Maybe it is cooler to be a Rays fan these days than a Bucs fan. Check out Jason Burtch. He's a 29-year-old Tampa Bay sports fan from Port Charlotte. Burtch, right, wants Rays tickets so badly that he's willing to give up Bucs tickets to get them. On Friday, Burtch posted the following on a Rays message board:
Would like to swap 2 tix to the bucs vs falcons game for 2 lowers level seats to either the 9-4 game against the yankees or 9-15 game against the red sox. My bucs seats are 35 yard line Row N ($85 face value).
"Well, first off, the Bucs game isn't a great game because it's against the Falcons,'' Burtch explained Tuesday. "And it's early September so you know it's going to be hot. … Still, I'm really into the Rays and thought this was a good way to get good Rays tickets.'' Tampa Bay always has been and probably always will be football-first town. But, actually, it is cooler to be a Rays fan than a Bucs fan at the moment. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. You can feel good about the Rays
Delmon Young is a head case and the Rays trade him. Elijah Dukes is a troublemaker and the Rays trade him. B.J. Upton loafs and the Rays bench him. Meantime, the Bucs re-sign a player (Jerramy Stevens) who has been in one legal shenanigan after another, and use a first-round pick to draft a guy (Aqib Talib) who was caught smoking marijuana on multiple occasions in college and then got into a fight with a teammate at the NFL rookie symposium.
2. The Rays treat players better
Rocco Baldelli comes down with a mysterious illness and what do the Rays do? Stand behind him, help him, show patience and eventually work him back into the lineup. Chris Simms loses a spleen and what to the Bucs do? Bad-mouth him, bench him and, ultimately, release him.
3. Postgame concerts and giveaways
LL Cool J, Loverboy and more bobbleheads than you can shake a stick at. That's what you get at a Rays game. What do the Bucs give away? Posters that turn into flying airplanes about midway through the fourth quarter of their games. And, this has nothing to do with giveaways, but here's another reason — there's more offense at a Rays game.
4. Rays are more family friendly
In general, the difference between a Rays game and a Bucs fan is like the difference between a movie that's rated PG and another that's rated R. The Bucs draw more fans, but that also means more of them are drunk, obnoxious and swear like they're in a David Mamet play. In short, if you have the choice to take your 8-year-old to a Rays game or a Bucs game, it's no contest.
5. You don't have to sit in traffic
See, there's one advantage to small crowds at Rays games. You don't have to fill up your gas tank, leave your house four hours early and inch your way along the final 5 miles just to arrive two hours before the game starts. The Rays are a pleasant evening out. The Bucs are a hard day's work.
6. Joe Maddon seems like a nicer guy than Jon Gruden
The Bucs coach isn't paid to make friends, but to win games. We get that. But we go back two years ago when Maddon took two games off to attend his girlfriend's graduation from law school. We just don't see Gruden doing something like that. Maddon sips wine after a game. Meantime, when we think of Gruden, our first thought is seeing how many times he can use a word that starts with "F'' on the sideline.
7. Free parking
When we see the word "free,'' our next thought is "cool.'' Cars with four or more people can still park for free at a Rays game. The Bucs charge 25 bucks a pop no matter how many people are in your car. Plus, you can get a ticket to a Rays game for a mere $9. Nine dollars can't get your front wheels into the parking lot at Raymond James.
8. The Rays owners seem like regular guys
The Glazers are probably nice people and they do wonderful charity work. But when was the last time you saw Joel and Bryan Glazer or GM Bruce Allen serving as ushers at a game like Rays owner Stuart Sternberg and executives Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman? The Rays boys just seem more accessible and their sole focus is a baseball team in St. Petersburg. (They have nothing to do with a soccer team in England.) Plus, Sternberg is a Springsteen fan. We don't know what kind of music the Glazers listen to because they are so private, but something about them screams "Yanni.''
9. It literally is cooler
Rays home game: 72 degrees, no rain, no wind, no boiling sun. Bucs games: 90 degrees, maybe a wicked thunderstorm, searing sun. At Rays games, you settle in with a cold drink and a bag of peanuts that you can bring from home. At the Bucs game, you cram into an oven and need 70 SPF and a bottle of water to just keep from passing out.
10. You can hang out after a Rays game
Okay, so downtown St. Pete isn't exactly midtown Manhattan. But at least you can walk to a couple of dozen places to grab a bite to eat and a drink, maybe even listen to a little music. There are a few popular places within walking distance of Raymond James. Sure, you can listen to music at these, uh, establishments, but you better not grab anything or a guy named T-Bone will snap your spinal cord.