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Mudville: July 29, 2021 8:48 am PDT
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Tropicana Field

“Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.” ― Anita Bryant

Baseball season is officially underway for #thefoodguy. I mean sure, we’re already 8-10 games in, depending on your Covid and weather cancellations, but for me it was the first time walking into a baseball stadium and watching baseball that counted.

Sure, spring training was fun, and we hit a bunch of great little ball parks and found some decent food, but that was practice. And I know I’m not here, in the middle of the 2021 season talking about practice. Practice?

Not after we waited a whole year just to get our butts back in uncomfortable plastic seats and shout for joy, frustration and sadness as our favorite team played for small crowds again. We’re lucky to be back, even though we are still dealing with gifted runners on second, Covid cancellations and seven inning double headers.

I’m glad you’re back too. You were starting to drive me crazy.

You? Imagine how I feel. Our first adventure of the regular season was close to home. Just a short hop over a couple of long bridges to pay a large price to park in a small lot next to the circus tent next to the sea. Most people hate the Trop. I’ve heard it for years as a resident, but mostly from the away teams fanbases. Locals love this place and I’ve never understood why. The white ceilings, the catwalks, the rubber grass, and the power outages alone are enough to drive any baseball purist insane and the casual fan to google “grounds rules” to sort out the laws of the land. They have special rules and if you think it doesn’t matter, it matters.

Ask Clint Frazier…

Yeah, Clint got screwed. They also love banners here. They print them up and raise up for everything. “2020 Most Wins by a Team Whose Name Starts with T But Plays in a City That Starts with S” is hanging between a couple of “We Won Some Games” flags in right field.

We at BallNine don’t judge- to each their own. There are some good things going on at Tropicana Field; there isn’t a bad seat in the place for starters. Not one. Great views from just about anywhere in the building, but good luck finding those high pop ups in the white dome ceiling. They also were pretty lax with the mask policing. Sure, we all wore them to get in and when walking around the place, but once seated you are in a “pod” and there isn’t a person around you six feet in any direction so being comfortable for 3.48 hours was nice. The food venues were open for the most part and the selections were plentiful. There was more food available that we could possibly consume in one visit so we will be back for more in May. I mean come on, who doesn’t want a poke bowl and a Hawaiian hot dog at the ballpark?

Me?

Well good luck with that because as Snoop Dog famously said, “He is I and I is him” and we both know I like to eat, a lot. Too much really, but I don’t understand how you become a Y-Level food celebrity if you aren’t willing to out eat the competition. The crowd of slightly over 10K was fun, loud when the action hit and distanced enough to still feel like we’re in a pandemic without saying we’re in a pandemic. The Rays Dancers were sprinkled throughout the stadium, masked, and prancing to the beats of the one and only DJ Kitty while ushers went out of their way to be extra kind to the Yankee fans. To be honest, I thought it was a nice touch and felt they were genuine people wanting our obnoxious fans to have a good time. It’s the little things.  Lastly, this week’s episode features an audition tape sent in by my good friend Jose who filmed his BTD debut at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. I hope this doesn’t become a thing or #thefoodguy might be looking for a new gig. Actually, I hope it does. I can’t be everywhere. Do your best MJ and send them in! As for me, I think I’ve said more than enough. Enjoy our regular season opener and our first adventure back into a real, MLB ball park for a real baseball game that counted.

#staytuned #stayhungry #thefoodguy

The Brisket Grilled Cheese.

Tropicana Field: 1 Tropicana Dr. St. Petersburg, FL 33704

Rating: The Babe Buffet– Everything you need and a bunch of things you didn’t. This is the end all be all of stadium food. Limitless options and so much food, even George Herman Ruth would tap out.

Major League Teams: The Tampa Bay Rays – Since 1998

Minor League Teams: Bradenton Marauders (Pittsburgh Pirates) Dunedin Blue Jays (Blue Jays) and Tampa Tarpons (NY Yankees)

Other Baseball: Sadly, unless you drive to Miami after Spring Training this is it for MLB teams in Florida (Aside from however long the Blue Jays will be playing in Dunedin).

 

The “Stadium Food Scale” for ballparks in 2021 (from worst to first):

  • Dumpster Fire – On the menu or in the bowl- this shit stinks.
  • School Fair – Everything is greasy, everything is fried — Limited options.
  • The “Take me Out” – Traditional food, but nothing special.
  • Fancy Pants – Sushi, Steaks and monocle wearing worthy menu options. Fancy.
  • The Babe Buffet — Everything you need and a bunch of things you didn’t. This is the end all be all of stadium food. Limitless options and so much food, even George Herman Ruth would tap out.

Father, husband, runner, and food guy. Baseball traveler, stadium food connoisseur, and podcast fill-in. Just here for the hot dogs.

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