Monday, July 27, 2009

Game 29: New York Yankees 11 @ Tampa Bay Rays 4

We got to the game about an hour and a half before the gates opened. Before getting in line and after the team shop we walked part of the Baseball Boulevard Path that eventually leads to the Rays Spring Training field, but that would have been 3 miles round trip, so we only did about two blocks of it. It was interesting to see the home plate time line of baseball in St. Petersburg that we did see. Too bad it was too close to game time and way too humid to do the whole thing.

When the gates opened we went straight to the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame. Well almost straight, as that was after almost not getting the giveaway because we were not in Rays gear, but the guy behind us who we were talking with before the gates opened helped convince them to give us t-shirts by lending us his hat. The Ted Williams Museum was way pretty amazing and it was good we did it first thing, as it became quite crowded by the time we exited. I will eventually do a post just on it.

After the museum we headed to our seats in section 321. Our seats were pretty good, as even the upper deck here does not seem far from the field. One issue, though is we were way down the 3rd baseline and they do not have the seats angled, although that does not matter in the handicap row because the seats are fold up ones. It is the one thing that does make you feel you are in a multipurpose dome and not an indoor ballpark. Other than that, though it does have a ballpark feel even including a dirt infield instead of mostly turf with small dirt sliding paths like at the other domes (Skydome in Toronto and Metrodome in Minneapolis). Also, the fact that it has its only scoreboards in the outfield instead of on both ends of the stadium makes it obviously mainly for baseball despite technically always intended to be multipurpose.

The catwalks are crazy, but they are what hold the roof up and that roof makes an enjoyable ball game. I cannot imagine going to a game here and not being in an air conditioned ballpark, but I guess we will find out in two days when we see the Marlins for our final ballpark. We already know we are not going to tent camp in the Florida humidity and try to get a Kabin upgrade there, too.

The game tonight was exciting, I guess, but not if you wanted to see the Yankees lose like we did. The Yankees had a lot of hits and scoring including four homers. The Rays on the other hand had few hits and scoring until the second half of the game and mostly the last two innings.

Overall I liked Tropicana Field. I have nothing against indoor parks and do not think baseball always has to be outdoors, especially since many would not want to come and enjoy a game (or at least not come back) if they had to be outside in the humidity. It may be a dome, but it is the best of the domes and at least really tries to feel like a ballpark despite being built to be multipurpose. Only thing I do not get is the cowbells. Mik absolutely hated all the Rays fans constantly ringing cowbells and complained about the noise the whole game, which was also related to Yankees suck and Yankee fan cheering, but just the cowbells on their own are annoying. The main thing, though, is we cannot figure out why the heck they do cowbells here at all. Mik says he could understand if it was like Texas or someplace they have ranches, but this is a beach town.

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Game 29: Mik Playing Baseball...on the DS

Mik has been playing a lot of baseball on his PSP on this trip, but today he has to downgrade to the inferior one he has for his DS. His PSP joystick broke yesterday to add to the horrible events of his summer (yeah the way he tells the story of the summer is the opposite of Dad and me. He is all lows and a few highlights. While we are mostly highlights with a few bad parts). When his DS was broken the day we left for the trip we got him a new one as a birthday present, but a second broken system is not getting replaced this summer. Dad did figure out how to order the part and fix it when we get home, though. Until then he will be more of a butthead and the noisy Yankees @ Rays game does not help his attitude.

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Game 29: Ted Williams as Fisherman

We are at Tropicana Field for Game 29 of the trip. One of the things they have here is the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, which is where this statue is.

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Car Sticker Update: Texas Rangers

The sticker Dad got at the Rangers game is a circle one. The outer circle says Texas Ranger and has a baseball at the top. The inner circle is the Texas Rangers circle logo with a T on a baseball in the middle. Only one more ballpark and sticker and the American League side of the car will be complete.

Smashed Pennies: Minute Maid Park

At Minute Maid Park I got two smashed pennies and Mik got one. One of the designs I got has an image of the train that is above the outfield at Minute Maid Park and says Home Run. The other one I got says Minute Maid Park and has an image of the ballpark. The one Mik got says Don’t Mess With Texas or the Astros and has an image of two crossed guns.

Car Sticker Update: Houston Astros

We thought we were going to be without a sticker for the Astros, as none of the Team Shops or souvenir stands had any stickers. Thankfully, though, stickers ended up being one of the things in the goodie bag we received at the Astros game. The sticker is the Astros star logo. Only one more ballpark/sticker and the National League side will be complete. Actually, the whole car will be complete with all 30 teams as long as we get stickers once we visit the final National League team, the Marlins, since that is the final game of the trip.

Accessibility Review: Minute Maid Park

Parking ended up being easy at Minute Maid Park as we found a parking lot across the street under the freeway that is an official lot. It was the first lot around the park that we noticed handicap spots in. It is labeled as a reserved lot, but that does not mean you need a special pass for the handicap spots, although you of course do need a handicap placard or plate. I also noticed some of the street parking around the park was handicap spots. However, several of the lots right across from the park other than the one we ended up in did not seem to have any handicap spots or if they did they were taken more than 3 hours before the game.

Getting into the park is not that hard, but it was helpful that a fellow fan told us early on where to line up. The regular lines end up going between bars, although not actual turnstiles when they enter the park. These bars are, however, not placed far enough apart for a wheelchair to go through. The doors to the left, however, which was the Media Entrance at the gate we were at, did not have any of the bars and when they opened the park it is even a handicap button operated automatic door. It was great that we were informed to stand over near it, as by the time the park opened the line was pretty long and it would have been annoying to end up going across it to get into the park.

At the Houston Astros game we originally had tickets in one of the 300s sections, but we ended up sitting in 110 as one of our surprise upgrades of the trip. The accessible seats on the 100 level are located at the top of the sections. Overall they are good seats, although part of left field was blocked from view and we could only see the train start its trip on the track to celebrate home runs. Not having to deal with elevators to get to them is a nice thing, though.

One issue with the section we sat in was that there was a concession stand right behind it. This did keep general public traffic out of the handicap seating area trying to stand around and watch the game and getting in the way. However, at the same time it almost made the section inaccessible for the wheelchair to get in and out of.

Overall the accessible experience at Minute Maid Park was acceptable. The particular section we sat in was kind of odd with the concession stand in front of it, but it is better than ending up people standing and crowding the section like we have experienced at some of the places the seats are right out on the concourse. Mik approves of the seating section because they do have cup holders.