Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida GAME 1
“Our plan, now that we’re here in our first ballpark, is to take a walking tour of the stadium, select our first course of stadium food, then sit, and eat, and watch batting practice. It’s what one does. But before we get started with any of that, there is a line of people heading up some short stairs to our right, and in our excitement we join them. It’s not that we’re mindless, exactly, but it is a line, and might therefore lead to something, like Tropicana’s Trademark Food, maybe, which would be a first rate reason for a line. So we approach the stairs and head up, walking past the guy who now suddenly looks like a theatre usher, one who is now hooking his velvety usher rope across in front of the line of people feeding in from the side.
“I think we just broke in front of those guys,” Vicki says.
“Great,” I say. “We’re going to get the shit kicked out of us before our first game.”
“Just be glad we’re not in Los Angeles,” she says. “And don’t look back.”
At the top of the stairs, a friendly young lady in a blue Tropicana outfit is telling everyone gathered around her that if we put our hands down in the water and wait, they will come to us. And that we should not try to hold on to them, and that we should at all times refrain from sudden movements. And food packets are available, if we would like to feed them.
And just to our left, situated as it is just beyond right center, on the second level—a baseball field spilling out now below and beyond it—is the Touch Tank, the ten thousand gallon home of the Rays’ former namesakes. We join the others in our group—they limit the numbers, hence the usher, and his usher’s rope—and are then reaching over the side and into the cool water and touching the cownose rays as they swim by. And swim by they will, once they realize you haven’t laid out the five dollars for a package of Ray Food. They’re smaller than devil rays, fit better in a 10,000 gallon above ground swimming pool, and are soft, and feel like rubber, and on the baseball field below us the New York Yankees are taking batting practice, and we look at each other, our hands still in cool ray water, while we wait for the next one to come by.”