Rays Game was Secondary Today
I was all excited that the Tampa Bay Rays were going to be on the radio today as they traveled over to Jupiter, Florida via a small fleet of buses to play the St. Louis Cardinals. It was one of those games where you can measure your team against someone who you think has a playoff caliber team early in the Spring Training process. So I went on out to a local burger joint and got me a few chili dogs to get into the gastronomical mood for the action and turned the radio on in the car at 1 pm today.
Nothing, but Jim Rhome on the radio. Dang it, where are my Rays, and why are they not announcing the starting lineups, or for that matter just talking Rays baseball. I thought WDAE 620 was the place to be this afternoon. It was originally posted on the MLB.TV site that Game day Audio would be available for this contest. Now It is not like I am not accustomed to disappointment, come on, I am a Rays fan, but I really wanted to hear that game today. But I do not blame MLB at all here. I wish it was on, but that is petty compared to other problems in the Tampa bay area right now.
As most of the community and the country know right now we have a crisis that is beginning to turn bleak involving a group of four guys who just wanted to go out amberjack fishing this weekend. the guys were great friends, two of them NFL current players, and the other two were former team mates at the University of South Florida. They left a small municipal marine off the inter-coastal waterways near the Clearwater beach bridge area and ventured about 35-50 miles deep into the choppy waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday afternoon.
If anyone saw the MLB.TV game against the Phillies and the Rays, you saw what kind of winds were kicking up onshore, just imagine the type of waves were being produced offshore where there were no land resistance or even a buffer zone to absorb some of that wind out of the south. A Small craft Warning was in effect, but sometime people think they are above such precautionary warnings and that their experience and luck can produce great results. We might not what happened out in the Gulf for a few days, but the time is running out for the three men who were not found on the overturned boat with Nick Schuyler today.
As a child I used to go out Spanish Mack fishing with my dad about 20 miles off the Florida shoreline. I can attest that the state looks small and far away even from that distance. I could never imagine the idea of swimming back into shore, or even going into the water even in the summer time when the water is in the high 80’s. All four men were wearing life vests, but could they have decided to try for shore as a team, or did something else happen out on the cold, dark night at sea. Now that the boat has been located, it has made the efforts of the United States Coast Guard more concentrated on this smaller section of the Gulf. But even in 6-8 foot swells in the water, if a person can not wave, scream or even make any identifying motions they can do unnoticed in the vast blue hue of the water out there.
Even the thought of using heat imaging tech might be past it time right now with the body temperatures of each of those three men in all reality under 90 degrees. But what can we do besides believe until we know anything better. The thought that their loved ones have to suffer kills me inside. I have seen both my parents taken by means that could not be reversed. But the ocean does sometimes give a second chance to people out on her waters. Can these three men possibly be swimming for the Florida shorelines and be within sight of land, or could a current have swept them off the boat and they are further into the perils of the deep waters?
Could the trio be swimming towards shore right now since they were 15 miles closer to the coast than expected. Or could the wind have pushed the boat that far into the sight of land since its capsize on Saturday afternoon? You have to think that all four knew that a cold front was beginning to push its way into the Tampa bay region before they set out into the Gulf. Even with the waters so clam and clear in the morning, you have to think that they all knew the extended weather and only planned on being out for 6-8 hours then return before the squall line got close.
But even with the Weather Channel transmitting data 24/7, we can not effectively dictate the weather in a 3-4 hour cone of time. Sometimes weather can get sucked up into the jet stream and fly towards this region, other times it can take days after it runs into a stronger warm front. So when they left, the 2-foot seas did not look menacing. But the fact is that the boat was anchored out in the Gulf, which bring the fact they were fishing at the time a rouge wave might have toppled the 21-foot craft. The weather might have creeped up on them and they were inside the squalls before they realized it. Because the boat was not free floating give the impression that everything happened in a split second.
I am truly hoping for a great ending to all of this adventure. Maybe they are sitting at Shepperd’s right now with blankets on them and a gallon of hot coffee being pumped into their bodies. Hopefully they are either just off shore by now and still swimming towards the lights of Tampa Bay. But then the stark reality hits that most people die within sight of land after a tragedy at sea. We all want a happy ending here. It is what we crave and what each of those remaining three guys deserve. But what the Lady of the Seas gives us sometimes is a reminder that she is a wild beast that will not be tamed. Hopefully for these three men, they will survive and have their lives and their family’s again to warm them. But at what time does a person’s mind turn from rescue to recovery when you can see the lights, but the body doesn’t respond?
Schuyler was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he remains at this time in stable condition. One would wonder if the three might have taken it upon themselves to try for shore to save Schuyler becuase of his condition. Sometimes you can not make sense of a situation even with solid and concrete facts in front of you. I am just hoping that whatever transpires in the next 24 hours, that the sea will grace the families of the other three men with closure and not prolong the ned of the events. I am not trying to predestine or even preach that hope is ticking away for the threes till maybe in the wate. God Bless you gentleman,please still come home safe.
Photo credits for today’s blog go to: Alexandra Zayas, Martha Rial and Paul Lamison of the St. Petersburg Times, and to the USCG Photo Corp.