I had a lot of things planned for when I was in the Tampa area but the drive seemed to be taking forever. It was something like a 15 hour drive from Baltimore and I was ready to be off of the road. My parents were at Disney World so I decided to catch the game a day early so I could spend the following day with my family. I went to the park and bought a pretty cheap ticket. I attempted to walk around the outside of the park but there wasn’t much to look at. I did notice a large trailer set up with TV’s all over so people could go over and play MLB 2k12. I later noticed that they had an entire lounge area inside the park dedicated to MLB 2K12
Once I got inside I immediately noticed how clean it was. That’s one thing that inside parks have on outdoor parks, they’re always cleaner. They had concession stands all over the place and the lines seemed to be moving quickly. I walked the bottom level and explored a while when I met Matt Elflein an usher. He was pointing people in all directions when he asked me if I needed any help. I told him no, that I was just exploring the park. I told him about my journey and he was really excited for me. We talked for a little while when I told him about my one idea to help soldiers fulfill their dreams. He informed me that he used to run a non-profit organization for paraplegics and may be able to help me out. He also let me know that he was an inventor. Matt is in a wheel chair and came up with the idea to have a table and cup holder that attaches to your wheelchair. I took his card and let him know that I may be in contact someday.
My tickets were on the top level and the park wasn’t very full at all. I decided to go all the way up to the top seat and watch the game from there. In front of me there was a large group of people and you could tell they all knew each other. It wasn’t very hard to figure out that several of them were military. One thing I’m not a big fan of is people walking around like they’re in the military and they don’t wear it well. There was a young kid wearing a shirt that was a little too small for him and a bit of a gut hanging out. He had his dog tags hanging out and was also wearing his combat boots with gym shorts and black socks. Not a good look for anybody let alone when you are unknowingly representing the military. I decided I needed a beer and food so I went out to the corridor. I walked around for a little bit and realized that all the good concessions are downstairs. I guess teams don’t put good food up where the cheap people are. To get down to the bottom level you had to go outside and walk down a winding ramp to the lower level. Luckily it was a pretty nice night out so I didn’t really mind.
I got some food and some beer and decided to stay on the lower level. I sat on the first base line in the outfield probably ten rows up. The area was pretty empty so I was able to stretch out. From the lower corner I couldn’t hear anything that was being said on the PA system. The game ended quickly and I made my way to the parking lot. Outside was a street performer named Kevin who was banging some drum sticks on a couple buckets. There was a giant crowd around him and he put on an excellent show even doing an incredible drum roll only using one stick. Once he started asking for money, like any good crowd, everybody left.
That night I had arranged to stay with a stranger that I had met on www.couchsurfing.org. This website basicly puts people in touch that like to travel. People offer up couches and guest rooms to people traveling through and they show you around. Its an awesome website for meeting new people and getting to know a new city. I was a little nervous staying with a stranger but it ended up being another great experience. I stayed with a man named Allan who knew nothing about baseball but knew somebody that did. Allan had an amazing house and a guest room (with a door that locked) for me to stay in. I stayed the night and the next morning he took me to breakfast. After that we ventured over to his office where I got to talk with a former Yankees special pitching coach. After that I headed over to Orlando to go hang out with my family at Disney World.
Keep On Smilin- It’s Baseball Season