My First Rays Game-A Playoff Game to Boot!

Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field-No I’m not leaning, the Trop is designed that way.

We won the lottery. No, not Powerball, the Rays’ Ticket Lottery. For the first time ever, Baseball Ross and I entered a playoff ticket lottery and won.

I guess you’d say the Rays are my second team. The Phillies, even as maddening as they can be, are still my favorite team. However, now that we live in Clearwater, I must admit that I kinda like my now home town team.

We had heard horror stories from friends about how hard it is go get to the Trop, how horrible parking is. Just horror story after horror story about how difficult everything is when it comes to going to see a game at the Trop.

So we planned ahead. We got maps of approved parking lots and when we could, bought parking passes ahead of time and we decided to leave hours early.

It worked out. For the first game, we didn’t get a parking pass due to a “burp” with the ticket buying site. We left for St. Pete early and followed suggestions by a neighbor on how to find parking and….it worked.

A local sports bar, Ferg’s which is across the street from the Trop had a big party and we headed there after parking.

Ferg’s is your average sports bar, average food but they do provide a place to hang out before a game and have a really cool outdoor area complete with TVs, which is where we hung out.

Hanging out at Ferg's

Hanging out at Ferg’s

Another cool thing is that if you walk the walkway/underpass from Ferg’s to the Trop, there are home bases embedded in the sidewalk outlining major events in St. Pete baseball history. Like this one:

IMG_0208

Since it was our first game, we splurged and went with some pricy tickets that had food included. We got to eat in the “Bank America Club” and even had waitress service at our seats! That was pretty cool.

Bank America Club

Bank America Club

We also spent a lot of time exploring. The Trop is now home to the Ted Williams’ Hitters Hall of Fame.

They had some really interesting displays there. I think you might recognize this guy:

IMG_0218 IMG_0229

 

We also paid a visit to the Ray Tank. Personally, one of my favorite features! I LOVE to pet rays. For some reason they just fascinate me.

IMG_0251 IMG_0253

 

In fact, the Rays’ game winning home run that night went into the tank right about where the left side of the picture is.

The only real downside to this visit was our sight lines.

Sight Lines from My Seat

Sight Lines from My Seat

There are two bad things about our seats:

1. The incline is not very great so when you get a woman that’s 6 feet tall with 4 inches of teased hair on the top of your head…you won’t see much.

2. I had a WALL in front of me that kept me from seeing the Rays dugout and any fouls that went down the right side.

The best thing was the TV that was on a five second delay so we could see what we missed.

I did sit at the end of the aisle until those people arrived so I could get these pictures:

IMG_0279

Rays Manager Joe Maddon is Introduced.

IMG_0280 IMG_0268

Shane Victorino

Shane Victorino

Best of all…The RAYS WON!

 

Back in the Saddle Again.

Sorry for being MIA for so long and so suddenly. The last you knew, I was heading to the Ray’s home playoff games…then I was gone.

My explanation is simple and tragic. We came home from the first playoff game and had barely walked in the door when I got the kind of phone call no one ever wants. A dear friend of mine had taken his own life.

My world stopped.

Baseball, though I love it, didn’t matter anymore. I was overwhelmed by loss. Death is always a slap to your face, but when you lose someone, someone you’d just talked to and thought was fine, to suicide, it’s more like a cinderblock to the face.

I made both Rays playoff games before I flew back to Pennsylvania for the funeral. When I returned home, I just didn’t have the heart to write. I had all the pictures from the Rays games staring me in the face and I just couldn’t look at them. Every time I did I was taken back to that night and I just couldn’t deal with it.

Now I have some space and perspective. I am looking at the pictures with enough detachment that I can write about my games without feeling the way I did that night. So I will be posting a little bit about our trip to Tropicana Field…very shortly.

I do want to end with this:

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It leaves your friends and family feeling like they’re left with a big puzzle but never all the pieces. There’s a hole left that not only can’t be filed but can’t be explained. There is never any closure. It’s not like you can say they died in an accident and while tragic, you know it was an accident. Suicide leaves so many questions that keep those who loved you up at night and leaves them feeling like there should have been something they could have done.

If you have thoughts of suicide, ask for help. Call someone, call a hot line, go to a church, go to a hospital, call your family. No matter how horrible you feel, the people around you will be left feeling the same way when you’re gone. ASK FOR HELP. It always gets better.