In an alternate universe, yesterday’s game could have been a compelling nail biter for Rays fans. The Rays offense mustered just one hit but it was a home run; Chris Archer went six innings allowing just two runs. A real pitchers duel, one that would have had us on the edge of our seats had the Rays still been contenders.
Despite the Rays position in the standings, Archer could feel good about his performance. It was his best start since being removed from a game at the onset of September with forearm tightness.
During postgame interviews, however, Archer shifted the subject from his pitching performance to the fans performance.
Over 25,000 fans showed up, making it the second largest crowd the Rays have played in front of at the Trop this season. But the fans were for the most part not there to cheer on the Rays. Rather they showed up for a rare appearance by the World Champion Chicago Cubs in St. Petersburg. The Cubs hadn’t played in St Pete since the 2008 season, which has actually been their only trip to the Rays home stadium.
Although it is hard to measure this scientifically, there sure seemed to be a lot of Cubs fans in the crowd.
We’re not too surprised. Between the Chicago-area transplants, and the bandwagon fans who wanted to see the World Series champs, to Tampa Bay residents who still have fond feelings for Joe Maddon and Ben Zobrist, there are likely to be a lot of folks around here interested in seeing the Cubs, and they will only have two chances to do that in a multi-year period.
Tickets prices for these games were reportedly increased; Rays fans could reasonably conclude that they are better off seeing their team on a different night with more reasonable prices. Other Rays fans may still be repairing hurricane damage; still others may have given up on a season that is ending with a whimper.
That made for a pretty unhomelike atmosphere for the team. Opposing players received standing ovations during player announcements while the Rays were treated to more casual greeting.
Chris wasn’t happy. Here’s what he said:
Having 25,000 Cub fans here, wasn’t very fun either
It’s weird, I didn’t know we had that many mid-western people in Tampa, but I guess we do. It’s just weird for their players to come out and get announced and just get so much love.
It felt like we were at Citi Field, playing the Yankees. Honestly, it felt very similar to that...and I’m not being critical it was just crazy how much royal blue there was out there.
When Wilson Contreras ran out to warm up the pitcher...like he got a standing o
I’ve been here for however long, I’ve seen some really, really good players come and I’ve never seen anybody get as much love when they go to warm up then some of their players did.
It was definitely more of a road environment as opposed to a home environment tonight.
The complete video is below.