Category Archives: evan longoria

Ro Goes to florida 2016

So, back in 2014, the Tampa Bay Rays family on Twitter decided it was going to get me to St. Petersburg for the opening series of the season. This involved fundraising via Paypal to raise the money for my flights and hotel, as well as game tickets and food. The Rays got wind of this and donated a suite for three games, so tickets were covered. Sweet! the rest of the trip was completely funded by cash donations. How freaking cool is that? All those strangers new how much I love the team, and that since I was on a fixed income thanks to my disabilities, I’d never be able to afford to attend games in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field. So they made it happen. You can read about the donations and stuff here, and about the trip through the #RoToTrop category on my blog.

Just before the idea for that trip came to fruition, I fell in love with singer Josh Groban, @JoshGroban thanks to William Shatner, @WilliamShatner, constantly tweeting a love fest about the guy. I looked Josh Groban up on iTunes one night out of annoyance at Shatner and his man crush, and holy wow OMG Josh Groban wow oh this music holy crap let me just buy this album and that one and that one and I followed him on twitter and stalked him er I mean his timeline and fell absolutely and totally head over heals in love. He’s pretty much the only one on my freebie card now, though, unlike Ross Gellar’s, mine is not laminated.

Ok so what do my trip to Florida to see the Rays back in ’14, and my slight obsession with Josh Groban have to do with one another?

My friend Professor Twain, @PRTwain tweeted me one day last year to inform me that my Josh, I mean, that Josh Groban will be performing in Clearwater, FL on March 1, right as the Rays begin Spring Training.

A plan was born.

A generous Rays family member donated frequent flyer miles. My flights are booked.

Another generous Rays family member donated hotel points in clearwater. Those hotel nights are booked.

Another generous Rays family member donated hotel points for my stay in Port Charlotte for spring training games. those nights are booked.

another generous Rays family member donated two concert tickets for me to see my Josh groban, dangit, for me to see, ahem, Josh Groban on March 1.

pardon me while I scream.

All that was taken care of within two days of us announcing the trip on Twitter. Two days. It’s amazing how much happens when so many people love a person. I still, even after that first trip, am astounded that the person all these people love is me.

thank you. thank you, a thousand times thank you. My friends and followers know my life isn’t a cake walk but, though I’m blind, I always see the silver linings. These people are such a radiant silver lining, they shine like the brightest of stars.

We’re still raising money via my Paypal page using my email, raynaadi @ gmail . com

We raised enough that first day for me to be able to reimburse the person who donated hotel points, but who had to pay cash for the last night since he was out of points. That’s quite a bit of money. So amazing right? A Rays family member bought two seats each at two games in Port Charlotte and one in Ft. Myers, just in case they sold out. I’m hoping to be able to reimburse this person with further donations.

*Squeak* Josh Groban just shuffled in, singing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables and I get to hear him sing it in person! OH MY!

Anyway, so we raised $270 right after we announced the trip and I reimbursed #200 of that, so my current donations tally is $70.

I’d like to reimburse monies for the game tickets, which totaled $210,and cash for meals, checked baggage and tips for airport assistants would help. Did you know people at airports who assist the disabled work on tips?

Itinerary and Logistics

I’ll be flying from tucson to Tampa on Monday, February 29. When i told my friend yesterday that I feel like flying on leap year day might make me end up in an alternate dimension, he accused me of reading too much. guilty as charged. I’ve got a ride from the airport to the hotel covered.

Tuesday, March 1 – I’ll have time for visiting in the Tampa area before the Josh Groban concert. We’ve kicked around the idea on Twitter to have lunch at Evan Longoria’s restaurant, Ducky’s. I figure that would be a great place to congregate and hang out. March 1 is the only time I’ll have available in the Tampa St. Pete area. Transportation is needed.

Wednesday, March 2 – It’s down to Port Charlotte and the Rays spring training facility. Woo! I’ve got that trip covered. Who’s going to the game? It’s Nationals at Rays at 1pm. Let’s meet up! Maybe dinner after?

Thursday, March 3 – Baltimore at Rays 1pm. this game is not covered. I’m staying in Port Charlotte, so I just need a buddy to attend the game with, maybe grab dinner, and a ride back to the hotel.

Friday, March 4 – Rays at Boston in Fort Myers at 1pm. This game is also not covered. I’ll need a ride from Port Charlotte and back.

Saturday, March 5 – Rays at Baltimore in Sarasota at 7pm. This game is covered. Who else is going?

Sunday, March 6 – I fly back home. Awww. I need a ride from Port Charlotte to the Tampa Airport. My flight leaves at 4pm so I should probably be at the airport between 2pm and 2:30pm. ***This ride is covered as of a few hours of posting this!***

So, there it is. If you’re interested in helping with transportation, contact me on Twitter@Raynaadi. Any vehicle I ride in must have air conditioning. I swear I’m not picky, but my MS makes me sick if I get over heated. I will also have my yellow lab guide dog with me and he’s trained to ride in the foot well of the front passenger seat between my feet. If you don’t want a dog in your car, it’s probably best not to volunteer for transportation. Also, I’ll only get in the car with people I’ve talked with on Twitter, and who others I know have met in person at games. Lastly, I won’t get in a vehicle if the driver has had any alcohol. It’s not just me i’ve gotta worry about, but my guide dog too.

We can do this, right? I’m so excited and grateful! Wow!

I’ll update this post with the donations tally as well as keep track of transportation volunteers. I can’t wait to hang out with my florida family again!

~*Meeting the person who started it all*~

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Filed under baseball, evan longoria, family, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, leap year, music, spoons, twitter me this, wow

December’s Audio Books Et Cetera

I’m fighting a migraine and it’s my birthday (12/30) as I write this and I’m waiting for my requested birthday dinner of 5 Guys, Burgers and Fries but my stomach is a little queasy from the migraine so no fair. December has not been kind to me. I’ve got a mystery bug that sent me in a panic to the neurologist after I almost passed out on stage while singing in the Tucson Girls Chorus 30th Anniversary concert. I thought for sure my MS was in one hell of a relapse but my MRI was clean, so the neuro tested me for an evil virus which I was sure I was dying from but that came back negative so the neuro sent me to my primary care doc and turned the mystery over to her. I see her next month. the neuro thinks I’ve got a bug that’s exacerbating normal MS symptoms like fatigue and dizziness. I get super breathless and light headed with the slightest of elevation changes. I’ll have a day of feeling better and then the next day I’m back to square one. Sitting in a normal chair is difficult since I feel like I’m going to topple out of it. I worked on my novel in the first part of the month after taking a week to recover from NaNoWriMo, then this bug hit and I’ve been useless. That’s about all I’m going to say on that right now since I’m fighting a depression that would love to grab hold while I’m weak so let’s move on to books, shall we? Oh, I checked my stat counter today to give me the motivation to care about this post and you’re still reading, so I’ll keep writing. comment sometimes, will ya? I’m fragile. tee hee. A ear end book recap/top ten list is coming at the beginning of next year.

*Seven books this month*

106. “The Twelve: A Novel” (The Passage Trilogy book 2) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick

finished December 31

Ok so I really don’t think I’ll be finished with this on December 31 but it’ll be damn close and it’s a long book, as was the first book in this trilogy, so I’m counting it since I’m over half finished as of today, the 30th. Book two has been so much better than book one, which was good but very draggy. Lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood. Not quite your typical post apocalyptic. The third book is out next year and I’ll definitely read it to see how the trilogy concludes. And, Scott Brick. Need I say more?

Ok now I’m writing this on December 31 and last night the book started having an X-Files feel. Oooooh! Government conspiracy in the apocalypse? yes please!

Ok so it’s December 31 and I’ll be finishing this book tonight. I haven’t been able to put it down all day.

