I Need to Reaffirm my Rays Persona
For one of the first times in a long, long time, the Tampa Bay Rays look more like the visiting team when they come home to play at Tropicana Field. And maybe I am to blame for it, or at least I feel a reason brewing within me to feel I have let this team down a bit.
But could my own past game day persona that changed from “loud, proud and sometimes bordering on obnoxious” to a common spectator again be a critical part of this backwards slide? Could my silence and introverted current Rays personality be contagious and flourishing amongst the Rays seating bowl. Could I really have morphed into being the “silent clapping Rays fan” and not my usual ” Rays Renegade” style of motivation.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon used to talk personally on a nightly basis with local media reporters about the intense fan involvement during the Rays home games. But recently, it has been a mute subject out of Maddon’s mouth at best. And I am not going to climb up on the soapbox and cry “attendance” at the top of my lungs like the “fat cats” in the Press Box. I am not going to try and cause a sense of hysteria or false insistence that a dark cloud envelopes Tropicana Field. I am also not going to talk curses or even past graveyard sites that used to rest below some of our feet within the confines of this white dome.
But I am going to talk about a malady, a disease that has plagued me this season. I think I got bit by the complacency bug and did not remedy the aliment before it took my game down to a level I now do not even recognize. No longer do it seem that visiting teams fear this stadium like in the past. No longer it is referred to as a “pit” or a sensory deprivation noise explosion on your ears and other senses. The instrument of choice, the cowbell is still here, but in some sections around the Trop., it has become silent, where once it rang loud and true every game. And one of those silent sections seems to resonate directly from my seat now.
For some odd reason this season, at visit to the Rays stadium are no longer greeted with intense opposing team’s eye rolls or even a over abundance of earplugs in supply. But the Rays recent struggles in a home setting where the Rays used to dominate their opposition has now given a renewed glimmer of hope, and a possible 50/50 chance of winning in a stadium where the opposition’s winning chances used to go to die. I would rather point the blame with the decrease in the “W” column on impending stadium issues, the economy, and whatever else is considered the excuse of the day. But for me, the true reason the Rays just are not getting their energy levels up at homelike in the past might be because fans like myself somehow changed without really noticing it until now.
Could the more mellow and less vocal Rays fan base be to blame? Not completely sure on this overall prognosis yet, but I know the vibe in my seat at the Trop. has shifted a bit from noisy to a more subdued atmosphere. Gone little by little is my constant game day chatter and impulsive cowbell mania that encompassed my little domain within the stadium like a death grip in from 1998-2009. Could the rest of the Rays Republic have also mellowed out a bit this year, or is there a serious overall Rays crowd mood change sweeping the internal seats of the stadium that needs to be nipped before it festers and ruins a great home field advantage element of Tropicana Field?.
Are we reverting back into that pre-2008 “wait and see” Rays crowd like during the rollercoaster 2001-2007 Rays years when we sat on our hands until a rally developed, or the first run was scored by the Rays. Could we have just adapted or evolved into a more subtle Rays Republic and expect constant winning now without rewarding effort and substance on the field? Could we have morphed into a fan base that truly believes losing at home now is a viable option at a Rays home game, and have accepted this without fighting that the urge to purge that losing rationalization from our minds?
I know last night I looked at my Rays game day behavior and have seen a swift shift towards a more subtle game day persona. Gone from sight is my always present large Latin Percussion cowbell with the weathered drumsticks. Disappearing without warning was my annoying and streams of banter with the opposing Rightfielders during the home games that used to border on insanity.
I fully acknowledge I do not banter with the Umpires like I did before 2008, or throw facts and figure with furious voracity at opposing fans like I have in the past Rays seasons. I might be a prime example of that “Rays fan” who somehow turned it down a notch, and the team might have noticed.
In turn, by my change in my game day behavior, maybe it can filter down to the dugout and again the players will get to feed off our energy levels and increased noise to evoke a instant release of dugout endorphins that used to engulf the dugout constantly in the past. Maybe my simple change in attitude and not latitude, I can again resemble that Rays fan I embodied when I was selected for the Rays/Pepsi Fan Wall of Fame. For some reason I lost that sharp edge I used to be so darn proud of, some how I disguised it as media sensibility and basically choked that enthusiastic spirit out of myself. I had somehow become the fan I used to not understand and tried to motivate.
I regressed back into the typical Rays game day fan again. It is time to make a radical readjustment here. To reconstitute my love and passion for my home team. To again address the sins of my ignorance and open my head and heart again to loving this team like I did for so many prior years. Maybe I just need to again follow a simple baseball saying.
Maybe it is time again for me to “Root ,root, root for the home team”, but this time keep the level of passion and my love for this team at a constant pulse and not resort to stereotypes that do not fit my character. Maybe it is just simply time for myself and the Rays to come out of our dormant tranquil home sensibilities cocoon and again make Tropicana Field a place other teams dread, and not view as a vacation stop on the MLB schedule .
Maybe it is simply time for me to be a kid again at the games. Now where did I pack that Latin Percussion cowbell again?