The Why's Guy

Rant: Trip shouldn't stop Tampa's Rays fans from reaching Trop

I was on a bridge over troubled waters, keenly on guard for the danger that lay ahead.

I was ready to slam on the brakes. I wasn't going to crash into that invisible, yet impenetrable, wall that aliens (or maybe the Yankees) have installed on the bay bridges to stop Tampa's baseball fans from reaching Tropicana Field.

Then it hit me.

Why are Tampa sports fans such wimps?

I was listening to a sports-talk radio show that morning as caller after caller ranted about the same thing: Driving across the bay is too far to go for a Rays game. The callers, and the two hosts, kept saying a new stadium for the team should be in Tampa.

These weren't average Joes and Janes. These were sports fans. Baseball fans. Or at least they pretended to be.

They need a demotion to the minors to develop a better argument.

Why?

Because this one doesn't float.

Say the economy is bad.

Say you're not a Rays fan.

Say there are too many other things to do here.

Say the premium ticket pricing policy is unfair.

Say this isn't a baseball town.

Say you're lazy.

But don't say the drive is too far.

I struggle with gephyrophobia, a fear of bridges, yet I can make it across the Frankland twice a day.

What's your excuse?

Even Paris Hilton, Rihanna and Chris Brown dared to venture across the bay to check out clubs in St. Petersburg. (Sure, they were probably in limos, but someone had to do the driving.)

The trip from Tampa to the Trop is easy. Just jump on Interstate 275, or the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway.

It's quicker than driving from downtown Clearwater to the Trop.

Don't want to fight rush-hour traffic?

Understandable. But in an innovative marketing move Major League Baseball now schedules games on the weekend. Can you believe it?

One of the radio show's hosts opined that a Tampa stadium would draw new fans from Orlando and Sarasota.

Really?

I recall the drive from Orlando being just a tad bit longer than the trip from Tampa to St. Petersburg, not to mention that Interstate 4 is always fun.

And if the show's host thinks Sarasota is closer to Tampa than St. Petersburg, he needs a geography lesson. Oh, wait, there's that darn bridge thing again.

You don't hear people in Pinellas County complaining about the drive to Raymond James Stadium. Or the St. Pete Times Forum. Or Ybor City. All draw people from the west side of the bay.

So what's wrong with you people on the east side? I'm embarrassed to say I'm one of you.

I'm amazed you haven't petitioned the state to have the Pinellas beaches moved to your side of the bay.

But that drive doesn't seem to bother you. I've seen plenty of Hillsborough license plates along the beaches, from Honeymoon Island to Fort De Soto.

You think getting to the Trop is tough? Try going to a game in Baltimore, or Washington. Many of those fans travel from out of state, through gridlocked traffic.

New York, Chicago, Boston? Better public transportation, but it still takes more time.

Cardinals fans come from all over the Midwest to see a game in St. Louis.

But do you know who really puts you to shame? Canadians. The Detroit Tigers faithful in Windsor, Ontario. They leave their country, crossing the Ambassador Bridge to reach Motown. Along the way, they have to go through U.S. Customs.

Ever been searched by U.S. Customs?

Give that a try. You'll never again complain about crossing the bridge.

Kyle Kreiger rants about the serious and silly with one question in mind: Why? Contact him at kreiger@sptimes.com.

Rant: Trip shouldn't stop Tampa's Rays fans from reaching Trop 06/02/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2008 1:52pm]

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