As opening day 2012 draws near baseball fans the country over are tired of trade rumors and back office magic! We want to hear an umpire (anyone but Joe West please) yell "Plaaaaaaaay ball!", smell hot dogs cooking, say "Go (insert fav team)" to everyone we meet. Rays fans, well we're ready for Rays Fan Fest to kick things off! February 18th seems far off but the time to start training for success at the Trop is now!
Assemble your team!! Your current friends & family are already Rays fans who will be by your side so recruit from outside sources too! Don't be afraid to swoop in and snag free agents or even rookies! Choose your roster wisely! Who will hold places in line when a rest room is necessary? Who will carry the bag 'o swag? Who is primarily responsible for photos? Put yourself in Joe Maddon's shoe's, this is your line up card!!
Advertise!! Tell everyone you know, through every method you can think of, that your team will be at FanFest! Tweet it, Facebook it, text, call, email, even have actual verbal face to face discussion about how awesome your team is! Make plans to meet other teams at the Trop, compete for who gets the most autographs! Plan a flash mob of sorts? WHAT? Hmmm, more on this in a future post but I suggest practicing your FEEL THE HEAT RAYS! chanting skills and working up the callus on your cowbell finger!
Equip thy self!! In addition to comfortable shoes and proper head to toe Rays gear, you'll need supplies. You can use this handy checklist:
☐ Black Ink Pens
☐ Sharpie's, blue, black, silver
☐ Swag Bag
☐ 2 16oz bottles of water
☐ extra batteries for camera
☐ address labels (don't ask, just bring them & thank me later)
☐ September Nights the book by James Shields who is scheduled to be there
☐ bats, hats, balls, bobbles, jerseys, whatever paraphernalia you hope to get signed
Have a team meeting to plan your play! Will you have a pre-FanFest power breakfast or pound Starbucks on the way? Are you going to make a $50 donation for a wrist band to get in autograph lines or spring for the wait free Exclusive Autograph Session? Are you bringing items to get signed or are you going to savage the Yard Sale and ProShop for something new?
And what about lunch? If you're saving your pennies for the Yard Sale, bring snacks! Concessions will be open so pulled pork nachos are on my radar! The ultimate dining option is Joe Maddon's re-creation of his Thanksmas Dinner, only it's at lunch time, at the Everglades BBQ Smokehouse. For a $50 donation ($60 at the door) Thanksmas Lunch is complete with spaghetti, meatballs, sausage and perogies, salad, dessert and soft drinks/water. Mr Maddon will be in attendance at the luncheon so you can personally ask about spaghetti with perogies and his heritage. Proceeds benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation and The Salvation Army.
As you go about your preparations think about the amazing talent and avid Rays fans who will be sharing the roof with you that day! We have the entire Trop to ourselves, no NYY or BOS fans to intrude on our revelries! Celebrate our players, management and media yes, but mostly celebrate your fandom and the pure elation the game brings you!