Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Dear Tampa Bay Rays, Your Ballpark Sucks

Tropicana Field is the stupidest, silliest ballpark in the Majors. The park's ground rules are like backyard wiffle ball rules. I remember in my backyard our porch jutted into the field of play, slicing across the imaginary foul line. So if a ball landed in the fair part of the porch, it was a ground-rule triple. It was a stupid, silly rule and we knew it. Tampa Bay is a Major League facility with stupid catwalks. If a ball hits them in foul territory, then the ball is dead. If a ball hits some of them in fair territory, it's a homerun. What the hell?

Then the white roof. What was wrong with a darker shade?

Fenway Park has its own weird set of nooks and crannies. But those have history, and were often out of necessity. There's a story behind each one of Fenway's quirks. The story behind each of the Trop's annoying oddities is that the stadium is poorly designed. Plain and simple.

Then there's the onslaught of noise pumped through the speakers. Listening on the radio and the artificial sound generation is obvious. The music blares, and it's relentless in both volume and frequency.

Everybody clap your hands...

Finally, the fans suck. The Oakland Athletic removed tarps in their park to accommodate the demand for tickets to their recent playoff games. The Rays didn't have to do that with their tarped off sections. For Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS, the biggest game in their franchise's history, a friend of mine was able to get tickets at face value the day of the game. That shouldn't be possible for a game of such magnitude.

Everyone always said that when the Rays became competitive, the people would come. That hasn't really happened. The people come when the Red Sox and Yankees come. The Rays were dead last in attendance this year. 18,645 per game. 900 more people per game went to see the 100-loss Marlins play. On average, 45.3% of Tropicana Field's seats are empty. And that doesn't include the tarped sections.

Worst ballpark in the country, worst fans in baseball.

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