We have been taught that during the Age of the Roman Empire the sport of the time was gladiatorial affairs pitting savage opponents against each other in what might or might not have been stacked odds events. It is not these feats of human strength and misery that I wish to reflect upon, but the domiciles that staged these bloody re-enactments of whichever history the winners chose to pass on. These grandiose asylums were built by man, but were intended to make the spectator feel as if he was amongst the Gods that were said to decide the outcomes. These exquisite arenas were built of marble, not merely for aesthetic pleasures, but because it was a durable material that could stand the test of time. During this era if something was worth doing, it was worth doing right and this idea of permanence pervaded all thought. Something created should not be considered an affront to the Gods and therefore should stand as a monument to not only the muse, but also to man.
As the epicenter of gamesmanship, these erections stood tall against the sky, but within their cozy confines men of all status were free to transact business, woo potential flames, and relax amongst the company of friends, family, and even petty rivals as scores could be settled monetarily with a friendly bet as opposed to the very atrocities that were happening within the stadium. On the façade it might appear that not much has changed with modern stadia as it’s a meeting ground for friends, rivals, potential lovers, and future persona non grata. However, these buildings have lost their mystique because they are no longer made from marble. They are hulking behemoths of steel and concrete that will eventually be twisted metal twirling in the breeze long after man has enjoyed his run.
Friends may come and they will go, much as the water that falls eventually rises back to the heavens, but the idea of a meeting ground for these people to converse and make friendships is as old as the Coliseums of yore. The torrent may become strong enough that a watering hole develops that conveniently provides nourishment, but also acts as a distraction for the sole moment that predators have been waiting for to strike. As fans of the game come to slake their thirst they must also watch out, not for the vultures ready to pick their corpse, but for the hungry lions that will do anything to satiate the hunger of their pride.
Fans must band together to keep these wolves at bay and defend their castle against the insurgent rogues that threaten to bring down the very walls that surround us. We have much more in common with each other than we do with “them” so as this season approaches I urge all that kneel at the sight of Friedman to put aside petty squabbles. There is a far larger force that has greater numbers, weapons, and culture baying at our door, taunting the very flag that we stand under. We must hold sacred that this is our land and we will fight to the death to maintain our rule. We care not for foreign despots decreeing that we must leave this region. We care not for court jesters and their jokes. This is a new time. This is our time! We must bring the permanence of the marble palace back en vogue and there is but one way to ensure that future generations heed the name Tampa Bay Rays.
The enemy can burn our fortress and they can plunder our wares, but remember that flags fly forever! We can and we will rebuild on higher ground with thicker walls if need be, but they can never take away our pennants. Though they may become tattered, WE WILL FIGHT ON AND CONQUER MORE DIVISIONS! Fortune favors not the rich nor those that adorn themselves with the best vestements, it favors the BOLD and the INTELLIGENT. As we assemble not only our modern gladiators nearly half a fortnight from the present, but also those that stand, observe, cheer, obsess, and live and die on a day-to-day basis, remember that this is our house.
The ones that want to remove us from our place of worship are scared that we are mightier than we’ve ever been. They seek excuses and offer lame attempts as to why we can’t achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves. Do not waver in the face of these jackals. We are a better friend than enemy, but we will give no quarter once the engagement has begun! In this endeavor we will hold strong to the two words that have guided us this far. From the deepest recesses of the dungeon to the highest hills yonder there will be one phrase on the tips of the tongues of man and king alike. Go Rays!