@jccronin

105. “The Passage” (The Passage Trilogy book 1) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick, link Adenrele Ojo and link Abby Craden

Finished December 26

After I tied Ricardo up and made him read my favorite zombie trilogy back-to-back, he told me about this series, narrated by Scott Brick so I decided to read it since it’s Scott Brick and I kinda felt bad for abusively forcing Ricardo into that zombie series even though he did like it.

‘passage’ was good but after the first part, I was very angry and I can’t say why because spoilers but the book redeemed itself and I stopped being angry. Ricardo said he liked the second book better and I have to agree. This book was super laggy with navel gazing, a publishing term I just learned from my friend Lauren which means talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. On and on some passages (hey, passages, the Passage har har) went. Just get on with it, I thought often. It was a good book though. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Stand” but with a lot more blood. A lot.

The two female narrators read brief segments, the second of which being diary entries. As a warning to the listener, Scott Brick interrupts the second woman with things like, missing pages or illegible, and it made me jump to hear his voice suddenly haha.

good book, but there were times I wanted to skip through or just stop reading all together. Be patient, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you like bloody post apocalyptic thrillers.

104. “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” (Daughter of Smoke and Bone book 1) by Laini Taylor – narrated by Khristine Hvam

Finished December 17

I put off reading the Justin Cronin books because my friend Lauren wanted me to read this with her and would you believe it, she kept stopping reading it? I mean, my goodness. She’s reading it again now though which is good since I can’t wait to talk about it.

This book reminded me a lot of Diana Rowland’s kara Gillian series, but for young adults. It has an awesome fantasy element, angels and demons in an urban setting, with portals into other places. Oh and the protagonist has bright blue hair and tattoos. What’s not to love? the writing is absolutely exquisite, with passages that made my breath catch in my chest they were so hauntingly beautiful. then in the next breath, the characters would do something funny. It’s the perfect balance of beauty, humor, magic, world building and character development. I can’t wait for the next two books, which I bought with iTunes gift cards my uncle and aunt gave me for Christmas and my birthday. Weee!

Just wait until you find out what the wishbone is for…oh and the teeth…

This book is the closest to my novel that I’ve read since I began writing it back in November, well except for the achingly beautiful prose which mine doesn’t have yet in this first draft. Muahhaha!

@lainitaylor

103. “Champion” (Legend book 3) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 14

What an excellent trilogy! Bleak dystopia, heart breaking romance, awesome narration and the most epic fighter jet scene I think I’ve ever read in a book. Highly, highly recommend this trilogy if you like YA.

102. “Prodigy” (Legend book 2) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 10

Wait, the epic fighter jet scene, that was in this book, not book three. Why, why do I not write stuff about these books right as I finish them? I seem to remember at least jotting down notes. My brain this month, blame my brain.

I think all I’ve got is so good, go read, so good haha. click the links I provide to Audible and read about the books there, what do you think I am, a publisher’s summary blog? Haha! Ok I think I need dinner. Loopy much? Books? What? Oh right, books. I think the first book in this trilogy is in November’s book post.

101. “Kill Shot” (Icarus book 1) by Aria Michaels – narrated by Rhiannon Angell

finished December 9

This was a daily deal and I wish Kate Rudd had narrated. It screamed for her voice. the narrator was ok but there were two characters she did super high pitched that made my brain throb.

It was an entertaining read, though several times i found myself thinking, was this book self published? There was a glaring error of continuity at one point, where these teenagers are hunkered down in the basement of the high school after this solar flare causes all hell to break loose, and they’re in the basement for days. When the protagonist has to venture out she thinks to herself how different everything looks from when they walked to school that morning. *record scratching sound* Nooooo, back up and read what you wrote. Didn’t realize they’d be in the basement that long or something?

turns out the novel was self published. the reviews on the book are from people who were asked to review the book by the narrator. It all makes sense. I’ve got nothing against self publishing, but I’d like to see this book and the sequel get a traditional publisher and professional editors. Just a good polishing and this book would shine.

Ooooh, I did jot a one word note on this book: anyways. The characters kept saying it and that word is one of my pet peeves. Also, everyone kept saying the protagonist’s name. How are you feeling, name? How’s the weather, name? Name, what should we do now? And not her full name. Her nickname. It got so old! I still enjoyed the book though; I can’t lie.

@AriaMichaelsYA

100. “A Dangerous Fortune” by Ken Follett – narrated by Michael Page

Finished December 5

Ken Follett at his best, wow. This was such a good book. This book takes us into the inner workings of the banking world of the late 1800’s. It shows what happens when families have too much power and will do anything, anything, to keep it. Ricardo recommended this book and I could not put it down. Excellent!

***

Happy New Year and happy wedding day to Evan Longoria!

@Evan3Longoria Anyone who says they weren’t nervous on their wedding day is a liar! It’s a great kind of nervous! Excited to see my bride @jaimeedmondson. from Twitter for iPhone Dec 31, 2015, 12:07:17 PM

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, birthday, Choir, doc, evan longoria, family, gratitude, humor as coping skill, iTunes, new year, rambles, spoons, twitter me this, writing

A Tweet to Remember

I would not want to be Wil Wheaton. For some reason that guy gets tons of hate on Twitter. I guess that’s just part of being a celebrity but why must it be so? I follow his wife Anne too and she gets hate as well. It’s so ridiculous. They are the nicest people. Wil is very vocal about his opinions and those opinions have created trolls, for sure. I learned to guard my opinions on Twitter after I was trolled in direct message where no one could come to my aid. Now I keep my opinions on politics to myself since it seriously rattles me when people argue with me and they make no sense so how on earth do you argue back? I can’t even imagine that times two million since Wil Wheaton has over two million followers though I’m pretty sure the majority of those people are those of similar opinion to himself and not trolls. As his wife pointed out, people who troll her aren’t even her followers.

Anyway so last night Wil Wheaton retweeted one of his many trolls and it was just such a mean tweet that I replied:

@Raynaadi @wilw I just don’t understand people.

I thought about it for a couple minutes and then tweeted him:

@Raynaadi @wilw *hugs* Do those of us who don’t hate you need to be more outspoken or do you know we’re out here?

I then went to bed. When I get up in the mornings I rob a few sips of coffee from the pot while it’s brewing (thanks for the tip of adding extra coffee grounds so robbing the pot doesn’t kill the whole thing Professor Twain) and cuddle with Jayden on the couch checking things on my phone while I start to wake up. After emails and app updates I opened my Twitter client and checked mentions. There was a mention from a stranger both to me and Wil Wheaton telling me my comment was a good one or something like that and then, the mention to start my Thanksgiving off with elation:

@wilw@Raynaadi I hear you 🙂

OMG OMG OMG OMG! I mean OH EM GEE you guys. Wil Wheaton replied to me on Twitter. Wil Wheaton! Wesley Freaking Crusher you guys! Fourteen year-old me was totally freaking out. I mean just dying right? I was sooooo in love with him when I was fourteen and he replied to me! He noticed me! Cue the dancing on the bed screaming.

So I won’t be forgetting this Thanksgiving any time soon and now I have the blog post to remember it along with the tweet. So I’ve had tweets from Evan Longoria and Wil Wheaton now I just need Josh Groban. It’s a Twitter bucket list! It just goes to show that you never know what will catch the eye of a famous person you admire on Twitter. I was just feeling bad for Wil Wheaton and those feelings flowed through my fingertips at him. More tweets with honey than vinegar? Haha! Just remember Mr. Wheaton, haters hate up, in the words of Ice T.

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Filed under coffeeholic, evan longoria, holiday, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2014, silly girl, twitter me this

Can’t think of a title. Blame the cogfog.

Cranking out today’s post this afternoon since I already know I’m not going to make it into my den and computer and I don’t want o leave it for later when I stretch out in bed like I did last night.

