Atlantic Coast to Gulf Coast
We were out of the hotel and making our way to St. Petersburg by 8am today. The drive was a little less than 4 hours and took us through the Everglades as we cut across the state.
We got to the ballpark an hour before gametime and realized we had parked on the complete wrong side of the stadium. From the outside Tropicana looks more like a bloated arena than a football stadium like the Metrodome.
The USPS was having a big group outing at the ballpark so we encountered a big crowd of them wearing matching T-shirts. Knowing what we know about people employed by the postal service we decided to get our discount hot dogs and avoided the neon green clad postal workers as much as possible.
Our tickets were waiting for us inside the media gate thanks to Carmen Molina. The seats were amazing. We were directly behind home plate about 20 rows up. Being that there we were still an hour from gametime we decided to check out the place so we took a lap.
The place is a dome, but the Rays have done what they can with the place. Centerfield offers a lot of options for both the adults and the kids. Probably the best entertainment option we've seen so far was the old school video game arena. Most of the ballparks have the new games, but the Rays have stocked this area with an N64, Dreamcast, and the holy grail of all gaming systems - the original Nintendo. Like a fly to honey we started up a new game of RBI Baseball. This game was made around 1987 and offers a great look back at names from the past. I took the American League All-Stars, and started Jimmy Key, while Dan countered with the National League and Fernando Valenzuala This game was my bread and butter as a kid and apparently my skills haven't diminished. The contest ended in the 5th with a lopsided 15-0 mercy rule. Star of the game went to Jorge Bell who was 3-3 with 2 homers (including one that not only cleared the stadium, but the entire screen, maybe the longest homerun. in my RBI career).
We pulled ourselves away from the NES and took our seats just before the player introductions. The pitching matchup of Kazmir & Bedard lived up to the hype with Kazmir K'ing 10 through the first 5 and Bedard tossing a shutout. The Rays fell, but we had a good time none the less.
Getting out of Tropicana isn't the easiest, but you can't complain much since the parking is free. We drove for about two hours up to Gainesville and settled into the Comfort Inn. Had a hearty dinner at the Cracker Barrel then watched Entourage. A pretty good Sunday.
Up to Columbus tomorrow.