Philly gets top talent for anthem
A considerable number of fans winced when they heard the news that the Backstreet Boys and Los Lonely Boys would be performing the national anthem for Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. Now they might be even more cranky because Philadelphia will get country star Taylor Swift (Game 3) and R&B legend Patti LaBelle (Game 4).
A lot of scalping occurred in the streets of St. Petersburg during the past few days, but confusion persisted about what's legal and what's not.
So, a little clarity is in order.
It's legal to resell tickets for a profit in Florida, thanks to a 2006 change in state law. The real issue is where ticket scalping is allowed during the World Series.
Tickets cannot be resold on Tropicana Field property, by order of Major League Baseball. The Rays allowed that during the regular season, but MLB says no.
A "clean zone" ordinance the City Council passed last week for the World Series restricts what vendors can sell and how they can sell it around the Trop — and that includes ticket scalpers.
Scalping is allowed on private property (with the consent of the property owners), or scalpers can sell tickets under white tents like other vendors, if they have city permits.
But the ordinance forbids vending on streets and sidewalks. Buyers can stand there, but scalpers can't block vehicles or pedestrians.
Eight scalpers were cited Wednesday for violating the ordinance. The penalty: at least $500 in fines.
Service members happy to take part
Baseball welcomed 70 members of the U.S. Air Force's 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base and about 20 members of local Coast Guard units to unfurl a giant American flag before the start of the World Series on Wednesday.
Then it was goodbye.
None of the members of the armed forces got to stay in the Trop for Game 1. Instead, each volunteer got two Rays tickets for a 2009 game to be named later.
"They told us up front" that no volunteers would be able to stay for the World Series, said Lt. Rebecca Heyse, the wing's public affairs officer.
Major League Baseball released this statement through Rick Vaughn, Rays vice president of communications:
"The volunteers agreed to participate knowing ahead of time that they would receive tickets to a 2009 home game and not the game that night. It is a common practice among pro sports teams hosting sold-out events."
But the volunteers did get to hang out in the Trop and watch batting practice before the game. Airman 1st Class Brandyn Strickland, 22, from Dayton, Ohio, watched batting practice while standing in the outfield.
"I'm not disappointed," Strickland said. "I'm looking forward to next season."
'The Onion' pokes fun at Rays, Tropicana Field
The World Series has put the Rays and the Trop on baseball's grandest stage, and the online humor magazine The Onion has taken the opportunity to lob a few pieces of overripe fruit. The Web site featured a spoof story Thursday with the headline "Double-Booked Tropicana Field Holds First Haunted House World Series," describing a scheduling conflict caused by an assumption this summer that the Rays would not, could not still be playing in October:
According to vice president of stadium operations Rick Nafe, who said he "deeply regrets" the double booking, dates for the haunted house were reserved in late July, a time when the possibility of the stadium being used for the World Series did not seem realistic to anyone in the Rays' front office.
Also appearing on the site are stories headlined "All-Time Rays Great Evan Longoria Throws Out First Pitch Of World Series" and "Tormented TBS Producer Wonders Why 'Steve Harvey Show' Was First Thing Out Of Mouth During Game 6 Technical Difficulties." Last week, an Onion story had fun with the Rays' win over Boston in Game 2 of the ALCS with a spoof titled "B.J. Upton Always Dreamed Of Winning Game 2 Of ALCS With Shallow Sac Fly," and a November 2007 story announced "Tampa Bay Devil Rays Change Name, Uniform, Sport."
They have a view of the big show
Earl and Barbara Alderfer knew they were going to end up living next to a stadium when they bought their condominium on 16th Street in 2006. They just didn't realize the stadium would eventually belong to a winning team.
The condos at 16th Street and First Avenue N are among the closest residences to Tropicana Field. In seasons past, that didn't matter. There was plenty of parking on game days, and even when the Rays won, the area stayed quiet, Earl Alderfer said.
But these days, the Alderfers said, their street turns into a carnival on game days. Fans are everywhere, a news helicopter can often be heard whirling over their roof, and traffic is no joke.
"We don't get to sleep until 2:30," Mrs. Alderfer said. "It is so exciting. When they come out (of the stadium), they have cowbells and there is all kinds of hooting and hollering. You can always tell without watching the television whether they won or lost."
For now, Clearwater won't take sides
Clearwater has received plenty of e-mails and phone calls from Rays fans who think the city is taking sides against the Rays because it's the longtime spring training home of the Phillies.
Not true, say Clearwater officials and employees, many of whom are wearing Rays gear to work these days.
The fury is stoked by sports talk radio, about two things:
1. They're under the mistaken impression that the city is hosting Phillies rallies at the team's Clearwater ballpark, Bright House Networks Field.
2. The city put up a "Go Phillies" sign at the Clearwater end of the Courtney Campbell Parkway. It's near a "Go Rays" sign.
A sampling of comments:
"I am appalled at your hosting a rally for our Rays opponents … What a bonehead decision. You should be ashamed!"
"I for one will make every effort to avoid doing business within the city of Clearwater limits. Your city is an embarrassment to this entire area."
City officials are scratching their heads. For one thing, Clearwater didn't host a rally. The Phillies, who operate Bright House Networks Field, opened up the ballpark Wednesday night and showed the game on the Jumbotron. More Rays fans than Phillies fans showed up. The team has been holding happy hour on Wednesday nights for years.
And the "Go Rays" and "Go Phillies" signs were there before the playoffs even started. Clearwater has a 62-year relationship with the Phillies.
"People need to keep everything in perspective. This is only a game," said Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, who got a blue Mohawk on Wednesday to show his support for the Rays. He's tired of the city's receptionists getting profanity-laced phone calls. "Nobody should be rude to a bunch of people who are just doing their jobs."
Times staff writers Mike Brassfield, Jamal Thalji, Cristina Silva and Curtis Krueger contributed to this report.