Can You Feel The Love Tonight? Pride Night at The Trop.

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As many people are aware, last night was a special night at Tropicana Field. It was Pride Night in the wake of the Pulse massacre in which 50 LGBT people were murdered last week. All the ticket proceeds were going to the victims, and the Rays were holding a blood drive as well as using the 50/50 Raffle to raise funds. While the outcome of the game was disappointing–the Rays lost 5-1 and Chris Archer continues his struggles on the mound–the game itself was secondary to the joy and good will that permeated the stadium. Everywhere people where smiling, hugging, laughing, and waving the little rainbow flags that the Rays gave away. It felt like the most laid back playoff game you have ever attended. You could really feel the love. I know how corny this sounds, trust me. I’m originally from the Bronx.

Normally I’d choke on a cucumber before listening to a song like this, but really, this is what it felt like:

I am so torn between knowing how sappy this is, and sincerely trying to communicate the emotion in that stadium. I guess it’s okay to be sappy sometimes.

It felt like the stadium had a heartbeat. It pulsed. The colors, so vibrant. Everywhere people were high fiving, saying hello, and smiling. Giants fans, Rays fans. We were all there for one common cause: to show love and support to a community that for too long has felt like outsiders, unwanted merely for being who they are. No more. We are all in this together. Tolerance? No. We tolerate things that bother us. Love, accept, nurture, as we should everyone. To have Major League Baseball, which traditionally has been a very conservative sport, open its arms so lovingly to EVERYONE–I thought I was going to burst with joy and pride. My sport that I love so much. Thank you.

Last Saturday, you saw humanity at its worst. Yesterday, I saw humanity at its best. Fans raised $300,000 for victims. They were lined up to donate blood. I am telling you, it was like something out of a movie. Just this positive vibe permeating everything. No hate, just love.

Early in the day, I realized I had a surplus of tickets. I could not in good conscience sell them on stubhub. I had to give them away. I went on Facebook on the Rays page for people going to the game. I saw one person looking for two tickets. Her photo said, “My God Loves Everyone.” I responded to her, “I like your God. This is a legitimate offer, I have 2 extra tickets. They are yours.” I left my phone number for her to text. We coordinated meeting at Ferg’s later. It turns out they were this drop dead gorgeous engaged lesbian couple. They bought me a drink that far exceeded the cost of the tickets. I didn’t drink much of it, but I appreciated the gesture. They were amazing; we have plans to go to another game together.

The National Anthem was sung with the Stars and Stripes surrounded by two Rainbow Flags at its side. “O’er the Land  of the Free…” The Free to love whomever you want, to be whomever and “The Home of the Brave.” The Brave Ones who stand up and say so no more. The past is not acceptable. We can do better.

Sung by Una Voce, the Florida Men’s Chorale

Here is a picture taken of my friends and I as we were leaving the stadium. When I got home and saw it on my laptop, it took my breath away. Every color and nationality is represented in this picture: White, black, Asian, Native American, name it. Every person in this picture is a mutt; we are America. The glow behind us of Tropicana Field looked like heaven. Probably because most of it is obscured, I have never seen the Trop look so beautiful.

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The sun beckons. This is Florida. I am going to enjoy the morning with my children. Go hug someone. Hug yourself if you can’t find anyone. Be nice to each other.

Happy Saturday. May your team win. Except the Red Sox.

I picked a really bad time to stop drinking whiskey.

 

We Are Orlando. We are the Rays.

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imageI have neglected my little blog for awhile. I can’t say I will publish every day. That is too much pressure and I have a lot I need to do. I am a registered nurse who works full time. I have two children and two pets. I am undergoing a divorce, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I write this as I work-out on an elliptical.

Tonight, there is an important event in St. Petersburg, Florida occurring at Tropicana Field: Pride Night. St. Petersburg has a small but vibrant gay community. When I lived in a community of beautiful old majestic bungalows and cobblestone streets a stones throw from Tropicana Field named Historic Kenwood, my ex and I were the token straights on the block. My friend said she felt she was visiting “flat San Francisco.” She also added, you would love San Fran. Noted.

