My wish for the ALCS at the Trop – “A little less cowbell!”
The following is a reprint of a blog on www.SoxandPinstripes.com from October 8th, 2008. It was a submission by Jeff Louderback to the site.
I will giv e a bit of commentary here before the piece and let you know that some of the comment by him are just a Boston fans looking for negative in a hostile enviorment, but I understand that since I ahve been to Fenway Park wearing a Rays jersey in the last 2 years. The atmosphere has changed in Boston too, so do not throw stones at our glass house when yours also has some pretty picture window in front.
Gone from this October’s post-season excitement are the Thundersticks and the Rally Monkey. Taking their place in the ALCS are cowbells. Yes, cowbells, which clang amid the worst venue in Major League Baseball – Tropicana Field. It’s bad enough that the first two games and, if necessary, the last two games of the series will be played in a roach-infested, odd-shaped dome where balls bounce off catwalks in fair territory and the game is played on artificial turf. Now, the cowbells will be louder than ever as the Rays step onto the national stage Friday night.
(Roach infested, have you not been to a game at either Yankees Stadium or Shea in the last year. Since they are tearing the structures down, the stadium crews have done the minimum to keep these structure working before the wrecking ball takes it first on deck swings.)
Legend has it that the Rays introduced cowbells to Tropicana Field to drown out the boisterous chants of “Let’s go Red Sox!” during Red Sox-Rays series. One of my favorite modern-day Saturday Night Live skits involves Will Ferrell and a parody of Blue Oyster Cult in the studio recording “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.” For those of you who appreciate classic rock, the clattering of the cowbell plays a significant role in the actual song. In the SNL skit, Christopher Walken’s character, a music producer implores, “A little more cowbell” and Ferrell’s character obliges.
(one of the reason for the addition of your worst nightmare aka cowbells was for the drowning out of the opposition. It was not only a process for the Boston faithful, but for Chicago, New York, and the Florida Marlin. You can be egotistical enough to think it was all for the Wrold Champs, but it did serve it purpose. You have been a bit quieter this year, or did the scoreboard bring on some hoarse moments.)
Believe me, if Walken was watching a baseball game at the Trop, those words would not leave his mouth. Cowbells, Thundersticks, Rally Monkeys and white towels may be appropriate at an NBA arena or an NFL stadium, but can’t we experience a baseball game without cheesy gimmicks to induce noise. Can’t fans work themselves into a frenzy on their own?
(I agree with you about the white towels, but considering that Major League Baseball and TBS handed out over 60,000 at the Trop last week, and even during today’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, all fans will be presented with a towel upon entering the building. Some call these towels collectibles, others call them just annoying tools of the fan trade.)
Fenway Park has traditions that some consider corny, such as the singing of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth inning. That, I admit, is a little embarrassing, though I love hearing “Dirty Water” after a Red Sox victory. However, Red Sox fans don’t need noise pollution and novelty items like cowbells to become immersed in the game. Can you imagine a cowbell or a Thunderstick at Fenway Park? Just walking into the hallowed baseball sanctuary is inspiration enough to make some noise when the game begins.
( I guess when we have been around as long as the Boston faithful fans, we can resort to other means of making noise. But since we are still in our first 25 years, we are growing the young following by small baby steps. I think the fans in Tampa Bay are really educated on the game, but some have not seen how to watch and be active participants yet in the great game. You do not have to paint your body blue, or wear Marge Simpson’s faux wig to get attention if you are a true fan….but then again, those are also the people they first interview after a tornado in the Midwest.)
Maybe, just maybe, if Tampa Bay maintains its winning ways for a few more seasons, the cowbell will disappear and the noise level from Rays fans alone will drown out Red Sox fans and Yankees fans who crowd the dome. For now, since many Tampa Bay residents don’t even know there is a Major League Baseball team that calls St. Petersburg home, we will have to tolerate the clattering of cowbells from the 5,000 Rays fans who actually bother to show up. At least that number has increased in recent months. There was a time earlier this season when Tampa Bay was lucky to get 1,000 people at the Trop rooting for the Rays when the Red Sox and Yankees were in town.
(For you information, we have had more sellouts this season than at any other point in our franchsie history, and that is only in it’s 11th year. When we have been around as long as you, we will have inherited seats and lotteries to get unspoken for season ticketholder seats. But, right now this team is also in an area of the country where there are a million things to so in the sun for fun some days and nights. For that reason, the fan base is not great yet, but winning does breed the possible addition of 5,000 or more for even the Seattle series every night next year.)
My suggestion to Rays supporters who attend the ALCS this weekend – yell yourself hoarse if you must, that is part of the baseball experience, but a little less cowbell, PLEASE!
(By the way, please take this as a compliment that I am writing about your blog. It should not be viewed as a Rays fan dogging you, but I respect you position and offer my counterpoint to it. No matter what happens in this series, remember this. Of these 2 teams, the best will rise to the top and face the National League. And after the battles that will take place on the field in the coming days, remember that these guys area laying it all out on that field for the fans and for pride. Hopefully both teams fans will show the same class in the stands during this ALCS both here and at Fenway. Let’s enjoy the sights and sounds and relish that a new rivalry is established this year in the A L East.