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Sox to Open ALCS in Potentially Confusing Place

The Rays have home field advantage in the pennant series, by virtue of their first place finish in the division. That means the Sox open the series on the road in what's sure to be a hostile and potentially confusing environment.

First thing's first: When the ALCS gets going between the Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, it won't actually be in Tampa. The Rays play across the bay, in Saint Petersburg. Saint Pete is home of Tropicana Field — an 11-year-old ballpark with some of the strangest ground rules in the majors.

Because at the Trop, the ground rules have more to do with what's in the air.

See, it's a dome. The Trop's six acres of Teflon-coated fiberglass roof are supported by four catwalks — giant rings labeled A, B, C, and D. The A ring is tallest: 194 feet at its highest point. Perspective: More than five times the height of the Green Monster.

The rules start off pretty simple: If a ball hits any catwalk in foul territory, foul ball. Batter stays alive.

If a ball hits either of the lower two catwalks, C or D in fair territory, then that's a home run.

Here's where it gets tricky. Hit the upper catwalks A or B in fair territory, that's a fair ball. That is, unless it bounces off the catwalk and lands on the ground in foul territory. Then it's a foul ball. Any ball hit off the upper catwalks, is an out. But if it lands fair, that's a hit. Runners move up.

OK, but what if a fair ball hits a catwalk — and stays there? Well, that's a double. And if it hits a catwalk, rolls around and falls back down a few moments later? Fair ball.

So how often does any of this happen? Well, Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay homered off the C-ring last month, and former Sox outfielder Brandon Moss doubled off the B-ring back in June.

Sure it's strange, but it's working for the Rays. They had the best record in the majors at home this season, 54-and-27. They took eight of nine from the Sox at Tropicana Field this season. They're 2-and-0 at home in the postseason.

This program aired on October 10, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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