Spring Training Baseball Has Arrived! (FL) “DAY 238” – 2/27/11

March 1, 2011 - 9:30 am - (FL) “DAY 238” - Week 34 - State 32

For the second day in a row, I got up early for me (9 am).  I guess the combination of a injured lower back and Pat being a morning guy has changed my sleeping pattern in a hurry.

Writing & Deciding What To Do

Anyway, I sat on the couch and wrote my Friday while Pat sat on the couch and yelled at me for continuing to take pictures of him. LOL 😉  After I got done, I asked Pat if he wanted to go a Spring Training game with me today.

We both agreed we wanted to see a game, now we just had to decide what game we thought we could get a ticket to. (It’s kind of opening day for Spring Training, some teams have played a game but most of them who played, played a college team or something.)

Choosing A Game
After weighing our options, we choose to go see the Tampa Bay Rays play the Pittsburgh Pirates an hour and half north at the Pirates spring training facility. (We choose this game because the Pirates are generally terrible and we figured we’d have the best chance of getting a ticket at there stadium.)

F.Y.I. - There was a game right here in Fort Myers between the Red Sox and Twins, but since the Twins and Red Sox both play in Fort Myers and have real strong followings, we thought getting an affordable ticket would be tough being it was both teams opening day against other MLB teams.

Traveling To Bradenton, Florida

By the time we left the house, it was 11:45 am.  So, since the drive is 90 miles, we knew we would get to the game a little late.  That’s OK by me because 3+ plus hours in the sun is a long day anyway, so if we miss the 1st inning, that’s just fine.

Finding A Free Parking Spot
The ride wasn’t bad as we arrived in the expected amount of time of 1:30 minutes. (It was 1:25 pm and the game started at 1:05 pm.)  Since the game had been going on for 20 minutes, the parking attendants were already gone for the day.  Nice!  Free parking! 🙂

Trying To Find 2 Tickets
For the third time on this trip, I am going to a sporting event with a friend where my plan was to find tickets for the both of us. (I’ve been to other sporting events with friends but we already had tickets to those games.)

Anyway, parking might have been easier because the game had started, but the same circumstances is what will make finding two tickets that much harder!  The reasons ... all the people that might have had extra tickets are already in the stadium and as I found out... there weren’t even any scalpers outside of the game.  Huh?

Trying The Ticket Booth

After seeing no other options for us, I tried to get Pat and I two free tickets from the stadium ticket window.  After talking with a few nice people who wanted to help, they said they just didn’t have any extra tickets they could give out.  Hey, I tried. 🙂

With no other options left, Pat and I decided to just pay for tickets.  The good thing was (and I didn’t know this until we bought the tickets) the tickets were just $10 each. (I’ll pay that any day to see a pro-baseball game.)

Buying Our Tickets
As Pat was at the window about to buy us our tickets, an older gentleman came out from the ticket booth and handed me 2 tickets.  Nice!  We’re in for free!

The problem... the tickets were for the March 27 not February 27, so when we went up to the ticket taker, we couldn’t get in.  Ahhh!  I guess that’s why they were left.  I went back to guy who gave them to me and he said sorry, that’s all he had.

That’s OK, at least he tried.  Thank you anyway Pal!  But now, we had to go back and buy two $10 tickets from the window.  OK, at least we are really in now.  Even though I just wrote a lot, this whole scene only took 10 minutes tops from parking to entering.

The Pittsburgh Pirates vs. The Tampa Bay Ray’s

Surprisingly enough, the game was packed with fans!  I know... the Pirates had a full crowd for their opening day in Spring Training!  Yeah, I’m sure it helped that they were playing Tampa Bay (who’s real stadium and fans are just 45 minutes north), but still... it was a packed house for a Buco game!  Nice! 🙂

Finding/Choosing Our Seats
Since there was a full crowd, we couldn’t just sit anywhere when we arrived, but as the game went on and the sun beat down on the fans, just about any seat we wanted opened up.  (It was real hot out here today and with shade only in a few areas of the stadium, it was a fight to stay comfortable and cool.)

Anyway, our first seats turned to be where I always like to sit if I have a choice anyway, 1st base side, a bunch of rows up.  During this time, I sat by myself as Pat was off getting some food and shade.

