Don’t Come Around Here No More

The following is a guest post by long-lost and much-beloved thefoulline.com contributor, Dylan.

The 2013 fan experience for any sport is like no other that we have seen before. 20 years ago, and even 10 years ago, the act of going to a game beat out the experience of watching it on TV at home any day of the week. Nowadays, I can’t help but wonder why someone would want to leave their house to attend a sporting event. (Unless, of course, that game is a windy spring training game with thefoulline.com crew.)

At home, I can keep up with my fantasy roster, stream the game to my iPhone if I need to take a nature break, and pay less than $10 for a beer. Gone are the days of kids begging Dad to drive an hour into the city so that they can get a glimpse of the players they read about or heard radio announcers applaud. This is the 21st Century!!! No longer is a guys’ night out held at the game, but rather a local sports bar that has a TV the size of a wall. Ownerships need to ask themselves what would draw someone back in for the fan experience.

Two teams that equally need new stadiums are the Tampa Bay Rays (obvious) and the Boston Red Sox (gasp!).

The Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium more than any team in any sport at any point in history. This is a team that, love ’em or hate ’em, has performed very well the past five years and has a marketable cast of players and a unique and popular manager, along with a seemingly intelligent ownership group. So why can’t this team break out of the bottom third of MLB fan popularity and stop having attendance in the gutter year after year?

The stadium.

An absurd contract with the City of St. Pete has the Rays staying in the Trop until what I believe is the year 2095, but I’m not too good at contractual facts. The City of St. Petersburg commissioners are making every attempt to hold the Rays hostage to their contract, and by doing so are slowly eroding away at any chance the Rays have at climbing out of the attendance cellar. Last time I checked, the dukes and duchesses of St. Pete will not let the Rays ownership speak with Hillsborough County officials. If the Tampa Bay region wants to be part of the baseball world, then talks need to open up across the bay in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Rays need to be in Downtown Tampa. Tampa has seen a revitalization of sorts, with the Seminole Heights District attracting the middle-aged hipster crowd to its 1920s houses, and Cigar City Brewing helping build a Portland-esque artisan crowd. The Rays ownership could capitalize on the renaissance that Tampa is experiencing by placing the team smack in the city, along the water and near the business of downtown that so desperately needs an attraction within reach. A downtown stadium with a view of the bay would celebrate the waterfront that Florida is known for, could spark a new crop of bars and restaurants in a downtown that is a ghost town after 5pm, and could once and for all start a freshening up of inner-city Tampa that has been forgotten to the ugly urban sprawl outward.

Now, to the more controversial topic. The Red Sox need to get out of Fenway!!! In 1998, I too got caught in the hype of Saving Fenway Park when talks first began about tearing it down and building a new stadium. I hated the idea and I couldn’t stand to see Fenway go. Memories were there for me and always will be. The first time someone walks up the ramp and sees the bright green grass and dark green walls, and feels the intimacy of Fenway, it gives goose bumps. The amazing thing about that feeling is it never goes away. No matter the amount of times someone walks into that stadium, the feeling is there. But what I think tied so many to that stadium was the shared feelings of hurt and letdown that bonded all of New England together. Blame it on the blue-collar spirit of Boston, but pre-2007 (no, not 2004), Red Sox fans knew there was unfinished business and couldn’t let the stadium go away until the job was done.

The Red Sox HAD to win the World Series while playing out of Fenway. It wouldn’t have been right if done otherwise, and they had to do it twice. 2004 may have broke the curse, but 2007 cemented the Red Sox atop the heap in baseball. ’07 proved that ’04 wasn’t a fluke and the Red Sox were to be taken seriously. I wrote a piece about how after 2007 I felt different as a Red Sox fan. At the time I thought the piece was a little ridiculous, but looking back I think I was spot on. The Red Sox did change after 2007. No longer was this “the idiots” or the days of reverse the curse. Boston was all of the sudden a town of winners, that for decades had been lovable losers. The persona that so many Red Sox fans, and to some extent, I think, the players took on was over. Things really did change in 2007.

