A Tampa Bay Rays' Fan Revels In Win

Among those surprised at the Tampa Bay Rays' rise from the bottom to the top of the American League: its fans. Margarita Fazioli, a season-ticket holder for six years, has remained loyal through good years and bad. "If you look at the spring of 2008, you had a glimpse of what was going to happen during the regular season," she says.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Well, there's considerably more cheer down south where Tampa Bay fans have suffered stoically. Ever since the team was formed in 1998, the Rays had the worst record in their division for all of those seasons but one. They were known as baseball's doormats. Well, not anymore and no one could be prouder than Margarita Fazioli of Bradenton. She's a diehard fan and a nurse who arranges her work schedule around games. She told us she's been attending Rays games regularly for eight years through the many dark seasons.

Ms. MARGARITA FAZIOLI: Oh, yeah. You know you stick with them because you love your community and you love baseball. You love good baseball. And there were some games that you want to forget but there were some games that it's etched in your mind. But you know what? If you look in the spring of 2008, you had a glimpse of what was going to happen in the regular season of 2008.

BLOCK: Well now, your team, the Tampa Bay Rays, have the distinction of going from worst to first- worst record last year; best record in baseball this year. Could you see this coming?

Ms. FAZIOLI: I saw a 500 mark but I did not see this coming and I am so glad. I mean last night, I was sweating, I was nauseous, I got up and down in my seat, and it was something that - it was an incredible experience.

BLOCK: You said you were sweating when you were watching the game last night.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yeah.

BLOCK: Last night in the 8th inning, the Red Sox had the bases loaded.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes.

BLOCK: Tampa had a rookie pitcher.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes.

BLOCK: On the mound. David Price.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes.

BLOCK: And he got out of the jam.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes.

BLOCK: And he closed the game.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes. And if you know about Price, you know that he was ready but they took their time with him even though you know one season in the minors is not a lot of time, but he's a quality, quality professional player that was put into a difficult position and they knew he could do it. They knew he could do it. And he came through, he came through. That scream that he gave was from his guts.

BLOCK: Oh, when they won the game?

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes, yes, yeah. Yeah, that was an internal - just incredible relief and incredible joy.

BLOCK: I was hoping he made it OK out of that pile up when everybody jumped on top of him.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yeah. Our catcher you know - our little big man because he is huge. His spirit is huge.

BLOCK: Well Ms. Fazioli, if you were sweating last night, what were you doing in game 5 when Tampa blew a seven-run lead in the 7th inning and lost 8-7.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yeah. I was thinking about the next game. And I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I looked at my husband and my husband says, Margarita, we're playing against the Sox. This is what playoff is. This is what playoff - the best of the best, the best of the best and you have to remember that we're playing against the defending world champions and it's not going to be easy. It's not going to be a walk in the park. If it was, everybody would be in the World Series.

BLOCK: Well, Game 1 of the World Series will be there in Tampa on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. Do you have seats? [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Tropicana Field is in St. Petersburg.]

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yes, 302 with the best fans in the world.

BLOCK: Ms. Fazioli, I don't think I need to tell you to enjoy the series because I can tell you will.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Yeah. I will, I will and my friends who cheers with me, I'll be at every game. And if there's a way, I'll be in my mother-in-law's house screaming with her.

BLOCK: Well it's great talking to you. Thanks very much.

Ms. FAZIOLI: Thank you so much. Go, Rays! Bye-bye.

BLOCK: That's Tampa Bay Rays fan Margarita Fazioli. She spoke with us from her home in Bradenton, Florida.

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Correction Nov. 17, 2008

We incorrectly said that the Rays had "the best record in baseball"; actually, two other teams had better records. Also, in some versions of the interview, we said that Tropicana Field is in Tampa. It is actually in St. Petersburg.

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