Well today I am down in Tampa, not to see Game 7 but I am on vacation down here and I figured it was worth a post to tell you what is going on down here.
Firstly, I was in Clearwater to see the Phillies Spring Training home, Bright House Field earlier today. The stadium looked great! A sign was on the light banners at the front entrance of the ballpark, "Go Phillies! World Series 2008" is what the signs read. That looked good, even though the stadium is closed at this time, just some cleaners were around the ballpark, cleaning the grounds and outside areas. I did get some photos and I'll be able to post them next week sometime on the blog here.
Well, Tampa is abuzz with baseball that is for sure. The Rays have crumbled their big lead in their ALCS Championship and now the Red Sox have forced the Game 7 for all the marbles tonight from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The game is currently underway, I am watching from my hotel in Clearwater and I can feel the energy just down the road in St. Petersburg. The first jersey I saw today was a Boston jersey though, at breakfast this morning. Red Sox fans are here in force, we even overheard some of the Red Sox fans heading down for Game 6 on our flight on Saturday morning.
I assumed the Phillies would play the Rays for the World Series, this is in great doubt, and a Red Sox / Phillies matchup could easily happen as well. I would rather the Phils play the Rays, as the Red Sox have a massive following and plenty of postseason experience. The Red Sox Nation is a group of rabid fans that follow every move of the team. Not that I am worried that the Phillies would lose against the Sox, but I just don't want that "Sox Nation" to invade the Citizens Bank Park, but if the Red Sox get in, I am sure they will want to.
The Rays have been the untold story of baseball in 2008, they played awesome baseball and have finally contended with the juggernaut and the titanic known as the New York Yankees, and the equally as bloated Boston Red Sox. The Rays have given baseball fans in another part of the country a reason to love baseball, and the big juggernaut teams with their overpaid payrolls have to take a second look at what is going on with the upstart Tampa Rays. The Rays suffer a little brand confusion down here in Tampa, they used to be the Devil Rays and they don't play in Tampa, but they play in St. Petersburg. So this is a little baggage that makes some baseball fans a little confused. It would be like the Phillies playing in Chester PA but still called the Philadelphia Phillies. It works for this team though, but I don't see why the city of Tampa wouldn't have a world class facility for the team that bears the city's name.
Game 7 is up for grabs and the winner goes on to the World Series and the loser just goes home to watch, so a lot is at stake here tonight in Florida. Well, back to my vacation and what else, I am going back to watch game 7 it's Tampa down by 1 in the second inning at the time of this post.
Rich Baxter - Fightin Phillies