The Tampa Bay area seems to be in disbelief right now with the team that resides in St. Petersburg performing in a certainly non sub-mediocre level that the area is so accustomed to.
Yes, the mighty Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Mighty? MIGHTY? They aren't world beaters (as the series in Boston last week could certainly point out) but they are a sight better than what they have been in the past.
St. Petersblog pointed out how the Rays are ranked #4 on the worst-franchises ever list and it's certainly fitting and deserved of the franchise that once attempted to charge a marching band to stay and watch the game after they performed the national anthem. On the field, they have won 70 games ONCE in ten seasons. Off the field... well, that national anthem flap is only the tip of the iceberg. I won't go into that.
So with a whole lot of pathetic anecdotes and poor play dominating the team history, it's not surprising that Friday's game versus the Angels -- a thrilling win with strong pitching and a Sayanora home run by Evan Longoria -- drew a paltry 12,000. Even American Idol top-three performer Syesha Mercado couldn't lure a larger crowd of people to spend a hot and muggy Friday night inside the climate controlled comfort of Tropicana Field and watch two of the top performing teams this season in the AL go at it.
It won't take long for fever to truly grap Tampa Bay with this baseball team. But there have been a few seasons where there has been one degree or another of promise that only spiraled out of control into a pit of desolation and humiliation.
Terrence Mann's soliloquy from Field of Dreams doesn't apply yet. People won't necessarily come, Ray. Winning may cure all ills but the element of belief hasn't hit the general sport-fan populous in the area. Once it does... Look out. Until then, however, empty nights at the Dome will be what greets the team.