I am hoping, hugely hoping, thatI sought neurological care in time and that Dr. V caught this MS relapse in time for steroid infusions this week to stop the progression. When I was first told of the new lesions and that I was in active relapse, I didn’t think I ws having any symptoms, no more than my usual fatigue anyway. Yesterday I noticed just how stiff and weak my left leg is and my right foot too. And today, dizzy spells galore. Is it psychosomatic? I suppose that’s always a possibility.

My iPad and bluetooth keyboard are working well enough for couch/bed days, thoug I feel much more limited than I am on my Mac. I wish I could buy a Macbook Air for couch days.

I’m going to see what I can learn about controlling iOS with my keyboard while I’m hooked up my steroid drips this week. I wonder if the infusion center will ahve wifi. My hotspot might come in handy.

I’ll write tomorrow from the infusion center if all goes as planned.

Oh wait, not done yet, welcome to the world, baby boy Longoria! He was born yesterday, unfortunately while Evan was in Japan on the Allstar tourHe watched the birth via Facetime. Technology is so cool! His fiance tweeted not long ago, thanking everyone for the well wishes for Nash. So I’m guessing they named the baby Nash. Nash Longoria? I like it!

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Filed under apple Inc, evan longoria, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons

Tampa Bay Trip – Day Six: Pho and a Record Tieing Homer

Thursday was the day before I was flying back to Tucson. Professor Twain and I had planned to go out for lunch on this day way back before I left home. We had discussed the kinds of food I like and I mentioned that I like everything and love to try different types of ethnic foods. We had originally leaned towards Ethiopian but somehow we decided to go out for Pho since David Price is always talking about it.

After the excitement of the week I was really looking forward to hanging out with the Professor and his wife. (I love saying that) They picked me up at my hotel in the early afternoon and we went on an adventure! Well it was more like a long drive but for me it was an adventure. Their favorite Pho restaurant is Pho Quyen Vietnamese Restaurant in north Tampa. As we drove, Mrs. T described things we passed and we all talked happily. I was so excited to try some different food!

When we walked in the smell made my stomach rumble. It was such a delicious smell, the kind of scent that fills only ethnic food places. Sure it smells nice in say, Ruby Tuesdays, especially when you’re hungry but this, oh no there goes my stomach! I should have written this just after lunch.

They had told me about the different types of Pho before we got to the restaurant so I already knew I wanted the shaved beef. This beef is sliced paper thin and put into the hot soup rare so as it cooks it soaks up all the Flavor. I couldn’t wait!

We ordered fresh rolls. How did the Professor describe it? it was veggies wrapped in a transparent dough and not fried. They came with this peanut dipping sauce that I taste in my dreams.

I ordered a cup of coffee but this was no ordinary coffee. It was a mini French press they bring to your table. The cup had sweetened condensed milk in the bottom and you brew the coffee right over the cup. I had forgotten that the waiter had said to stir the coffee. I took a sip and savored the dark necter. It was the richest coffee I have ever had! I remembered to stir the second cup haha! Oh man that was good coffee.

When the Pho arrived the aroma wafting from the bowl was enough for the hunger to raise up a notch. Along with the bowl of Pho came fresh basil and bean sprouts you added to the bowl to taste. I had never had fresh basil and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It has an almost sweet taste, like annis. There was also a bottle of sauce that added some salty flavor. Not soy sauce. I don’t know what it was called.

The soup has long thin noodles like Ramen noodles. I ate and ate and ate and ate some more. It was such an amazing feeling to have an appetite again now that all the nerves were gone! I didn’t quite finish the bowl but came dang close.

It was a wonderful dining experience. It wasn’t quick. There was plenty of time to talk and tell stories and savor the food. I am absolutely going back there next time I’m in the Tampa Bay area, no doubt!

We stopped at the restroom and the only reason I’m bringing this up is because they have something really cool in Florida restrooms. Mrs. T was telling me how common they are getting. The handicapped stalls have sinks in the stall! Mrs. T was telling me how convenient that was when she was in a wheelchair once. It was incredibly nice for me since bathroom sinks are always a pain in the arse. There’s no standard for sinks so I constantly have to feel around for the soap and paper towels and such. It was nice to do that in private. So cool!

I needed more coffee so we stopped at a drive-thru Starbucks and I got my mocha and then we enjoyed the drive back to Treasure Island. What an absolutely lovely day! Thank you Professor and Mrs. Twain! Never forget the Pho phone!

Not too much later, Davis, Tina and Butch picked me up for our fourth game in a row. We wouldn’t be in the suite that night. We were just regular fans haah. I was recognized though, or rather Jayden was, several times. It was so weird to feel like a celebrity! Davis had called his ticket rep and got us four seats in the outfield disabled seating. All that means is you get comfy folding chairs in front of a rail. I like those kind of seats! You aren’t cluttered in close with other people and you have plenty of room. I liked the outfield seats better than the suite actually. Since it was open, I could hear everything much more clearly and the radio came in much clearer. I wouldn’t turn down a night in the suite though, that’s for sure.

Not long ago B and I went to a DBacks game and sat in a suite he’d gotten tickets for through work. The only thing nicer than the Trop’s suite was a private bathroom in the suite. There weren’t walls on the sides, so it wasn’t a private suite at all. The Trop is better. Perhaps I’m biased. *Smiling face with smiling eyes emoji*

I was hungry again even though I had stuffed myself full of Pho! Hello appetite, glad to have you back. We went down to the pasta bar yummmm. I dream about that pasta. You customize it. I got bow tie pasta with alfredo sauce, pesto and veggies. I can’t remember which veggies. Soooo goooood! Man, this is the hungry making post. Oh and Dr. Pepper! The suite had only had Pepsi products. Except they didn’t give me Dr. pepper. Tina ran back down and switched it out. So sweet!

I met the Rays Whiteboard guy. He’s a legend of sorts. He hangs out in the outfield writing things on a big whiteboard for the ahem, benefit of the opposing players in the outfield. It was a blast, hanging out like every other fan! It makes it really really hard not to live there, let me tell ya. Julie came and sat with us for awhile too. We had put out on Twitter where we’d be in case anyone wanted to come by. The cat only dragged in Julie though. Tee hee! She’s my baking buddy. Mmm her chocolate cookies!

At one point a man walked up to me, handed me a hat in a plastic bag, said every girl should have a pretty hat, and walked away. I was astounded haha! Tina got excited because she has the same hat. It’s blue but with a purpleish tinge and all the writing on the cap is in sparkly silver. Pretty! I wore it the rest of the game and all the next day as I did something you’ll find out about in the next post. I wore the hat all the way home to tucson.

Was the homer before or after the hat? I guess you’ll find out when you watch the video, sightlings. Am I wearing the hat? Evan Longoria hit a three run homer, tying the franchise record for the most homers by a single player. Tina just happened to start to video right as he hit it out. I debated hard whether to share this, but what the heck hahaha! Enjoy the laugh.


Direct youtube link

The Rays won that night so my record in games I’ve attended stands at 2-5. Not a great record. I need to get up to at least 500. One win at a time. Hey, I’m 500 at home though!

As we were getting ready to depart our seats, Andrew Found us, so I met one more person I’ve talked to on Twitter before leaving, yay!
It was sad leaving the Trop for the last time on that trip. We took some pictures before getting into the car. Butch got a picture with Jayden. Those two were buddies! The picture was on a TV broadcast recently. I think it’s called Friend of Rays? Something like that. If you use a certain hash tag with a picture, it might get featured and Butch and Jayden were featured! yay!

I would be leaving the next day. Butch said he’d try and get to the airport and we tearfully said goodbye. I’m tearing up again now, remembering it. The trip was almost over. There would be no more games, no more cowbell, no more cheering. I had one thing left to do, and it would happen the next day.

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Five: Ducky’s , Field passes and TV oh my!

