Tropicana Field may be the quirkiest MLB ballpark and the New York Yankees were spurned by its weird setup on Sunday.
The sour grape topping of the humble pie the New York Yankees were served this weekend came unexpectedly. They were swept in Tampa after an insanely odd play occurred in in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 7-6 extra-innings loss to The Rays. It came when Clint Frazier hit a ball that looked and sounded like it was headed for the seats in left at Tropicana Field.
However, the ball was hit so high that it struck a speaker on the roof of the domed park and ricocheted to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for an out. In an actual major league ballpark, the ball likely would’ve been a HR and given the Yanks a 7-6 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. If Frazier would’ve been fortunate enough to hit the catwalk a few feet away, it would’ve been a double regardless of where it ricocheted. Go figure.
The Trop, as it is affectionately known, has rules all its own. Almost like the rules we had as kids in the schoolyards and streets: “if it hits the lamp post, it’s a HR” or “if it hits the telephone wire, it’s a do-over”.
But seriously, a major league ballpark with schoolyard rules? Rays owner Stu Sternberg is from Brooklyn so maybe the quirkiness of The Trop is a nostalgia thing for him. Factor in its earsplitting sound system and inefficient air conditioning and The Trop is probably the most maligned stadium in all of baseball.
There are plans for a new park in Ybor City that would no doubt be a better facility. The new site would also be in a better, more fan-friendly location as it would be within a 10-mile radius of approximately 920,000 people as opposed to only the 615,000 estimated to be within a 30-minute drive from Tropicana Field.
However, nothing has been officially announced let alone signed for the new park. And just how much would it “juice” The Rays’ attendance? Tampa and it’s fellow Florida team, the Miami Marlins, are perennially among the worst teams in baseball attendance-wise. The heavily taxpayer-subsidized Marlins Park which opened in 2012 gave The Marlins a slight bump but nothing significant. This season has been abysmal thus far as both the Rays and Marlins have been averaging around 15,000 and 10,000 fans per game, respectively.
While a state of the art, more conveniently located park would be great, it’s the on the field product that ultimately puts fannies in seats.
This past weekend as flawed as the on the field product may be for Tampa, it was good enough to sweep the scorching hot Yankees. Manager Kevin Cash basically emptied his bullpen on Friday and Sunday due to currently having only two healthy starters. Cash threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Yankees… including a speaker!