If you are indeed from the Bay Area, get ready to be insulted on the national stage throughout the ALDS as the Tampa Bay Rays face the Boston Red Sox. Yes, welcome to the lecture on how Red Sox Nation is everything that is good about our “National Pastime,” and how the people of the Tampa Bay area simply do not love their team.
Oh, you have heard that before?
Time for a little history lesson for those who live outside of the area: in fact, few regions in the entire U.S. could match the talent that the Tampa Bay area has sent on to MLB. Well over 300 players from just the Tampa-St. Petersburg area of Florida alone have made it to the bigs. There are at present 45 players on MLB team rosters from the area.
So yes, fans do love the Rays and there is a very deep and passionate love of baseball in this area.
To give you an idea of some of the talent from the area, here is my All-Star team that played either little league, senior league or high school baseball in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area:
First base — This would have to be a tie between Steve Garvey and Fred McGriff as both had great All Star careers. By the way, I must put Tino Martinez on the list in the Honorable Mention category.
Second base — Tony LaRussa: while everyone knows him for his managing skills, he played for 10 years in the majors.
Third base – Wade Boggs: Red Sox fans may of heard of him.
Shortstop – Gary Sheffield: played the outfield later in his career.
Left field – Lou Piniella: had an All-Star career in the outfield before becoming a manager.
Center field - Derick Bell: played all three outfield positions.
Right field – Louis Gonzalez: Gonzo was another versatile player with mad skills.
Catcher - Al Lopez: a Hall-of-Famer who was an outstanding player and then became an outstanding manager. He had a very big influence on the managing careers of both LaRussa and Piniella.
Pitcher – Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden: one of baseball’s most talented pitchers of all time.
Pitcher - Dave Eiland: had a solid career in the majors, but is better known for his skills as a pitching coach. He won a World Series ring as the New York Yankees‘ pitching coach on the staff of manager Joe Torre.
We all get Red Sox Nation and frankly, they were more likable before they won a World Series. The fans are great, but the Tampa Bay area has its own proud history of baseball and the area fans deserve some respect. As we say in the world of Twitter, #Justsayin.