*Just previewed this post and there are mucho mistakes but I’m tired so I’m not fixing them.*

I certainly didn’t mean to take a few days to get back to the trip posts but life doesn’t care about your plans eh? Anyway, onward we go to day five.

Knowing what was going to happen on this day was a big part of all the nerves I was feeling. It was April 2 and I knew I would be going on the field for batting practice. I knew I would be meeting players and I knew I needed to tell Evan Longoria that he saved my life. I had one chance and if I chickened out and didn’t tell him, I might not ever get the chance again. Just think back and pick out a certain athlete or musician or whatever it may be that was a part of your life during a huge turning point. Now imagine you knew there was a really good chance you would meet them. Imagine the fear that you wouldn’t, like when it could have happened the year before but didn’t, that fear mixed with excitement. No wonder I had a hard time eating haha!

Oh yeah, and before all this I was going to Evan Longoria’s restaurant, Ducky’s. Man who gave me baseball and saved my life, dream maybe coming true later, going to his restaurant which was HIS dream come true, where he had his engagement party, going to his space, are you getting a taste of the level of my nerves? Am I doing a good job of describing it? My hands are shaking as I type the memories.

Dave Haller had told me to be at Tropicana Field at 4:30 for batting practice Ducky’s is in Tampa so Davis came to pick me up with Manda And butch at 1:00. How on earth did I kill time? I can’t remember. That whole day is a blur. Luckily the really awesome parts stand out in high definition.

We drove to Tampa and when we arrived at Ducky’s I felt so happy. I checked in on Foursquare. Coolest checkin next to the Trop? Probably haha. Some other friends were meeting us there so we sat at a big round table. The walls were nothing but big TVs. I got a Dr. Pepper and it came in a Rays glass. How cool! Davis said there wasn’t Rays memorabilia everywhere. The glasses were a nice touch. I pictured it very understated. It was quiet but I’m sure when people gather to watch games it’s loud. It was elegant though. Chic. I asked everyone if Longoria mentions a favorite food there. Manda named a few things and the pickled crab cakes stuck out so that’s what I ordered. I wondered if I’d even be able to eat.

while we were waiting for our food we wandered over to the mini bowling. Way back on Twitter when the trip was just a dream, someone (Professor Twain?) said I should try the bowling. There was no way I wouldn’t try it! The balls you roll are like Skeeball balls. Someone put the bumpers up and you can here me whine, “noo!” Hahaha. Hear me? Oh yeah, there’s video. We each had two turns.

My first turn didn’t start out so well.

Direct youtube link

My second turn was much better.

Direct youtube link

We didn’t finish our whole game since our food came out and friends got there. The pickled wait not pickled. Deviled? I can’t remember, crab. Crab cakes haha. they were so good! Can’t beat crab in a coastal town. I managed to eat them all and try a piece of Manda’s candied bacon. Oh my yum! I had some of Davis’ fries too. They remind me of In and Out fries. I wondered if Evan did that on purpose with the fries since he’s from California. I took a souvenir from Ducky’s – Evan’s sauce.

There was a monkey dish of spicy sauce on my plate and right as we were nearing the end of our visit to Ducky’s I knocked the dish off and spilled it on my pants, purse and #ROTOTROP jersey. Before I could even think, the girls at the table jumped up, stripped the jersey off me and ran away. Davis was at work getting the sauce off my purse and all I could do was laugh. I had Evan’s sauce on me. Too perfect. the girls got the stain off the white jersey like living Tide stain sticks. Yay!

I visited the restroom before we left and was even impressed by that. The stalls are completely enclosed. No gaps in the doors or doors that didn’t lock. They were like little closets with glass doors. Very nice. We took Jayden to pee in the grass and then headed back to St. Pete. Oh my! Would I meet Evan?

Tina was going to meet us at the Trop since she had to work and missed out on Duckeyss. We got to the Trop early and waited around outside the gate. When it was time to go in, there was a surprise. Everyone got to go on the field with me! Originally there were only supposed to be two passes but Davis had asked Dave Haller if everyone could come inside to kill time before gates actually opened. He wasn’t expecting everyone to be allowed on the field but Dave worked his magic again so Davis, Tina and butch came with Manda and me on the field! I was so happy they could all be there!

We walked into the Trop and it was pretty cool to be the only fans inside. It was just us and the team! Oh yeah, and the bluejays haha. We were led down a ramp and passed the Rays clubhouse! We passed Alex Cobb! Alex freaking Cobb! We said hi as we passed and I was told he waved. I love Alex Cobb! Too bad he didn’t stop to chat haha.

And then we were on the field! As soon as I felt the turf under my feet I hit my needs and ran my hands over the fake grass. It felt like real grass! It was short and tight and I could feel the filler they put in. I was touching the Tropicana Field grass! We were in the area behind home plate. We weren’t alowed to go very far. There was a rope set up like they have to form lines at the bank. There was no music on yet.I started a voice note on my phone and kept my phone in my pocket. I hoped to record everything that happened down there for my memories.The place was so quiet! When you stand on the field in a dome like that you can really feel the enormity of the place. I remember noticing that at Chase Field last year.

Eventually the players started coming out for batting practice and I started meeting them! They all asked Jayden’s name and gave him love. Jayden was in puppy heaven! I think Wil Myers wanted to take him home. Manda was telling me who the guys were as they came up. I got hugs from all of them! Wil Myers, Sean Rodriguez, James Loney, Matt Joyce, Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Jose Molina, and Logan Forsyth. Logan was the last one for me to meet that would round out the starting lineup for that night’s game. I also met reliever Joel Peralta. At one point a ball from batting practice rolled over and I had it in my hands when I met Loney and Forsyth so they both offered to sign it. Steve Carney came over and I asked for a real hug since we had only met briefly in the radio booth the night before.

Who am I forgetting? I’m forgetting someone. Tee heeeee heeeeee YES I MET EVAN LONGORIA! Video or it didn’t happen right?


Direct youtube link

What Davis didn’t capture and I’m glad is me hitting my knees as Evan walked away and crying. He said he’d come back! I didn’t want him to walk away. I wanted to talk to him forever, to tell him that baseball saved my life and he started it and I wanted to ask him about Elle and tell him about Jayden and just talk and he walked away but I hugged him I hugged Evan Longoria!

Jayden licked my tears from my face and I stood up, pulled myself together and met more people. Players and coaches and media guys Marc topkin, Joe Smith, Roger Mooney, Todd Kalas, Dave and Andy again and Neil Solondz came over and I finally got to meet him. He also dropped a surprise on me. He wanted to interview me later for that Sunday’s episode of This Week In Rays Baseball!Whaaaaaat? Wow. Oh that wasn’t the only surprise for that day. Dave Haller had emailed me that morning to let me know to be back on the field at 6:30 for a surprise. Hmmm. I was already going to be back on the field at 6:00 because Kelly nash wanted to talk to me for TV. Neil was trying to pin me down for an interview, I had met Evan longoria, wow wow wow! Evan was supposed to come back, would he come back?


Direct youtube link

I did get to tell him he saved my life! the picture that was taken of us was for the Times. Evan put his left arm around my shoulders and my right arm went around his waist. Luckiest girl ever! Well except maybe jaime. Jayden was on my left and that picture was in the paper. Davis cropped it for me so I could make it my Twitter profile picture. I’m told we both have big genuine smiles and look very happy. that picture captured my utter happiness. I’ll never change it!

I haven’t yet uploaded all the videos with the players but I uploaded to more two share in this post. First is my meeting with Ben Zobrist.


Direct youtube link

He is so tall! I didn’t know that until I hugged him. He was so fun to talk to. My face hurts from grinning as I listened to that just now. What a great guy!

And my face hurts again from grinning as I listened to this next video.