Yes, other teams have had their pride nights. None have had their Pride Nights 90 minutes away from the greatest massacre on United States soil where 50 young lesbian, gay, transgendered, and bisexual people were murdered and 53 were hurt for simply being who they are. Take it in: 103 people. Soak it in. To add insult to injury, these people were mostly brown, Latinos, the face that stares back at me every morning, the face of my children, my family. To add further fuel to this fire, the assailant who shall not be named here used a semi-automatic weapon. He was known to be a danger to society, a domestic abuser and on terror watch lists, yet Republicans decided that there should be no limits on gun rights and this monster should have access legally to a weapon that can do this.

I was told I should not see politics in a game like this. I was told “ewww.” I cannot NOT see poltics. The Rays have rebranded themselves with the LGBT colors and have gone out of their way to make it known where they stand to everyone around the world. Not with a little fucking candle ceremony or a bullshit moment of silence. My moment of silence is done. I am ready to talk and talk a lot and you are never shutting me up until what happened at the Pulse never happens again. Until gay people have no reason to fear loving who they love. Until I have no reason to fear going to a movie theater because some asshole is going to shoot up the place. Until then. Hear my voice.

If you think baseball is not political, I truly lose some respect for your intellect and ability to think critically. I still like you, even love you, but I believe you to be either simple, or a blind fool in my deepest heart. You can fool yourself and lie to yourself all you like, but that is not me. I will always tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. The ugly truth too. Of course, you should not care what I think of you, just as I do not care what most people think of me. There are a few select people whose opinion of me truly matters to me. I am not arrogant. When they talk and tell me–you are out of line. I listen. They know me and my heart.

You probably think I am an arrogant bitch for thinking this. I am an uppity opinionated woman who does not back down easily and that can upset some people. Sexism still lives and if you think it doesn’t, again, lie to yourself all you want.

I play nice but when you burn me, I will not take it. That is not me.

You got a woman who knows her worth and ain’t prepared to compromise it. You can’t treat me that way. Maybe it’s just some shit we blew into space, but if you meant it, it’s too late.

I will be at the game tonight, which promises to be a special event. The Rays are playing the San Francisco Giants, a team whose city has a rich LGBT history. All sorts of festivities are planned. I will be there early to take it all in, take pictures, and report back here tomorrow. Archer will be pitching for the Rays. He has struggled this season, however most of his issues lie in the first inning. If he can survive the first unscathed, we’ve got ourselves game. Samardzija is pitching for the Giants, and he is always a formidable force. The Rays have been red hot of late. It should be fantastic. This is the game to watch tonight. The biggest party in baseball tonight. And those who can’t appreciate it? Their loss.

Everything the Rays are doing tonight:

  • The Rays are donating 100 percent of the proceeds from tickets sold since Tuesday as well as from the 50-50 raffle to help victims’ families and will have donation centers around the Trop (also at gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund).
  • There also will be a blood drive (starting at 4 p.m.) with donors getting a voucher for two tickets to any future 2016 game.
  • There will be a moment of silence with the victims’ names scrolled across the video board
  • The national anthem and God Bless America will be performed by Una Voce, the Florida Men’s Chorale.
  • All fans will receive a “We Are Orlando” T-shirt
  • MLB VP of Social Responsibility Billy Bean will throw out the first pitch
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred will provide a videoboard message.

The game is a sell-out. When that ugly dome sells out, it rocks.

Stuff That Can Kill You in Florida

I recently met a woman who told me the reason she moved from New England to Florida was her fear of ticks. Apparently, she was very frightened of Lyme disease and thought that Florida would be a good place to move to protect herself and her family from ticks. She moved to Florida to escape ticks. I wanted to laugh. I thought, “Lady, are you insane? Do you know how much stuff can kill you in Florida? I mean, have you even seen the size of our bugs?” Of course, I didn’t say that. I merely smiled politely and nodded while I kept thinking. If safety was your number one priority, would Florida be your pick? She couldn’t think of a safer place to move? Does she read the news? That’s when this list came to mind. I know some of these things are not unique to Florida (e.g. deadly hurricanes hit other states), but does any state have this many weird things? So here, in no order of likelihood or importance, is a list of 19 things that can kill you in Florida. Why 19? Because I could only think of 19. If I think of more or if anyone has any suggestions, I’ll add more.

