Tampa Bay Rays 8 – Toronto Blue Jays 5

About 12 months ago, as my Baseball obsession came roaring back in like I was 8 years old, my friend Geoff set forth a challenge; “I dare you to try and see 10 MLB games in baseball parks you’ve never been to in the next 5 years. For that, I’ll give you $50.00.” Never one to take a bet I can’t lose (but obviously never really profit from) I accepted. And I accepted with zeal. (EDIT: I managed to finish the bet in year 3.)

We hammered out the rules (What happens if I end up at a game and it’s rained out? It still counts. How can you prove that you were there? A photo from my seat) and I started my quest to visit 10 new stadiums in 5 years. Rather than be lackadaisical about it and wait a few years to really get going, I jumped at the task at hand with determination.

I felt like April – May – June was like a spring training for me; What would it be like if I went to a Blue Jays game by myself (from Montreal, this is the easiest option to go and see MLB)?What would it feel like if I went to see 3 games in 3 nights? On both counts, amazing and satisfying. I managed to do both.

Now, faced with the first year kick-off, what would I do to get this right? I had already been to Toronto – Chicago – Los Angeles – Washington so they don’t count going forward. How could I knock off a good amount of parks this year? First, I lucked out and was invited to a work-related conference outside of Scottsdale, Arizona (less than an hour from the Diamondbacks). Second, I have to go to my cousin’s wedding in August and will be spending some time just outside of Anaheim (the home of the “Los Angeles” Angels). And finally, I decided to take a week to myself and tour around and see 6 games in 4 different cities.

So, it begins with the Rays vs. the Jays on Friday, July 19th, 2013. Game #1, No new stadiums added.

The Rays handily beat the Jays in what turned into a virtual home run derby! With home runs by Zobrist, Myers, Longoria, Johnson, Encarnacion, Arencibia, Bautista and a meaningless blast by Lawrie to keep his batting average above .200, the Rays ended up with an 8-5 rout. Since this game was “regular” priced unlike the last few “premium” ones I attended against the Red Sox and Yankees, the tickets were quite a bit lower and I was able to score the best seats I’ve managed yet; 9 rows up, right behind home plate.

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