Direct youtube link

Longoria, Zobrist and Maddon were all apart of that magical 2008 season that saved my life. I got to tell Joe too! How many people from Tucson can say they stood on a major league field and talked to Joe Maddon about scouting and Mexican food? I must be the only one right? Wow. You can here how happy I was to meet Joe. What a dream! I’m so grateful there’s video or I might not believe this all happened!

Oh yay, time for lunch and a break.

I remembered while I was eating to explain why I wrote a few posts ago that on the jersey the hashtag was in all caps, #ROToTrop. I showed the jersey to Marc topkin on the field and he pronounced the hash tag so it sounded like Robocop. It was funny but maybe you had to be there.

When the Rays were done with batting practice the Jays were coming out on the field. We started discussing whether to stay on the field when someone, I can’t remember who, said we could go check out the new 360 walkway before gates opened. We did talk to one Bluejay though, Jose Bautista. He strolled over to say hi and I asked for a picture since B is a blueJays fan.

We left the field and took a walk around the Trop. They opened up the walkway so you can walk around the whole place now. It was cool to still be the only fans inside. I could hear the Jays taking BP below us. Davis pointed things out like the gong and the TV area and stuff. We ran into Enrique Oliu again. He was talking with Orestes Destrade so I got to meet him too. Sweet!

Davis and I both walk really fast so before I knew it everyone else was left behind. We ran into someone from Twitter who works at the Trop and then Tina was there. We used the ladies and then went over to see the Ray tank. I was getting a little stressed about time since I had to be back on the field to talk to Kelly Nash. The visit to the tank was a quick one. They told me to put my hand in the water straight down and the ray would graze my fingers. When it happened I jumped and squealed since I couldn’t see it swim towards me haha! There was a sink to wash hands and then we were off again, hoffing it back to the field. I had wanted to swing by the suite for some water but there wasn’t time. We were getting in the elevator and Suddenly Manda was there. Butch was off to start letting people in since we had the tickets. We walked to the edge of the barrier again and Kelly Nash came over. it was wonderful to meet her! I exclaimed at how tiny she is. She might be tiny, but she’s a force! She prepped me on the interview we would do. she asked the questions so I could start thinking about them. Then it was time to head over to the dugout. wow! Manda came with us and I was sat in a chair facing the dugout with the field behind me. Kelly sat next to us and Jayden lay down between us. Kelly started prepping me again and then Manda was there with cold water. Oh sweet relief! At one point Kelly said Matt Moore walked behind us. matt Moore! He was starting that night.

We sat for awhile and then it was time for the interview. This was live TV! kelly let me know they were talking to her through her ear piece and then she was talking to me. It was over pretty fast. It’s cool to see how that stuff works behind the scenes! When I stood, Dave Haller was there and told me I’d be throwing out the first pitch! Wow! I had wondered if maybe that was what the surprise was since the timing was right. Beyond the first pitch though, I was to be inducted into the Super Fan Hall of Fame! Dave walked Jayden and me over to two other fans who were also getting inducted and handed me a ball. I remembered my pitching lesson with Adam Pendleton the day before and gripped the ball to throw a four seamer haha! They told me I’d be throwing the ball to Raymond, the Rays mascot. I could hear that the Trop was filling in and then the PA guy, I’m sure it was rusty, introduced each of us and told a little of our stories. There had been no preparation in my head for this haha! Cheers and cowbells rained down on us and we threw our pitches. Raymond missed the ball haha. I can’t remember who was there to tell me. Dave Haller? manda? Raymond came up to me and I think they got a picture of us. Talk about a blur! Jayden was like what is that thing and why is it hugging you? Then we were leaving the field. “Bye Field,” I said wistfully.

I was oh so ready to sit down in the suite and drink some water. It wasn’t over yet though. As we approached the suite, Neil Solondz was there ready to do my interview. We stood in the hall outside the suite as the game was starting. After the interview I mentioned having told Dave and Andy I’d stop by and bring cookies and Neil walked me to the booth. I had the first pitch ball with me and decided I would have everyone sign it. Dave and Andy were happy to see me again and during a break they wanted pictures. I asked them to sign the ball. I think I had Dave Haller sign it there too. It was tough to leave the booth again. the emotions of the day started welling big time and leaving Dave and andy was the cincher. I could feel tears spring to my eyes.

We were walking towards the suite and I was trying not to cry. I had a whole new group of people to meet that night and I was excited. Someone said my name and it was Professor Twain! That was it. I started bawling. Great way to meet someone for the first time eh? I through myself into his arms and my tears soaked his Tampa Smokies Jersey. Mrs. T was there too and we decided to take Jayden out for a potty break. He’d done a lot too! We almost lost Mrs. T coming back inside. Security stopped her. What? We called back to them that she was with us and they let her go. Crazy.

Finally we made it up and into the suite and I got to meet the others. Ed and his wife are from England and they brought me a bunch of British goodies! Not just for me either, goodies for Jayden, too! ed’s wife was telling me what everything was and I got a kick out of her saying “biscuits”. She’s so very British! That was a little later in the evening after I’d rested from the day and chugged water. I also desperately needed coffee which the suite didn’t have, so Ed ran out and got me a cup. Yay, friends!

I didn’t even use my radio during this game. Professor Twain sat next to me doing play-by-play. It was awesome! We thought we were going to be on the jumbotron for the seventh inning stretch but since I wasn’t with the other super fan hall of fame people, we weren’t. that was fine by me! There had been so much excitement that day, I’m not sure I could have handled more.

Mrs. T and I went and checked out the team store on the suite fllor. We had our own freaking team store! Butch came with us to by a hat. Mrs. T bought me a Longo shirt and a baseball bracelet! I swear I hardly spent any of my own money on that trip. While we were in the store I heard Metallica playing and knew that would be Grant Balfour coming into the game. Darnit, I was bummed to miss him. The Rays lost that night but they got him in for some work.

I was sad to leave the suite. It had been home for three games. They even let us keep stuff in there, like Jayden’s mat and stuff. A lot of pictures were taken with me and friends and Jayden and then it was time to go. “Bye suite, “I said wistfully.

What an amazing day! I’d be back the next day as a normal fan, sitting in normal seats. That hadn’t been the original plan, but I couldn’t be in St. Pete while the Rays were playing and not be at the Trop. So it was bye field and bye suite, but not bye Trop yet!

When I got back to my room I called B and got ready to pass out.

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Three: Don Zimmer and Opening Day

My feelings as I mentally map this post are mixed. Today is the day I write the Opening Day post. My First Opening Day and Don Zimmer’s last. He passed away peacefully last night and the evening became full of Don Zimmer memories from all over baseball. My eyes would dry and then another tweet would come through with another story, Dave and Andy would call a play and tell a story, pictures were imagined, Zim with Longoria’s fiance Jaime and baby Elle, Zim on the golf course with Jackie Robinson, my eyes were in a constant state of damp. The post-game show was a Life and Times of Don Zimmer and when they played the interview with Joe Maddon tearing up I couldn’t hold back the sobs. At the end of the show they interviewed Longoria and the heartbreak in his voice rang like a ball squared up just right before sailing out of the park. He and Zim were very close as was the entire Rays organization. Zim was their senior baseball advisor for the last eleven years. This was his sixty-sixth season in baseball.

This morning I read many wonderful articles about this baseball icon and I would like to share a few before I get to recounting my experience on Opening Day.

Don Zimmer, a baseball icon who was one of us, dies at 83 – Tampa Bay Times

Rays advisor Don Zimmer, widely seen as a baseball treasure, dies – Tampa Bay Times

Statement from Don Zimmer’s Family – Tampa Bay Times

Don Zimmer Tributes – Tampa Bay Times

Don Zimmer simply loved baseball – ESPN (Autoplaying media)

Don Zimmer was baseball icon: had fans everywhere, even an unusual place – Arizona Daily Star

I obviously did not know Don Zimmer. I heard several people last night say they could imagine him smacking them upside the heads and telling them to get on with it and call the game/play the game write about the game so that is what I will now do. It was not lost on me last night that I was due to write about my first Opening Day which was also Don Zimmer’s last.

