed. Well, to all of you, it's time to get out with the old and get in with the new. You live in the Tampa Bay area, and you should have pride in your community and your team. The Rays are now a good baseball team and they are a lot of fun to cheer for. If you like your hometown weather in February, you should like your hometown baseball team in September. Bury, shred, or burn your old jersey and go buy yourself a nice new Rays' jersey to wear to Tropicana Field. Success rate: Not good enough yet, but drastically improving.

The Kid of a Transplant: Your parents moved to Florida before you were born or when you were very young. Because the Tampa Bay Rays did not exist in your youth, you were a fan of whatever team your dad is a fan of. Quite frankly, you have no real allegience to that franchise. You weren't around for "the glory days," and you didn't grow up spending Sunday afternoons at the house that Ruth built. It's now a cool thing to be a Rays' fan. Success rate: Very good. Kids are loving the Rays.

The Wanderer: You lived in Tampa Bay for a long period of time, but you recently moved. If you went to Rays' games and rooted for them before you left town, so why stop cheering for the team now that the team is good? And if you weren't a fan before you left because the team wasn't good enough, times have changed. This is a team you can get behind that is growing in popularity all over America. In fact, you can wear a Rays' shirt anywhere in this country and not get laughed at. It is time for you to hop on the bandwagon as well. Success Rate: Quite solid, I see lots of Rays hats everywhere that I travel, and that includes New York 2 weeks ago.

The Person Who Lives in a City with a Crappy Team: If you live in Kansas City, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh, and you are tired of your ballclub putting a crappy team on the field, we have room on our bandwagon for you. We understand how you feel, as the team formerly known as the Devil Rays once won 70 games before the World Series run in 2008. Our bandwagon has plenty of room for you. Success Rate: TBD, but if you are reading this and you are in any of those mentioned cities, please comment.

The Casual Baseball Fan: You sometimes like watching baseball, but you don't live in a city with a Major League team. You have no real ties to any team whatsoever. Why would you NOT want to get behind a team that has some of the best young players in the game? Why would you NOT want to get behind a team that won the American League in 2008? You have no excuses. Success Rate: Average, these fans are always a tough sell.

The Female Fan: The pink Yankees/Red Sox hat trend is over, so get rid of those. Unless you are Madonna, you have no shot at A-Rod. And remember, Evan Longoria > Derrick Jeter. Success Rate: High, you should have seen the table of hot girls I saw in New York after a Rays-Yankees game, all of which were wearing Rays gear. Giggity.

If you are reading this, you probably don't fit into any of these categories. However, you probably know a few people who do. As much as they will fight, they really have no excuse to not hop on the Rays' bandwagon. We welcome all guests from all areas. If you have any ties to the Tampa Bay area whatsoever, I have proven here that you are required by science to be a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, it's not rocket science.

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