Now, in 2013, the team is coming off a terrible year and the image of the Sox has gone from the lovable idiots that wouldn’t give up in 2004 to spoiled grown men that eat chicken and drink beer. This is why Fenway needs to go. The era of the Curse is over. The story of 2004 will live on forever but it’s time for the Red Sox to build a new image, a cleaner image, one that celebrates what Boston is now and embraces a new era. A move out of Fenway could mean a new stadium on the waterfront by either Pier 4 or Long Wharf. A new stadium that could incorporate the North End, Fanueil Hall, the waterfront, and the growing pop-culture popularity of South Boston. Red Sox fans don’t need to look toward a past filled with curses and a broke-down stadium anymore, it’s time to celebrate the team, and to a greater extent, the City of Boston.

I’ll Be Brief

Week two of our season is in the books, and the competition is as fierce as ever. I have never started a fantasy season 1-0, so to be one of only 3 teams to be 2-0 after two weeks is blowing my mind.

So far this season there have been a few interesting trades. I really liked WILLIS Be The Year going against conventional wisdom and trading Hanley for stud pitcher and chronic mound-sprinter Cliff Lee. I think this trade is a good deal for both teams, unlike the shellacking I gave Allan in the Gallardo/VMart deal. Keep throwing those 90-mph fastballs Yovani!

I’m going to keep this post short. The Boston Bad Boy is in town for a couple of days and we’re heading to the Trop to see Edwin Jackson outduel David Price. So without further adieu… here are your Week 2 power rankings.

  1. Yankeehaters
  2. Rays Those Cowbells
  3. bostobadboys
  4. chefdicks11
  5. Love Boat Captains
  6. RedRays
  7. WILLIS Be The Year
  8. Sam’s Baseball Train
  9. UNsportsmanMike
  10. ToPpIn Da ChArTz

 

Go Sox!

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Thursday night’s come-from-behind win for the Red Sox was amazing, series altering, life changing and whatever other hyperbole that the national media is throwing around these days. So why is it that I feel like Teddy KGB, so unsatisfied?  Boston’s win to force a game 6 was dramatic, but it’s not like they just won the series. Tampa Bay still holds a 3-2 series lead with the next two games at Tropicana Field. Don’t get me wrong, I feel infinitely better that Boston was finally able to string a few hits together, and David Ortiz had some resemblance to his 2004 version, but there is a lot of baseball left to be played.

Going into tonight’s game, I really wish that Josh Beckett’s ERA was sub-10.00 this postseason. I also wish that James Shields threw his shoulder out in June when his left cross missed Coco Crisp by three feet. But I guess we’ll just have to deal with this match up. Shields is the one guy on the Rays staff that scares me. He didn’t get his “Big Game” moniker from his deer hunting ability. This guy is a stud that rises to the occasion and relishes the pressure.

Shields is going up against some guy that has a striking resemblance to Josh Beckett, but without the 96 mph fastball and the pinpoint control. There is obviously something wrong with Beckett. He’s going to need to channel his inner Curt Schilling and make the adjustment from strikeout pitcher to a control pitcher that keeps the hitters guessing. But Beckett is a fierce competitor. Whichever version of him shows up tonight is going to be pissed off and spitting nails. This will be fun to watch.

As for the hitters on both teams, now that Boston has seen how productive it can be when they get consecutive hits, I really hope that they try and do that again. It was fun to see them scoring runs again. The Rays, on the other hand, are obviously taking steroids and corking their bats. There is no way that they can hit that many home runs. I’m calling for George Mitchell to reopen his investigation.

But seriously. Rays players have to be thinking that they have just woken a sleeping giant. They had Boston on the ropes and let them back in it. It will be interesting to see if the Rays hitters are squeezing their bats a little tighter and trying for the long ball tonight while playing in front of the home crowd.