So the morning of Opening Day 2014 wasn’t separated from March 30 by even a wink of sleep. Was it excitement that kept me awake all night? The fact that I had a sixty-five pound dog with me in the double bed? Jet lag? Looking back I’m sure it was a combination of all of it.

I was laying in bed when I heard the first seagulls start screaming. I remember laying there, checking my phone , thinking I should stay in bed and rest since I hadn’t slept but it was Opening Day!

I made some lukewarm coffee before feeding Jayden. I decided I would take him out on my own since Manda wouldn’t be at my room until around 10:30. Jayden found his litter box just fine but then we couldn’t find the room again. We walked around for awhile, not having much luck. The kids weren’t in the pool yet which was too bad since that was a great sound source. Luckily a jogger came buy and I called out when I heard the footsteps and heavy breathing. He stopped to help and I told him what room I was in. I didn’t like the idea of giving a passerby my room number but when I had tried to call the hotel, I got no answer. What was I supposed to do?

“This must be horrible for you,” he said as he led us to the pool area.

“No one likes getting lost,” I said. Um. Wow. Too late I wished I had launched into this amazing experience that was happening because I went blind. That was such a long story and honestly when the sighted say things like that, it’s just their own fear coming out. It wasn’t that he was saying it was horrible for me, he was saying it would be horrible if it happened to him. He probably didn’t know that was what he meant, but that’s what he meant. but I’m getting way off topic.

I thanked him for his help. (At least he didn’t try to take my arm or Jayden’s harness) I decided I might as well get ready for the day. Manda was going to bring Egg McMuffins! I showered in the tiny bathroom. How good that hot water felt. It was very odd to be standing in the shower and hear seagulls outside the window. Wouldn’t that have been a scary scene in The Birds? Ooh ooh The Birds and Psycho mashup!

By the time Manda got to my room I was in pretty ugly shape. Starbucks instant coffee on an empty stomach and no sleep is a very bad combination. Oh and nerves. Gee I wonder what exacerbated those? Lukewarm coffee anyone? We can’t forget the nerves. I remember telling her that I was being a bitch and apologizing and her saying something like this is you being a bitch? It was all rather blurry at that point.

The game was starting at 4:10. I remember having to tell myself not to convert it to Arizona time. Davis and Butch were going to pick us up at the hotel at 1:00 I think. We wanted to get there when the gates opened. Why did we leave so early? I don’t remember.

Butch! He was the next friend for me to meet and I couldn’t wait! We talked quite a bit on Twitter.

After I ate my egg McMuffins I felt a little better. Manda had brought a blue beaded necklace and some blue bracelets for me to where. I dressed in jeans and one of my new Rays Tank tops. I had gotten my hair cut into a bob before leaving so it was quick and easy to style and the stylist had put this blue chalk stuff in my hair. I was ready!

When the guys got to the room I met butch and we all started to get ready to go. We took Jayden to his litter box, piled into the Ro To Trop Mobile and hit the road. As soon as the car began to move I could feel myself relax. All the preparation had come down to this and we were on our way!

Thanks to the Rays, my group had parking passes and tickets to the luxury suite the team had given me for the first three games. Back when we planned the trip, I didn’t know the opening series was a four game series, so I had only planned on going to the first three. Davis’ wife Tina had to work so she would be meeting us at the Trop.

Aside:

I’m listening to the pre-game show and they just replayed Joe Maddon’s interview from last night. It’s a rare 4:10 pm EST start today, a Thursday, and I’m writing about a game that began at 4:10 EST on March 31. some of this is getting weird. Awww Joe and Dave choked me up all over again and then I laughed when Dave echoed the sentiment I wrote above about getting on with it and writing the post.

End aside.

Davis dropped us off near gate 4. That was the gate closest to the suite and where we had planned to meet up with Dave Haller, the Rays Director of Communications, who had organized my red carpet treatment. He did a tremendous job! Thank you for everything, Dave!

When I got out of the car I heard upbeat music. Immediately I felt the celebratory energy. The weather was perfect and I was at the Trop! I was so happy to check in on Foursquare haha.

We were there before doors opened so we stood around and talked while I took it all in. I asked if there was one of those planes flying around dragging a banner. Those are unmistakeable even when they aren’t seen. The music continued. Every so often there was someone talking on a loud speaker and distant cheers. The party was at the main gate, not where we were, which was fine by me. There were people milling around but it wasn’t loud.

I heard cheering closer and was told the Fox Sports Florida girls were nearby. You should have heard it when they saw Jayden. How can I describe this? Ok you know when you’re watching college football and the broadcast comes back from commercial and they lead in with the cheerleaders crowding around the camera and cheering? It was that. The girls swarmed me and cooed and then I was taking a picture with them and then some guy came up and they were gone. Talk about surreal. I think I’m going to set up an Instagram account just to post all these photos.

Aside:

9-6 Marlins. Are the Rays coming back? I finally went back to working on this post as a distraction.

End aside.

Soon after a male voice introduced himself and said he was from a news station. Wha? I plastered a movie star smile on as he asked if he and his camera guy could follow me inside and up to the suite and then ask me a few Questions. Um, Sure? Haha!

Julie, when did I meet you? Before or after all this? Ok I was going to write when I met every single person but that will give me grey hairs so just know you were all incredibly important to me haha! (Julie tweeted me May 6 after the Rays win and reminded me how I met her. After the media guys walked away I heard someone say hi to Jayden. “Who knows Jayden?” I asked, and that’s how we met. As soon as I read her tweet it came back to me so I had to edit this post for memory’s sake. By the end of the trip, lots of people called out Jayden’s name, but Julie was the first!)

The newsman and camera guy walked away and soon after Dave Haller was there. Dave!!! He had my personalized jersey with him! I had known the Rays were going to give me a jersey but had completely forgotten. It has the Number 3 on the back for Evan Longoria and the name is the trip’s hashtag, #RoToTrop. Actually i found out later that it’s in all caps. #ROTOTROP. That is important in a future post. If a person didn’t read this post, they won’t get the joke. Bwah ha ha! Dave talked to us briefly and then said he would meet us inside the gate when doors opened. The newsman and camera guy were back not long after.

“Where’d you get that jersey?” the newsman asked. I explained. “Would you mind taking it off and putting it back on so we can film it?”

That really happened. It really did. I had put the jersey on unbuttoned on top of my tank top. I did as he asked so they could create their broadcast. I think the broadcast is online somewhere. I’ll try and get those details before I post this. Ok Heather to the rescue hours later. The segment is here. She said there are two links, and you have to click an arrow to get to mine. It’s so not blind friendly.

(9-6 Miami in the 8th)

Finally the gates opened! We went through the security check and the woman said she was calling ahead to my section to let them know a service dog was coming. I was aware of the camera crew behind me but I just tried to focus on walking into the Trop for the first time. Just after we walked in the doors I heard my name. It was Dave Haller and he was telling me someone was there waiting for me but I didn’t hear him.

“Who?”

Brandon Gomes.”

I don’t remember the sound I made but it was probably that sound you make in your throat when you are shocked . Then I was hugging him. My first Ray! I was laughing with happiness and I could hear people all around and then my friends wanted pictures so we posed and I got to keep touching him, haha! I wanted a picture with my phone so I could post on Facebook for my friends and Family. I bent over trying to hear my phone so I could bring up the camera and hand it off. I remember Brandon Gomes saying, “she’s pretty good with that thing.” *Squeal* I was no longer mentally thirty-five. I was fifteen meeting a player from my favorite baseball team. Was this really happening? All too soon I had to leave Mr. Gomes who I started calling “my lover”. I don’t know why hahaha! Maybe because I unabashedly kept touching him?

