So I was able to score a ticket to game 6 of the 2008 ALCS (American League Championship Series) between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. The game was at Tropicana Field in St Peterburg, FL... home of the Rays.
I didn't want to fight traffic since I knew the game was a sellout, so I got to St Pete super early. Gametime wasn't until 8:00pm, but I was there around 3:20pm. Got a good parking spot at the Trop.
The walkway from the main parking lot leading to the stadium is lined with tiles showing various undersea life.
Sharks... I think:
Here we are!
The starting lineups:
Had to walk all the way around to where my ticket would be available for pickup through StubHub. Saw the TBS production trailers along the way:
The had K-9 patrol sniffing all the media equipment as they were checking in. Two labs... a yellow:
And a black... just like Wonderpup!
StubHub Will Call opened at 4:00. I was first in line so I got my ticket with no problems and proceeded to wait for the gates to open. Normally the gates open 2 hours prior to gametime, but today they opened 3 hours early. Probably because it's the playoffs and there were going to be around 40,000 people there!
The view from my seat (and Wonderpup taking a peek):
The usher for my section was really nice and offered to take a photo of me and Wonderpup to prove I was there too! LOL!
I usually like to get non-typical ballpark food (I hate hot dogs). This time I had a yummy pulled pork sandwich that was quite filling. Later on I got my usual giant pretzel.
A couple TV cameras down from me:
A plethora of media folk. The number of them milling about before and during batting practice was insane!
Wonderpup got a Rays pin to wear on his collar:
LET'S GO RAYS!
Skipper Joe Maddon and coach Martinez:
At one point in the middle of the game, the field was completly empty for 15-20 minutes. Not sure what was going on. I know the game came on late on TBS due to technical difficulties, but this was in like the 3rd or 4th inning. Seemed weird looking at the empty field like that.
Ok here we go... Carlos Peña:
So... The Rays lost 4-2. Despite the loss, I had fun. I rang my cowbell so much I have a blister on my thumb. And I yelled so much my throat was sooooo dry after the game. I had to stop at the big bar in the stadium behind the outfield for a glass of water.
Tomorrow's game is for all the marbles. I'm hoping the Rays can pull off a miracle and win, but I have a sinking feeling it might not happen. So if this is as far as the Rays get this season, I'm still very proud of them. Who'dve thunk the team that lost 101 games two years ago would be in the ALCS this year? Even if the Red Sox win tomorrow, the Rays still won the AL East title over them and the Yankees... and that's quite an accomplishment if you think about it. They won the toughest division in baseball. Our team is young, so they have the potential to keep up the momentum for years to come. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays proved you don't need a bunch of overpriced egos to get the job done.