I had a whole diatribe written out about Evan Longoria: In case you missed it, the Ray’s third baseman bemoaned their low attendance in a tone that many fans (myself included) found…off-putting—especially considering Longo didn’t even play in the game in question, which was on a damn Monday night, and which they lost, anyway. There’s a lot to be said about prodding the people you’re trying to woo, about whether or not there’s such a thing as bad PR, about the right to vent and the right to take things personally, about fans’ responsibilities versus the responsibility of a business to appeal to its customers, about group behavior from an individual’s perspective, about the length of a baseball season and the expense of a game and the annoyance of the stadium and blah.


But I’m not qualified to write a social science thesis, and the story got a lot older and less important the longer I wrote about it. So, basically, shut up, Eva. Also: cut your hair, hippie.


Oh, and good luck in the playoffs. Go Rays—woo!


Damage control or marketing ploy from the start, the team’s decision to give away 20,000 tickets last Wednesday for their final home game of the season—and a day after they clinched a playoff spot for only the second time in their history—certainly did change the story. I’ve said it before: I’m a sucker for free things (and guilt trips), so CCB and I trekked over to the Trop at 4 p.m. to prepare for the gates opening at 4:45.


Our view of the Trop, in line for free tickets, at 4:15.

Obviously a lot of other people felt the same way. A couple thousand folks beat us to it, and by 4:30, the line stretched all the way around the main parking lot. For a moment, I was afraid that the disaster wouldn’t be the lack of support but the overflow of it—it was hot, and at least one person was hauled away on a stretcher before the line started moving. Plus, the sheer volume of turnout suggested the potential for trampling and/or fisticuffs.


 Halfway through our wait.

But everyone was surprisingly well behaved, and by 5:15 we were strolling the halls wondering what the hell we were going to do for another two hours. (The free tickets were all claimed by 6:15.)


Sucks that the Rays lost, too—here’s hoping the bats come to life in the postseason—but it was fun to see so many people there. Especially the number of families with children who took advantage of the deal. Fun to be reminded that, for a lot of people, a baseball game is still a rare big deal instead of a routine responsibility for 80 home games a year.


(Just for perspective, without tickets, the cost was $15 parking, $9 beer, $7 hamburger, $5 fries, for a $36 total. And you know how children these days enjoy their beer.)


For CCB and me, of course, Tampa’s pro sports games are somewhere between rare big deal and routine. We’ll be there, cowbells a-clangin’, for the first playoff game this Wednesday. I have a feeling attendance is not going to be an issue.