We had to go up in an elevator. Did you know they have elevator attendants? So cool! We got to the floor where the suite was and walked down a narrow hall. I suddenly had the fear that Jayden would do something really bad and it would be caught on camera. I was aware that everything i said to him was being recorded. Weird!

When we got to the suite Jayden turned right and we started exploring. On the wall where the door was, there was a sink. This was the back of the suite and there were bar tables with barstool chairs. There was a table with hotdogs and fixins and there were sodas and bottled waters. Towards the front of the suite, there were two rows of stadium seats. These couldn’t be accessed from the right side. The room was enclosed on three sides with the front being completely open to the field. Along the front row of seats was a handy shelf to set drinks. I made my way to the left side of the suite and there were two steps to go down to reach the front row of seats. I went down the steps and stood at the bottom, thinking about the fact that the field where my beloved team plays was right down there! The suite was along the left field line behind third base where Longoria plays and up a few levels. The Rays dugout is on the first base line so the sightlings could look into the dugout.

The newsman was there all of the sudden asking if he could interview me so my friends and I could enjoy the suite. thinking back on this, it’s still almost not believable. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me! I don’t remember what he asked me exactly. Something about how I became a Rays fan, how long I had been blind (“since she couldn’t see”), etc etc. I was instantly roasting under the light they shined in my face and I bumped the mic at one point while gesturing with my hands.

After they left I needed water. Someone went and got me a bottle and Manda was showing me the nice spot next to the first chair on the first row of seats. It was a perfect spot for Jayden. I put his mat down and had him settle there and I sat in the chair, taking off the jersey top so I could cool off. What a whirlwind!

I think Manda and I took Jayden to find the relieving area before the game started. Davis and Butch were busy running tickets down to other people who would be joining us in the suite. There was a nice fenced off area with grass for Jayden. Grass? Wow. Haha. He had also used a grassy patch near a tree back before we had gone into the Trop. He left his mark everywhere.

We made sure to be back inside for the festivities . They would be raising the 2013 Wild Card banner. I didn’t want to miss any of the Opening Day ceremony.

I got all settled into my seat with my jersey back on, my little radio and cowbell at the ready, Jayden wearing his Mutt Muffs and waited for everything to begin.

The first thing was that they did a bunch of video and audio highlights. It was so cool to hear things I had heard so many times at home coming through the speakers at Tropicana Field. The stadium rang with the clanking of cowbells. I wonder if I ever stopped smiling.

I can’t remember what made me decide to record a voice memo but I’m so glad I did. I got a recording of the National Anthems, both Oh Canada and the Star Spangled Banner. On the recording is the announcement of the entire Rays “staff” if you will. Right before the starting lineup, Don Zimmer was introduced and the place went wild. He was there down by the dugout in a golf cart, and as each player left the field the player stopped and talked to Zim. I am so grateful I was in the same building as a living legend.

If you would like to hear this voice memo, click here. I listened to it this morning and am totally embarrassed by how I sound but that is the sound of unbridled joy. Even though it makes me blush, I’m so glad I have it and I’m happy to share. Warning, the cowbells and screaming is quite loud haha! Listen at your own risk.

I had pointed to where I thought everything would be on the field and got confirmation from a sightling. As the game began I put on my radio and listened to Dave And Andy just like I would at home, my head turned toward where I heard the action go. I was in the zone, listening to my radio guys, listening to the barking sound effects from District K-9 when Price got a strike-out. I heard beer and ice cream calls in person that I always hear on the radio and I heard the whistling of Yunel Escobar at short. I was there. It was Opening Day and I was at Tropicana Field. I was the luckiest damn girl in the world.

If you managed to listen to that voice memo, you heard my friend Tina saying I was making her and Butch cry in the row behind me. I was full of good emotions and the music that played when the banner was raised was the soundtrack of my happiness. Until Evan Longoria came to bat, of course. There is nothing like hearing those electric violins loud and in person. I could feel the base in my heart as the song and man that started it all came to the plate. I can’t remember if he got a hit. I want to say he did but maybe that’s just the romantic in me.

One of the friends I got to meet in the suite that night was Aviatrixx (her Twitter name). She brought her three year-old daughter with her. She had asked me before I left Tucson what she and her daughter could bring for Jayden. I told her I trusted Nylabone and Goughnut products so she gave me a Romp and Chomp. This thing is so cool! It’s a Nylabone with a space inside to put what looks like a Slim Jim inside. It was the perfect gift for a dog who was bored at a baseball game! He loved it and there were enough refills for the rest of the games and some “O bones” as I started calling them when we got home. I need to order some refills for his birthday next month. Thank you, Aviatrixx!

Nothing else specific stands out about the game. R.A. Dickey pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rays won. I do remember it wasn’t a close game so it wasn’t tense. It was just plain old fun! My record for Rays games attended was now 1-3. It was my second David Price start. He is now 1-1 in games I’ve attended hehe..

When we got back to the hotel, everyone hung out for a bit while I fed and relieved Jayden. After they left I hung out on Twitter a bit, did a good foam roll session, called B, listened to my book and fell into a blessed sleep. I hope my next Opening Day is well rested!

(The Rays lost today’s game.)

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“Double Play” by Ben and Julianna Zobrist with Mike Yorkey – narrated by Apple’s Voiceover

For those of you who aren’t baseball fans, Ben Zobrist is a Tampa Bay Ray. In fact he’s not just any Tampa Bay Ray, he’s the Rays super utility guy. He mostly plays second base but he can really play anywhere the Rays need him. In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated baseball players in the game today. He also should have won a gold glove last year along with the rest of the infield who were nominated but passed over, James Loney at 1st, Yunel Escobar at short and Evan Longoria at 3rd, but I’m getting off topic.

We Rays fans are very familiar with Ben’s wife Julianna since Ben’s walk out music when he comes to the plate is always one of her songs. Julianna is a Christian pop singer with a lovely voice. They are both on Twitter but share one account, @TheZobrists.

When I found out they were working on a memoir together I knew right away I would buy it, no question. They gave little hints on Twitter here and there about the book so I knew it was going to be about their life together as a Christian couple and that they would both be sharing some deep secrets.

I got the book on Kindle when it was released and was flying through it so I took a break when I reached the pictures section which had captions and gave away some of the second half of the book, oops! I went back to the book on the flight home from St. Petersburg and it was awesome to go back to their story as I was leaving after my incredible trip.

There is some baseball in the book as we learn about Ben’s journey and how his swing was developed but for the most part it’s a story of love, deep christian faith, parenthood, life struggles and survival.

I got to meet Ben Zobrist when I visited the field and I was amazed by how tall he is. I told him I was reading his book and explained how my screen reader spoke the words and he said something like, “Oh man, they should have had Julianna and me read the audio book!” I said it would have been nice to hear him read the journal entries in the book and he laughed, saying how embarrassing those are and I told him they were sweet. He is such a nice guy! He let me hold his batting practice bat. It was awesome!

I highly recommend every Rays fan read this book and even if you aren’t a Rays fan, it’s a great story about how love survives life’s curve balls. I’m not religious but I appreciate their devotion to Jesus. They are a couple to admire, for sure.

Rating: So good!

My friend JB told me there is in fact an audio book now, not read by the Zobrists of course.

“Double Play” at Audible ~ “Double Play” at Amazon

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Filed under #RoToTrop, 2014 Book List, baseball, evan longoria, screen reader, Voiceover

Suite People and Adios Arizona!

The first part of this post is for people to reference who are coming with me for games in the suite. The amazing @MandaGator wrote up this itinerary for me to share on the blog for easy reference for the suite people. Hehehe the suite people. Ok I’m incredibly excited! Leaving tomorrow! Ok here’s Manda’s itinerary and I’ll throw in some sentences below.

