Boston Red Sox 1 – Tampa Bay Rays 4
Tropicana Field – St. Petersburg, FL
July 6, 2017
Stadium #11 of 2017. This one was not planned, but came together relatively last minute. Trevor Plouffe was released by the Athletics and was then traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. I wanted to see him in his new home, but this seemed unlikely… until I remembered how close it was to Atlanta. With a few mouse clicks I saw that they were at home the day after the Atlanta game. NICE!
The unfortunate part? They were playing the Red Sox, which meant more people showing up than normal. Plus, it was a weekday game, which meant only 90 minute early gate times. Oh well, it fit with my schedule and I could still get back with a large portion of my weekend. Not bad at all. Plus, one more stadium to cross off the list.
I was expecting the worst of this stadium – I had seen this movie before: climate controlled bomb for a small market team. But all comparisons to the Metrodome end there. Sure, domes do not compare to outdoor stadiums, but when your climate breeds ridiculously hot and humid weather along with tons of lightning and even hurricanes, you gotta put a top on, bro! Tropicana, though a little aged and falling under that “dome” umbrella, is the nicest possible incarnation of a dome I’ve seen. It has some charm, the concourse isn’t dull, and the way it doesn’t look like an eye-sore from the outside is remarkable. Plus, you are guaranteed baseball! (On this night it started storming half-way through the game and it seemed insane to hear thunder and still play ball.)
Tropicana is NOT a “vomit coffin”. I’ve just really been digging King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard lately, especially their latest (Murder of the Universe), so I had to find a way to use it. As it stormed during the game, that gave me a great reason to use “Lord of Lightning” instead.
But before I go into the balls, I have a couple things to cover…
First off, I nearly chickened out on going to this stadium. The drive back (1600 miles) was daunting. Add on top of that the distance it takes to get from Atlanta to the Tampa area and we’re over 2000 miles (over 30 hours of driving). The only thing that helped ensure I showed up was Trevor Plouffe. I told myself that I would travel to wherever he played this year. I never guessed I’d be committed to more than one team, let alone ones in California AND Florida. Come on, dude, can’t you get closer to Minnesota?! (I kid.)
Lastly, sticking to Trevor Plouffe, he was (again) a fantastic dude. I cannot rave enough about him and his character. I spoke with him a little before the game, which was super awesome. He said some interesting things, but seemed to generally be happy with the current situation. I cannot imagine how frustrating and trying it has been, but I’m proud of how he and his family have handled it. The Rays and Twins both seem like organizations that stress fundamentals, staying loose/having fun, and being a decent human in order to be a good ballplayer. He was a great Twin, so I think he has the chance to be a valuable Ray – and likewise, I think the Rays have a lot to offer Trevor.
(Also of note, take a look at the photo below, there was something cool that Trevor may have “tossed” to me. Maybe tossed isn’t the right word, but I don’t want to make it too easy.)
Back to the ball situation. For the second time in three games on this trip, there was no BP. This meant that I had seen maybe 30 minutes of BP in 3 days. No wonder why my stats took such a hit. But the cool thing about this hit, it ended up making my favorite number – 4-3-3. (Someone look at my stats and tell me if I’ve ever had a string of 4-3-3 games. Thanks.)
The first ball was tossed up by a Red Sox coach warming up in front of the dugout. My glove stuck out again and I made the catch with it. Nice!
The second ball was tossed over to me by a coach, as I was in my seat around national anthem time.
The last ball was special, since it was a gamer. Well, maybe it was special for other reasons, but just happened to be a gamer. Jesus Sucre saw my big glove and laughed. He seemed interested in it, so I told him he could wear it before the game. He sent a person over to get it and sat on the bench for over an hour with that thing on. For a total of 3 innings he was cheesing it up, getting photos taken, and flashing it to the Red Sox bench. I asked in between innings if he could toss me a ball used during the game. He said yes and so the seed was planted. I knew this should be easy because he already had in his possession the first ball used in the game… and was using it as he played with my glove.
In fact, it was THIS very ball…
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 7, 2017
How cool is that?!
And how about a view of all the haul from the entire trip?
Podcast from the gates of this game…
Ball 1 – Red Sox coach
Ball 2 – Rays coach
Ball 3 – Jesus Sucre
MVP Thank Yous:
- Trevor Plouffe – for being gracious with your time during your time of work
As you may have been able to tell, I am running low on storage space via WordPress. I have resorted to posting one collage per post, but I miss having extra pix, especially showcasing some panos from new stadiums. If you have a good work around or would like to see them posted somewhere else, let me know. If interest is high enough, I could be swayed to additional platforms.