Looking Back: 5/28/12 @ Tropicana Field (CWS/TB)

Following Marlins Park on 5/24/12, later on the vacation the stadium tours continued with Tropicana Field. The day started with a early drive from Miami to St. Petersburg. The game was at 3:10 which was good, because we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive up. I was a little apprehensive from a ballhawking standpoint because A: It was a holiday. B: There would be way too many kids there. But it was the only day that worked out for us, so I just had to deal.  Eventually, after several pit stops, we saw this on the horizon:

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Yay.

Must be something in Florida that possesses people to make their stadiums look like spaceships, I’m not sure. As we approached the exit, we noticed something cool:

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The columns on the side walls of the Trop are baseball bats. Cool.

Once you enter the parking lot, there is a long walkway that takes you across a little moat-like bridge to the main gate.

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It’s so ugly, it’s beautiful. It’s got Florida written all over it.

Here I am at the main gate:

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I gotta be honest, I never imagined myself actually getting on a plane (my 1st time was this trip, mind you) and going to both parks and just doing my own thing for once. It was very liberating.

Here’s a cool shot of the main gate-tower thing :

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And as I like to do for all the stadiums I visit, I like to take a lap around and check out the scene and look for cool  stuff. I probably should have gone to the Trop before Marlins Park, because Marlins Park made the Trop look like a mausoleum.

Here’s a unused ticket booth area:

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It was very very muggy and hot, it was gross. Natalie wasn’t having it…

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…so once we finished our lap she sat in the shade while I waited in line to snag.

This was pretty much the extent of the lap around the park. Calm yourself folks, it’s exciting:

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Here’s a random pillar stuck in the middle of nowhere on the back end of the park:

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The one cool thing I made sure to look for was the baseball storm drains. I had read about it on Zack Hample’s blog a few months back when I was looking for tips about the park. It had rained the night before, so I finally found one that wasn’t full of water:

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Cool cool. We made it back to the front of the stadium, and I came across the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame near the team store.Image

If I had time, I wanted to check it out. Here is the team store itself:

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Now get this: the team store opens when the gates open. Tell me how that makes sense. Countless people walked up to the store only to pull on locked doors and walk away mad. A ballpark’s #1 priority should be fan happiness. I for one, was pissed because I make it part of my 1st-time-at-a-stadium experience to mess around in the team store and try on the jerseys and see if there are any unique things they have to buy. Now if I wanted to go in the store, it would cut into snagging time, or I would have to wait until after the game when everyone goes and it would be crowded.

Sigh.

Nevertheless, I was first in line at the gate. Natalie hung off to the side because it was hot, and the woman standing next to me actually fainted because she was hot. The medics rushed over and checked her out, but she was okay. It was sort of scary at the time. I met a great older couple who lives in Tampa Bay, who shared stories of their Rays games (they were long time season ticket holders), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. They were talking to me about New York and how crowded the stadiums are, and trust me I had no problem complaining from a snagging standpoint 🙂 The gates opened on time and I was greeted with a heaven-sent blast of ice cold air conditioning…

The gate I was at was weird, it was actually positioned in Center Field. So I ran up the bleacher steps and found myself standing here when I was greeted to the field:

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There was no music playing, and as you can see I was one of the first people inside, so when I was yelling out to players, my voice was actually echoing off the 1st base wall and coming back to me. It was pretty cool. Here I am attempting to snag:

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Now, the one thing that got me mad was that it was quiet, so the White Sox could definitely hear me. And just like the Giants, they threw NOTHING up. Perhaps I brought bad snagging mojo down from New York with me, who knows. I felt like I would have to rely on catching a ball in the air (Something I’ve yet to do) to get a ball here.

Heres how it looked on the CF/LF side:

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And believe it or not, that was about it for BP. I came close to some on-the-fly homers, but once again got goose-egged. (curse you, Florida!)

It was time to explore. Since I was on vacation, I wasn’t that mad at all. If I was in New York, I’d be hella pissed.

Here’s how the concourses look at the Trop:

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I thought this was pretty cool:

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On our way to our seats I remembered that I neglected to take pictures when I first came in to the ballpark. Heres how the atrium looks when you first enter:

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I thought it looked pretty cool.

Around the concourse on the walls, the Rays have murals honoring Tampa-area baseball players and Rays events in a comic-book style art:

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There were a few more pictures I took, but I showed the Boggs picture because I thought he was a great hitter.

