Tampa Bay Stories and Tips

Red Sox 11, Tampa Bay 3 and Many Happy Red Sox Fans

Sign at Tropicana Field. Photo, Tampa Bay, Florida

"The Red Sox are a religion. Every year we reenact the agony and temptation in the Garden. Baseball's child's play? Well, up here in Boston, it's a passion play."--George V. Higgins, Time Magazine

After the military honor guard, ceremonial first pitch, and national anthem, the game between the Devil Rays and Red Sox started about 2:15 p.m. on April 24. It was never a dull moment during the game, and Erika, Todd, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The Red Sox fans outnumbered the Tampa Bay fans, and the third base side of the ball park was saturated by fans in Red Sox T-shirts and hats of all colors and styles. The P.A. announcer tried to get the fans going with music and other things, but the charge music just died in the water every time. Erika was busting up in laughter everytime the music was played. There was an old man walking around our side with an Native American headdress on. "Chief Can't Get It Up!," I joked to Todd. "That's what Viagra is for!" he quipped. "Ah! Chief Viagra!," I shot back. Many fans were hoping that our pitchers would give up the 10 hits for that free burrito a local restaurant gives away. "Do we get refried beans if they get 11 hits?!" Todd cracked.

The game itself was a wild one from the get-go. Tampa Bay kept the game close, and we fans were fearing a sweep of the 3-game series. But our beloved Idiots' bats came alive in the 6th inning. Hideo Nomo, the Rays pitcher almost hit Manny Ramirez. Manny got back at Nomo by hitting the ball out of the park. "Stick a fork in him, he's done!," we heard one Sox fan yell to Nomo.

Then in the 7th inning, it got really exciting. David Ortiz almost had his head taken off by a Lance Carter pitch. Big Papi charged the mound but was restrained by the umpire, Rays catcher, and others. Both benches emptied, and a fight ensued.All of us fans were out of our seats and craning our necks to see all of the excitement. Both managers and six players from both sides were ejected. Papi struck out that at bat, but after another brawl and a grand slam by Jay Payton, Papi bombed a monster home run to right field that I lost sight of after it cleared the catwalk. "MY HERO!," I exclaimed. "Now I can sleep happy tonight! Manny and Papi hit homers!"

The Red Sox won this game 11-3, but have lost their last five games. Mom has a teddy bear we call Johnny Damon who sits in a chair in the living room. If the Sox win, it sits upright. If the Sox lose, it's put on its head. Right now, he is upside down. There is still bad blood between the Rays and Red Sox about the brawl going on and Major League Baseball just fined or suspended eight players for their role in the Sunday brawl.

One week later, I am still on Cloud 9 over seeing my Papi Ortiz hitting a home run and our Red Sox winning. My friend Leslie said she never heard a female who watched a ball game call it "Awesome!" But that is the way I feel!

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