Some days I just wanna play hooky. All I need is an excuse.
Thank you Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays played at home Thursday afternoon for the 13th straight win to start the season. Only two teams since 1900 have done that.
I decided after Wednesday’s 12th straight win that I’d go on Thursday. The Rays winning streak is a big deal to Rays fans such as myself. (Don’t tell Jesus, but I skipped Wednesday night church to watch the game on TV.)
The issue Thursday was time. I took care of Just Wright Citrus business in the morning, then left for St. Pete around noon. I knew there was no way I’d make the 1:10 p.m. start but my goal was to get there by the third inning.
And that’s where we pick up our story…
I arrived in the middle of the second inning. Got that? Parking, get a ticket, I’d be in my seat by the start of the third inning easily.
Here’s what I didn’t expect: The Rays' ridiculous ticket window. It’s not actually a ticket window. It’s a place for confused baseball fans to mill around in the heat trying to download the MLB Ballpark app.
There was an actual human being in the ticket window but she did not disburse actual tickets. Instead, she told me to download the app and order the tickets online. Right there at the stadium.
Cheap seat tickets were $10 plus $4.80 in fees. I think they should pay that to us.
The Rays are cashless, meaning every purchase is credit/debit. I guess that’s the logic behind this confusing game-day ticket setup. Just seemed unnecessarily complicated.
(Mini-rant: This whole cashless, tickets on your phone thing ruins a classic rite of showing up at a ballgame without a ticket: Scalpers. Before the internet made life easier, I regularly arrived at the ballpark and scored decent Rays seats at face value or below. Now I’m ordering tickets with an app while standing 5 feet from the box office. Shaking my head.)
…Tropicana Field is a pain getting here and a nightmare getting out, but the stadium itself is kinda fun. There’s a wide walkway all along the outfield wall where you can stand and watch the game, which is what I did.
Every so often ushers would tell me to move along, but I can tell their hearts weren’t in it. I’d shuffle along a few feet then find another opening to watch the action.
I realize most people prefer to sit at sporting events and I do as well. Just seemed like a good place to catch the action, like when the Rays scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. High-fiving with strangers. Nothing like it.
…I spent the last three innings right here, just above the Rays' touch tank in center field. While I’m a bit of a baseball traditionalist and think stadiums have gotten way too flashy in scope, I’ll acknowledge the coolness of the rays tank. Take your kid to a ballgame and he gets to interact with a live critter — not exactly an autograph but memorable nonetheless.
…Before leaving I decided to check out the seat I bought online while standing just a few feet from the Rays' “ticket booth.” It was in Section 130, Row XX. It says obstructed view on the ticket and I’d have to agree with that. It felt claustrophobic and dark. Glad I didn’t sit here.
The Rays won 9-3 and are in the record books. It sure was a lot of fun.
I’ll be back on the job Friday for sure. Barring another hooky excuse.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.