Here’s a better birds eye view of the concourse:

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We headed up to the top of the stadium for my customary picture:

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Not a bad view, actually. Here’s what it looked like to the right:

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(Me being ever-so-jubilant). And the left:

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If you’ve never seen it before, teams do this because these seats don’t normally sell, and the teams like to put the tarps up so fans sit together and make the stadium look more aesthetically pleasing.

And here I am with my sign:

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In case you haven’t read my other posts, the 9 stands for the number of stadiums I’ve visited. So far I’m up to 9 (New Yankee, CitiField, Fenway, Baltimore, Washington, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Tampa). I’ve also been to Old Yankee and Shea, but am counting them separately for now. I can’t take pictures there  because they are both demolished.

We walked around to the left field party deck:

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The concourse up here had a weird old-time neighborhood to it, it just didn’t fit in my opinion, there were too many different styles going on here. We also met a family from St. Louis who couldn’t find their way downstairs, and somehow I managed to direct them in the right direction.

Since I like to explore every part of a stadium when I go, I decided I would sacrifice about 30 minutes of the game to spend some time here:

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The Rays have a “Touch Tank”, which, according to them, is this:

“The Rays Touch Tank, presented by the Florida Aquarium, is the first of its kind at a professional sports venue. The 35-foot, 10,000 gallon tank is located just beyond the right-center field fence at Tropicana Field. The Rays Touch Tank experience is free to all fans attending home games. For every ball hit into the tank during a game by a Rays player, the Rays will donate $5,000 to charity with $2,500 going to the Florida Aquarium and $2,500 going to that player’s charity of choice. To make it most convenient for all fans, there is a limit of 50 people in the tank area at any time.”

Good info to know. I wonder how many (if any) players have successfully hit a home run into the Ray tank. Rumor has it Aubrey Huff did it once back in his Devil Rays heyday. That last part mentions 50 people at a time, so we had to wait a little bit. The game had started, but there were plenty of TV’s to watch. Normally I HATE missing any part of the game, but this was an exception.

Before you enter the touch tank area, there is a little 5-minute class on how to touch the Rays. Here is the class in a nutshell:

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Make sure to NOT touch the Rays in the “strike zone”. The friendly host we had explained that it is the equivalent of spraying bug spray up a human’s nose. Ouch. So DON’T DO IT! 🙂

Once the class was over, here’s what we saw:

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All cool stuff. At first I was afraid to touch the Rays, but then I finally did. Only because Natalie did first, so I couldn’t look like a wimp. If I had to describe it, I would compare it to touching a really wet raw steak. But it was cool. And you only get about 5 minutes in there, so before you know it, It’s over. It was finally time to get to our seats.

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What a privilege it is to be outside of NYC: These tickets cost us $25.00…. Yea. Yankee Stadium will run you about $200 for these bad boys. The game was going by really quick. A.J. Pierzynski was set on throwing 3rd out balls to scantily clad women in the 2nd row. And there was a 6 or 7 year old kid who was running down to get 3rd out balls, so I wasn’t about to compete with that and get booed. I was just enjoying the game and snapping pics. Here’s a cool pic of the roof:

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A cool action pic:

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And right after I took this pic of Adam Dunn, he blasted a home run that smacked off the back wall in right field:

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That was all the White Sox needed, as both pitchers dueled to a 2-1 White Sox final. Chris Sale went 7 1/3 innings for Chicago, with FIFTEEN strikeouts, and Tampa’s Matt Moore countered with ten. Here’s the line score:

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I was hoping the game would have went to extras and lasted longer, since I drove 4 hours to get there. But I was content. I tried to take my “9” picture down by the dugouts, but here’s why I didn’t keep it:

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That lady on the right WOULD NOT move, at all. When she finally did, I had these guys ruining the picture:

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Like they never saw anyone taking a picture before. Sheesh.

Here’s a shot of me and Natalie:

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I’ll give her credit on this trip, not many ladies are willing to follow their boyfriends around baseball stadiums for entire days on vacation. So thanks. Lastly, here’s my overall assessment of Tropicana Field:

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C. It’s ugly, it’s large, in the middle of nowhere, and most importantly, I didn’t snag any balls.

  • 0 balls snagged at this game 😦
  • White Sox record when I attend: 1-0
  • Tampa record when I attend: 3-6

My next post will be on the 7/21 Met game I attended. Thanks for reading.

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