Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Get Fans to the Trop? Just Offer Free Autographs

Hey Matt Silverman and Stu Sternberg, I think I know how to fill up the Trop. I'm sure the last ten words really got your attention.

Here's the plan: offer free autographs two hours before first pitch, and you're guaranteed 30,000 folks at every game. At least, Rays Fan Fest 2010 proves that theory. I arrived shortly before 11 a.m. thinking I would have no problem getting an Evan Longoria autograph. Boy, was I wrong.




The line for Evan wrapped around at least five times and out the right field door. So, it was off to Plan B. Evan signed autographs at noon. Carlos Pena was scheduled for 1 p.m. The Pena line at 11 a.m. wasn't so bad. The really sad part is that Rays minor league phenom Desmond Jennings was also signing autographs in the same line - just an hour earlier than Pena. So basically, if anyone decided to get a Desmond autograph, they lost their place in line for Pena.



Oh well, it seemed as if Carl Crawford's future replacement...er, Desmond was still having a good time despite watching a line of 500 people try not to make eye contact with him, in essence, saying, "Sorry kid, but I know I'll have another opportunity at the 2011 Fan Fest to get your autograph, and according to Stu, this is my last shot for Pena."

And another thing to keep in mind for Stu and Matt, if you truly want to incite a riot, it's really easy. Just have a big time Rays player, such as Carlos Pena, completely stop signing autographs only to be interviewed by Rich Herrera, thus reducing his allotted autograph time. I never thought I would hear hundreds of people cursing Rich's name in unison until today.



Another observation I made while in line -- people really like Andy Sonnanstine. He and Wade Davis were signing at the table next to Pena's. That line did move much faster, but it was still pretty long. And I was somewhat astonished at how many people wanted to take their picture with Andy.



I guess if you seem like a nice enough guy like Andy, Rays fans will ultimately like you no matter what. And I mean no matter what. Did everyone forget his 6.77 ERA in 2009 including two games as Ben Francisco's personal batting practice pitcher? If Sonnanstine starts even one game in 2010, the Rays are not going to the playoffs.

Overall, I must admit Fan Fest 2010 was pretty impressive. I've heard reports of 30,000 plus showing up on Saturday, and that seems accurate. It's encouraging to know that there is plenty of enthusiasm in this town for Rays baseball.



I did have to wait nearly two-and-a-half hours for a Pena autograph, but it was well worth it. Although, I must admit. I will never question Carl Crawford again. Your legs do hurt while standing on the Trop's field turf for long periods of time.



2 Comments:

Michael Weber said...

Classic: "I'll never question CC again. Your legs do hurt while standing on the Trop's field turf for long period's of time."

Why, it's Clark! said...

Great review, great time. I'll bet 30,000 is accurate. It was packed.

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