***

Itinerary

*Opening Day, Monday March 31st
Those who have been invited to the suite will meet @Raynaadi at Gate 4 at 1pm, (if unable to meet @ that time contact @MandaGator for alternate arrangements).

After a visit to the suite, @Raynaadi & Jayden will be available to visit with #RaysTwitFam while exploring the new 360 outfield area and possibly feeding the cownose rays if time permits prior to opening ceremonies.

*Game 2, Tuesday April 1st
Join @Raynaadi & Jayden on Ferg’s back deck a pre~game cock or mock tail & socializing from 4pm ~ til gates (approx 5:40pm).

Those invited to the suite who are not at Ferg’s will meet just outside the rotunda @ gate 1 @ 5:40pm (if unable to meet @ that time contact @MandaGator for alternate arrangements).

Pre~game @Raynaadi & Jayden will have more time to explore the Trop and socialize in the 360 area.

*Game 3, Wednesday April 2nd
Times subject to change
Join @Raynaadi & Jayden @ Ducky’s in Tampa to indulge in an epicurean sensation from 2pm ~ 4pm.

Those invited to the suite will meet just outside the rotunda at gate 1 @ 5:40pm (if unable to meet @ that time contact @MandaGator for alternate arrangements).

Pre~game @Raynaadi will be on~field for batting practice so look for her & Jayden talking to Longo, DP & the Skipper!

***

What began as a silly conversation on Twitter has turned into the trip of a lifetime and Manda has been with me every step of the way in the planning process, listening to my concerns and silly worries, laughing and sharing excitement, taking care of all the logistical stuff since she knows Tropicana Field like her own home. I can’t thank her enough! She has stepped into the role of my “scheduling coordinator” and done a fantastic job making me feel like a rock star on tour! I have a feeling this post is the first of several thanking those who have been such an integral part of making this once in a lifetime dream come true. Manda, you are such an incredible friend! I’m so grateful this trip has brought us even closer and I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow!

Yes, tomorrow! Jayden and I are getting on a jet plane and blowing this popsicle stand! Weeeee!!!! I am so incredibly excited this morning I literally had to tell myself to slow down, don’t get worn out today. I’ve done pretty well with pacing myself while getting ready for this trip. I’m feeling pretty darned good *knock on wood* and I can’t wait! Am I going to meet Evan Longoria? Will I get to tell him in person that he is the reason for all this? Wow I can’t even think about it!

Ok, off to post this and get all my Friday stuff done. I probably won’t be posting while on the trip but who knows. I meant to post about all the preparations but yeah that never happened haha! Tantric (that’s my code name) is soon to be on the move!

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Filed under baseball, evan longoria, fellowship, Jayden, silly girl, twitter me this

Ro Goes To The Trop

***Donations total as of afternoon of 2/22: $1,591 Wow!

More donations are coming in since this story at Baseball News Source was put up 1/13. wow! Thanks Don!

1.15 – Ok, we’ve reached the initial goal and still going strong! Several people say we should keep it going and I might just get most or all of the trip covered! Manda and I are discussing what to do with any overages for the next fan who needs help. We will keep this going!

1.16 – Just want to add that I have gotten donations from a Braves fan, a Yankees fan and a Jays fan. Baseball fans are good! This tells me this sort of thing can be done among all thirty team fan bases!

Just ran across a post the aforementioned Jays fan wrote about the trip. Go check it out! yay!

1.17 – I booked my hotel yesterday and thanks to all the donations, I got a discount for paying at the time of the reservation. I picked a beach front hotel my friend’s friend works at and spoke directly to her. She got me the best room for access to outside with Jayden and even put a note on the room for everyone else that I am not to be moved haha! So flight and room are booked and paid for! This is really truly happening!

1.20 – Donations are still trickling in, awesome! So you know room and flight has been booked and paid for but you don’t know that the Rays organization called and gave me a suite for all three games!!! I fell off my couch! So tickets are covered. At this point everything is taken care of! I want to write another post soon about the call from the Rays so hopefully that’s coming soon.

1.29 – I will get another post up soon, though I did promise that in my last update haha. Things have been busy around here.

2.16 I was in the Tampa Bay Times today! None other than Marc Topkin wrote a little snippet about me and the trip. I will be forever in the paper with David Price!

2.22 – I’ll be on the radio here at WTSI1110.com on Wednesday 2/26 thanks to the comment Pete O’Shea left on this post. Fun! Today I spoke on the phone with Chris Archer and Ben Zobrist from Rays FanFest, though that has nothing to do with my trip really except that both of them said hopefully we can meet. Thanks Manda and Davis!

3.2 – Donations total as of this evening thanks to this amazing story in the Tampa Tribune today by Roger Moony, $1,716. Wow! This trip is going to be completely financial stress free! I know I keep saying I’ll write soon but life has been insane. My book posts take the least brain power haha! Happy birthday, Davis!***

If you’re a regular reader here and/or know me personally, you know what a huge Tampa Bay Rays fan I am.

If you’re coming here from Twitter because of the #RoToTrop hash tag and you don’t know me, you’re probably wondering why a bunch of people in Florida are fundraising for me to come to the Trop from Arizona for the first three games of 2014.

The short story is, I went completely blind in 2008 due to multiple sclerosis and Evan Longoria’s at bat music got me into baseball. I am a dedicated listener of every single Rays radio broadcast since 2009. My fixed income has made it impossible for me to afford to go all the way to Florida.

Last season I went to a game in Denver since I went there to visit a friend, and two games here in Arizona. It has been a dream of mine to attend games at Tropicana Field among friends and “family”. A plan was hatched in about mid December during a conversation I was having on Twitter and yesterday I bought plane tickets and @MandaGator began the fundraising.

Literally about five days before this whole thing started coming to fruition I set up a PayPal account so I could buy a two dollar audio file. How’s that for fate?

Manda guestimates that the trip will cost about $2,000. She points out that when I’m going, March 28 – April 4 is the beginning of high summer travel costs in Florida.

I found my round trip tickets through Priceline yesterday for $404. Pretty good eh? So those are purchased. The remaining expense is hotel and food. Hotel is going to be a ballpark of $800 or so. I should be good for another $600. I’ve had increments from $10 to $50 in case you’re curious about what people are donating, and $1 to $5 is wonderful too.

At the time of this writing we have already raised $160! People are good! I certainly do not expect the entire trip to be covered, I’m just hoping for some assistance. I’ll update this post mornings with the total amount donated.

If you are able to help and want to, donations can be made via PayPal at raynaadi at gmail dot com. Any amount is appreciated! Even if you can’t help, I hope you can attend one or more games so we can meet! My guide dog Jayden will be very popular haha. We’ll be at the first three games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Go Rays!

If you’re still wondering who the heck I am and are nervous about helping, I’ll link to some posts I’ve written in the past. You can also follow me on Twitter.

This is a post I wrote the day after Evan Longoria was insulted on Twitter and I took it personally haha.

So Much More Than A Baseball Team

This one goes into how I became a Rays fan and a baseball fan in general. I just read it again and I had even written about wanting to get to the Trop. It’s finally happening, Ro of the past!

A Fairweather Rays Fan I Am Not

Here’s a post I wrote about how I experience the game, being a displaced fan.

Experiencing the Game

So I hope this post and the links above shed some light on just why my amazing Rays Twitter Family is helping to make a dream possible and affordable. They rock! I just want to shake Evan Longoria’s hand and thank him personally for all he has given me without even knowing it. Though he should ask Marc Topkin what happens when I say I want to shake someone’s hand but then meet them in person.

Go Rays! 2014 World Champions!

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Filed under #RoToTrop, baseball, evan longoria, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, twitter me this, wow