1) Alligators

2) Lightning

3) Sinkholes

4) Your neighbor’s meth lab exploding

5) Red ants

6) Killer bees

7) Pythons

8) Tornadoes

9) Hurricanes

10) Florida man

11) Riptides

12) Sharks

13) Sting rays

14) Jellyfish (even dead ones washed up on the beach can sting. Bastards.)

15) Flesh eating bacteria at the beach. This lucky guy was attacked by a stingray and then he got the flesh eating bacteria.

16) Mosquitoes

17) Cigautera fish poisoning

18) Brain eating amoeba

19) Digging in the sand at the beach

Remember to buckle your seat belt and wash your hands. Welcome to Florida.

 

Words of Comfort

My team, the Tampa Bay Rays, got swept this weekend by the mighty Oakland A’s in the aptly nicknamed Mausoleum, since it now houses the carcass of what was once a seemingly good team. In the past week, they’ve done the following: lost 1 to KC, lost 2 of 3 to the LAA, and now lost 3 of 3 to OAK. They’re now down 5.5 games for the AL East title to the disliked Boston Red Sox, so that’s pretty much a lost cause. They’re now in danger of losing the second Wild Card spot, holding the slenderest 2.5 game lead over Baltimore. Today, I saw my boys misplay an easy fly ball in the outfield, over throw a ball to first, and get thrown out at the plate for the third out on a sharply hit single to the outfield. They’re just not looking good, and Jobu only helps those who help themselves.

When the Beatles found themselves in times of trouble, Mother Mary comforted them, but for me, books have always been my source of comfort. I just started reading Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn. I usually don’t start my baseball reading until the post-season, but I’ve been a bit melancholy watching my team and I needed a distraction. In it, he writes,

You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat. Losing after great striving is the story of man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thought, and who if he is a hero, does nothing in life as becomingly as leaving it.

I wish I could write like that. Those words are perfect. I have fallen for this team in defeat. He was writing about the Brooklyn Dodgers 62 years ago, but he’s speaking a universal truth to any sports fan. Well, except for Yankees fans. They only know of glory.

Super Sam Fuld

For as long as my daughter has been aware of baseball, Sam Fuld has been her favorite baseball player. Mind you, she is 4 years old. She doesn’t know anything about batting averages, slugging percentage, or WAR. All she knows is that “Sam Fuld is silly.” In 4 year old speak, she sees how Sam Fuld plays the game. Very enthusiastically. With a lot of effort. Just throws with body without any regard as to where or how it may land. He is silly. Every time we would take her to Tropicana Field, Lana had one question, “Will I meet Sam Fuld?” I don’t know, I would say. Maybe. We’ll try. One of the nice things about Tropicana Field and having a small fan base is that it affords lots of opportunities for fans to interact with the players. For whatever reason, whenever Lana was there, Sam wasn’t available. One day, my ex and I received an email from the Tampa Bay Rays. Sam Fuld was hosting a post game juvenile diabetes fund raiser with an opportunity to meet Fuld. I was not in town that weekend, but my ex said he would take her. Excellent.

Lana was so excited when she learned she would finally get to meet Sam Fuld. I asked her in the days leading up to the big day, “What are you going to say to Sam Fuld?” She said, “I am going to tell him, ‘Sam Fuld, you are silly!'” And we both laughed. I said, “You tell him that.” Well, my ex reports that is exactly what she said when she met him. Based on the picture taken, I think Sam got a kick out of it. Lana’s dad also reports that Sam is as nice in person as he seems on television.

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“Sam Fuld is silly!”

