It's a completely fair statement to say that not all Boston Red Sox fans are nice people, and that there could be a kind of negative stereotype that makes bad things you hear about them easy to believe.
But if you heard last night that a Red Sox fan grabbed a live ray from the tank where Jose Lobaton's game-winning homer landed and threw it in disgust, you can excuse them that particular piece of poor decisionmaking.
Because it never happened.
What's known is this: A Kentucky sportswriter tweeted at 10:15 Monday night:
Per a friend at the game, a Red Sox fan was escorted from the stadium after taking a live Ray out of the tank and throwing it.— Thomas Beisner (@thomasbeisner) October 8, 2013
The tweet got picked up by popular sports blogs like Deadspin and SB Nation, who apparently had no problem believing that a Red Sox fan would do such a thing.
A Rays team official eventually got wind of the rumor and shot it down:
A Rays team official said the rumor that a Red Sox fan jumped into the tank and threw one of the rays swimming around was false.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) October 8, 2013
So just consider it an important lesson: Just because you know Red Sox fans are capable of horrible, horrible things doesn't mean every horrible thing you hear about them is true.
Now PETA is REALLY steamed about the Rays' touch tank
Jose Lobaton's walk-off homer that ended Monday night's game marked a milestone. That was the first time a Rays player has ever hit a ball into the touch tank full of 20 cownose rays since the 10,000-gallon aquarium opened in 2006. Two other players — Luis Gonzalez in 2007 and Miguel Cabrera earlier this year — have smacked homers that splashed down in the tank, but neither played for the Rays.
Both team spokesman Rick Vaughn and Florida Aquarium spokeswoman Katherine Chakour said Lobaton's fly ball did not injure any of the cownose rays.
After Cabrera's homer landed amid the rays in June, People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals complained that the team was being inhumane toward its namesake marine creatures. Lobaton's dinger has fired up PETA's passions all over again.
"The Tampa Bay Rays have to remove that tank now," PETA special project manager Alicia Woemper said Tuesday. "You've got balls traveling 100 mph nearly killing the cownose rays in that tank — as if being poked and prodded by strangers wasn't bad enough."
Incidentally, Vaughn said the team will make good on its longstanding promise that if a Rays player ever hit a ball into the tank, the Rays would donate $2,500 to the Florida Aquarium and $2,500 to the player's charity of choice. Lobaton settled on the Tampa Children's Home.
Tickets remain for Tuesday night's Game 4
As of 10:30 Tuesday morning, the Rays had a couple thousand tickets remaining for tonight's Game 4 of the AL Division Series with Boston.
Tickets were available in a handful of price categories via raysbaseball.com/tickets, the Trop box office, Tampa team store and Ticketmaster outlets, including calling toll-free, 1-800-745-3000.
And speaking of clutch games, the MLB knows what's up
Another Rays elimination game? Ferg's is ready
Red Sox fans must be really tired of seeing Dan Johnson everywhere
If you watched the end Monday night's walkoff win against the Red Sox, you might have noticed a certain name in the stands as the ball plunked down in the centerfield touch tank: the name "Johnson," on the back of a Rays replica jersey.
That's as in Dan Johnson, whose biggest claim to baseball fame might be the role he's played in Red Sox fans' nightmares.
On Sept. 9, 2008, it was Johnson who was called up from the minors, making a rushed journey to join Rays and arriving at Fenway Park after the game started — but in time to make a ninth-inning pinch-hitting appearance in which he hit a game-tying home run.
The Rays would eventually win that game in extra innings, protecting a division lead the Rays would keep through the end of the season en route to the World Series.
On Sept. 28, 2011, Johnson hit another pinch-hit home run, this one with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the New York Yankees in a game Evan Longoria eventually won for the Rays with an extra-innings home run.
The win, in the final game of the regular season, came within minutes of a Red Sox loss, vaulting Tampa Bay into the playoffs and ending Boston's season. The seat at Tropicana Field where his home run landed is now colored white and has been designated the Dan Johnson seat.