Up a touchdown in the 7th inning. Champagne on ice. The smell of the World Series in the air. Only to blow it.  This has the potential to crush the confidence of a young ballclub. This is a must-win game for Tampa. With a potential game seven match up of baseball’s best story, Jon Lester, vs. headcase and chronic spitter Matt Garza. This is the biggest game in the history of Tampa Bay baseball. Again.

The Rays are still in the driver’s seat, but they have to be keeping a close eye on the rearview mirror.

New York State of Mind

Don’t look now, but the New York Yankees have climbed to within three games of the AL East co-leaders Sox and Rays and are in Boston for a three-game set at Fenway Park that starts tonight. Like a bad case of athlete’s foot, New York refuses to go away. These guys have been decimated this season with injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Add to that the disappointing pitching from Ian Kennedy and Philip Hughes, plus the media circus of the A-Rod/Madonna/Cynthia Rodriguez/Lenny Kravitz Quadangle, and it is a miracle that these guys are still in contention. What is Hank Steinbrenner pumping through the air conditioning ducts to keep these guys motivated?

I’m not sure that the Yankees have enough pitching to make a long run at the playoffs, but you can be certain that Hank Steinbrenner will mortgage the future at next week’s trade deadline to at least make it interesting.

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits

  • I don’t know what Joba Chamberlain’s problem with Kevin Youkilis is, but if he hits Youk again tonight, I hope he gets his face smashed in with a Louisville Slugger.
  • You can tell that autumn is here when the leaves change color, and you can tell it’s almost August when Manny Ramirez starts faking another injury. This season it’s his sore knee. It never fails.
  • The attendance at Tropicana Field for the last two games for the Rays was about 12,000 and 16,000. That equates to 30.1% and 40% of total capacity. I know that it’s not the temperature in Florida that’s keeping them away. It’s always fair-weathered in the dome.
  • Big Papi David Ortiz rejoins the Sox tonight after a long layoff. This might be the big move at the trade deadline that everyone has been hoping for.
  • Speaking of the trading deadline… I really hope that Boston deals Manny to the Mets for prospects, takes those prospects and adds a top-line Red Sox prospect to the mix, and makes a deal for Matt Holliday. He would make people forget about Manny pretty damn quick.
  • Playoff atmosphere at Fenway tonight, and there is no one better to have on the mound than the best big game pitcher in baseball, Josh Beckett.

Go Sox!

I Predict a Riot

The Tampa Bay Rays have had an impressive start to their tenth season, a season that has shown a lot of promise, hope, and potential for a successful future. After 68 games the Rays are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory, with a winning record and hopes for a possible playoff berth.

Despite the large amount of stress that this could cause, it’s refreshing to see that the Rays have been able to keep their sense of humor. I was reading the newspaper the other day and came across this quote from Rays pitcher and part-time comedian James Shields, referring to Coco Crisp charging the mound during their game last week: “If he wants to come out and charge the mound, he’s going to feel the wrath. That’s just bottom line. If he wants to go cry about it, that’s fine.”

James Shields takes a swing at Coco Crisp

After closer examination of the brawl, I noticed a few things. First, Shields threw the worst punch that I’ve ever seen. He really should look at what he’s swinging at. Secondly, when involved in a fight, you really should take your baseball glove off.

Now I’m not a boxing expert, but when Shields missed his punch by six inches, was that the “unleashing of the wrath?” His punch did nothing more than dry out Coco’s contact lenses from the wind blowing by.

These two teams meet again June 30th at Sam’s Wholesale Warehouse… I mean Tropicana Field. It’s going to be an exciting series that should provide some fireworks. Let’s hope that with all the bad blood between these teams, that they will sell this place out (for the the 12th time… ever).

I’ll definitely be there along with the other 20,000+ Red Sox fans.

I just hope Shields will keep his wrath contained.