Typically, when the sparse crowds at Tropicana Field are mentioned, it is not in a positive light. Yesterday, the lack of fans in the stands may have played a key part in the Tampa Bay Rays victory over the Detroit Tigers.
In most cases, it is not a good thing when the ballpark is practically empty. However, for the Tampa Bay Rays, that is a near constant reality. Saddled with an outdated and difficult to get to home field, the Rays do not draw nearly as well as one would hope, given some of the exciting young players on the team, or the past history of success.
Yesterday, however, that lack of fans worked to the Rays advantage. Twice, the Detroit Tigers outfielders let a ball drop in after hearing someone from the stands yell that they had it, leading them to think the other outfielder was going to catch the ball. While it was just a regular error that led to the Rays victory, those two hits did help.
For his part, manager Brad Ausmus did not blame Rays fans for the loss. He said that the shouts from the crowd are “fair game,” and felt that the lack of fans and the general acoustics of the stadium helped sow the seeds of confusion. If nothing else, this could be considered a learning experience.
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To be fair, fans are constantly yelling at the players, trying to get into their heads. For the most part, it is all fairly mundane or R-rated, but it happens at every ballpark. Even then, the only times that one really knows what the fans are saying are during stadium wide chants or when a player is being almost unanimously booed.
Yes, this was a different situation, but it was not anything that has not happened before. Fans are always looking to find a way to give their home team an edge, and will yell things like “I got it” no matter how loud the stadium is. The fact that the Trop was not even a third of the way filled yesterday worked to the Rays, and that crafty fan’s, advantage.
Normally, the low attendance for the Tampa Bay Rays is a rather sore point. Yesterday, it proved to be an advantage.