Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

For a weekend, the O’s are the home crowd

in Apolitical/Sports/Top Headlines by

Of all the athletes in the history of Tampa Bay, of all the competitors who have walked in the shadow of the Skyway, has there ever been any to compare with…

Cal Ripken?

He was ours, you know, glove, bat and work ethic. He represented the hard-working men and women of this area. He went to work every day, and he took a piece of all of us with him. And citrus, too.

Then there was Brooks Robinson.

And Jim Palmer.

And Frank Robinson.

They are ours now, if we want them. As of this weekend, we own a share of their legacies. Eddie Murray. Brady Anderson. Boog Powell.

The Baltimore Orioles are coming to town, and what do you know? They are the home team. Because of the unrest in Baltimore, the Orioles home series against the Tampa Bay Rays has been moved to the Trop, a bizarre circumstance that will have the Orioles playing as the home team. All tickets will be $15 for the Friday and Sunday games; $18 for Saturday. Tickets are general admission. On Sunday, parking will be free for cars with four passengers or more.

It’s a strange circumstance, the changing of sites for a game. Of course, it was a strange circumstance when the Orioles played Wednesday in an empty stadium. At one point, radio announcer Gary Thome began to speak in the busted tones of a baseball announcer. “Adam Jones has a double and that green jacket is well within reach.”

An empty stadium? By comparison, the Trop will look packed.

Let’s be honest. Most Rays wouldn’t trade teams if they could. The Rays, for what they are and what they lack, have established themselves in this community. They’re as much a part of it as Biff Burger, the Don Cesar and the Pier.

But it will be interesting to see if Tampa Bay crowds come out for another team for a change. Of course, this weekend  crowds will count against the Orioles’ home gate, not the Rays.

You know. Like they did back when Earl Weaver was managing.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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