The View From Section 120

The video above has the sights and sounds from the night at Tropicana Field, as shot off of my Blackberry mobile phone.

The first part of the video is the Rays being introduced around 7pm, a few minutes before the game started.

The second part is when Arizona was batting sometime during the middle of the game.  I recorded a an out or two.

Finally, the last part is during the 7th inning stretch.

The Rays won the game 5-2 as Roberto Hernandez pitched a complete game.

The best part about going to the Rays game? I usually drink soda during the game as opposed to beer. Why? Drinking beer at a ballpark, even if you’re not driving to and from the stadium can be a costly endeavor. The vendors at the ballpark aren’t dummies, they know people going to the games might want to get sloshed, so they charge a premium for it.

At the game, you can get all the Pepsi you can drink for $10. It might not get you tanked, but it will keep you alert enough to dodge any foul balls coming at you!

One minor complaint. I got to the Trop around 5:25, knowing I’d have time to kill before the gates opened. The rule at Tropicana Field is that fans are allowed in 90 minutes before the first pitch. The game started at 7:10, so the gates should have been opened at 5:40. Note I said the word should here.

Tropicana Field security didn’t open the games until 5:45 without a reason given for the delay. In retrospect, I realize the difference is a small one, but when you’re broiling in the sun on a 93 degree day, those five minutes mean a lot. Next time, I’ll head out to the ballpark when the gates are scheduled to open, as it’s a 20 minute drive from where I live in Pinellas Park to the ballpark.

All and all, it was a good night. The first-place Rays drew over 17,000 for the game against an NL Western Division team on a weeknight in a game they would usually draw about 10,000-12,000 for otherwise. Hoping to go back again sometime this season.

Red Hot Rays

Tropicana Field, I'm paying you another visit.
Tropicana Field, I’m paying you another visit.

The local ball club, the Tampa Bay Rays, have been the talk of the baseball world as of late. A month ago, they sat in last place in the five-team American League Eastern division. Last night, they defeated Boston’s Red Sox 2-1 to move into first place with 56 games left to play in the 2013 regular season.

Rays mania is gripping the Bay Area, although I wonder when it will be that it reaches everybody. I learned last night after the game that I will be going to tonight’s interleague contest as the Rays take on the Arizona Diamondbacks of the National League.

Looking forward to my return visit to Tropicanafield, as Jordana, one of the lovely Fox Sports Florida models refers to the domed home of the Rays in a commercial the Rays broadcast often.

How To Stay Cool When It’s Warm

Today was my monthly outing to pay the bills around Pinellas Park.

But the time was not a total waste, as I learned (maybe even re-learned) a little tip to stay cool. Today the thermometer is supposed to hit 93 here with a slight chance of rain.

So I went to the 7-Eleven on 70th Avenue (as opposed to the one on Park Boulevard), and instead of getting a Slurpee, I got one of the Big Gulp fountain drinks, a Coca-Cola Double Gulp.

I had about 20 minutes to kill, so I patiently drank the Coke until it was nothing but ice.  When I got to that point, I still had a few minutes to kill.

So I began sucking on the ice until the time I had to kill was gone. The ice can be important when it is warm out. Don’t throw it out. Use it to your advantage.

The Slap

The happy younger version of myself after graduating middle school at 13, June of 1985.
The happy younger version of myself after graduating middle school at 13, June of 1985.

The story I’m about to share with you I am not proud of. But it did happen, and I did get away with it.

I mentioned back in March that I was the target of bullying in school. I was very smart, but I was chubby, and going to school every day wasn’t pleasant. It showed in my grades, and no one could figure out that I was “tanking” just so I could get the hell out of there, doing just well enough to pass. If I had gone to school a couple of decades later, the teachers probably thought I would have designs of going on a shooting rampage or something. Only problem is, I never liked guns. I just didn’t like the atmosphere of being in there with a bunch of morons.

So in the seventh grade at Largo Middle School there were these two girls, who I will call “Samantha and Suzie” (not their real names, but they really shared the same first letter of their first name) who would tease me sexually, promising to do things that would make Lady Chatterley blush. They were put of a clique of what I call “stoners” that went to school and hung out together afterwards, smoking pot among other things. There were a LOT of “stoners” in Largo Middle and Largo High, including one of my closest female friends the year I graduated, something I wouldn’t discover until we all got reacquainted with each other through the magic of social media here in the 21st century. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer friends with that particular woman.

Anyway, I go through a whole year of Samantha and Suzie teasing me, berating me and even hitting me when I don’t cooperate. The day after Memorial Day of 1984, I had enough. I asked them to leave me alone, but they wouldn’t. So as I’m changing classes that afternoon using the open-air hallway to the east of the school, they start shoving me as I walk. The third time it happens, I’m thinking: that’s it. I reached back and slap “Samantha” in the face. Hard.

Lucky for me, the east hallway isn’t monitored by teachers. But I wasn’t even thinking about that. Something had to be done, so I did it. Samantha’s big plan the following day was to go to the class we each attended what had happened the prior day AFTER class was over.  I gladly admitted my guilt, and said that if any disciplinary action was coming my way, I’d be happy to accept it, for the deed was worth it.

And that shut everybody up. I never got punished for the slap. No teacher saw it, and any of my classmates that saw it ratted me out to the teachers. I had that kind of luck at school. Whenever I did something bad, no one believed it was me because I was so well behaved generally.

The End Of The Era Of Error?

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers MLB baseball team.
“The Hebrew Hammer,” Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers MLB baseball team.

I’m not a big fan of steroid or PED use in baseball. In fact, find me someone who is. But the ears of baseball fans are still ringing from the bombshell that Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers has been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season for taking drugs that enhance his ability as a hitter.

What makes Braun’s case so interesting is that the slugger beat a similar rap last year, basically on a technicality. This time, he was not so lucky. They must have had the goods on him, because Mr. Braun made a statement immediately released to the press after the announcement of his suspension.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of the scourge that has been the steroid and PED era in baseball. And this era needs to end soon. My hope is that Roger Maris will retake the mantle of being the single season home run king, and that Hank Aaron will once again be considered the all-time home run leader. The era should be reconsidered what it truly is: a giant black hole in the world of sports.