July 2, 2007
The following is a recap of Saturday, June 23.
Saturday Plan: St. Petersburg, Dodgers vs. Devil Rays @ Tropicana Field
I always see commercials on TV for Sonic. It always looks delicious. I always wonder why they are on TV at home since we don’t have any Sonics. I’ve never actually even seen a Sonic. I mentioned this and there was one in Fort Myers so that was our plan for lunch. I ordered a Crispy Bacon Toaster Sandwich, Tots, and a Strawberry Smoothie. Everything was amazing. It makes no sense to me why there isn’t a Sonic across the street at home, and on every corner from here to Fort Myers, with Steak N Shakes in between.
After lunch we headed to the movies to see Knocked Up. Usually a movie is part of any baseball trip to Florida. It was a Spring Break trip when we went to see Eurotrip, which became a favorite of many of our friends. Knocked Up was mentioned since Evan had wanted to see it but everyone had already gone. I was in the same boat. Excellent movie, somehow managing to get the comedy and drama to balance nicely.
Another smooth trip, this time to St. Petersburg. Traffic was only bad as we approached the stadium. We were pretty early so we assumed we’d be parking in the first row. As we approached the stadium we spotted a hotel parking lot that offered free parking to AAA members. Evan had his expired AAA card and flashed that to get in with no problem. He is still a member, just hadn’t gotten his newest card yet. So he wasn’t completely lying to the lady. It turns out that parking at Tropicana is free. Oh well, we weren’t too far away and we would have been waiting in line to park for a while anyway.
As we walked up to the ticket windows something seemed wrong. There was a line. Not just a small line, it wrapped around a few times. It was unbelieveable. It wound up taking 20 minutes to get through the line to buy tickets. They were behind home plate way up, row Z if I remember correctly. Not the best but doing better would have been a large jump in price. The Dodgers were considered a Prime game, meaning tickets were more expensive.
As we entered, we got our Don Zimmer bobblehead figure and they also had large pictures of him. The pictures would wind up being left at the seats. We browsed the store since it would likely have much more to offer than the Marlins store did. They had a lot of merchandise from other teams. One interesting note: the Braves Andruw Jones shirt cost more than any of the Devil Rays shirts. Evan spotted a Carl Crawford t-shirt that he would ponder purchasing the rest of the game.
It was more than just Don Zimmer bobblehead night. It was turn back the clock night honoring Don Zimmer and the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. Never have I seen a team opening praise an opposing team’s history. The Dodgers wore their Brooklyn jerseys and the Devil Rays wore the jerseys of the St. Pete Saints. The Saints were a minor league team from 1920-1928 and 1947-1965. I enjoy turn back the clock days with the old jerseys and the high socks. It was odd that the Devil Rays were referred to as the Saints for the entire game. I guess if you’re going to turn back the clock you better go all out.
Before going I was not aware that Tropicana was a baseball stadium build for the Devil Rays. I had never heard anything good about it so I had just assumed it was an all-purpose dome. I was shocked at what a nice stadium it was. It looks a lot like all the other recently build retro stadiums. With the open outfield and large scoreboard. Its just that they took that build and then threw a dome on top of it, which makes it look pretty bad. If you are able to picture it without the dome its very nice. You really need a dome with where its located. Retractable roof is too expensive so you can’t go with that. The hallways inside are made to have an old time feel. The walls are painted and there are all sorts of booths to check out bats and have your picture taken. They didn’t seem all that expensive, if they cost anything at all.
Evan and I didn’t want to have to carry our bobbleheads around so everything was done in shifts. Evan was hungry so he scouted out the hot dog situation first. The concession lines were ridiculous. He found a hot dog cart not too far away, with no line. I wound up going to the same one. The cart offered all the toppings you wanted for the price of the dog. Chilli, cheese, whatever. They even had spicy browm mustard. I almost felt like I was wasting money just getting a plain dog, but the dog must be jugded on its own merits and not with all the extras. Just like in Miami the hot dog was fine but the roll took away from it all. It was too much roll for the dog. I liked it slightly better than the Marlins hot dog, but that isn’t saying much.
When it came time to get Ice Cream Helmets, Evan once again went first. He also was going to purchase the Carl Crawford t-shirt he saw earlier. He returned and I went right away. The ice cream stand closest to our seats was out of ice cream. They sent me downstairs to the Dippin’ Dots stand. When I got down there the stand looked dark. As I approached they were packing up. I went up and was told they were closed. I asked them if I could just buy a helmet. I figured this was safe for them. They could just give me a helmet, no big deal. The kid working froze and I started to explain how it was tradition to get an Ice Cream Helmet at each stadium I went to. Wearing my Phillies shirt likely helped my case. He decided to scoop me out some ice cream into a helmet. I was successful in getting the helmet and had my first Dippin’ Dots experience. I’m not sure what the problem was with regular ice cream that a new ice cream is needed for the future. It tastes the same, but those little dots pack a punch of cold when you bite into them. Being careful not to crush the dots also made clean up easire to transport the helmet home.
The Devil Rays wound up winning 4-3. The winning run was scored onÂ a home run by Dioner Navarro, his first of the year, in the bottom of the 8th. Same as in the Marlins game with the home team going ahead in the bottom of the 8th with a solo home run. The paid attendence was 24,068. Unlike at the Marlins game they were all there and they stayed. Evan and I were both impressed by the energy they put into the team. It wasn’t that it was bobblehead night or there are a lot of Dodgers fans down there. These were actual Devil Rays fans. All decked out in their green shirts and hats. I’m like the Devil Rays players for a few years, they are all solid young players. Now I have repect for the fans that support this team. Even though with the Yankees and Red Sox in the division they might never have a chance to win anything. Its a good idea to head to a game and check it out for yourself. Instead of listening to what ESPN has to say about what a lousey franchise it is. That is, if you haven’t figured out not to listen to anything anyone on ESPN says yet.
Getting out of our parking spot was no sweat. Another good reason for parking in the free hotel lot instead of the free stadium lot. I won the day of License Plate Game fairly easily, evening things up at 1 leaving the drive to the airport as the deciding game.