10/20/08 5:04 PM ET
Rays mania sweeping Tampa Bay area
Fans in a state of euphoria as club prepares for World Series
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The caption atop Monday's column in the St. Petersburg Times couldn't have captured the mood in the Tampa Bay area any better. Following the Rays clinching a World Series berth on Sunday night, Tampa Bay's fans had a swelling sense of pride for their young team and small city.
"Rays Show They're Ready for the World," screamed the headline of the Tampa Tribune.
Monday morning, Rays fans weren't just ready for the world; they were on top of it.
"Amazing, this is simply amazing," St. Petersburg resident Casey Jensen said, looking up at the Rays banner hanging from Central Ave. "I told my buddies yesterday, 'This is what it feels like to be a winner'. I can't even describe how happy I am."
Which was a good thing, considering Jensen's vocal chords were slightly strained from the victorious cheers he participated in for hours after watching his team win the American League pennant.
"Well worth it," Jensen said. "There was 10 years of silence around here, you know?"
On Monday, the city of St. Petersburg did its part to keep Rays fans cheering and cowbell-clacking at a maximum. According to a report in the Times, the three local rappers behind the Rays' "It's Our Season" song will perform at the city's Pier at 5:30 p.m. ET in honor of the team making it to the World Series.
Monday's rally is scheduled to include more than three hours of games, free Mohawks and face painting, with mascot Raymond and the Rays street team on hand.
"I've seen the [Tampa Bay] Lighting and the Bucs win," Dan Cornelius said, "but there's an atmosphere here that's second to none."
In fact, the city-wide buzz that started when the Rays first clinched a playoff spot in September has only grown stronger as the team advanced to each ensuing round.
"This is pretty much the best experience of my life," Brandon Gallant said. The Mohawked St. Pete resident has been a season-ticket holder the past three years and plans on getting a "TB" tattoo to brand his loyalty.
Even when the Rays squandered a seven-run lead to the Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS, Gallant remained firm in his assessment.
"Are we going all the way?" he asked. "Absolutely."
A fitting statement given another local headline: "Rays Fans Share Euphoria."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.