The Loggionisti and the Belfry Buffo



Any Italian opera devotee, which clearly you are if you’re here at the BBB, knows the loggionisti, sitting high in the galleries of Italian opera houses, will voice their displeasure by loudly booing any performance they deem unworthy. They are fanatical, listening to recorded operas three or four times before arriving at the opera house so as to more fully appreciate every note during the live performance. They are demanding of the performers and they spare no one. Both Luciano Pavarotti and Maria Callas have felt their wrath. Sometimes the loggionisti throw bouquets, not of roses, but of radishes and turnips.


Contrast that lofty group with the rattle-and-clang clan of partisan supporters perched within Tropicana Field’s upper-deck sections 300 and 302, also known as The Belfry:



Any visiting batsman who strikes out will be escorted back to the dugout by the chorus of the Belfry:  “Left, right, left, right, left, right … Sit down!”  The man’s sign reads “LEFT”, the woman’s sign reads “RIGHT”, and the boy’s sign reads “SIT DOWN”.  He is struggling to open it before the batter finishes walking back to the dugout.  Much like the loggionisti, Belfry denizens obviously care deeply about the event they attend, perhaps too deeply.  The video just above, taken by the official BBB videographer, is set in the ninth inning with the score 12 to 1 in favor of the Rays.  There is no dimmer on the Belfry’s passion switch.


Although the loggionisti vocalize their displeasure at performers who fail to meet their expectations of excellence, the inhabitants of the Belfry appear to shout for an altogether different reason. They seem motivated to shame or humiliate the men striking out. They are not cheering for their team as much as they are cheering against the opponent. The loggionisti protest failure, but the Belfry highlights it with glee.


You’re probably wondering, “Who are these people and why do they behave this way?”  The answer is clear, patrons.  These are the Defenders of Excellence we were promised.  These are the heroic heldentenors come to bath us in the salubrious blood of dragons.  Failure has a new foe and he wears durable cotton cargo khakis.

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Raymond Kicks a Klingon’s Ass, Don Shula Approves

When in the Course of baseball events it becomes necessary for one being to strike blows upon another, for the purpose of holding steadfast the tattered flag of benevolent dominion in opposition to the encroaching and generally antithetical-to-Sport science fiction crowd, and in defense of that which Don Shula intended Baseball to be (when he created Baseball as a leisure time activity while resting beneath umbrellaed patio furniture outside a Little Havana bodega in 1970), a decent respect to the opinions of our Baseball Nation requires that he drop the Hammer Fist of Furry Fury upon the aggressors, pantalooned and likely virginal,  trespassing onto lands not their own.

That is to say, stay out of Baseball, Klingons.  Don Shula doesn’t want you here.

triopromo

filet mignon Klingon

Matt Silverman’s New House and Coffee Pot Park

On Saturday mornings, late mornings really, the purveyor of this site wakes and delights in the vast stretch of free time laid out before him, before he must return to work again and suffer the awfulness therein again. He stumbles out of bed achingly, yet looking forward to the peacefulness and lack of productivity that accompanies prolonged sessions on the internet, and indulging every random curiosity, usually baseball-related.

This past Saturday morning found yours truly on a baseball website that shall remain nameless for reasons discussed soon enough. This particular post on this particular website briefly mentioned that Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman recently purchased a mansion in the St. Petersburg area. This article linked to another article that went into almost exact detail as to the street name, distance from Tropicana Field, and prior owners of the home. Although this information is probably a matter of public record, and therefore within the bounds of journalistic propriety to release for public consumption, we here at the BBB feel Matt Silverman would probably rather not have his home address revealed to all of you out there on the internet.  Some of you are frightening.

