St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker could be throwing a party in his city as early as today
. He's promised his city a downtown fiesta when -- not if -- the Rays clinch the American League East.
I'd like to say that I had a feeling all along that the Rays could do it. I'd like to say that it's really no surprise to me that the team has fared as well as it has this season. But that would be an utter lie. I attended too many $5 Rays games with more players on the field than fans in the stands, witnessed too much ineptitude and watched more news conferences featuring a dejected Lou Piniella than I care to remember.
My stint as a proxy Rays fan lasted three years, after which I returned home to Chicago to refocus my energy solely on the North Siders. But during those three years I saw nothing to suggest that the word 'playoffs' could ever come close to being uttered in Southwest Florida.
But just because the Rays have made their first playoffs in franchise history doesn't mean the team is making all the right moves.
Even with all the fan support support and despite the magical season, the Rays management still refuses to remove tarps that cover 6,000 seats at Tropicana Field for the first round and potential second round of the playoffs. Could you imagine if the Cubs or White Sox said that they simply wouldn't be releasing 6,000 playoff tickets? Pandemonium, friends. An editorial in today's Tampa Tribune urges the team: "Pull back that tarp, Rays!
A party is nice. It's good for the city, good for the fans and good for the team. But if baseball in Southwest Florida is ever to be taken seriously here, there or anywhere in the world, they're going to have to let as many of their fans see the game as possible -- even if those seats totally suck. You're morons if you don't, Rays.
The team is currently in Detroit, facing a Tigers team that was supposed to be having the season that the Rays have had. I think it apropos that once again sports teaches us that anything can happen. Today's pauper can be tomorrow's prince and vice versa.
Good luck in the playoffs, Rays. Have fun at your party. And for God's sake, let 6,000 more fans come to your stinkin' games. It may be a long time before it happens again.