The Pirates Bullpen
The great thing about Spring Training baseball is that the players are very accessible to the fans.  Normally, you can get autographs before and after the game and sometimes... you can even get a player to sign something for you during the game.

Also, you are so close to the bullpen, that if you are outgoing enough, you can usually find a player or coach who will talk baseball with you and give some information about the team or themselves individually.  It’s real cool!

After hanging around the Pirates bullpen for awhile and shooting the shit with a coach or two, I headed to the other side of the stadium to see what was going on in Rays bullpen.

The Ray’s Bullpen

The way bullpens were set-up must have been a little different because when I got to the Ray’s side, there really wasn’t any way to get a player’s or coaches attention without really making a scene.  So, I took a few picture and walked back over to where Pat and I’s original seats were.

The 4th Inning
By now, it was the 4th inning and like I said, it was hot out!  So, this is when you could visible see many people leaving the game after every half inning ended.  As this was happening, Pat and I made our move to better seating.

For the next 3 innings (4-6th), Pat and I watched the game from 3 rows from the field, down the right field line.  Nice!  During this time, we talked baseball, got some sun, and enjoyed a perfect day to watch our nation’s favorite past time, baseball! 🙂

Mascot Time - Meeting The Parrot Again

I’ve been gone so long now, that this will actually be the second time I have met the Pittsburgh Parrot.  This first time was last baseball season in Pittsburgh when my trip was just a few weeks old. (I went to the game with my old college buddies from WVU.)

Anyway, when I last met the Parrot, I was wearing my Yankee jersey in Pittsburgh.  So when he choked me out in the picture I took with him, I understood and thought I may have got what I deserved. 😉

Today’s Encounter

Moving forward to today’s encounter.  Now, for the first time on this trip, I am not wearing a Yankee Jersey to a baseball game I’m at. (It was to hot out, so I just wore a loose fitting sleeveless shirt and... I didn’t even realize I wasn’t wearing Yankee gear until I was already driving to the stadium.)

I mention that because when I met the Parrot today, I looked like any normal fan at the game.  None-the-less, when the Parrot took a picture with me... he still choked me out!

He must not like me or I just have a face he just wants to choke because that’s twice I met him and that’s twice... he has choked me senseless! (I even followed him around a little through the stands to see if choked anybody else and... Nope, just me!

OK Parrot... I know where you stand now.  I’ll see you again when I get to Pittsburgh for my full week in a May sometime and when you try that stunt again... I’ll be ready with a Rooster claw to your Parrot eye! 😉

Changing Seats Again
When I got back to our seats after doing the necessary recon on the Parrot’s activities, Pat and I switched seats again.  We moved this time because it was real hot where we were sitting and since many seats had opened up by now, we headed to a shaded seat directly behind home plate.

Even though we had great seats and were now sitting in the shade, we only stayed for another inning as the game had already been going for 3 hours (there was still 2 more innings to be played).

Plus, at this point in the game, there were no more starters on the field as all the unknown players were getting their chance to make an impact on the coaching staff.

F.Y.I. - I still would have stayed because I don’t care who’s playing, I love watching baseball.  But, it was real hot out, Pat wanted to leave, and my back was killing me from sitting in these seats for 3 hours, so it just made sense to bail early.

Back To Pats
By the time we got back Pat’s house, it was close to 6:30 pm. (We stopped to get food at the supermarket first.)  It was at this time that I realized how sunburn I was from the last two days.

The problem, I wore a tank top on Saturday and sleeveless shirt on Sunday, so I look like a fool!  Not to mention, it’s starting to hurt!  Ahhh!  Damn Sun!

Relaxing For The Rest Of The Night
Since Pat had work in the morning and I was feeling beat up from the sun and my lower back, we just sat in the living room and watched TV until both of us passed out sometime in the evening.

I did stay up long enough to watch the entire Knicks - Heat basketball game which was being played in Miami on ESPN.  I’m a huge Knicks fan and after watching 8 years of horrible NY B-ball, it was awesome to see them win a big game against one the NBA’s best teams!  Go Knicks!  That’s it... until tomorrow. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Dad says:

    OUCH !!!! Try aloe to soothe the burn.
    Sounds like the Parrot has a thing for the Rooster.

  2. BJ says:

    Don’t mess with our beloved Parrot! He can smell a scumbag Yankee fan anywhere. And he will prevail once again when you make it back to the Burgh.

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