" ... The windup by Crist, and the pitch ..."
At Tuesday night's home opener for the Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field in St. Pete was packed with 36,000 fans, many wearing the new team logo of dark blue lettering with a gold starburst (the "devil" has disappeared from the nickname and uniform).
The Rays handed out a No. 12 jersey to Gov. Charlie Crist, who shared in the ceremonial first-pitch tossing with Mike Alstott, the retired running back for the Bucs.
Crist loosened up on the sideline in front of the home dugout in a quick game of catch with outfielder Jonny Gomes, but his pregame toss to Carlos Pena still grazed the dirt in front of home plate, eliciting a round of "Oooooo"s from the large crowd. Then Crist made the rounds of the broadcast booths, joining TV announcers Dewayne Staats and Joe Magrane and radio men Dave Wills (left) and Andy Freed. Staats asked Crist about his travels on behalf of John McCain, and Crist said: "It's an election year, you know."
The Rays lost to the Seattle Mariners, 6-5, but the optimistic governor told a local TV reporter that the ever-struggling Rays would finish over .500 and make the playoffs for the first time.