Two weekends ago I took an adventure to the Tampa Bay area for a friend’s wedding. We decided to stretch our friends wedding into a 5 day weekend for us. On Monday we decided to explore the cities and attend a Rays game.
Even though the Rays have the best record in the league, it is well known that tickets are not hard to come by. Sure enough, about 45 minutes before the game we walked up to the gate, got $30 tickets about 20 rows behind where the dug out met the net behind the catcher.
This will be my fourth active stadium. Well technically it will be my 5th stadium, but when I went to Turner Field, it was called the Olympic stadium and looked like this (you can see where home plate is going to be on the top right) :
instead of this (That's Foulton County Stadium just behind it and the Georgia Dome off in the distance) :
Since we are counting and I am sure you care, I have been to two now demolished stadiums as well, Milwaukee County Stadium and Fulton County Stadium. So, grand total of active and inactive stadiums would be seven.
Walking up to the stadium, I couldn’t help but think of all the negative things I have heard about Tropicana Field. Stuff like, why does a Florida baseball team have a dome, it’s dull and boring and ugly. Well I can say, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed my Tropicana field experience.
As we were walking up to the field, we walked on a tile walkway that had some nice fish designs on it while Jimmy Buffett was playing on the speakers. We were walking past numerous tailgaters, even though the amount was defiantly smaller than one would typically see at a White Sox game, and defiantly smaller then the Brewers (who have the best tailgating set up I have ever seen).
We got there early enough to give us plenty of time to explore. We did a full lap around the concourse and found lots of variety of food, beverages (including Kona Brewing Company on Tap!) as well as games and other areas for family enjoyment.
After we did our first lap, we decided to go pet the cownose rays out in center field. This would actually be my third time petting them, and for $4 we decided to feed them as well. That was a weird experience. You take part of a fish (head or tail) and put it between two of your fingers. You then submerge your hand close to the bottom. The Ray will find it, swim over the top and suck the fish right out of your hand.
They don’t have very good aim, so they do end up getting your hand too, but they have small teeth (if any) and it doesn’t hurt. I know the tank might not have anything to do with baseball, but it’s still a cool experience to have at a stadium. In case you were wondering, there is a net over the tank to try and prevent balls from landing in there.
Jamie and I ended up buying t-shirt jerseys before we headed to our seats. I bought a Crawford and she bought a Longoria. When we got to our seats, the first thing I noticed was how bright it was in the stadium. From watching games on TV it always looks depressingly dark, but that’s not the case in the stadium. I don’t know if it has something to do with the cameras or what, but it was very nice inside.
Also, from the guy who was complaining about the dome in Florida, I’m not going to lie, it was humid out and I was glad not to feel sticky through the game.
The game itself had a few highlights. First inning the first three Rays reached base include Crawford on a triple (which I thought he was going to round 3rd and go for the inside the park home run). Even with all the hits, the Rays only scored 2 runs. After the first inning it looked like the Rays would cruise to an easy win.
Well, that wasn’t the case. The Rays stopped hitting after the first and after a few innings the Indians started to hit and scored three runs. The Rays then brought in reliever Joaquin Benoit...
...in the 7th who went on to throw 18 pitches and struck out five guys. Yup, he only threw three balls. That was impressive. The Rays ended up tieing the game on a fly ball to center. The Indians player made a diving grab, but lost the ball once he hit the turf. The game went to extra innings, where the Rays won in the 11th on a suicide squeeze.
The whole experience was a blast and I would recommend to anyone who is looking for cheap tickets to watch good baseball and enjoy a surprisingly nice park to check out Tropicana Field.