So far in 2019, two things have happened. One, as of this month, I've officially entered my thirties, and two, my Rays fandom is now old enough to consume an alcoholic beverage--legally.
Some of you may have known my writing from when I started a little over a year ago on my own site, TropTalk. I started as a frustrated fan. I wanted to be a voice in the Rays community. I felt--I knew--Rays fans deserved better.
I always admired the work of DRaysBay. I tried as best I could to deliver content that was on par with what they were producing day after day. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't start TropTalk as a means to become part of the team. And then, to my delight, it happened!
Excited just to be there, I hit the ground running. There are some weeks where I put in more hours researching and writing than I do in my actual job, you know, the one that pays me to live. The feedback from friends, family, the team, and you, the readers, however, make it worth while.
What I haven't done (and I'm not sure this is customary), is taken any time for you guys to get to know me, what I'm all about, and my history with the Rays.
My first (Devil) Rays memory came in 1997. I was born and raised in Tampa, and when I was 8 years old, my father (who's the reason I love baseball) took me and my older brother to the live expansion draft watch party at Al Lang Park (Stadium?). Before that, the only pro baseball I was exposed to came at the expense of a 4 hour drive to Miami, or spring training games at Legends Field (RIP) and Dodgertown (RIP pt. 2). At the time, I didn't understand the scope of what was happening, and I definitely didn't understand how much it would shape the future of my baseball fandom in the coming years.
Remember the Southwest Airlines seats? Those awful things along the left field stadium wall? Yes. Those. Those were my favorite seats. And my dad was perfectly okay with that. After all, they were $1.50 for kids for a while there. Thinking back on it, I'm not really sure whether I decided they were my favorite or he decided for me, but either way, I'm okay with it.
I've been at the Trop for a lot of strange (and awesome) moments. In all, I've been to over 100 games. Among them, tons of Jose Canseco home runs, the time Gerald Williams charged Pedro, Juan Guzman's first (and only) game as a Devil Ray, the rise of Rocco Baldelli, Evan Longoria's first two playoff home runs in his first two playoff at bats, game 2 of the 2008 World Series, and many, many more. As much as people hate on Tropicana Field (myself included), it is a truly magical place for me, and I hope it becomes a national landmark one day.
After college I moved to New York City. And no, I didn't become a Yankees fan. In fact, I wore my Rays hat every chance I got. I remember working a late night during the fateful game 162, so I wasn't able to watch the game. I remember being down 7-0--it was a gut punch. The next update I received was that it was a one run ballgame, so I snuck into the bathroom and watched the bottom of the 9th on my phone. I got caught and reprimanded for it, because apparently that's frowned upon, but whatever, it was worth it. I had made a few friends up there who were from the Tampa area, so the eventual win resulted in a legendary all night bender.
I live in Atlanta now, and I'm still as big a Rays fan as ever. The ability to have a voice in a community of amazing fans and people makes it that much more special to me. Most of my friends and family still live in the bay area, so I still get down when I can. Most recently, I was at fanfest and had an absolute blast, and I'm pretty sure I gave the DRaysBay Slack channel a severe case of FOMO.
So that's a little bit about me. This post may have been gratuitous, but I felt it was something I needed to do. I'm excited to get to know more of you through this platform as well!