November 22, 2004


Blue sky. Temps in the high 70s. An opposing football team with a 1-8 record.
Perfect day for Tampa Bay Buccaneers football.
My wife and I took in the game Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the second game in two weeks we've been to. It was great fun watching the Bucs throttle the San Francisco 49ers 35-3.
(More photos below)
Who'd have thunk that among all of the tens of thousands of fans we'd see someone we know. At the corner of Himes and Tampa Bay, there stood Al and Crystal.
Small world, man. Small world.
Before going into the stadium, it's important that you drink a lot of fluids if you're going to be out in the Florida sun all afternoon.
Gnawing on a turkey leg the size of a Flintstone Brontosaurus Burger while perching on a flower bed wall is another issue entirely. You're on your own, Sparky.
An aside: Has anyone ever looked dignified while eating one of these? I see people grinding on these stumps at theme parks and ball games and festivals. Each one looks like an outtake from "Quest For Fire."
There was a large crowd, but nothing like games earlier in the season. Or two weeks ago against Kansas City, for that matter. The mood was subdued, just what you'd expect when the team you're rooting for has a record of three wins and six losses.
Walking up to the stadium, some guy 25 minutes before game time tried to sell us three seats for $25 each. I suspected that the sales price was influenced by some sort of pharmaceutical. Closer to the stadium, decent tickets could be had for $10. Hell, ours were given to us by my wife's generous boss.
Also, parking was not a problem. Not by a longshot. Usually trucks and cars are parked anywhere they can find space on side streets and private lots. On Sunday, there were huge gaps in lots unfettered by vehicles.
Tats, a rat tail and back sweat. It's astonishing that these men were lacking in female companionship.
The flyover - now a staple at every game - was way cool. I'm starting to think the flyboys do it so they can get free tix to the games.
(For a larger version of this photo, click here.)
For this game, we were in the upper deck. This is the mezzanine area.
Even though the seats were high up, the view was wonderful. There really isn't a bad seat in the stadium.
I will say, though, that the angle of the seats was severe. My acrophobia kicked in big-time. I thought I was gonna need a Sherpa to get to our row. One guy joked that they would be selling oxygen at halftime. Another chastised the beer guy for not climbing all the way to the top.
"Don't just serve the rich people down there,'' he yelled. "Come up to the poor section!"
The beer guy wasn't alone. There were plenty of fans who took the game off, too.
Time for kickoff.
Take a good look at kicker Martin Gramatica, folks. (He's sixth from the top.) "Automatica" Gramatica won't be with the team next year.
Perhaps sensing his own Buccaneer demise, Gramatica kicked off deep all day. Before this game, it was a stretch for him to get it to the 10 yard line.
The defense lines up against 49er quarterback Tim Rattay. The 49ers were pathetic. They were only 1-for-8 in third-down conversions. That means that they were able to convert a first down only 8 percent of the time. Rattay averaged only 3.5 yards per pass. One of them was intercepted for a touchdown.
The Bucs offense pretty much did what it wanted. It also was nice to see No. 40, Mike Alstott back in the lineup.
Still, Bucs quarterback Brian Griese was far from perfect, throwing two interceptions.
There was plenty of time to take in the sights.
From our seats you could see Legends Field, spring home of the New York Yankees...
...and downtown St. Petersburg...
...and, of course, downtown Tampa.
This asshat is one of the many detrimental byproducts of the digital communications age. There's one at every game - the man or woman who insists on standing up with their cellphone and waving, hoping to attract the eye of whoever they are calling in another part of the stadium.
This is the ultimate definition of narcissistic optimism.
I can only hope that he's being charged double on his analog roaming rate.
This woman just would not shut up all game long. And when her boyfriend wouldn't talk to her, she'd lean down and flirt with the four drunk guys in the row in front of her. At one point, they invited her - with her boyfriend, of course - to leave the game early and go to Mons Venus.
Who says chivalry is dead.
Wait, what's her back tat say?
Ah, I see. The letter H.
Stands for hepatitis.
We strolled by the souvenir stand on the way out and noticed something interesting in the corner.
Nothin' like kicking it old school in a little retro creamsicle Bucs shirt.
The price was a little steep. I guess now that the Bucs have won a Super Bowl and are back to their losing-record ways, it's appropriate to don the colors of the first team to go winless for 26 games straight back in 1976-77.
Yes. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.
All that bad juju and the guy still wanted to buy one. Amazing.
As if Bucs fans haven't suffered enough this season, the local Coca Cola bottler decided to get rid of a huge stash of C2 sodas that no one seemed interested in buying.
As we walked back toward our car, Coke handlers were shoving 12-packs in people's arms. It looked like some sort of hurricane looting scene. Didn't matter that the beverage - a lower-carb version of Coke - tastes like ass. It was free. And that's all that mattered.
And we carried seven cases home, thank you very much.
Guess what the Thanksgiving beverage on the table will be this year? Posted by Jeff at November 22, 2004 07:35 AM | TrackBack