Rays Rally Fizzles as Fans Head Inside for Beer

The Rays Rally behind Ferg's bar fizzled but inside the joint sizzled with wired baseball fans enjoying beer before game time.

A much ballyhooed Rays Rally, a city effort to pump up already pumped-up baseball fans prior to Game 3 of the American League Division Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers, was a big letdown.

Turns out fans did not need to get pumped up. They were just more interested in going belly up to the bar.

Forget, the old-fashioned-style rally. Fans just wanted to party.

Hundreds of Rays fans descended on Ferg's Sports Bar for the carnival-like atmosphere of a third bout of playoff fever in the past four years for Rays fans.

Ferg's, a long fly ball from the Rays home waters of Tropicana Field, was scheduled to host a Rays Rally at 2 p.m. The rally, replete with a band and an appearance by St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, was pushed pack to 3 p.m. said Ferg's founder Mark Ferguson.

The rally was to take place in the famous watering hole's back courtyard. But there were more merchants than fans.

Inside was a different story. Ferg's was packed with hundreds of Rays fans who quaffed beer for several hours before David Price's scheduled first pitch.

Along with merchants was a live radio broadcast, which Foster appeared on to talk baseball.

After the interview, Foster was glowing in what is starting to become a fall ritual in St. Petersburg: playoff baseball.

"Oh, we are a team of destiny," Foster boasted. 

Like many Rays fans, Foster was still buzzing about how the Rays found themselves in this spot today. At one point just one strike from elimination, the Rays rallied from a 7-0 deficit last Wednesday against the Yankees to win in extra innings on a home run by Evan Longoria to clinch a playoff berth.

"The way this whole season played out, especially Wednesday, when people left thinking it was the last game, yet we clinched it... you have to think it's meant to be," Foster said about the Rays which he called "Never say die."

Monday wasn't just a big day for St. Petersburg, but for the Tampa Bay area as a whole. Just not quite four hours after Price's first pitch today, the Bucs hosted a Monday Night Football game in Tampa. Like the Rays, the Bucs game is sold out and will also be televised nationally.

This was not lost on Foster.

"It's like a six-hour commercial [for the area]," Foster said. "You have three-hours of baseball and three hours of football. The whole Tampa Bay region is involved. This doesn't happen very often."

Surfing social media sites, a number of fans are trying to make both games. In fact, a young man at Ferg's wearing a LeGarrette Blount jersey accompanied by his girlfriend wearing an Indianapolis Colts jersey stuck out amid all the Rays blue.

Though he declined to release his name, the man claimed he was tailgating at Ferg's and would soon go to the Bucs game.

Foster won't accompany him, or others heading to Tampa after the Rays game.

"No, man, I'm going to stay here and party," Foster beamed. 

Andy Preble of St. Petersburg was giddy over the Rays playoff appearance but he had an ulterior motive for the Rays continuing their winning ways. He was one of many vendors at Ferg's. Preble was selling sports-themed shirts celebrating both the Rays and the Bucs.

“This has been a great run but the more the Rays win, the more I win,” Preble said


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