On May 8, 2013, I joined fellow Tampa Bay Rays fans at Tropicana Field to participate in “Tweet-Up at the Trop.” I joined Twitter in 2011 to follow the Rays and to promote my blogs. Since I am in college, away from my family (also huge Rays fans) it was nice to talk with other fans about the game online since my roommates aren’t really into sports. During one of the games, I saw an advertisement for “Tweet-Up at the Trop.” The event allowed fans to purchase a $25 ticket, which includes:
- In-game recognition
- Discounted seat in the Lower Level
- Tweet-Up T-shirt with a custom Twitter user name
- Trivia and Prizes (autographs, jerseys, etc)
- Pre-Game Q&A session with Dave Wills (Rays Radio Announcer)
- Early entry to see the Rays’ batting practice
I entered through Gate 4 – the gate that only media and homeplate club members can go through. I picked up my shirt and was deeply impressed with it. I heard the last Twitter event had white shirts; the blue ones are much better.
Once I reached the section, Raymond was there to meet the fans and to take pictures with. At 5, in-game host Rusty Kath and radio announcer Dave Wills arrived to answer question. Wills discussed how he uses Twitter to up-to-date with other sports teams and how great it is to let fans become involved in the sport – the Rays use Twitter to let fans ask the broadcasters questions about the team.
After the question-answer session, I met up with some of my Twitter friends. Thanks to the shirts, I was able to recognize their Twitter names. Once the game began, all the special events took place in section 128 – The first pitch was thrown by the winner of a Twitter question. The Rays also had several trivia questions on Twitter throughout the night – one of the prizes was an autographed picture of Desmond Jennings and another prize was a Roberto Hernandez jersey.
The game ended up being perfect for a Twitter night, expect for the part when the Rays lose. But besides that, us Twitter users spent our time on our phones tweeting. In the beginning of the game, Sean Rodriquez was called out at home, even though replays show that Rodriquez slid across home plate. Coach Joe Maddon argued the call and was ejected after pointing out how there was evidence on the plate that Rodriquez slid across. The next event was when Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ was hit in the eat with a ball. Images showed blood coming out of his ear. (Happ is now on the DL after being treated at Bayfront Hospital). Within minutes, Happ began trending on Twitter since all the fans were praying and thinking about him. After the bullpen gave up the lead (again) fans took to Twitter to vent.
Though the Rays lost, I had a great time at the game meeting other Twitter fans. The seats were great and it was great meeting Rusty and Dave in person – everyone there was friendly. My only recommendation would be having a player answer a few questions. I’m looking forward to next year’s event.
When one goes to Tropicana Field this baseball season, he may notice that there is a new seating area in the left field called Landing 162. This special seating area, which also includes a public accessible area, is dedicated to Evan Longoria’s homerun in Game 162 that sent the Tampa Bay Rays to the 2011 playoffs.
On September 28th, 2011, the Rays needed a win to tie the Red Sox for a wild card spot (which would mean that there would be a Game 163) or win the game while the Red Sox lost in order to go to the playoffs. If the Rays lost, they would be going home. That night, the New York Yankees quickly gained a 7-0 lead over the Rays while the Red Sox were leading 3-2 over the Baltimore Orioles. Then the Red Sox-Orioles game went into a rain delay while in Tampa, Longoria hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, making it 7-6. In the ninth inning, with two outs and two strikes, Dan Johnson (batting .108) hit a homerun, sending the game into extra innings. After the rain delay, Nolan Reimold of the Orioles (in the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes) ties the game with Boston. Then Robert Andino hits toward left field where former Ray Carl Crawford misplays the ball, allowing the Orioles to score a run, winning the game. As the Red Sox players headed back to their locker room, they got to watch Longoria hit a homerun; a homerun that caused the Rays to win over the Yankees in extra innings. The ball was hit in the left corner, over a fence that was lowered years ago to allow Crawford to rob teams out of homeruns.
That night is considered by many to be the most exciting night in baseball history, so it is no surprise that the Rays’ organization created an area that the Rays’ fans can re-live forever. The public area, located in Left Field Street, includes several quotes from sports media on how special that night was and a time line of events that took place at the Rays vs. Yankees game at Tropicana Field and the Orioles vs. Red Sox game that was going on at Camden Yards. There is also a graph that compares the Rays and Red Sox on their probabilities of making the playoffs, a funny sight since the Red Sox had a 99% chance of going to the playoffs at one point that night. In the future, the ball that Longoria hit the homerun off of will be placed on exhibit there. In right field, there is a white seat commemorating where Dan Johnson hit his homerun in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. It is section 140, seat 10, row T.