There’s a different feeling in the air in Tampa Bay

April 9, 2008 at 7:14 am 3 comments

AP Photo/Steve Nesius

The Rays came home yesterday a little disappointed from a road trip that saw them go 3-3 but they were not disappointed by the reception they got in their home opener.

“This is awesome,” Carlos Pena said. “I’m pretty excited. This is the first homestand of the year, Opening Day here in St. Petersburg. This kind of signifies this new beginning.

A new beginning indeed. The crowd of 36,048 (the ninth sellout in the Rays’ 11-season history) was probably the most raucous I have heard at the Trop and I have been to 5 of those 9 sellouts. Pena sees the sellout as a sign of things to come.

“I think we’re going to have a great turnout in general this year. I try not to put too much pressure on the fans. I just know we’re going to get great support. If we keep on winning they’re going to keep on coming. I know the Rays fans that are here are here constantly. When we didn’t win as much as we wanted, they were there. The more we start winning, the more they’re going to start coming.”

Sounds like a good business plan to me; one that Rays manager Joe Maddon no doubt believes.

“We want them to show up on Wednesdays for teams they haven’t shown up for in the past,” Maddon said. “And that’s incumbent upon us to do our part.” We’ve talked about it all along – we’ve got to win to bring them in the building.” If we take care of our part, I believe the fans in the Tampa Bay area will come in and take care of their part, also, and turn it into The Pit. I do believe that.”

Principal owner Stu Sternberg notices the different feeling in the air as well.

“I think people will come in with different expectations,” said owner Stuart Sternberg. “Generally, in years past, they’ve come and they want to be there for the opening game. Now, I really do believe they want to be there for the opening game of what could be the beginning of something pretty special. This is really a complete new beginning for us, and it looks like, fortunately, we’re hitting the ground running.”

The sad part about the game is that it was decided by the umpires. The good thing about that though is that all 36,000+ fans met with one voice (actually it was more like one loud boo) and backed their home team up. The home crowd booed at the umpires after each and every pitch for two full innings. Called strikes thrown by Al Reyes were greeted with cheers but milliseconds later the boos towards the umpires began again. I have never heard anything like it.

In all seriousness though, it was different than openers in past seasons. With a sea of Rays blue (with spots of white and yellow) and cheers so loud you couldn’t hear the announcer it seems like the fans are on board with the new Rays and their direction. I can’t wait to see what happens when it all clicks and I won’t be waiting long.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell
quotes taken from


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Cloutman  |  April 9, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Great stuff Jonathan. It was good to see that there were more Rays fans there than the opposing team for a change. The big test will be when the Red Sox or Yankees come to town. We all know that the Red Sox are one of the best traveling teams, and you can always hear “Let’s go Red Sox” chants over the home crowd. Let’s hope that your Rays can keep beating the Yankees for the Red Sox as well!!!! The more they beat them, the better off the Sox are in the long run.

  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 9, 2008 at 9:56 am

    MY friend and I were talking about that too. I hope it changes to at least 50/50 Rays fans when we play the Yanks and Sox. If it means beating the Yanks I’m happy the Rays help! Haha!

  • 3. musicman  |  April 10, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I will also happy if it happens.


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