By all accounts Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, is an abortion of a ballpark. Built upon the chemically seeped soil of an old coal gasification plant, the modern equivalent of an ancient Indian burial ground, Tropicana Field is cursed by dark powers to torment both fans and players alike.
Its architect was a madman; a crazed evil genius who either had no idea what baseball was or how it was played, or was a bitter deviant, who grasped desperately onto a seething, unnatural hatred for the game. The dome’s rooftop lights blind and confuse visiting outfielders; looking up to catch a soaring fly ball, the player cranes his neck upwards, only to find gazing back down upon him hundreds of small, spherical, white lights—a swarm of false baseballs! His eyes are ensorcelled, and what should have been an easy out becomes a successful, ill-begotten, hit.
In addition to the baseball imitating lights, a vile network of catwalks and wires stretch across the ceiling like cold, metallic spider webs. These catwalks seem to serve no practical purpose (what use have cats for a ballpark!), but to bedevil batters. Oh yes, occasionally a hit to the catwalks grants a homerun, but just as often it may be caught for an out, or ruled as that most back-handed of baseball compliments, the ground-rule double.
Tropicana Field is also ugly. Repulsive. An eye sore in the sense that looking at it will actually make your eyes sore. Its horrible, hardened dome blocks out the warm Florida sun, creating claustrophobia in even the most relaxed of baseball fans. The walls of the park are drab and gray, covered in no decorations but despair.
Yet, despite all this, the Rays currently have the best record in all of baseball. How is such a thing possible? Don’t they know where they play? Haven’t they seen the fans’ eyes bleeding in the stands, while baseballs bounce around the rooftop catwalks like pinballs? How has walking into this decrepit hellscape for an entire season not wracked them down with such despair as to make them unable to even lift a baseball, let alone obtain an over .600 winning percentage?
I believe I have the answer.
Around what time is it, that the Rays went from being the worst teams in baseball, to one of the best? With the introduction of manager Joe Maddon. Maddon’s unorthodox managerial style has often caused him to be jokingly referred to as a “mad scientist”—but I ask you, what if it is no joke? What if Joe Maddon is an actual mad scientist?
It’s the only possible explanation. Deep underneath the polluted soil of Tropicana Field, Joe Maddon has constructed massive subterranean machines. Enormous, other-worldly, steam-powered devices designed to channel and focus the eldritch powers of the Trop itself into his players, creating a team of inhuman, unstoppable supermen. How else would you explain Evan Longoria?
The only possible alternative is that they are an exceptionally talented ballclub, who play in an uninspired, but otherwise serviceable, park—an idea naïve to the point of madness. Simply look into the crazed, bespectacled eyes of Joe Maddon, and you will see the truth.