Maddon: Wins like Monday's help Rays build tradition

Maddon: Wins like Monday's help Rays build tradition
October 8, 2013, 7:30 pm
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Since shaking the "Devil" out of their name in 2008, the Rays have won an American League pennant, won 90 or more games five times in six seasons, and made the postseason four times. And they haven't been short of thrills either, like Jose Lobaton's walkoff home run against Koji Uehara Monday night or Evan Longoria's homer in the final regular-season game of 2011 to clinch a playoff spot.

Joe Maddon believes this kind of success, and Monday's kind of excitement, is what's going to build a fan base that's been frustratingly slow to take root in central Florida.

"We've had such great moments in a brief period of time here," said Maddon, who took over as manager in 2006. He later added: "There's been a lot of really cool memories for us here in this organization . . .  We're building our tradition right now.

"The tradition has to begin somewhere. Hopefully we're building ours right now. You look at the fan base, we're trying to build that. We're trying to bring the younger group into our fold . . .

"All these games matter, when you start building a tradition . . . "

The Rays' attendance at the antiseptic Trop this season was a last-in-the-league 18,646 per game, which was a drop from 2012's last-in-the-league 19,255 per game. But the joint was full, and jumping, on Monday, and Maddon says it was a factor in Tampa Bay's victory.

"We love it," he said about playing to a full house, later adding: "Every time it has filled up, it seems to bring out the best in us.

"Normally, just being honest, over the years you've seen a lot of other teams' fans in the ballpark under those circumstances. [But it] definitely had that pro‑Rays vibe to it last night. We felt it in the dugout through the entire game. It was spectacular. We'd like to see it look like that more consistently, obviously, because it does matter.

"It makes a difference."