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A World Series Crisis of Identity

25 October 2008 3 Comments

With my hopes and realities of a Cubs World Series crushed, I found myself in a unique position to make the best out of a bad season.
In visiting my family in Florida, we were only a 2-hour drive away from Game 2 of the World Series. With tickets only $10 dollars above face value, you didn’t have to twist my arm to go. Yet, I had this strange pang of guilt; the Series was being wasted on an expansion team like the Rays and that was an insult to Cubs fans and fans of classic teams everywhere.
Sure, you expansion team fans may disagree with me on this one, but let’s be real: no one wants to see the Marlins, Rockies, Rays or any other two-bit team in the Series…even MLB. It is only when these teams do well that their own fans actually come out of the woodwork to see the spectacle- pretending that they have been there all season long. Well, no one is fooled.

We got into the stadium early and it was utter chaos. People shoulder to shoulder. Concession lines stretching far into the concourse and fan “traffic jams” and bottlenecks were everywhere. We actually stood in line to get on the escalator. I was wondering how a stadium so big could be in such a state of disarray, but then I realized that this must of been one of the few times the team has ever saw this level of attendance. By the time we got to the seats, we were exhausted, hot and pissed.

But, once the game started, it was all the more apparent that Rays fans are as confused and messed up as the crowds of people trying to get to their seats. The team formerly known as the Devil Rays are now represented by a gigantic star with “Rays.” The symbol is painted onto the grass and folks have puffy hands with these lone-star-looking symbols that is probably in reference to the sun’s rays but fans didn’t seem to know. Then, there are the “devil rays” that are lingering around the stadium. In fact, there is a whole tank of these fish that are still a type of mascot. In addition, there is the crazy “official” mascot, Raymond, who is some “SouthPaw”-looking furry thing. Finally, the fans themselves have a love affair with shaving mohawks on their head- another symbol all over the park.

Then… there is the cowbell nonsense. The cowbell is in reference to Will Ferrell’s SNL skit-asking for “more cowbell.” What was supposed to be a rally call is now another unofficial mascot stunt with fans playing cowbells all game long and people dressed as cows.
With this whole hodgepodge of fan fun, a game at Tropicana Field is both a circus of nonsense and a crisis of identity. Sure, this World Series game was a discount but it was not a sufficient consolation prize for any real baseball fan. The Rays sure are trying but there might be such a thing as trying a little too hard.


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