“Save Tampa Bay Baseball” is nice but is it necessary?


Tropicana Field from behind home plate.
Yep, folks, Tropicana Field is really that ugly. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Wrigley. Fenway. Camden. Yankee. These hallowed baseball shrines are on every fans’ bucket list.

To see a game there means you have sat in the midst of history. The same cannot be said for other parks in Major League Baseball. Sure, with millions of taxpayer dollars, certain stadiums can refurbish the seats, spruce up the batter’s eye and possibly get an HD scoreboard bigger than a postage stamp. However, dead last on anyone’s list would be Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

I have been to this toilet in Tampa, this steamer in St. Petersburg, many times. Unfortunately, I have walked close to every inch of that lovely stadium for events other than baseball, and I can tell you passionately and without equivocation, I have seen port-a-potties with more scenery. It’s a dump. The roof looks like it is made of paper mache. The “turf” is made of some alien-like substance better used as adhesive for flat tires. Yet, there is a CBS sports station that wants to save Tampa Bay baseball.

The Fan 98.7 WHFS-FM has launched a PR and grassroots outreach campaign to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in its beleaguered market and save Tampa Bay baseball. Why? Commissioner Bud Selig has been known to open his pie hole and have more than his dentures fall out. It seems, one day, Selig said, “The league is disappointed with the current situation in Tampa Bay” as well as owner Stuart Sternberg’s inability to get the town to pay for his a new ballpark. WHFS afternoon guys “Booger” and Rich were a little perturbed by this ballyhoo so they are doing something about it.

Their mission is to save the Rays and sting Selig right in his … well, you get the idea. The station created SaveTampaBayBaseball.com and are looking for signatures to send to MLB offices with their affection. Now, what gets me is this is not the hapless Astros, the perennial suck Royals or the Rays’ neighbors, the Miami Marlins. This is a team with an AL pennant, two division titles, one wild-card berth, a very good manager, youth and nice pitching. The problem is they have bandwagon fans, zero support (the team almost had to blackout playoff baseball) and have I mentioned they play in a place that resembles the CBS show “Under the Dome”?

As an ardent fan of the great game, I can appreciate fighting for your team; however, this team needs much more than a couple of guys with a microphone fighting. The fans need to realize they will foot the bill for a new stadium or watch Tampa Bay baseball strike out and swim away. That stadium has so many issues. From limited toilets (ironic) to a jacked-up vista. And the traffic? They call it “Malfunction Junction” for a reason. Well, many reasons and all are pointed out with a middle finger.

It’s depressing to just get there. Then, once you find your sticky seat soiled with some Bebe’s kid’s cotton candy from two weeks prior, you are surrounded by dozens of your close friends. The Tampa Bay Rays average 18,716 per game. This includes the postseason and what the hell is up with that? Save Tampa Bay baseball from what again?

Again, it’s the Trop, or as it should be called, “The Trap.”

The lease has the Rays locked in that dump until 2027. Whoever signed that thing, call me? I would love to talk real estate with you. If that place sucks that bad now, imagine the zombie underground funland it will be by 2027. The owner says it’s “very unrealistic” that the team is leaving Tampa Bay; however, the fans are saying differently.

Montreal. Nashville. Charlotte. Vegas. Austin. These are all places with a fan base that digs the game, would love MLB in their town and has disposable income to pay for parking, merchandise, booze and hot dogs. This is a great team and it deserves better.

MEMO to Booger and Rich: You want to save Tampa Bay baseball? Let it go. Think like New Orleans. You really think there is Jazz in Utah? No, but the NBA fans would become Mormon with the quickness because to some, that’s still their team. Just saying. Good luck with the petition.

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