ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays will play today before a crowd of fired-up Texans who love their Rangers, their Cowboys, their Aggies and their Horned Frogs.
But a select group of these fired-up Texans love something else: their Rays. And they have the cowbells to prove it.
Take Robin Perozzi, who wore a Rays World Series T-shirt to her job as a claims adjuster one day this week while all her co-workers dressed in Rangers gear. Perozzi, 49, moved from St. Petersburg to the Dallas area last year when her husband got transferred. But she couldn't leave her Rays behind.
So she and her husband regularly go to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch Rays and Bucs games. Friday night, she planned to find the Rays' hotel and cheer on team members, to let them know some people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are rooting for Tampa Bay.
"I'm going to be a groupie, that's all there is to it," she said.
Steve Jensen has tickets to today's Game 3, and he plans to wear an Evan Longoria shirt and root for the Rays. Jensen, 57, is a die-hard Rays fan who said he went to the first Rays game at Tropicana Field in 1998. In 1999 he moved from Largo to Dallas for a software job. Back then, the Rays stunk.
"Even when they were terrible and they were here in Dallas, I would proudly show up in the Rays' colors," he said.
In friendly Texas, nobody rubbed his nose in it, he said.
"The Rangers fans are pretty nice people; they're really pleasant," Jensen said. "No one's ever given me a hard time. Some of them might chuckle at me."
But today the Rays and Rangers play a game that matters. So he's bracing for a different reaction.
"I would expect that I'll be getting a lot of razzing," he said.
Erin Chenderlin got razzed one day this week in her Rays gear. She grew up in Oldsmar and moved to Dallas two years ago to take a job with the NHL's Stars. Now she works for a banking company, and she still roots heartily for the Rays.
During Game 1 of this series Wednesday, she and her boyfriend went to the Texas State Fair, he in his Rangers jersey, she in a Rays shirt.
"I got heckled all day," Chenderlin, 25, said.
She's half glad she has to work today. The Rays haven't won any of the half-dozen games she has gone to in Texas, and part of her wonders if her presence somehow brings them bad luck.
"I really don't want to be responsible for the sweep," she said, referring to a potential loss that, in this five-game series, would put them out of the playoffs.