The St. Pete times had an article today discussing how some Rays players are upset that the Trop is taken over by Sox or Yanks fans when they come into town. They say that it is like a road game at home and the younger guys are getting sick of it. I could not agree more with these players and have said so many times in the past.
I have been very critical of Rays fans recently for not showing up at the Trop for the games against the Sox/Yanks, but I have to admit I was one of those fans until the last 3 years. The excuses I have heard were the same ones I made; there are too many Sox/Yanks fans and you just don't want to be around those jerks. I agree, I hate going to those games when those fans are there because they are obnoxious and makes my game experience much worse. It finally hit me 3 years ago when I was at a Sox game and looked around and saw no Rays fans. My Brother mentioned to me that he hated being the only Rays fans and would rather watch it at home and not deal with the people. The problem is that most Rays fans feel the same way and they stay home to not deal with these fans. If Rays fans would just show up to the game than they would not be alone and we could start to drive out some of these Sox/Yanks fans from our house. I have been to many stadiums across the country and these types of things do happen when the Sox or Yanks come into town, but the teams with stronger fan bases do not have the problem. The onus is on the fans to get out there and support there home team.
While the Fans do have a duty to get out there, the owners and management of the Rays are at fault for many of these problems. Every time the Yanks or Sox come into town the Rays organization has a promotion in which they have old players from the visiting team come in and sogn autographs. I understand the rays don't have much history, but think outside the box and get a promotion that appeals to Rays fans and not the visiting team. This weekend the Rays have three former Sox players coming in to sign autographs, many of whom were not great, but Sox know them and Rays fans care less. The organization wants the money that the Sox and Yanks fans bring in and I understand that, but they need to start and appeal to the real Rays fans so they show up.
Something else that has always bothered me and contributes to the furtherance of the home field advantage of the away team is the selling of merchandise of the visiting team in OUR STADIUM. The second floor of the Rays shop Tropicana field is completely full of merchandise from the Yankees and the Red Sox. This is absolutely ridiculous. You will never see the Cubs selling White Sox gear, or the Yanks selling Mets stuff, and visa versa. Why is it that the Ray feel the need to bow to these fans that come into the stadium just because they spend money. Maybe if the organization made it easier for Rays fans to have a good time and harder for the visitors to have a good time, the Rays may finally have a home field advantage against these guys.
I agree with the players that it is ridiculous playing a game at home, but feeling like its a road game. The fans are at fault for not showing, the organization is at fault for not putting out a good product for so long, and the organization is at fault for how much they promote the visiting teams. The organization needs to step up and get Rays fans out there and not he visitors because until they do something it will be a road game at the Trop whenever we play important games.