However, knowing that we are of reasonably sound mind, the BBB, exercising its every random curiosity, endeavored to determine the exact house purchased by Mr. Silverman and we succeeded in that regard. Through a series of sequential calls placed by an informant to a series of public pay phones along Bayshore Boulevard, we were finally directed to a clandestine meeting with none other than Don Zimmer, waiting for us at a public park bench. He gave us the exact location. Don-Zimmer

As stated before, we are uncomfortable sharing that information with you unwashed cretins, but suffice it to say, Mr. Silverman lives somewhere in the vicinity of what is known to the locals as Coffeepot Bayou, as delightful a name given to a bucket of water as there ever was.

masonic lodge

So, where are we going with this? Well, readers of the last post will recall Baseball in Tampa Bay, by A.M. de Quesada. This book provides two photographs of particular interest to the topic at hand. One he describes as being of Coffee Pot Park, which he tells us was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns in 1914, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1915 to 1918, and the Boston Braves from 1921 to 1937.

Coffeepot Park?

Coffeepot Park?

De Quesada describes the other photograph as being of Waterfront Park, which according to Charles Fountain in his book Under the March Sun, which we uncovered while Google-searching, was located more to the south, where 1st Avenue South meets the bay.

Waterfront Park?

Waterfront Park?

In fact, Fountain’s book states that the Boston Braves actually played at Waterfront Park, not Coffee Pot Park, when they began their Florida spring training era in 1922. We actually suspect both photos are of Waterfront Park, based on their similarity to each other and other images we’ve seen. But that’s really not the point of all of this. The point is that beginning in 1914, the era of spring training in St. Petersburg had begun and it began at Coffee Pot Park. Based on several sources, this fact is clear.

Knowing this, we began to wonder about Mr. Silverman’s new house and its proximity to Coffee Pot Bayou. Obviously, he is a baseball man. He might appreciate the history of this location and its seminal role in spring training.  So, we began to wonder, did Matt Silverman just buy a house on the very spot where spring training in St. Petersburg began in 1914?

We knew the location of the home, which is near the bayou depicted in the Google Maps image above. We also knew that there used to be an old ballpark located near Coffee Pot Bayou. But where exactly did the old ballpark used to be? De Quesada never mentioned that fact. At first glance, that Masonic Lodge on the bayou’s northwest corner seems like the likely spot. Look at that big open space of greenery and the bent land boundary adjacent to the water where an outfield wall could have been. That’s gotta be it, right?

Nope. The Masonic Lodge’s webpage, which details how it came to be, has no mention of it being on any hallowed ball park grounds.

OK, so where do we search next?

Wikipedia! And here, on its sacrosanct pages, where every single fact is 100% accurate, we find something helpful:

In 1965, Fred Lieb wrote that the park was located at First Street North and 22nd Avenue in the “Granada Terrace” section of the city.[4] In 1966, Ken Goldman also wrote that the address of the ballpark had been at “First Street North and 22nd Avenue” which by today’s map would place the park southwest of Coffee Pot Bayou.

All right, now we’re diggin’ where there’s taters. Back to Google Maps! Back to Google street view! First Street North and 22nd Avenue!

1st N and 22 AVE

street

But wait a minute… it’s just an ordinary house. And some trees and stuff. Where’s the old ballpark? Where’s the grandstand? Where’s the line of Ford Model Ts? At least give me one of those bronze historic landmark signs! C’mon, Google Maps, gimme something!

To make matters worse, this was not the location of Matt Silverman’s new home. Not even close. In fact, it was probably a 10-minute drive away.

Our disappointment notwithstanding, the search had been fruitful nonetheless. We discovered a new book to read, the previously mentioned Under the March Sun, which, by all accounts and online previews, appears to be a well-written wealth of information on the topic of spring training, which began humbly enough and is now big business.

So what’s the appeal of exploring these old parks? It’s silly to romanticize that time period and the games which took place there. Most players were probably just eager to get it over with and move on to the regular season when the games really mattered.  However, some probably had a fondness for the seasonal return of baseball in a place that was warm, even during the winter, where they could fish in the bayou between practices. Now, almost one hundred years later, it’s nice to ponder the beginning of it all, the early years of what became Major League Baseball as we know it, with its enormous stadiums, fervent fan bases, and legions of scouts and reporters and bloggers. It’s just kind of neat to think about that on a lazy Saturday morning in December.

Dave Wills and the Bad Dandelions

Dave Wills during Rays' nerd-themed road trip

Dave Wills during Rays’ nerd-themed road trip.

