No, this isn't a post about the team's performance. It's about something else that made me leave the Trop disgusted.
I've been a fan of the Rays since Day 1. I was there for the first game against Detroit. I was listening on the radio when Wade Boggs cranked hit 3 grand. I sat and watched Vinny Cash-steala and Greg Vaughn suck so hard I could mistake them for an Asian chick walking down Nebraska Ave. I still own, sadly, a Ben Grieve jersey.
All that culminated in a game last summer where James Shields had 10+Ks against the Indians, left with a nice lead...and Brian Stokes went Brian Stokes.
Even though the game was a gutpunch, I realized something. The ushers, who under Namoli were pricks that not only would chide you for having fun, but would have you ejected for moving up in a section that was nearly empty. I'm not one of the douchebags who brings signs or airhorns, but I'm not of the opinion that you should deny the people the right to cheer how they like.
With the new ownership, and the 30 or so games I've gone to this year, that all changed. You were encouraged to let loose your inner douche without the ushers getting on your back. I bought Party Deck tickets and sat in the baseline boxes all year. I could heckle the opposing bullpen. I could be the prick that I actually am.
But last night, I was sitting in left field near the foul pole. I personally saw an usher chide a group of jackasses in front of me. For what, you may ask? Did they have a huge sign that was blocking a view? Were they abrasively drunk? No. They were standing up and cheering with Upton up, one man on, and down by 1 in the 4th inning. And after this crochety old man scolding these guys, one of the other guys they were with walked up to the guy, astoundingly calmly, and asked why they had to sit down. There was no row behind them (They were at the entrance). The host said, and I quote, as I was sitting maybe 10 feet from the exchange, "I was talking to them. If I was talking to you, maybe it'd be your business. You'll know when I'm talking to you because I'll look at you. Sit back down or you're out of here."
Maybe this usher was having a bad night. Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. But guess what, Old Man Winter? It's a playoff game. If I hadn't had my Dippin' Dots, I'd probably have been standing up with them. Grouchy Old Fan Hosts scolding people for cheering is not how a fanbase grows. It's how it shrinks.
I was so astounding by this (I hadn't seen this since the Namooli days) I actually went ot Guest Services to say something. I was heard out by someone that may or may not have been of legal voting age, and I was probably ignored.
I know this is a long rant, and I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but when you start chiding people in the outfield for standing up and cheering during an at-bat, you take the fun out of the game. If those folks were anything like me, they paid a lot of good money for those seats. Chill out and let them have fun. Doing otherwise just turns off the people who want to sit and relax. I was so frustrated by the end of the night, I was tempted to wind down my window in the parking lot and sell my seat for tonight.