The kid also got to meet other Rays. I know she has no appreciation right now how lucky she is. Someday, I hope she looks back on these pictures and realize how damn lucky she was. Not many kids ever get an opportunity like that, and yesterday, she was keeping some really amazing company yesterday. And honestly, so were those players. She’s a pretty special little kid. Not that I am biased or anything.

Future Basketball Royalty Wil Myers
Future Basketball Royalty Wil Myers
Chris Archer
Chris Archer
Matt Moore
Matt Moore
Alex Cobb
Alex Cobb
Jose Lobaton
Jose Lobaton
Jamey Wright
Jamey Wright

Reasons I Love My Job: Vocal Cords

The other day, I had a lovely older woman in her 80s as a patient. She spoke with the sweetest Southern drawl. A native of Kentucky, she told me, and her voice was like a smooth bourbon. She had bright blue eyes, high cheekbones, a petite frame, and her mind was sharp. I could tell she had once been a great beauty. She was prim and proper, the picture of Southern gentility. All her statements were adorned.”Thank you, darlin’.”  “Please, sweetheart would you mind…” And so on.

When it came time to review her discharge instructions, I had pictures of her procedure to show her, as we do with all our patients. One of them was a picture of her vocal cords. She pointed to that picture, and said to me in her sugary Southern twang, “That looks like a twat.” She then looked saddened. “Mine doesn’t look that good anymore.”

I lost it. I laughed so hard, I had to leave the patient’s bedside to collect myself. It was the last thing in the world that I was expecting from this grandmotherly figure. When I returned, her daughter in law was extremely apologetic. “I am so sorry! I don’t know what got into her!” I told her not to worry. Her mother-in-law had made my day. And you know what? I never thought about it before, but she was right. It does.

Not what you think it is.
Not what you think it is.

 

 
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Happy Father’s Day

My dad passed away a couple of years suddenly from brain cancer. He’s the guy who gave me my brown eyes, sense of humor, and love of baseball. This 10 second clip, showing him playing with a neighbor’s boy in NYC, shows his personality more than anything I could write. Miss ya, daddy.

An Open Invitation

She ain’t pretty, but she’s mine.

I wrote the following as a comment on Hardball Talk, a favorite baseball blog of mine that I like to visit on an almost daily basis. Hardball Talk is like my baseball blog version of Cheers, a place where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. The other day, head blogger and crime fighter-in-chief Craig Calcaterra posted a blog post about Jeff Loria: Will Jeff Loria’s Antics Hurt Baseball As a Whole?”

In it he writes:

People weren’t thinking “Marlins or nothing” before, so I doubt they are now. They’re thinking “Marlins or … Yankees?” “Marlins or Rays?” “Marlins or ___.”

A commenter who goes by lovistemiami wrote the following in response:

As a Miamian and a Marlins fan I agree on all points, except: Marlins or Yankees – yes. Marlins or Mets – yes. Marlins or Phillies or Braves – yes. Marlins or Rays – Ugh, I have never met a Rays fan. (Admittedly, I imagine they’d say they’ve never met a Marlins fan).

That hurt. Dissed by a Feesh fan. I responded with the following. I was particularly fond of this piece of writing. I included both a Jay-Z and a Daniel Webster reference. See if you can find them. I hope you appreciate that’s not an easy feat to pull off. I didn’t respond with anger, but with an open invitation to join us in this crazy journey of fandom together. This letter is not just directed to lovistemiami, but to all fans of this great sport without an allegiance to a team who might be looking for one in all the wrong places.

Hi, lovistemiami. /shaking your hand

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a Rays fan. Now you know one. There’s a couple more of us who patrol this hallowed blog, fighting the good fight–raysfan1 and hittfamily. We’re fun, smart (ok, raysfan1 is a doctor–he’s really smart), and kinda cute.

We are a small fanbase, yet there are those who love us. We can certainly use all the fans we can get. As a Feesh fan, I know you are accustomed to small fan bases. Why would you base your fandom on the number of fans a team has when you know what it’s like to root for a team with few fans? Be a trendsetter! Be different! Join us Rays fans, and support baseball in our beautiful absurd land of flowers, sun, and beaches.