Rays neon

 

 

You probably know Dave Wills’s voice from when it answers your prayers at night.  You probably know that Dave Wills’s voice has the power to create and destroy worlds a million times over.  You probably also know Dave Wills is one of the Tampa Bay Rays radio broadcasters on 620 Amplitude Modulation, also known as 620 AM for those in a hurry.  What you may not know is that during Rays Neon Hat Promo Night, Dave Wills weaved beautiful simile into his color commentary.

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While casting a penetrating gaze out onto the great expanse of his workplace, Mr. Wills compared the appearance of neon hats against the blue backdrop of sparsely-populated Tropicana Field seats to “bad dandelions” popping up from the blue football field of Boise State.  For that, the BBB celebrates Dave Wills, man of golden voice and silver tongue.  The relevant clip is available just below, followed at the very end of this post by a sterling example of his previous work, which begins at the 0:50 mark.

Bad dandelions in their natural habitat.

Bad dandelions in their natural habitat.

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The 2nd Turreon Gammage Prize for Unbridled Enthusiasm

(Credit Image: © St. Petersburg Times/ZUMAPRESS.com)

(Credit Image: © St. Petersburg Times/ZUMAPRESS.com)

We know from the archaeological record that the Fourth of July celebrates the overthrow of tyrannical dinosaurs by Sasquatch Jesus.  What we may never know is whether the rockets red glared for Eleanor Roosevelt that night she clung desperately to Hulk Hogan in the back of his sybaritic Camaro at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Lusty mysteries aside, the celebration of American cultural hegemony continues unabated. Behold, the second installment of the Turreon Gammage Prize for Unbridled Enthusiasm:

July 2012, Tropicana Field

July 2012, Tropicana Field

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Doggednacity

Like Winston Churchill, "We shall go on to the end...  We shall never surrender."

Like Winston Churchill, “We shall go on to the end… We shall never surrender.”

On Tuesday night, this BBB contributor remained in attendance throughout the duration to witness the prolonged and unequivocal defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays at the hands of the New York Mets. Fandom is unique in that one’s dedication to the cause can be proven by simply sitting and not doing very much for a long time. People sometimes ask me how I got to be so hardcore. They ask, “What factors contribute to your impudent resolve in the scowling face of certain defeat? How might I embody the handsome and winning persistence of spirit that you embody?” The answer, my friends, blows not in the wind, but in the HVAC arctic breezes above the press-level seats at Tropicana Field. That answer is “doggednacity”, which is not a real word but should be. Doggednacity is equal parts doggedness, tenacity, and nothing-better-to-do-on-a-Tuesday-night.

The official BBB photographer, who might benefit from vocational training at a local community college, snapped this photo as the last out loomed near and the score favored the Metropolitans of New York by a disgraceful margin. I remained seated and ever vigilant for the alluring Hope and her seductive promise. But as the center fielder caught the fly ball, I was greeted instead by Hope’s less appealing sister, Acceptance, and we left the stadium together, hand in hand. But that’s OK. I have another date with Hope tomorrow night and I will show her my doggednacity.

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Turreon Gammage Prize for Unbridled Enthusiasm

Back in February, B.J. Upton was using the picture below for his Twitter profile.  The descriptive text is a bit tiny, so the BBB editing department felt the need to reproduce it below for your convenience, valuable reader.

Seven-year-old Turr(Credit Image: © St. Petersburg Times/ZUMAPRESS.com)eon Gammage pumps his fist and screams “J” in response to a shout of “B” from the other half of the crowd during a visit by Tampa Bay Rays outfielder B.J. Upton to the Childs Park Recreation Center on Tuesday.  Upton and Rays teammates David Price and Matt Joyce visited seven recreation centers in St. Petersburg as part of the Rays Dugout Club program.  During his visit to Childs Park, Upton talked to the children about respecting themselves and respecting others.  He also told them they must work hard to achieve their goals in life.  Was Turreon impressed with Upton’s visit?  “I think he was awesome,” Turreon said, adding, “I’m his favorite fan.”  The Rays play the Cincinnati Reds at 12:10 PM today at Tropicana Field.(Credit Image: © St. Petersburg Times/ZUMAPRESS.com)

