Two Sliders of Joy

 

 

Last night I decided to do some channel surfing and came upon a movie on TNT making it’s network debut. The movie was “The Bucket List” starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as two aging gentlemen who were given only months to live. As I watched this film, it got me eagerly thinking about my own Tampa Bay Rays “Bucket List” and some still unsatisfied opportunistic goals I still want to achieve before I wander away from the Rays community for the last time.

I found one moment in the film kind of poetic in nature when Freeman told the tale of the two questions that what ancient Egyptians were said to encounter upon their deaths as they got closer to the gates of the great beyond. Freeman stated that the first question was, ” Have you had JOY in your life? “. Let’s all Ponder that question in regards to our own baseball lives for a few moments before I continue with the story.

Freeman then told Nicholson the second part of the Egyptian equation, “Did you give JOY in your life? ” Now I am going to answer those two questions in relationship with my Rays lifetime experiences, and hopefully I can some day be admitted past the turnstiles some day in a celestial Rays game. In returning to these events, even within my mind I am hoping the emotions and excitement of those activities do not get the better of me and I begin to wax to poetic like a babbling moron.

 

 
 Did you have JOY in your (Rays) life?
I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that every single game I have attended since the Rays first pitch on March, 31,1998 to this moment in November , 2010 have brought me a mountain of emotional responses and joy. But there have been a few moments that have definitely been highlighted, or even shine brightly through out that journey. From watching a former Rays baseball friend (Edwin Jackson) throw a No-Hitter against the Rays at home, to seeing a Rays starter (Matt Garza) also enter the No-Hitter club this season with both games viewed from my seat in Tropicana Field is a sparkling moment.

But the true joy I have had in the last 13 years following this team has come from the people I have gotten to know over that period. From the Rays Fan Host who took my ticket on the first day, and who still works with the Rays, to a duo of Rays facility employees who stopped on Roosevelt Blvd and picked me up, then gave me a ride home after the Rays airport experience in October, it has been one glorious rollercoaster ride.

I gotten the chance to watch a single player (Carl Crawford) develop as a Rays prospect, then be promoted to the Major League level and achieve All Star status, before sadly also witnessing his last at bat and time pulling on his Rays uniform during Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series. Been privy to amazing stories and discussion with a host of Rays players past and present who I consider baseball friends. Once even asked Rays Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi to be my best man, but then found out my fiancée was a closet pinstripe fan.

Have experienced the joy of catching foul balls during the game. Be granted the opportunity to share precious moments on and off the field with players, coaches and other Rays fans that will always be high on my list of accomplishments of my Rays life. Always been blessed to be around the great Rays fans and friends who made the time and games more memorable and special. Have gained friendships within the Rays front office and with former Rays staffers that will last a lifetime, even if the Rays dreams ends.


 

Can definitely say I have had more than a bucketful of joy in my life when it comes to following, covering and enjoying the Rays. And it might seem funny to write this right now with so much other adventures and events still to unfold that I have not seen, but one moment the 2010 Rays season is definitely shining brighter than the rest right now. It was right after the Rays clinched their 2010 postseason berth that the players began to walk down the First Base line thanking the fans that the moment presented itself.

Again, it was my longest tenured baseball friend with the Rays who again brought an untold amount of joy to me as Cursi appeared between the handshakes with a few Rays players to present me with a full bottle of Domaine ste Michelle champagne for me to enjoy the moment. It is not that Cursi brought me a bottle of adult beverage, but the pure fact that he remembered me with all of this celebration and joyous occasions going on all around us that he thought of me. I then spread the joy of the moment by letting a few of my surrounding Rays friends also taste the nectar of the Gods and also become a part of this joyous moment.


Did you give JOY in your (Rays) life?

I truly hope I did. This is one aspect of that total ancient Egyptian formula that could be more subject to my own stern interpretations of my actions . Hopefully the moments I have taken to field Batting Practice balls and hide them in my backpack to give to kids attending their first baseball game adheres to this provision. That by my relationship with a few of the Rays players, I have given some young Rays fan joy when I stopped them and asked them to either ay “hello” or sign for them as their eye grew bigger.

That the way I have produced facts, figures and vocalized untold stories about this team or even a singled out player has provided an ounce of joy for another fan or even a opponent’s fan who became delighted by the fight and desire of this Rays squad. Sure I have seen the bright smiles and awestruck looks of children when I present them with a ball. Have also seen the same facial expression of people my own age who were attending their first baseball game and I somehow magically procured a game used baseball for them to clutch and remember in the privacy of their own homes and joyous lives.

Or maybe it was the moment I gave a young Rays fan who’s family was moving to Alabama a special going away gift that she would not forget. She was an avid B J Upton fan, so I gave her a game used Rays road jersey autographed by Upton which featured the old “Tampa Bay” emblazoned on the front of the jersey. That way she can never forget where her baseball heart lies… in Tampa Bay.

Hopefully there has been people who have read my passages since September 2007 that has awaken their baseball love, or provided them with a way to relive a moment in words and paragraphs when they could not attend or see the events themselves. And I really hope that a few of the photos taken over the last few years of Rays concerts and game day photos has provided some extra spots of joy or appreciation to someone online who lives far away, or wishes they could have attended the events themselves.

 

Do I truly think I have achieved the two aspects of the Egyptian equation to be considered for entry into the afterlife based on my Rays life? I honestly do not see it as my place to set that bar or even approach that level right now in my Rays life. There is still so much to see and do that could have the scales weighing to and from for a long time until I have to consider this in person before those gates.

 

During a mid-February day back in 2004 I sat nervous and anxious before the voice of the Rays, Dick Crippen announced my name as a inductee to the Rays/Pepsi Fan Wall of Fame during the Rays Fan Fest. Crippen called out my name and I walked over to be presented my Wall of Fame jersey and trophy and instantly Rays moments began flashing through my head at lightning speed almost making me too dizzy.

They say that karma always is a never ending circle fo events and moments that enter and exit each of our lives. Forver we are in an endless game of flux with the scles always rising or lowering with our actions and reactions. The aspect of having or even giving joy has always had a centerline somewhere within my life, but never as tranfixedand focused as in my Rays life. I guess the Rays knew what they were doing when they named my persona for the Wall of Fame plague. Because even before that Wall of Fame induction moment I always imagined myself as “Mr. Lucky” when it comes to this Rays team.  

 
 

4 Comments

Jane,
I did notice that last night too.
Makes you wonder sometimes if you ade such a list for yourself, what would make the Top 10?
I do sometimes feel I have not succedded at things, but then I just remember the fact that most people live their own version of a charmed life in their own ways.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Very nice Bucket List! (I loved the movie, btw. And leave it to Rob Reiner, a baseball fan extraordinaire, to make it.)

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Wow, you have certainly have had some amazing times with the Rays! Thank you so much for sharing your stories, it made me smile to read them. And I am certain you did give joy in return. There a few more joyful expressions that that on the face of a kid getting a ball for the first time at a baseball game.

http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/

Blithe,
I can honestly admit the Rays and their players have let me have a few “joys” and adventures that a normal fan sitting in the seats would never get a chance to experience in a lifetime.
I just chalk it up to my personality and the want to write and provide a pictorial with words of some of the things going on in the Rays Repeublic that most people are never privvy to at all.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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