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Loyal to the Red Sox in Tampa Bay Rays' territory

The boys of summer are back at it, so things are looking a little brighter now. At least in my part of the world.

Opening day kicked off Easter Sunday with the Sox and the Yanks duking it out in typical marathon fashion. Close to four hours later and right about midnight, I shuffled off to bed with a come-back win and the happy notion that from now till October, most days will be offering up another game.

And more argument over home team loyalty.

For those who haven't figured it out yet, I am the fan that locals love to hate.

I am a member of an often obnoxious nation that sits in the visitor's section at your home arena, sometimes flanked by family or friends who have scheduled their visit to Florida around baseball's summer schedule. I go to games wearing a beat up "B" baseball cap and a "Yaz" T-shirt underneath my official home jersey with the No. 33 on the back.

Even so, I have no desire to pee on your lawn. To my credit, I do not sing Sweet Caroline mid-eighth inning at the Trop. I never join in on the "Yankees Suck" chant. I, too, think it's stupid and disrespectful. And I help support your team financially by filling seats that would likely remain empty while the bandwagon fans don 2008 Rays logo gear and hold out for another playoff berth.

Contrary to what you might believe, I do hold a high regard and, yes, a quiet fondness, for your team. I've been watching long enough to know their strength. They are a worthy adversary despite an unfair payroll gap.

Kudos to the underdogs.

Now, "Let's go Red Sox."

I could leave it there.

But I won't, because I know there are those out there who really wish transplants like me would finally adopt the Rays as our home team.

I've heard it from more than a few readers, some folks in the neighborhood who'd like me to take down our Red Sox flag and one Michigan transplant who is somewhat adamant about what amounts to a "five-year rule." After that length of time, and especially if you have a child who was born in the local area, you absolutely should be a fan of the home team.

I think he makes a very good point. And, when it comes to hockey, I agree. I cheer for the Lightning over the Boston Bruins. I hate to see a swath of Detroit red in the St. Pete Times Forum. But in that case, you must remember that it was former Bruins star forward Phil Esposito who fought to bring hockey to Tampa. That connection makes loyalty to the Lightning more palatable and offers a reasonable argument for the die-hards back home who insist on adherence to the "lifetime loyalty rule."

It is my lot to always root for the Red Sox, one cast back in the mid 1960s by my grandfather, an old boozer who spent Saturday afternoons watching games on our old Motorola black-and-white television, probably because my dad was the only one in the family who would mix him a highball — albeit a weak one. I remember hanging out with gramps and the rest of the grownups, sketching horses as young girls do, and waiting for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom to come on.

One by one everyone left the room till it was just me and my team against the Baltimore Orioles.

Quite a bit of history followed. Summers marked by awesome wins and ugly losses, records met and missed, the names of favorite players that came and went. Best of all, though, was the slow-paced respite the game offered — a mindless distraction from what was going on in the real world.

This might sound silly to some, but the time spent watching the Sox blow the 1986 World Series against the Mets gave me a much-needed break from what I count as one of the worst times of my life.

Those who know thick and thin can understand how hard it would be to switch sides now.

It's not going to happen.

So, let's just play ball.

Michele Miller can be reached at Miller@sptimes.com or at (727) 869-6251.

Loyal to the Red Sox in Tampa Bay Rays' territory 04/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 9:55pm]

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