Mar 9, 2012

Why I'm a Rays fan

by Aaron Giddens

Cowbell Kid
Cowbell Kid — Courtesy: The Serious Tip
Why am I a Rays fan? People sometimes wonder why I can cheer for such a low payroll team who's never won anything when I could be cheering for say the Yankees. There are a variety of reasons I am a Rays fan, but there is one particular reason I am: the atmosphere this team generates.

In the past 4 years the Rays have turned in 4 straight winning seasons. Three of those seasons we have been to the playoffs. Two of those were as division champions. And one of those the Rays won the American league championship. The emotion of the come from behind games, like the one against Kansas City last season that ended with this walk-off triple plus error by Sam Fuld, is a huge factor in the Tampa Bay atmosphere that is as addicting as a drug.

To go with the amazing walkoffs you have the amazing plays, like this one against the New York Yankees on the next to last day of the season. Without that play, the Rays season could have ended there. You also have the clutch home runs like this one in 2011's "Game 162" by Longo. I've lost track of the number of times I've woken up the neighbors screaming in excitement at these plays. You also have the dominate starting pitching delivering amazing starts like this one by Matt Moore last season in the Bronx, his major league first start.

But what happens on the field is not the only contributor to this atmosphere. There's also amazing off the field things that contribute to the atmosphere. We have the amazing personalities on this team, like Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. We also have the interesting theme road trips like this one last year from Anaheim to Baltimore in PJs. Or this one from St. Pete to Seattle last June in grunge get-up.

You can also look to the mascots. You have Raymond and all his coolness. You never know what you'll see him doing in the Trop on a given night, I've seen him in PJs. You also have DJ Kitty, who's gone from being a hit on the scoreboard, to a real thing who will walk around the Trop this season. You can't ignore the noisy mascots: the cowbells. I see tweets quite often that they're annoying the opposing fans and the opposing players and all I can say is "Hey, they're doing their job."

The one other thing that contributes to this amazing atmosphere is the fans. They may not be at the Trop much (yes we know, we're wondered about it ourselves), but we know they exist. This atmosphere would not be the same without the Rays Republic, which includes the "Rays Twitter Family." The Rays Republic is international with fans everywhere, including the UK. These fans help make being a Rays fan one of the greatest things in the world.

All these things contribute to making the choice to be a Rays fan and grow emotionally invested in the team one of the best decisions I think a sports fan can make. I wouldn't trade it for the World. I am a member of the Rays Republic, we all are. And if you don't like that, well...just take a cowbell to the ear and shut up.

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