December 22, 2004


It's beyond safe to say now that the Bucs' 2004 campaign is a lost cause. You don't lose to New Orleans when you're ahead 10 points in the last minutes of the game and expect to play in the postseason.
At this point, going to a Bucs game isn't about the football. It's more about the people and the depression-triggered drinking.
And what better weekend to do that than the one right before Christmas.

You might remember we went to last year's game and enjoyed ourselves mightily, despite the onset of a premature season climax.

This year was no different:

I originally was going to take my son to the game, but he got a head cold, so I decided to let him tailgate in our living room with his best friend. I set up the chairs and let him have the fried chicken, the chips and the other goodies. Sitting in front of the plasma, he probably had a better view than we did at the stadium.

In Brian's place, my buddy Drew went. Our tailgate? For once, it was an actual tailgate. The Big Red Machine was a much sweeter ride to the game than the E'splorer.

And what partially Italian boy's tailgate is complete without a little Sambuca?

It proved to be our undoing. Chasing it with Bud Ice didn't help.

Stop! Save yourselves! There's still time to salvage your tattered dignity!

Too late.

A strategic mistake like Sambuca with beer can only be compounded with Cuban Cohibas.

Alas, we were not the only semi-to-moderate jolly participants that day.

Note to self: get hat, flags for Big Red Machine.


Arriving on cue as if some harbinger of liver abuse, this bloodhound stalked its way through the parking lot. All we were missing was a still and Daisy Mae.

How bad are the Bucs? Even Santa wanted to scalp his tickets.

My guess is that this sign's maker was loaded to the gills with Sambuca.

What do you compound Sambuca and cigars and beer with?
A flaming, greasy, un-Health-Department-regulated meat torpedo, of course.

Arriving on cue as if some harbinger of gastrointestinal distress, this nattily attired gentleman brought us glad tidings of great joy. Or at least as much joy as a Bucs fan can feel on game day this time of year.

Santa was having little luck unloading two pieces of coal on the 50-yard-line.

I'm going to take a wild leap here, but I'm guessing that when this woman decided to promote her business with a bench adorned with her tastefully photographed Glamour shot, she had no idea her advertising message would be blocked by the sweaty bottom of this distinguished gentleman.

The clothing equivalent of the meat torpedoes: these knockoff, unlicensed Bucs jerseys. How much, you might ask, does a shirt adorned with the name of once-successful athletes bring these days?

Fiddy? I don't think so. Especially if you can't get Joe J's name spelled right. Then again, the jersey guy might be the same one who made the parking sign.

Even better: Drew found a jersey around the corner for 20 bucks. Albeit a jersey of a player who no longer is on the roster, but a jersey nonetheless.

It's nice to see the city manager of Port St. Lucie getting out and about.

We were walking along the east side of Raymond James when Drew saw these guys wearing feathers on their heads.
"Wonder what's up with that?" Drew asked.

Enterprising reporter that I am, I walked up and asked, "What's up with the feathers?"

Came to find out they were purchased as masks in New Orleans.

They invited us to share shots of Jagermeister.

We were all soon fast friends.

Ahhhh, a table full of snorkels filled with Jager and Orange Slice.

That's the great thing about Slice: it tastes just as bad going down as it does when you're puking it up. (Which, for the record, I did not do.)

Our newfound friends offered a remedy to cut the flavor: room temperature cooked shrimp.

Who were we to refuse?

By the way, anytime someone offers you seafood to cut the taste of something, take my advice and politely refuse.

Ziggy Sockie, Ziggy Sockie, Hoy, Hoy, Hoy.

Patterns of people streaming through the gates look really fascinating after Sambuca, beer, cigars and Jager.

Good thing we had 4 hours to burn this stuff off.

The beer garden in the north end zone is a great place to hang, up until the pirate ship cannons go off and you start to bleed from the eardrums.

Prolly just smoked a Cohiba.

The Bucs really do put on a great pre-game ceremony.

It's the actual game part they have a problem with.

(For a larger version of this shot you can use as a wallpaper, click here.

Desperate for anything that would cut the shrimp and the Jager and the Slice and the Buca and the cigars, we begged these two vendors to serve us something that would give us relief. We pleaded. We cajoled. We challenged them to race each other to see who was fastest. We even insulted their genders. Nothing sped up their delivery, I am sad to report.

Interestingly enough, this approach also did not accelerate usage of the urinals in the men's rest rooms. Strangers do not like it, apparently, when you urge them to "PEE ALL THAT YOU CAN PEE" in loud voice as others stand in long lines behind them with less than full control of their bladders. A corrolary: The line "IF YOU CAN'T PEE WITH THE ONE YOU LOVE, PEE WITH THE ONE YOU'RE WITH'' is also highly ineffective.

Who'd have thunk?

I know what you're thinking, but for the record, I did not capture those tender moments in digital form.

Looks like a festive crowd, no?

Upon closer inspection...

BucsSaints5c.jpg would appear that some of us had more issues than others among us.

Diagnosis: bipolar. He can't decide if he likes the losers from a previous era or the losers from the current team.

The Athletic Rooting Squad Formerly Known As The Swash-Buc-Lers were decked out for the season.

I was going to wear this.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. There was a heartbreaking game of staggering magnitude.

Here's the equation: Rare + Form -------- Rare Form.

To insulate their vendors from harassment, the stadium assigns each of them a number ID.

Just like an inmate.

Santa's got a brand new bag. Of cotton candy.

Aaron Stecker ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown, only to be injured later in the game.

I'm so glad the Bucs, who have never run back a kickoff for a touchdown, got rid of that bum.

Posted by Jeff at December 22, 2004 06:23 AM | TrackBack