Last Week's Question
Despite getting an impressive number of poll respondents, last week's interactive question only received one email response. Come on Rays fans, log onto your email! Anyways, that question focused on spring training sites, specifically, where the Rays should hold spring training after 2007. The choices were Hillsborough County, Central Florida, North Florida, the Gulf Coast of Florida, East Florida, Arizona, or, St. Pete. The results of the poll are in and the overwhelming majority of Rays fans, almost half, would prefer to keep the team's spring training site in St. Pete.
Where should the Rays train after 2007?
In St. Pete-24 votes; 43 %
In Hillsborough County-7 votes; 12 %
Somewhere else along the I-4 corridor-6 votes; 10 %
In North Florida-2 votes; 3 %
Between Bradenton and Ft. Myers-8 votes; 14 %
On Florida's East Coast-1 vote; 1 %
In the Cactus League (Arizona)-7 votes; 12 %
55 Total Votes
The St. Pete option received three times the amount of votes as the next highest total, which was moving it down the coast. Hillsborough County received 7 votes, Central Florida 6, and Arizona 7 (WTF?)
Only one response this week, and that comes from Mr. Bill Miller in Ft. Myers, and we thank Mr. Miller for his participation in our feature.
Bill Miller-I would love for the Rays to move their spring training site to either Fort Myers, or the old Rangers stadium in Port Charlotte. Here in Fort Myers, we have a great number of transplants from New England and Minnesota, who "winter" here for a few months. These folks wait for hours, on a cold morning in January, when single game tickets go on sale, just to see their "home team" (either the Red Sox or the Twins). I had a little discussion with a few guys who were standing in line with me a couple of months ago. One of them asked me where in Minnesota I was from. I told him I wasn't from Minnesota, I was from Ft. Myers. He said "oh" and then proceeded to ask me if I was going to the Yankee game or either one of the Red Sox games. I told him I was waiting in line for tickets to the 2 Rays games (March 18 and 26). After a few chuckles from the other guys in line he asked me why I was waiting in the cold weather to buy tickets to see the Rays. I told him, just as the Twins were his "home team", the Rays were mine. I don't spend 3 months every winter here in Ft. Myers, just to drive back up I-75 shortly before Easter, so I could go back "to my real home." I told him that it might be hard to believe, but there is baseball played here in Florida after the snowbirds close up their condos for the winter, and head back north.
That's why I would like to see the Rays hold their spring training in this part of Florida. It would give people, like me, who call the west coast of Florida home, a chance to see our "home team". The Rays could really market this in a positive way... "Come out and see the "locals" team". The Rays really need to start formulating a true fan base. I believe holding spring training not too far from St. Pete, where they could start getting the attention of year `round residents, who could attend a few games a season at the Trop, would be a start in the right direction.
For those of you that follow my passions, and I know there's a lot of you, you know that I love Al Lang Field on the water in Downtown St. Pete immensely. Go to a game there, sit and watch a sailboat glide by on the water as the crack of the bat sounds and the seagulls call out in the distance and tell me that you don't love it. Thus, it will come as no surprise to you that the waterfront stadium is where I prefer the Rays to be. It just makes perfect sense. How many teams in the modern era can say that they trained in their hometown? One. How many teams can say that they play their home games in the spring a pop fly from a large body of water? One. And that "one" is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Sure, you can upgrade Al Lang if you want. Hell, you can tear down the stadium and build a new one from scratch, in fact, I highly recommend it. The facility is not what makes Al Lang the best place to watch a game in all of baseball. It is its location. If you could incorporate a modern facility like Bright House Field in Clearwater into a location like Al Lang's, you've got one hell of a baseball stadium. Alas, even playing in the dingy, 70s concrete mammoth that they do now, Al Lang is still a great place to watch a game And not other location in Florida can duplicate the beauty of the current spot.
Sure, Plant City might reel in a few Central Florida fans, but it is also in direct competition with the Indians and Tigers. Port Charlotte may extend a hand to some Southwest Florida fans, but again, is in close proximity to Minnesota and Boston, as is any location in Sarasota or Manatee Counties with the Reds and Pirates, respectively. East Florida is already about tapped out when it comes to spring training sites, and besides, the Rays are encroaching on Braves and Marlins territory over there, of which minimal gains could be made? And Arizona? Give me a break, what possible benefit is there to that? gee, let's move to a desert where we have no fan base and will likely have to share a complex with three or four other teams. Smart. In essence, don't fix what ain't broke. Stay in Al Lang.
This Week's Question
With Sean Burroughs sucking wind this spring, the question arises of who should play third base this year. Do we stay with Burroughs at the hot corner, or do we go with Ty Wigginton, Russell Branyan, or other options. Tell me who you think should man the hot corner this year. As always, you can email me at email@example.com or click the 'Contact Patrick' button on the side of the page. I will put up a corresponding poll later tonight.