Monday, June 21, 2010

Totally Insane Game from Hell: Rays v. Marlins, Sat. 6/19/10

My honey decided to do something terrific for me for vacation -- well, several terrific things, actually -- and bought us tickets to see the Rays play the Marlins, yes, outdoors, at what I like to call Joe Robbie Stadium. Since we'd previously had problems with finding the car in the rain after the game, we were prepared with ponchos and photos. ========>
He spent a bundle and got us 5th row aisle seats, right behind the netting at home plate... awesome view, waiters standing by to bring you overpriced dogs and such to your seat, and enough other Rays fans nearby to help with cheering. Oh, yeah, they'd scheduled fireworks and two famous merengue musicians for the post-game show. Oh, yeah, and Marlins mgt were giving away free vuvuzela horns, long black sticks, made in China & advertising some Miami company, to the first 15,000 people who showed up, in honor of the horns they blow in South Africa during World Cup games. Well, I knew we were leaving before the merengue began, and I thought the noisemakers would be like those thundersticks or cowbells that other teams give away. Well, wrong-o.

The noise was deafening and painful. The kids, of course, started blowing before they'd even climbed the ramp. So did many of their parents. So did the guys who'd been tailgating -- or not. Saw some with a beer in one hand, a horn in the other, not sure which to put in their mouth first.  Something about the timbre, the tone, the note, the reflection of the sound off the empty seats... it was LOUD! PAINFULLY LOUD! So loud the tv and radio broadcasts were nearly untelligible. So loud the players wore earplugs during the game. So loud that on the way out, the usher said "Good night, thanks for coming, address your complaints to Guest Relations." If we could have gotten our money back, I would have left. There was one guy, a Rays fan, there with his wife & 8-year-old son, so he had 3 horns. Several times, he blew them all at one time. Another time, he blew one into another into another. Another time, he blew one into the Rays cowbell noisemaker he'd brought, making a really loud noise that echoed off the metal and bounced backwards into my ear. And you can't tell anyone not to blow these things, because they'd been given out specifically for people to blow on!

So when I heard on Baseball Tonight that in the 9th inning, Fredi Gonzalez had a mis-communication with the umpire about his lineup card and the wrong guy batted and Joe Maddon caught it and complained and the batter had to sit down, I wasn't surprised. There was no way to hear anything! You had to lean into someone's ear just to say you were going to the ladies room. Oh, yeah, sitting right in front of us was a woman and her father. She arrived already wearing earplugs and he was completely deaf, but no worries... they signed to each other!!  So once the game was about to start, the announcer came on & urged us all to have fun, only blow the horns at the right time, and not to blow the horn at any appropriate times, although not mentioning when those would be.  Didn't matter... they blew the horns when the Marlins were batting AND when the Rays were batting AND when the girls were dancing, and especially when the organist played his little chant songs.
This was a delegation of government and baseball officials & their families from the Dominican Republic. One of the ministers threw out the first pitch. (That actor from Burn Notice threw out the other first pitch.) But why were all these people milling around on the field right in front of the Rays bullpen? My team couldn't see anything or warm up or play catch or whatever. Scanning the field, I saw two guys -- 1 Ray 1 Marlin (both fish?) -- meeting at 2nd base. Ray Ben Zobrist had gone out to say hi to former-Ray Jorge Cantu. They chatted and smiled, then gave two distinct man-hugs before parting, each walking back to his respective dugout. That's Ben in the photo, walking back from seeing his friend.  And when Marlinettes strut their stuff directly in front of the opposing team's dugout. What's up with that? A big sexy psych-out?

I had a moment during the national anthem. A young girl sang, maybe 11 or 12, with a terrific voice, did a great job, hit all the hard notes and didn't bend "Free" out of all recognition. She wore a t-shirt with a big red, white & blue peace symbol on the front and when she sang "bombs bursting in air," several fireworks flares shot up from the stands. The crowd cheered wildly. Since the flares represent bombs, I had a real downer moment and began to cry. Then I looked at her peace shirt, watched her stick her right hand in the air in a peace sign as the crowd applauded, and wondered what kind of courage do you need to be a kid and do that at a baseball game? 

So imagine you're at a baseball game and there are announcements, then music when a player is announced, then organ music, and crowds yelling and whistling, and then an icing of random hornblowing over it all. That's why I'm calling it the Totally Insane Game from Hell.

More here and here.  Not too many photos as my battery died in the 2nd inning.

Other highlights included finding my friends Kim & Dan at the game with the baby, and the idiot heckler two rows behind me -- louder even than the horns -- who, when lanky AL pitcher Jeff Nieman (who probably hadn't batted since high school) came to the plate as the 9th hitter, screamed at Volstad to, "...Throw him a strike.... he's got a strike zone as big as a Buick!" And later, to the way struggling Carlos Pena..."Hey, you weigh more than your batting average!"  Nasty!

Oh, and here's how we survived (which is more than Fredi Gonzalez did, as of today) -- handmade, homemade earplugs, fresh from the hot dog stand. Tore a napkin into thin strips, rolled it up, and stuck 'er in. J moistened his, but I took mine straight. ==========>

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