Get out your wallet
With the Rays in the playoffs, of course you've got to buy some memorabilia to celebrate the historic occasion. Here are some things we've noted in the past few days:
• A Web site called BigtimeBats.com is offering a commemorative Louisville Slugger bat carved with the AL East Division champs logo. Only $129.95, plus $20 for shipping.
• You can easily find all sorts of AL East Division champs shirts and hats online and in local stores, but the 9=8 hat remains available only at the team's local stores: the fan store at the Trop, which is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Wednesday, and the downtown Tampa shop (400 N Tampa Street, Suite 110), open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Speaking of the division hats, we were a little queasy about them at first because they looked like one of those Ashton Kutcher trucker hats. But up close, they're kind of cool.
• Anyone else notice that Rays items are moving front and center to some stores? We noticed the Rays brand peanuts were conveniently located in racks throughout our Publix store on Saturday. Meanwhile, over at the Gateway Target, there is a nice little display of Rays items. The problem is some items look like castoffs from earlier in the summer and don't really reflect pennant fever.
So you want to pull your kid out of school to watch the Rays' opening playoff game Thursday afternoon? Here's what officials in the Tampa Bay area's two largest school districts say.
Pinellas: Officials say an issue would probably not arise for students who plan to attend Thursday's game. High school students are released shortly after 1 p.m., leaving time to get to the game. And there is no policy laying out consequences for middle and elementary school students for a single absence.
Hillsborough: In an e-mail, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe wrote, "Although we support the Tampa Bay Rays 100 percent, I have confirmed that it will be an unexcused absence if students leave school or don't attend Thursday to go to the Rays game." Cobbe said unexcused absences could affect exam exemptions for middle and high school students, "but there's no penalty for having a reasonable number of unexcused absences."
Rays hat = chicken strips
Not quite as catchy as Joe Maddon's mantra for the season, but at least you can eat it. The Tyrone Square Mall Chick-fil-A (which appears to be the only one with this deal) will be honoring the playoff-bound Rays on Wednesday with a special deal for fans: Anyone wearing something with a Rays logo will get a free order of chicken strips. No word on whether a RayHawk is part of the deal. The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Get your cowbell on
Why limit your cowbell fixation to actual games? Now there's a Web site — morecowbell.dj — that lets you add cowbell (and Christopher Walken!) to any song. Our current favorite: Take a Chance on Me, by ABBA. Guaranteed to be deliciously annoying to 99 percent of your co-workers.