The young man’s enthusiasm is admirable.  The frenzied expression of passion towards anything other than politics, religion, or jingoistic pride usually is.  So join in the celebration of Turreon’s undampened sporting spirit.  Let loose the crazed, sugar-fueled seven-year-old within.  Allow yourself the rare pleasure of screaming in public at, and in support of, athletic millionaires living wildly better lives than you will ever.  Forsake utterly your gentlemanly and ladylike manner.  Loudly encourage your favorite athlete to catch that inanimate object, or move that inanimate object, or stop other athletes from catching or moving that inanimate object within the bounds of arbitrary rules agreed upon by both sides.  In support of this endeavor, and without a trace of irony, nor sarcasm, and with total and absolute earnestness, the BBB presents to you the Turreon Gammage Prize for Unbridled  Enthusiasm.

Since that day in February when he first witnessed Upton’s Twitter picture, this BBB contributor has been on constant vigil for a suitable recipient of the first ever Turreon Gammage Prize.   Due to the fleeting, combustive nature of enthusiastic outbursts, this contributor soon discovered it would be challenging to not only witness such a deserving recipient, but to also capture an image of this firebrand.  Adding to this difficulty is the fact it is very inconvenient for the BBB contributor to put down his pepperoni slice and all-you-can-drink soda to delve greasy hand into modern denim jean pocket in search of the official BBB camera, a little Vivitar 604 job with built-in electronic flash.

However, today is the day long anticipated.  From the comfort of his very own leathery and shaggy bachelor pad, this BBB contributor witnessed not one, but two deserving recipients, and captured the moment on Scotch brand T120 VHS video cassette.

 

Sombrero guys #1 and #2 know a loud voice can be either literal or figurative, and as such, see to it that Tropicana Field all-star ballot boxes are gorged early and often with the desires of two practicing and amiable democrats of the Rays Republic.  This is how democracy in baseball works, people.  And this has been the first ever Turreon Gammage Prize for Unbridled Enthusiasm.

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Carlos Pena’s Ass and How the Former Mayor of Tampa Wants It

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Never has the omission of an apostrophe been so titillating.  As you can see in the picture to the right, there is a stark difference between wishing someone a welcome return, as in “Happy to see you’re back”, and wishing to feel all up on that booty, as in “Happy to see your back.”  At the tail end of Friday’s Yankees vs. Rays telecast, viewers were treated to this image of two libidinous ladies and their propositional signage.  What makes this image all the more delicious is the particular lady in the middle, former two-term mayor of Tampa Pam Iorio, Leader, Author, Speaker, and admirer of The Rump. 

“But!” you say, “She isn’t holding the sign.”  This is true.  It is entirely possible, yet less entertaining, to consider the possibility that the former CEO of America’s 54th largest city just stumbled unwittingly into this humorous circumstance.  However, this BBB contributor, in search of the dark stanky truth, got all up on that internet and found pictorial evidence to the contrary wedged deep within the electronic crevasse known as Twitter.

Pam is a fan of the can.

The Mayor desires the seat of power.


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Florida Baseball Foliage

Attention all Florida minor league, spring training, and major league baseball landscapers.  There are many species of palm trees, some more pleasing to the eye than others.  Please refer to the images below when ordering new palm trees.  That is all.

Bright House Field, Clearwater, FL

Bright House Field, Clearwater, FL

mckechnie

trop

ugly

(I would not dare sully the good name of this ballpark, a grande dame of Florida baseball.  So, its identity shall remain concealed as it is otherwise quaint, historic, and no longer home to any major or minor league teams.  It did, however, host a recent baseball tournament.)

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F**k Yeah Raymond, Do it Like That

The lack of pants suggests confidence.  The steady gaze, almost aggressive in its firmness, suggests a single-mindedness of purpose.  Raymond will arouse you. 

Music: “Your Touch” by The Black Keys.  Video by YouTube user DASUAG93.  Juxtaposition, my own.

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