Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Defending the Rays "Bandwagon"

Hobo. Wanderer. Nomad. Vagabond.

Call me what you will, but I just completed my tenth move this decade. Eight years, seven apartments, two friends’ spare bedrooms, and one summer sublease.

I’m the Mike Morgan of the rental community.

One of the best aspects of my new place is the location. I am now only 30 minutes from beautiful Tropicana Field, home of the greatest trash can racers ever home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Which, in turn, leads me to my topic du jour: the impact of the Rays newfound success. Particularly the use of the term “bandwagon”.

According to a BaseballCrank.com article posted way back in 2001, there are two types of bandwagon fans,

One is the frontrunner – the fan who switches gleefully from team to team, always in search of associating himself with a winner. The other is the fan who just doesn’t pay as much attention when the team is losing.


Although I have not yet met any of the former (a.k.a. the "LeBron James" Rays fan), many baseball fans here in the Tampa area are being accused of being among the latter.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

Even though you can’t spit without hitting someone in a Rays hat or a Rays shirt or any other type of Rays apparel, this should not be considered a bad thing. After nearly 10 years of mismanagement and front office ineptitude, the new Rays organization is finally starting to win. And of course the community has noticed. They would be foolish not to.

(Side note: when are the Rays going to make an American Express commercial like the one in Major League? How great would it be to see Joe Maddon say "We're contenders now," followed by Carl Crawford sliding across home plate with an American Express card? That would be priceless - oops, wrong credit card.)

Question: if you bought a CD by a local band to support them but found it was poorly done and sounded like someone farting on a snare drum, would you automatically buy their second release?

I wouldn’t.

Now imagine after you bought the first release, the band released 10 horrible albums, each more inept than the previous. Any rational buyer would probably be hesitant to purchase album 11.

But what if album 11 had three top hits? What if it was on the top of the Billboard charts? What if nearly every song was on the radio and people couldn’t stop talking about it? What if the band had finally gotten their act together and found their sound? Could you blame people for giving them another shot?

Sure, some people will always spend their entertainment dollar on baseball. They are fans; that’s what they do. But the majority need to see a good product. People want something that will convince them their money is better spent at the ballpark than at the movies, or the beach, or the mall, or anywhere else. I have no hate for these people. I don’t blame them for finally showing up. Some day, when the Rays border on average again, the casual fans will leave. It happens. And I won't blame the fans then either.

However, that said, despite my defense of the Rays bandwagon, there is one type of Tampa-area fan that turns me into the bartender in Star Wars. One type of fan that makes me say, “We don’t serve your kind here. You’ll have to wait outside.”

Unless the Rays are playing the Yankees, absolutely positively no Red Sox fan should be allowed to root for the Rays. Even if they sacrifice life and limb.

That's where I draw the line.

3 comments:

Eric (Extra P.) said...

That "bandwagon" thing is kind of silly. Are we supposed to waste our hard-earned cash supporting a team that sucks? Doesn't make much sense to me.

I grew up in KC, and I root for the Royals to turn it around, but I'm not buying gear or paying for sattelite so I can watch them suck.

MyNameIsSlimJD said...

*Channeling Bill Simmons* "Hey man, this was just like that scene from the Big Lebowski, but Society is the cop, the Dude is the Rays, and the AL Pennant is the Creedence tape." Have fun Rays fans!!!

Anonymous said...

I disagree. A true fan is one that DOES support the team when they are down and not winning. Buying tickets and merchandise when they aren't winning. Fenway park hasn't had an empty seat since 2002, and several of those seasons were not good. Red Sox fans have filled that park for 90 years. I'm guessing the majority of the fans going to Rays playoff games don't even know what a balk is. They are just there because the Rays are winning and it's the popular thing to do.