Gameworks Shindig was a Total Blast!


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What better way to celebrate a series ending victory than take a group of 10,000+ of the Rays biggest supporters to a place in Ybor City that celebrates the kid in all of us. And boy, did we all have a great time and also get a few great moments playing game with and against some of those same guys who took the field that very same afternoon. It is an event I have been looking forward to every since the invitation hit my mailbox, and the Rays Email system must have gone nuts with how fast I responded to the RSVP.

Yesterday was the Second Annual ( hopefully more) Season Ticketholder event at Gameworks in Ybor City. Now if you have never been in a Gameworks, think Dave and Busters on PED’s with a gleaming polished metallic finish that would send anyone into “Kid Mode”. Now I have been to both of these events, and let me tell you this season’s events kicked some royal booty. Missing were some of the Rays stars, but the entire rotation of James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, David Price and Jeff Niemann hit the event to show their support to the fans.

But they were not the only ones to come on out and see the masses in this crowded but truly spectacular event put on by the Group Sales Department of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Bullpen was also very heavily represented with Randy Choate, Lance Cormier, Grant Balfour, Brian Shouse and J P Howell holding court near the racing games and near the “Dance, Dance Revolution” platform. But not to be forgotten was some of the guys who also play out in the field for the Rays who made the journey over to Ybor City. Ben Zobrist and Dioner Navarro came on out to represent the guys who play in the infield, and Gabe Gross and Gabe Kapler also made the event along with B J Upton last night to show the love from the Rays outfield. 


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But even with people clammering (myself included) to get personal pictures and autographs from the fans, I could see that the guys truly enjoyed their time out with the fans last night. Shouse and Choate were even able to blend in and play a few games before some people noticed they were there last night. But some of the true hits of the night were delivered by the Group Sales Department as they again put on a first class event. From the photo opportunity area where you could be put into a Rays photo, to the awesome stuff given away as door prizes, the event sparkled from the first fan entering the building. And it was great seeing these guys out and about not in uniform and enjoying themselves.

And some lucky fans even got to race or play against some of the players during the night festivities. I remember seeing Kazmir in the back of the Game Room playing an NBA game against a fan and it was a highly contested game with a lot of great plays by both until someone had to lose. But the true hit of the night for me was the fact that 6 foot 9 inch Jeff Neimann got up on the “Dance, Dance Revolution” stage and strutted his stuff. I was in such awe of the event I forgot to pop my camera into video mode and film the entire wild and crazy event. But I have to tell you, once he got the hang of it all, the guy held his own on the dance floor, or platform.

I did not see Rays Manager Joe Maddon, but Rusty, the Rays game day host was remarking (joking) that he was holding a wine tasting seminar in the corner of the bar area. From seeing people like Matt Silverman, the numero uno of the Rays, to Andrew Friedman, the Vice President of Baseball Operations out in the crowd was fantastic. Oh, and Andrew, I truly loved the photo of the top of your head in my picture with Ben Zobrist, but I laughed out loud when I saw it. Some days I have wanted to pick your brain about the team, but never thought I would get a photo of the “brains” of the Baseball Operations group.


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But what makes this such a great events is the milling of the Front Office guys and the players and the fans themselves just discussing everything from baseball to the chocolate fountain that is always the highlight of the event. I got lucky enough to be photographed last season at the fountain, but this year I kept an eye out for the camera. Just to see that light blue, dark blue and yellow chocolate flowing out of the top of the fountains crowned with a triangle of baseballs was tremendous.

And again, the food was one of the true stars of the evening. From the beautiful ladies handing me pot stickers or small wrapped tasty morsels, to the cute and personable bartenders, this was a night to celebrate everything Rays. From the hot stations in the front area of the party, to the temporary apps station piled upon the ticket counters, it was a feast made for a king. And if you did not try the roast beef, you missed out on some fantastic meat with a juicy and succulent au jus.

But the evening had to end sometime, and even as it neared 10:30 pm Garza was still laughing and holding court near the back game room. Gabe Kapler had left by then with his two boys, but he was the perfect doting Dad last night. By the time I left, or my card read only 100 minutes left on it, there was a light rain falling outside, but it felt great on the skin after all the sweating I did beating some unnamed pitcher on “Dance, Dance Revolution” score 1 for the old jock. I know I had a tremendous time, and the Group Sales guys and gals have to feel great about this event.


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The sheer fact that so many people fit into that small place and left with smiles should be a great indicator of the event. And my ticket rep, Craig Champagne was there from start to finish. I have to tell you a wild story about that night concerning Craig. My game card did not work and I asked him if anyone else had that problem. Well, instead of making me plow my way back to the front, he took the card and return within minutes with a
new one for me to use.