Now I will proceed to troll all those other teams you mentioned and convince you to join us. Don’t root for the Yankees–that’s like rooting for Donald Trump. The Mets–the Wilpons will break your heart. The Phillies? Do you have the stomach to boo all your players? I’m more of the positive reinforcement type myself. Silence speaks volumes, after all. Braves? C’mon man. Tomahawk chop? Really? Really.

I hope I’ve pleaded my case.

Sincerely,

A Rays Fan

Chris Effin’ Davis

My Nightmare
My Nightmare

I am here to tell the tale of Chris Effin’ Davis. Prior to this season, I knew who he was. He’s a first baseman for the Orioles who spent some time with the Rangers. The season is but a newborn babe but now I KNOW who he is. He is the killer of hope, the crusher of baseballs, and the stuff of my nightmares. I woke up in a cold sweat last night, muttering the words “Chris…Effin’…Davis.”

In 11 AB, just 3 games, he did this to my beloved Rays: .636/.692/1.727. That’s an OPS of 2.419. 2.419!!!! I know it’s a small sample size and this kind of production is not sustainable (or IS IT?), but you have to understand how traumatic it is to witness a whipping, nay, a thrashing like this. Let me continue with the evidence. He had a total of 11 RBIs. To reiterate, he only had 11 AB. Three homers, three doubles, and seven singles was the final toll. Every time he came up to the plate. Boom. It didn’t matter what the Rays threw at him. Fastball. Boom. Curve. Boom. Slider. Boom. Every single time with men on base. BOOM. I’m going to curl up in a fetal position again and beg for my mommy.

Update: 10:30 pm. Since I wrote this earlier today, Chris Effin’ Davis is continuing his trail of destruction and has hit his 4th home run of the season in as many days–becoming just the 4th player in MLB history to hit a home run every day in the first four days of the season and joining the ranks of Willie Mays, Mark Maguire, and Nelson Cruz. Fortunately for my sanity, Davis has left the Tampa Bay area, but I’m having flashbacks.

Playing Catch

0209132243A couple of days ago, I was in a consignment shop for children’s articles. My little man is in the 99% percentile for height and weight, and he outgrows clothes as quickly as I can buy them. I learned quickly that the expense of new clothes wasn’t worth it. While doing a quick browse through the shop’s toy section, a used leather fastpitch softball glove caught my eye.  It looked cute–black with pink accents. I picked up the glove. It felt soft and flexed easily. The girl (or progressively minded boy) who owned it before had broken it in nicely. I tried it on, fully not expecting it to fit since it was a child’s glove. To my surprise, it fit, well, like a glove. Having small hands is not always a bad thing, I mused. I tossed it in my shopping cart thinking that maybe someday my 4 year old daughter will use it.

This evening, the weather in Clearwater was particularly pleasant. The summers here may be more humid than a baboon’s rectum, but winter in Florida is perfection. My husband spotted the glove in the garage. “Where did that come from?” I bought it the other day at the consignment shop, I explained. I thought Lana could use it someday, although it fits me well.

Out of nowhere I asked. “Wanna play catch?” Sure, he said. He grabbed his glove and a baseball. I haven’t played catch in at least 20 years, since I was a teen with my dad.

We tossed the ball back and forth in the front yard while the little man watched us from his stroller and my daughter swung happily from her swing. He threw a few balls with some wicked spins, renewing my appreciation for the skill set of baseball professionals that I sometimes take for granted since they make it look so easy. My husband complimented me on my ability to field grounders. It’s the Dominican shortstop in me, I responded. Our neighbor drove by slowly and smiled approvingly at our game of catch. The sound of the ball hitting the leather was so reassuring and made me long for baseball with increased fervor. Gripping the ball in my hand and seeing it spin through the air brought me back to my childhood, to those endless summer evenings in New York spent with dad at the park, fielding balls together. As the sun set to the soothing sound of a baseball slapping leather, the setting couldn’t have been more idyllic. Tonight, I was a kid again, all thanks to an old used glove.