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Fan Friendliness? Bah! An Oxymoron

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If you are just now checking this site, and are bent on skipping this article, I sincerely hope you don't, because if there is one thing of mine that you should read, it is the following.

There was an incident at Tropicana Field yesterday which got me extremely worked up. It happened previous to the game in left field. I had gotten to the park two hours earlier to get my Carl Crawford bobblehead doll, and I had two hours to kill. As I was filling out my scorecard with the just-posted lineup, this couple walked down the concourse and unfurled a banner on the concourse railing in left field. It said something to the tune of 'We'll miss you Lou, Good Luck' with Rays insignia on it. It was fairly long, painted, and it was obvious that this couple head spent a very long period of time working to assemble this poster.

No matter what you feel about Lou or the whole situation unfurling there, there was nothing graphically objectionable about the poster, who would be offended. And they have a first ammendment right to express their freedom of speech in a publicly owned stadium, right? Wrong. As they were finishing taping the poster to the railing, an usher walked up to them. They had about two-thirds left to tape, and the usher sat and watched them tape it up. Just as they finished taping the last bit of poster to the railing, the usher radioed to other security personnel, and soon after told them they had to take it down. She sat there, and she watched them remove every bit of tape from the poster before leaving.

What is this? Last I checked, Tropicana Field was in the United States of America, and it seems to me that this country was founded on freedom of expression. Call me a crazy, tree-hugging liberal, but when the public pays somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million on a structure, they have a right to freedom of speech on those grounds unless the property has been transferred into private hands. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Pinellas County Government is public, no?

Then what gives these mean-spirited, greedy shmucks the right to infringe upon the public's rights? Were they covering a sponser's sign? No. Was the sign in the field of play? No. All they wanted to do was express their sadness at a local legend leaving. I find nothing wrong in that. Furthermore, what jerk sits around, watches them finish taping the poster and then tells them to take it down? What possible motivation could someone have for being such an obstinant a double s?

After they took the sign down, they asked if they could post it on the back wall. 'Nope, Zimmer's Winners is integral, you can't put it there'. Now, instead of being a rude jerk, she could have told them of an alternate location to place the poster, but no, she decided to ruin someone's game expierence instead. The two fans left the area, dejected, but the good news is they came back and using their hands, held up the poster for about a half-inning in the area.

But that isn't good enough for me. Someone needs to be hung up in the town square for this. It is very sad when the most fun I have at games is making cracks with my mother at the security personnel. If you are the Yankees, you can afford to piss off your fans, but the worst-attended team in baseball should not be burning its bridges. How inept this team has been run on the field is only the start. What team.....

-Fires a groundskeeper for taking extra baseballs to distribute to children?

-Fires the mascot for spending too much time at nuirsing homes?

-Takes foul balls away from children who have the audacity to run into an empty seating section to retrieve it?

-Tries to be as rude as possible in enforcing team policy?

-Instead of politely asking fans to leave, sends a 'leave or we'll sick the hounds on you' message?

-Ejects fans for wearing 'Red Sox suck tee-shirts?

-Refuses to allow people with special medical needs the accomodations they need at the ballpark?

-Confiscates errant broken bats from people who almost got hit by them in the stands?

-Sets a bounty on fans who do not sit in their ticketed seats when there are whole empty seating sections.

I could go on and on with some of my own personal encounters with these menaces, but you get the picture. And if you ask these people why they are so rude in their dealings with fans, they say "I'm just following orders". I'm sorry, but if it didn't work for the Nazis, it won't work for you.

I just want to ephasize that I am not targeting most Rays employee. If you get to know people around the organization, most of them are genuinely good people. People like Andy, Dave, and Rich. People like Dewayne and Joe. People like Mark Topkin, Jose Tavarez, and the various other concessioneers, ushers, and team personnel who I have encountered who are good people at heart. For the most part, this team is stocked with nice people, but a few bad apples ruin the bunch.

Hopefully with Stuart Stenrberg taking over and a new page being turned, he will make a good effort to mend fences with fans, correct idiotic policy, and fire jerks bent on ruining a fan's expierence. For the most part, these jerks are male security people, and I don't know whether it is insecurity, a feeling of having to prove their manliness, or whatever it may be, but you people know who you are, and I sincerely hope that hell has a special place for you.