Monday, May 21, 2012

Farewell, and Thanks!

Kristi, Kris, Tati, Brittany, Jen, Lori, and Guy Smiley - Lutz, FL.  May 20, 2012 (Photo by Kris)
I'm sitting in my room in Lutz, FL on this Monday morning, getting ready for the sad ride to Orlando and then the plane ride to White Plains.

It's sadness that I feel, but I don't feel the intense end of vacation blues that I've recently felt.  I think I knew (at least in Las Vegas) that something was ending, and it was time to face that.

Here, I feel like there are new beginnings and adventures.  To be sure, the wonderful Mackey family - Kristi, Brittany, Jen, Kris (Mackey, not Adams), Tati, the dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferret - would all welcome me back.  Explaining how I'm related to them is, well, not worth it.  They are family, extended family perhaps, but family still.

Of course, I can't discuss this trip without thanking my cousin - my brother - Kris and his wife, Lori.  They hatched this idea of me meeting them in Florida, knowing how much I love the Gulf Coast area.  They knew I could use this trip to get away and make good on the promise of returning to Tampa Bay.  I'm grateful for how good they both are to me, and Sean.

And with any luck, Sean will go with me in the future.  Because I'm going back.

It was Kristi who took charge yesterday when she realized that the potential existed to be lazy all day.  She discovered that I'm not like that when I'm vacation.  I can be an up early, down late type of guy.  Keep going all day.  So it was she who said, "Hell, no.  It's Rob's last day.  He needs to do some 'Florida' things.  Go play golf.  Or go to a game."

Well, we tried golf.  Few convenient tee times were available and, more problematic, NO left-handed rental clubs (for me: a pain in the arse).  So Kris (yes, Adams) and I hit the road to take in the Tampa Yankees game.

By the way, I love - love - love leaving for a game with about 40 minutes to spare and being in the ballpark by first pitch.  Did I mention I love it?

Tickets?  Two rows behind the Yankees dugout?  Six bucks?  DONE.  We paid more for a soda than we did for the tickets!  This, if you didn't know, is the spring training home of the 27-time champs.  So obviously, the digs are pretty nice.

The game was, well, baseball.  The Yankees scored two in the first.  The Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays' affiliate) fought back to tie it up.  In the hot sun, sitting on hot seats, on concrete that was - you guessed it - hot, we were just moments away from bonus baseball, when Eduardo Sosa singled to right, bringing in Rob Segedin, who had reached on a double to shallow right that got lost in the sun.


Since the Stone Crabs are a Rays' affiliate, it is worth noting that there were at least four former Hudson Valley Renegades in the lineup whose games were broadcast by none other than me.  Robby Price, Derek Dietrich, Philip Wunderlich, and Robi Estrada all came through Dutchess Stadium.

To the delight of the assembled mass (said to be 1,080, but more likely 200) not only did they win, but a few players signed autographs.

Before I speak of the autographs, I must tell you that I lucked my way into a baseball.  But not really.  Robi Estrada flied out to Ramon Flores to end the top of the fifth.  As he trotted in, kids were screaming for the ball.  Kris said I should also yell for the ball, but I declined and said out loud that, essentially, I was a big boy.  Flores motioned to me and said, "to the girl behind you."  I caught the ball with one hand, spun around, and put it right into the hat of a freckle-faced girl.  She came back later and allowed me to take a picture of it.

The minor leagues really do such a wonderful job for the fans.  After the final out, two players (Evan DeLuca and an unnamed one - still have some work to do on that) were nice enough to sign a miniature bat that I bought for Sean.  Kris had the foresight to get a picture of DeLuca (from New Jersey) signing the bat.

Later in the day, we all gathered at the house (with the addition of Kristi's parents) for some wonderful grilled chicken and family pictures.  But before that, I had a chance to hit the pool!
It's probably becoming clear why I didn't totally want to come home!

Such good times.  Like I said, I'll be back.

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