A small minor flaw that night was quickly fixed and repaired like new by one of the Group Sales best guys. Seriously, me not playing shooting and alien-killing games might have put a damper on my night. Then I would have had to sample a few more intoxicating beverages, and enjoy the view. But in the end, I was physically exhausted and sore, was full of great food and spirits and did not want to leave. But as I walked to my car parked in the Centro Ybor Parking Garage I was already flipping through the memories and the sights of the night in my mind.


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This season there have been some changes in the Season Ticket realms. Some things have been scaled back,some things have changed,but all in all,this event is still a benchmark of the dedication and the commitment of the Rays to the fans who attend so many baseball games. It was a great environment to see so many people you knew, and would get to know have a great time by themselves and with their kids. I know I am already with a red marker ready to circle the 2010 date to do it all again.

14 Comments

Where’s the video of YOU playing DDR?? Hmm…maybe I should scour YouTube for a copy! lol! It sound like a wonderful time was had by all!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Julia,
That video doesn’t exist. Maybe because a certain pitcher doesn’t want to have any evidience out there that a 49-year old Ex-NFLer kicked his under 30 booty in DDR.
But it was the second most intense workout I had done in a long time.
Thank goodness for cute women who can hold a Pepsi with a long straw up to my dancing mouth…….It was that, or melt into an overheated ball of jello.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Oh my goodness – you are so lucky!! I dont know of anything even like that for the Indians. I would be there in a flash if there was something like that. & BOY would I take pics. I would take at least one pic with every member of the Tribe that came.(: Except for the celebrity golf classic, I dont know of anything where you can meet Tribe players. Your so lucky to get to meet some of your Rays players!
http://tribechick.mlblogs.com/ -TC

That is such a cool event! Thanks for the summary and the great pictures. It sounds like you had a blast.
I would love to do a thing like that with Red Sox fans.
Hope your Rays can keep up the hot streak…maybe we could somehow take on the Yankees together!

http://the3rs.mlblogs.com

Tribechick,
I do consider myself lucky.
Guess that is why my name on the Pepsi Fans Wall of Fame is “Mr Lucky”.
Seriously, these guys get it too. They understand that the fans can be a great energy in the stands, and the team preaches the bond between the players and the fanbase.
Where else would you have gotten all 5 starters and most of the Bullpen out for a Sunday evening event.
Not everyone was there, but the turnout was amazing and I want to again thank the players for that.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I love the fact that the Rays are so accessible to their fans – including the front office personnel. How rare that is. It promotes such a positive spirit and sense of unity, plus it sounds like good old fashioned FUN! Thanks for sharing it with us.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Fenway,
I have come to the conclusion with the Yankees, that either they will stand pat or fall.
And I will take either this season. But, that Wild Card slot is getting crowded and we have to get some separation soon or my Postseason packet, that just arrived in the mail today is worthless.
I am going to have to sell a kidney or something to get the tickets again this season, but it will be done.
And if we do not get far in the postseason ( slapping my fingers) the money goes towards my 2010 Season Tickets.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jane,
I do it to somehow maybe get some other teams fans to ask for the same stuff, or for a team to maybe think of it themselves, not for jealousy or boosting myself.
I do think this is a special franchise, and I am lucky to have lived here my entire life.
They do reward us in ways I never thought possible at times.
But in the end, the faithful still flock to the stadium, and the masses still head to the Rotunda at Gate 1 for games.
And that is the bottom line in it all.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Wow! What a cool idea! That’s way better than the Cardinals winter warm up where you just pay a bunch of money to get 5 seconds to say ‘hi’ and get an autograph. Dave and Busters on PEDs? Chicago needs one of those STAT!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com

That would be so fun to do that. What a great event. I bet he was a gamer! :)
http://tribewithted.mlblogs.com/

What a fantastic event!! I loved all your pictures. Your players seem like very niice, down to earth guys.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
I am so glad most of our events are in the spring and summer months.
Fan Fest is always the few days before the pitchers and catchers report to Port charlotte, and is always a huge event.
I know only a few of the guys are situated near the Tampa Bay area 365 days a year. Most still have their other homes scattered throughout the country.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

TribeTed,
Sometimes they are too much of gamers.
there were a few tnse moment where guys were getting upset because the bloody zombies were winning, but it was all fun and games.
I could see Grady Sizemore going nuts in an event like this.
It is a great time for them and the fans to make them more aceesible and more real to the fan base.
I remember when i was playing football, the fans put us up on platforms, and we were just like them, only faster and given a unique experience to play ball professionally.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cat,
As I stated in the blog, what other team would have all 5 of their starters out there mingling and having fun with the fans.
Because of the young age of this team, maybe that gives us fans an advantage to them wanting to be around us.
I know I enjoy talking to these guys and seeing them outside the game as people who also like an occasional adult beverage.
I still have 40 photos hidden in the dark recesses of my computer for safe keeping.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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