Don’t look now kids, but after a weekend sweep of the Red Sawx the Tampa Bay Rays are locked in a tie for first place in the AL East. Actually, maybe you should look now. This is the furthest into a season that the artists formerly known as the Devil Rays have ever found themselves on top of the standings. Seriously, think about that for a second. It’s only April 28.
Even if this thing only lasts for a day, I’ve got me a case of Rays fever. And the only prescription is… actually finding someone who cares about the Devil Rays. Or whatever they’re called.
After a recent trip to Tampa, I discovered that the Rays are even anonymous in their own hometown. The first night in town, I went to a sports bar called Champions that was within spitting distance of the St. Pete Times Forum (which is actually in Tampa, and has to make for an awkward game story if you’re covering the Lightning for the Tampa Tribune). Considering that the Rays were facing the Yankees, I figured I’d have no problem getting to watch the game at the bar.
Guess I overestimated the Rays’ drawing power.
There were two projection monitors in the bar. One of them showed the Red Sox-Indians game, and another the Flyers-Capitals playoff game. Out of a half-dozen smaller TVs in my section, the Rays game was on the one in the corner. And it was the Yankees broadcast.
When I got to my hotel, I figured I’d be able to watch the rest of the game there. No such luck. They didn’t have that channel, whatever it was. Fortunately, I was able to catch the hot Rays action on the other two nights of my stay, although it was filmed in what I could only describe as “Wavy Vision” on what appeared to be the local PAX TV station.
When I headed to the Tampa International Airport, I stopped by the sports memorabilia store to see if it would be possible to become the first kid on my block to own a sweet Rays hat. Unfortunately, Yankees gear outnumbered Rays gear by what appeared to be at the very least an 8-to-1 ratio. There was even about five times as much Lightning paraphernalia on sale as there was Rays stuff. I’m pretty sure Toronto is the only other big league market you’d find with that much more hockey swag available.
So, citizens of the Tampa/St. Pete area (particularly all the fine people who accosted me for money and the hippie who accused me of being gay outside of a poetry slam), I beseech you to jump on the Rays bandwagon. And if you don’t believe me, just ask the official Rays Superfan, former WWF wrestler Brian “Nasty” Knobbs of the Nasty Boys. (WARNING: The following video contains a Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake reference).
Seriously, at what other major league ballpark could you expect to find someone with hair that awesome? He’s got a mohawk and a mullet at the same time. There’s no business in the front. Like Eddie Murphy’s girl, Brian Knobbs’ hair likes to party all the time. I’d gladly trade Ronnie Woo Woo for him any day.