Thought processes and conversations started under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. Someday everyone will know the Rays play in St. Petersburg, Florida, not TAMPA, or the fictitious city of TAMPA BAY.
I Do Not Miss Not Having a Tarp
It is the one thing we have grown to love as members of the Rays Republic. It is a constant home field advantage that the Tampa Bay Rays have over their other Major League Baseball competitors during their 12+ seasons. The pure fact that you will always be dry and comfortable at 72 degrees within the Teflon dome of Tropicana Field is one of the greatest things that endears me to the domed stadium. The pure fact that only twice during the Rays existence has a game ever been cancelled or postponed due to torrid Summer Florida weather patterns is a true testament to building a domed roof on the field.
The most memorable postponement came because of the threat of Hurricane Frances on September 4-5, 2004, with the Rays and the Tigers taking the days off from attempting to play the game because of the impending weather and instead deciding to reschedule the game for September 30,2004 , which would make the date historic as the Rays first and only chance at playing a doubleheader under the dome. What is more surprising is that the Rays then flew to New York to play the Yankees for a previously re-rescheduled double header that had to be rescheduled twice during that series before they finally played two games on September 9,2004. Ironic, but true.
Because of the Teflon-coated dome above their heads, the Rays have only had to re-schedule one set of game for a doubleheader in their existence, which most teams would envy in a heartbeat. Take tomorrow (7/25) for example, the Detroit Tigers will have to play a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays to finish up their weekend series after a torrid rainstorm postponed their Friday night contest. It is the one constant that a fan of a team with an open air stadium can guarantee at least once in an MLB season. that rain will end up ruining your day at the ballpark.
But at Tropicana Field, it is a given that the Rays will play a 81-game home game slate played out in its entirety without rain delays, field prep after a sudden downpour, or even postponing a contest after waiting around at the stadium for 90 minutes. When you hit Tropicana Field, you know you are going to see the entire baseball game that night. And that is a distinctive advantage that the Rays fans can embrace and find as a beautiful constant to attending and enjoying Rays games.
And because of its warm and dry comfort, the aspect of having a field tarp on the sidelines of Tropicana Field to cover the playing surface has never been a concern for the Rays groundskeepers. Sure there are a few slits in the roofing where moisture can dribble down on you within the Trop (Centerfield), but the ability to keep the fans and players dry when the winds is howling outside and the rain is beating upon the roof like the Cleveland Indian’s famous kettle drum, makes the Trop a needed necessity for professional baseball in Florida.
Even if the Rays home, Tropicana Field is the last dome of its kind still playing games under its illuminated white roof in the Major Leagues, it is still home, and an always dry home to us. And that is a great thing in a state where the weather can change every five minutes…or less.
Amazing enough, the Florida Marlins, our MLB brethren to the Southeast has to constantly be on guard to worry about the threat of a band of late afternoon or evening showers raining down on any of its 81 scheduled games.
The Marlins had to re-schedule 3 games in 2009 due to weather conditions affecting their outdoor stadium crowd and team. Rays fans and players know confidently that they are going to be dry except for the sweat they produce on the turf at every Rays home game.
I agree that baseball was originally designed to be played under the sun and stars, and I can respect that thinking. But in a humid and unstable moisture-based climate like Florida, having a roof over your head can be a beautiful thing. Especially with the Summertime storms that turn rain sideways and can produce wind gusts beyond 50 mph. And I have experienced a rain delay in Cleveland back on May 15,2004, and I had a grand time just being within the wet droplets and experiencing a rain delay and all its aspects personally.
I love the pure fact that when I go to a Rays game, there is a constant that I will see a baseball game that night, and even with the inner fabric of the Trop swirling from the wind gusts outside, I will be dry and comfortable up until the last out of the ballgame. Rain delays can wreck havoc on the mood and demeanor of a home crowd, but with a roof like the Trop over our heads for the next 10 years, we can be confident to see great games without a hint of delay or impromptu rain that sends both players and fans into the overhanging stands.
But I do miss a little rain on my face and the fun and special moments that a rain delay can produce…like meeting new friends at another ballpark and learning something new in a foreign town. I will leave you with a great quote from “Bull Durham” by Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Think about that for a while.
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