PLAY BALL: Rays Fan Fest
More than 16,000 baseball fans showed up at last year's Rays Fan Fest, a free day at Tropicana Field to get ready for baseball season by meeting players and coaches, touring the clubhouse, letting the kids run the bases — and once again the Rays have cleaned out their closets for the Rays Charity Yard Sale putting up giveaway items, memorabilia from former players and unique finds at big discounts. The $25 autograph passes for the top players have long since sold out, but kids 14 and younger can visit a free autograph station with more than 40 former Major League players. Besides catching sight of Kevin Kiermaier or Evan Longoria, here are some of our favorite Fan Fest diversions:
• Have a Rays player phone a friend.
• Make your own baseball card.
• Try the Home Run Derby batting cage and Interactive Speed Pitch Machine.
• Pet the sting rays in the Rays Touch Tank.
It's free parking and admission from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
COURT JESTERS: Harlem Globetrotters
Sweet Georgia Brown, the Harlem Globetrotters are making their annual stop in Tampa on March 2 at the Amalie Arena. Now 90 years strong, the Globetrotters have endured as a feel-good family show. The institution once headlined by the recently deceased Meadowlark Lemon and his half-court hook shots has a new generation of 'Trotters. The show features "Big Easy" Lofton, a fan favorite for three seasons on The Amazing Race, who once held the Guinness world record for the farthest basketball hook shot (61 feet 4 inches) and the farthest blindfolded hook shot (50 feet 3.5 inches). Also a sign of the times: The lineup includes female stars Fatima "TNT" Maddox, a multi-sport athlete from Temple University, and Joyce "Sweet J" Ekworomadu, who played in the WNBA and in Europe. See if the poor Washington Generals can hope to keep up with the Globetrotters (or at least keep their pants up during the free throw shot). After the game, Globetrotter stars will sign autographs and take photos with fans. Tickets are $20-$110 for the 7 p.m. show Wednesday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. amaliearena.com.
SOMETHING'S FUNNY: Robert Klein and Creed Bratton
Comedy fans have some good options this week. For the offbeat, there's Creed Bratton, the disturbingly hilarious character from The Office bringing a night of comedy and music with his rock band, the Grass Roots, at 8 p.m. Saturday at The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20-$40 at ticketfly.com. For purists, veteran comedy force Robert Klein was there in the beginning of some our best comedic forces, from the famed "Second City" theatrical troupe in Chicago to hosting in the early years of Saturday Night Live. He's been on Broadway, television and in film and influenced a generation of stand-up comics. You can see him Friday at 8 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Tickets are $30-$50. atthecap.com.