A young upstart team vs. a defending world champion. A city that played a starring role in our history books vs. a place that until recently was known as God's Waiting Room. A rivalry that until recently was as lopsided as a Michael Phelps heat in the Olympics. Those are the story lines in this new battle to be the Beast of the East. We'd like to add a new plot line: Tropicana Field vs. Fenway Park. Ha! Many of you might be scoffing. Fenway in a rout. But hold on, we're going to take a closer look at the home field advantages.
Gas Plant area: A gas manufacturing plant operated on the site from 1914 to 1959. It produced gas from coal in a process that left behind hazardous by-products
The Fens: The park's name is derived from the Fenway District of Boston, which was partially created late in the 19th century by filling in marshland or "fens."
Advantage: Dang it, we're not starting out too well here, now are we?
Raymond Ray: Made his debut in 1998, loves the movie Monsters Inc., is known as a flashy breakdancer.
Wally the Green Monster: Made his debut in 1997, loves the song Dirty Water, is named after an iconic park fixture.
Advantage: Toss-up here. Wally and Raymond are probably amusing only to a certain subset of fans who like their mascots big, hairy and of uncertain origin.
Feel the Heat: The sports anthem was written especially for the Rays by Darren Moore, a rock musician based currently in Winnipeg who also plays with a band called Living Under Venus. He says he wrote the song, which includes references to the Skyway and the Pit, in one day after the phrase "Feel the heat" popped into his head.
Sweet Caroline: A new Red Sox employee named Amy Tobey began playing the song in 1998 because she noticed the crowd singing along. She considered the song a good luck charm, and began playing it between the seventh and ninth innings if the team was ahead. It became a permanent eighth-inning fixture in 2002, and has been ever since.
Advantage: No disrespect for Darren, but "Good times never seemed so good." In fact, maybe Diamond's I'm a Believer is still available.
Catwalks: The A, B, C and D rings that snag balls have been a topic of conversation ever since the Rays started play. The sight of fielders looking befuddled as they search in vain for the ball that disappeared is great -- if the Rays are batting.
Williamsburg: Named after Ted Williams, this is the area where bullpens were constructed in right field to bring the fence 23 feet closer to home plate for Williams and other left-handed BoSox batters. Reportedly coined by sportswriters as a counterpart to the same area in Yankee Stadium called Ruthville.
Advantage: We're positive just the sight of those catwalks reminds opposing teams of some giant spaceship ready to suck them to their doom.
Batter's Eye restaurant: Inside, you have a panoramic view of the game action in if you sit by the windows. In the batter's box, it looks like a big green bank of windows, ripe for smashing.
Green Monster: The 37-foot high Matterhorn of the major leagues was painted green in 1947 and is only about 310 feet from home plate. It's covered in hard plastic, and most line drives that would clear other fences careen off the wall for only a double.
Advantage: Mythical, mysterious and moan-inducing. we bow before the Monster.
Chick-fil-A flying cow: Usually parked over on the rightfield wall just beyond the foul pole, the cow flutters into the stands for brief moments in between the action.
The giant Citgo sign: Located outside the park in Kenmore Square, the sign has become a beloved icon of red, white and blue flashing neon at night games.
Advantage: We somehow don't think the cow would inspire a preservation effort and appearances on postcards, in newspapers, movies, books, tourism brochures and even in Life magazine.
The rays tank: At 3 feet deep, the 10,000-gallon tank holds a small school of cownose rays. Fans can pet the rays for free or spend a few bucks to feed them by hand.
The red bleacher seat: The seat in the right field bleachers is painted red to mark the spot where the longest measurable home run ever hit inside Fenway landed. Ted Williams hit the home run on June 9, 1946. The blast measured 502 feet. Legend says the ball crashed through the straw hat of the man sitting in the seat -- Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21.
Advantage: The Ted Williams Hitting Museum is at the Trop, so how do you think we're going to vote? Red seat (but those rays are cool).
Pepsi product races, the kissing cam, More Cowbell video
Whattya, crazy! Only baseball watched heah!
Advantage: Man, we cheer for Sierra Mist every time. (But ditch the kissing cam; awkward!)
1999 men's college basketball Final Four (If you're wondering: That movie The Rookie, in which Dennis Quaid plays Rays reliever Jim Morris, was shot in Texas, darn it)
Field of Dreams, Good Will Hunting, Fever Pitch (we could go on)
Advantage: Well, at least Kevin Costner, who played a character called Ray in Dreams, is a Rays fan.
Umm, the tbt* party deck?: Decorated to look like an Ybor City block, it attracts people looking for cheap seats and a free-wheeling atmosphere
Pesky's Pole, Fisk's Pole, Duffy's Cliff: Boy, it'd take a Wikepedia entry to explain them all, so just look 'em up.
Advantage: Okay, we get it. You had a lot of great players! You've got 90 more years on us. Wait until Pena's Pole or Longoria's Alley are enshrined in our memories 10 or 20 years from now.
Up in the 300s in the tarp zone: Some fans during the White Sox series pried the blue tarps off some seats and stretched out. Nice seats, but the D ring blocked their view of some of the action.
Seating on top of the green monster: These 274 seats were added during before the 2003 season and are wildly popular.
Advantage: Are you kidding? A chance to catch a ball atop a legend? We're green with envy.
Well, at least The Trop was (sort of) competitive in some of the categories. Maybe we'll leave it to the Rays to even the score.
Sources: redsox.mlb.com, tampabay.rays.mlb.com, citgo.com, boston.com, tampabay.com