Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stars come out for Rays: Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Barry Melrose, Jared Fogle root, root, root for the (losing) home team

Hulk Hogan, 55, readies for a kiss from girlfriend Jennifer McDaniel, 20 something.

FormerInactive professional wrestler John Cena downs a beer, kept cold by a cozy that says "Betty Ford Clinic Outpatient."

Updated: I caught Hogan in a similar pose as Cena above.

Update: This post was copied by and, two fan sites.

St. Petersburg is no New York. It's no Los Angeles. It's no Boston.

Even so, it has its share of characters who showed up for the first game of the Tampa Bay Rays series against the Boston Red Sox.

Resident reality TV star Hulk Hogan, his 20-something girlfriend and another wrestler, John Cena, sat in the luxury box behind yours truly.

The Offlede scored some press-level seats for Game 1. They were purchased at a slight discount from a journalist from Clearwater who needed to unload some of the tickets included in his 20-game package.

francona_0082There's something about indoor baseball at a place like Tropicana Field that isn't right: Indeed, a homer by the Sox's Jason Bay hit the ceiling and never came down. That's just wrong.

But there's something about sitting in comfortable seats, soaking up the air conditioning and watching replays on big-screen TVs nearby that is just exhilarating. The concessions on the press level were never crowded, though the same ripoff prices were still applicable: 5 bucks for a Pepsi. Ouch.

But having celebrities sit behind me dulled that pain.

Hogan and his girlfriend canoodled and drank alcohol most of the time. When the Rays hit some home runs later in the game, they clapped a few times.

During stretches between innings, I would unknowingly glance behind me. I happened to have a camera in my hands, so I snapped a few shots.

Cena chatted up a few young women as he drank a beer with a cozy that said "Betty Ford Clinic Outpatient." I'm sure it's just for decoration, but I seriously wouldn't doubt it.

Barry Melrose of hockey fame, currently as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, threw out the first pitch: a lame dribbler that would embarrass a T-ball player.

My personal favorite, Jared Fogle, gave away some Subway sandwiches to section 216. I was in 207. I had a Cuban sandwich for dinner anyway, so I wasn't hungry.

Meanwhile, there was a baseball game happening. My team, the Sox, nailed homers throughout the game as Boston pitcher Daisuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka mowed down the Rays hitters with an arsenal of sliders and fastballs.

After a Sox batter was hit by a pitch in the first inning, the umpire warned both benches that nonsense would not be tolerated. In the vertical photo, umpire Jerry Meals serves up a dish of caution to Sox manager Tito Francona.

Of course, the teams have a long history of violence. It's funny: The Sox show their hatred to the Yankees by beating them; they show it to the Rays by beating them up.

The only thing I needed to see to make the game complete was an all-out brawl. It didn't happen, but having WWE wrestlers sit behind me somehow made that need go away.

Hockey superstar Barry Melrose throws like a hockey player. It's not a puck, Barry: You can't slide it to the plate.

To allow fans to get free Subway sandwiches, Jared Fogle answers baseball trivia questions, the answers to which were on the back of a pair of oversize fat-man pants like the ones he wore before his miraculous transformation.

The ugly Rays mascot, Raymond, gets into a pointing contest with Sox fans.

Jacoby Ellsbury violates Jason Varitek after the catcher hit a rare home run.

David Ortiz, after a blast of his own, walks by the cameras.

My view from the press level. Not bad, eh?

1 comment:

angiela said...

hi john cena i love you john cena