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That was a woeful performance by the Tampa Bay Rays fans Wednesday night during the Rays' thrilling 8-7 win over the New York Yankees in 12 innings to clinch a playoff berth.

All night, the noise level at Tropicana Field seemed muted, hardly befitting a gritty, never-say-die team fighting for its life, a team that rallied from a huge deficit in the biggest game of the season.

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Then came the ninth inning. Remember the scene? Two outs, Rays trail by a run, the season on the line and Dan Johnson at the plate -- and the Trop sounded like it was hosting an RV show.

As the TV cameras zeroed in on Johnson, his face a grim mask of concentration in the seconds before he lined a homer over the right-field wall to tie the score at 7, here's what you saw in the stands behind him: nobody standing, nobody cheering wildly, nobody stomping their feet.

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In fact, what you saw were a lot of folks who, quite frankly, looked bored and ready to go home.

OK, TV can give you a distorted picture of fan reaction at times. Maybe a sweeping panoramic shot of the stadium would have revealed fans in other sections on their feet and screaming their lungs out.

But, again, the Trop seemed strangely quiet all night, at least until Evan Longoria's walk-off homer in the 12th brought the Rays all the way back from the dead.

It reminded you -- again -- of why Rays fans get such a bad rap from their own players and the Tampa Bay media.

Attendance at Rays games has been an issue for years. And remember when the Rays clinched the AL East title last year and several players, notably Evan Longoria and David Price, ripped the fans for not packing the Trop?

Fairly or unfairly, Tampa Bay fans are perceived by many as apathetic and undeserving of the gritty, never-say-die Rays franchise that has done so much with limited financial resources.

The fans didn't help their rep last night, that's for sure.

2008 US Presswire photo

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