I didn’t know when I woke up yesterday that I’d be making another pilgrimage to Tropicana Field, about seven miles to my south. I like it that way, really. Nothing to lose sleep over, nothing to get excited about. But with the game not televised locally, I joined 10,000 or so other fellow Rays (and a few Mariner) fans at the old dome near downtown St. Petersburg.
Going with my mother and her boyfriend (a former semi-pro ballplayer), I made my way to the left field party deck just in time for Chris Archer to deal the first pitch in what would turn out to be a classic pitchers duel. (won by Seattle 3-0 on a 9th inning Nelson Cruz homer) I make it to my seat, eat the two soft tacos I got from the Taco Bus vendors, drank my all-you-can-drink Pepsi (I don’t like drinking beer at the ballpark, as I might be needed for directions after the game off of Google Maps, always seem to get lost getting out of the park…), and I’m sitting up there all alone for the first three innings.
I call my mother while the fourth inning is going on, and of course she’s mad at me because I was where I was supposed to be at, and they weren’t. The boyfriend had corrupted her into getting seats behind third base at ground level, and they wanted me to join them. I wrestled with the ethics of getting a seat that I didn’t pay for, but with such a small crowd, I went ahead.
Laying low to avoid being busted by the ushers, I sat there and got a close-up view of the game, but the boyfriend wasn’t done. He wanted my mom to get a seat right up close to the Seattle dugout, which she did. Inside, I’m cringing. What if we get busted? Do I employ a Twinkie defense? Plead temporary insanity?
The game ends, with the Seattle fans at the Trop wanting to mob Felix Hernandez for the complete game shutout he pitched, a rarity in today’s brand of baseball. Despite the petty larceny of grabbing seats that weren’t ours, I enjoyed the afternoon. I just wonder with so few going to the ball game how long the Rays will be here in Tampa Bay without a new ballpark and a secured future.
By the way, what’s wrong with the current park?