Saturday, June 15, 2024

Birthday trip

I’ve probably been mentioning the Rays/Cubs game that Karen got me tickets to in every post since April. Well, the game came and went, and it was a great time in spite of some hiccups. 

Originally, Karen was supposed to go with us. That works out great since she drives, plans everything, and all I have to do is show up, sit in the car, and go to the game. About a week before the game, she started getting to where she couldn’t breathe after walking a few feet, and went to the hospital. Basically the same thing she was in for the last 2 times. Fortunately for us, this time instead of pumping her with nebulizers, they did some more extensive blood work in addition. They are some serious things they are testing for, but right now, it appears she may have something that isn’t allowing proteins to metabolize, and they are getting absorbed in wrong places, causing swelling and the trouble breathing. There are some infusions she can be on that help, but I believe we still have some more tests that need to come back and some specialists we need to see. But, she got discharged today, so it’s fingers crossed that she stays healthy for a while. 

With Karen out, I took her van to the game. The biggest problem with her car is that it has one of those keyless remotes and it is an automatic transmission. I enjoy having a key and just clipping it to a belt loop so I know where it is 24/7, and I love shifting gears, especially when I can coast up to a traffic light, have it turn from red to green, kick the car into a lower gear, and take off. 

Kyler and I got to the stadium just fine, and met up with my youngest sister Michelle, brother in law JT, and Niece Natalia. The 3 of them went to the game, but since Karen got me batting practice tickets, I needed someone to watch Kyler while I was on the field, and they were nice enough to come to the game early to do that. 

I got my pass for BP, waited in line, and when they let us in the gate, all they did was pass everyone through a metal detector. I don’t believe they ever scanned the BP pass, or my ticket. We could’ve probably walked around most of the stadium, but we went down to the home plate area and could just walk through a gate onto the field. There was another entrance that came from under the stadium, and that’s where the media people came from. 
I made a sign for the game to help me get some autographs and maybe get on TV. 

I’m sure everyone knows who Randy is. Doug pitched for Tampa from 2003-2006 and now is a broadcaster for them. So I just got on the field and not much was going on, just a few guys doing fielding drills, and a few media guys walk in, and I swore one of them was Doug, but I wasn’t positive enough to go and ask him. That’s on me for not watching many Rays games. It had to have been him because they had the Rays Live pre and postgame show booth right by our seats, and sure enough, Doug was there, and I wasn’t about to bug him while he was up there working. I also believe I saw Jim Deshaies, the Cubs broadcaster down on the field as well. Next time, I’m just going to ask people when I’m pretty sure it was them, because I had a card of Jim as well. 
There was a Little League team with BP passes, and I stood behind them, and it turned out to be a good idea. One of the coaches either had to be a former player or known players pretty well, because he was talking to a number of guys from both teams like he knew them. He talked with Cubs coach Ryan Flaherty for a good 20 minutes, and I believe he said Ryan was his brother in law because Ryan was married to his sister. I was pretty proud at how good I was at matching faces to cards, because I heard the coach call him Ryan, and I matched his card to his face and was able to get Flaherty to sign 2 cards for me. I also matched Jose Caballero’s face to his card, but I did so after he signed and when he came back after hitting, he talked but didn’t sign. Mike Tauchman was another guy I did that to, but he didn’t come over.  
The first guy I got was Jose Siri. After him, some of the Cubs guys started hitting, and the kids on the Little League team kept bugging Christopher Morel, and he came over and signed, and I got a sweet Topps Chrome Sepia-fractor signed. After that, Jason Adam of the Rays signed. He only has a 2023 Rays team issue card that I know of, and I had it and got is signed. He was a really nice guy, btw. 

As you can see from the poster I made, I had probably the greatest thing I could wish for at the game, and got to meet Randy Arozarena and get an autograph. He came over to the team and started signing, and I waited until the end and he signed my 2020 Topps Update Gold rookie card. To get to meet the playoff hero from 2020 who almost got the Rays a World Series trophy was a Rays highlight for me that is pretty close to the top for me. Before the end of BP, I got Josh Lowe for the Rays, and a few more Cubbies like Miguel Amaya, Patrick Wisdom, and Javier Assad. The guy who got Assad before me was kind of an ass. He had got Assad before on the other side of the field, and had come over to the right side when Assad came to talk to someone. I finally figured out who he was and pulled out a card, and the guy in front of me asked Javier if he could sign another card for him because he had smudged it. Javier just gave him a dirty look and reluctantly signed it. It’s guys like that who give adult collectors like me a bad name. I really hope the place wherever that dealer works gets shut down. 

That was the end of autographs at BP for me. Pete Crow-Armstrong signed a good number for the team, but was really just getting kids and skipped me over a few times. I get it. Especially now that I’m a little older. 

Not a bad haul of autographs, especially for being a Major League game and me looking a lot older now. 

The game started off bad. Rays only had 1 hit after like 5 innings. Multiple guys hitting less than .220, with our starting catcher batting .068, going 1 for 2, and still only hitting .080 after the game. Not even Ozzie Smith and all his defensive prowess could make up for hitting that low. 
Me, Kyler, JT, Michelle, and Natalia from l-r. 
JT, Michelle, and Natalia left during the 7th Inning stretch, and once they left, the Rays, who were down 2-0 finally started hitting Justin Steele, and scored 3 runs. Kyler and I went to 2 gift shops in the 8th, and came back to watch the 9th. The Cubs had 1 out and a runner on 1st, and Nico Hoerner hit a screaming liner to SS Taylor Walls, who caught it on a hop, used his glove to throw the ball to second, where they got the out, and then they got the kit at first to end the game. The Cubs fans probably outnumbered the Rays fans 20-1, but that shut them up, and I started pointing to the exits and told them to get on out. 

During the 8th, we stopped at the Rays Authentics store. I had really been wanting to get a piece of game-used turf ever since I saw one at a game a few years ago. The price had went up 5 dollars, but I got one. They also had Series 2 packs, so I got one. 
I had never head of Tristan Gray, but apparently he was a Ray, and is now a Marlin. The Covering the Field inserts must actually have the location of the players hits, since they all look different, but looking at Yelich’s hits, there are a few that look to be outside the foul lines before 1st and 3rd base. How can that be?  Maybe if I would’ve had that PCA card during BP he would’ve signed it since it was new. 

The pieces of turf are pretty big. If I ever get my dream to design a house that has a basement that goes up into a dugout and to a baseball field, maybe I can work this piece of turf into it. If we can ever escape the current living situation, I’ll work it into the man cave at some point. 

The other thing I wanted to get was something with the city connect logo. At first, the theme was a turnoff to me, as I thought players weekend was very lame, and felt city connect was similar. The Padres uniforms didn’t do much to help the feeling. At any rate, the Rays did a great job with the city connect logo and design, and I love the logo with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge incorporated into it, as well as a Ray incorporated as well. The least expensive thing I could find was a Christmas ornament, and it wasn’t a bad price for an ornament. 

After the game, we went to the hotel, then saw my mom the next day, and came back to DeLand. I had a ton of birthday texts and stuff that I finally got to check when we got in, and all in all, it was one of the better birthdays in recent memory. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post. 


  1. Happy belated birthday! That was a decent autograph haul. I'm a bit surprised that you were able to get as many as you did.

  2. Much belated happy birthday! Glad you get some autos, but not so glad my Cubbies coughed up the game for you!