Each fan walking into Tropicana Field knows exactly what he’s doing: he’s going to a baseball game. His motivation could come from a variety of places–he could be a diehard Rays fan, or friends or family may have gotten tickets and invited him to come, or maybe he could be going to the game to woo a potential client–but the end result is the same for everyone, seeing the Rays take on whatever opponent they’re set to face that afternoon or night. Baseball, whether it be their passion or indifference for it, is the first thing off the tongues of the fans as they talk with the group they’re going to the game with while they get their tickets scanned and enter the stadium. If someone suggested that they were going to Tropicana Field to do anything but watch a baseball game, they would dismiss the suggestion as preposterous. However, that’s only true 99.999% of the time. The chances of Tropicana Field ever encountering someone fitting the other .001% is exceedingly small. But when the results of letting such a person into the stadium can be so catastrophic, constant vigilance is a necessity. The Rays have begun facing the reality of the situation over the last few days, randomly screening fans who enter Tropicana Field as they hope to prevent anyone looking to inflict harm on the stadium from even entering its gates.
Talking to Jose Patino Girona of the Tampa Tribune, seeing Rays security personnel waving metal-detecting devices checking randomly selected fans was a comfort–it let them know that while baseball is what’s offered at Tropicana Field, security is the utmost priority and the Rays are more than willing to enforce that. One person Patino Girona talked to, though, had something interesting to say.
“I don’t see doing one out of every 100 people will do anything,” said Harris, 53, of Safety Harbor. “It’s probably not enough.”
Harris would be right if the Rays’ security personnel was truly checking every one of every 100 people. However, as fair and equal as that may seem, that’s not the truth. As a relative who’s a police officer once explain to me, if he was checking the gates and saw a suspicious person coming, he would just skip to “100″ and check the person regardless of where his count was really at, claiming he lost count in the unlikely event that his supervisor asked. If Rays personnel see a man wearing a trench coat in the middle of the summer walking towards the stadium, they will check him no matter where their count is at. As someone Patino Girona noted, “it could be anyone,” but the Rays are going to do everything in their power to pinpoint exactly which supposed fan is a threat to the security of the stadium before he enters.
The waving of the metal detectors as you enter the stadium will be annoying and inconvenient. But every time it happens, you can realize that you’re entering the stadium to simply watch a baseball game. Everything else will fade into the background for three hours as you take in the sights and sounds of America’s pastime. And nothing, let alone something life-threatening, will ever be allowed to disturb that tranquility.