Kimbrel’s Jolly Ginger Giant

Mark Ainscow
5 min readAug 26, 2018

Tropicana Field is like everything in Florida — freakishly weird. Did you know that at Tampa International Airport, the check-in is on the ground level? The ground level! What the hell?!!

Tropicana Field is aesthetically odd because the roof is higher at the home plate end of the ballpark — which makes sense given pop flies are likely to be higher there. Other domed ballparks tend to be symmetrical so when you approach The Trop, it looks lopsided. It was actually designed for baseball but to entice teams to Tampa. Tampa tried to bring the Chicago White Sox forcing the governments of Illinois and Chicago to build the new Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field).

Someone let the air out!!

Given that the Trop was a stadium built for baseball, an overlooked key feature seems to be that of a dedicated bullpen. Starting pitchers have an area for warming up just outside of the left and right field foul lines — like something you’d see at Framingham Baseball complex. The pitchers seating area is just one row in front of the fans’ seats. It’s bizarre. I took the picture of Kimbrel’s Jolly Ginger Giant to show how close we were to the action. The fans in the front row sneezed whenever he turned around.

A couple of inebriated Rays fans smack-talked Kimbrel towards the end of the game. One of the fans reached over to touch his shoulder. Kimbrel, to his credit, didn’t react and security was there in a flash. The thing is though, it would have been easy to do something bad right there.

It was our first time at The Trop. The Sox were shellacked throughout the first game.

Velazquez before the shellacking, Joe Kelly warming up.

It was the players’ nickname weekend, or some such other nonsense. The teams wore absurd uniforms with their nicknames emblazoned on their backs. I don’t think nicknames should be self-assigned. For example, would anybody but Drew Pomeranz call Drew Pomeranz “Big Smooth”?

“Big Smooth” — sigh. “Benny”, now that’s s a solid nickname.

The Red Sox uniforms resembled kindergartners’ PJs.

And if this wasn’t bad enough — the Rays. Wow. They looked like a team of Minions. An exasperated Rays fan, sitting next to me said, and I quote, “…the f*u*u*u*u*k…?”

(Left) Minions. (Right) Rays’ reliever Hunter Wood — the apparent lovechild of Kevin the Minion and Billy Ray Cyrus.

The second game was a 6:05pm Saturday game. We wanted to get there for the end of the Sox batting practice so we left the hotel early. When we arrived at the field, there were no staff to be seen anywhere. We drove onto the parking lot. The lot was completely open — so we just parked without paying. Other fans arrived too but the doors to the stadium were closed. Staff inside just kind of milled around.

Then the rain started. We took cover under the security tent. The rain hammered down and the lightning flashed almost every second. At some point, the doors opened and we made it inside. We showed our tickets but security was non-existent. The Trop has a no-outside policy to protect its staff in the event of electrical storms. It makes sense. But nobody actually told us so we were waiting outside in a monsoon wondering what the hell was happening. I get it, it makes sense, but let us know.

Outside the Thunder Dome

The Sox lost again and I have an ominous streak here — I’m 0–2 in games where the Sox play in a dome. And, it’s worse than that. The Sox don’t just lose, they get swept. (I drove to Toronto in May of 2005 and they were swept in that series too. In the final game, the Blue Jays’ fans actually brought brooms into the stadium. Outside the stadium, a fan brushed the sidewalk for me while staring at me like Jack Torrence from The Shining.)

Desmond has been telling me how he likes the Diamondbacks. I told him we won’t be seeing the Sox play in a dome any time soon.

But, yes. I’m just grumpy because it’s August and the Red Sox played like they did in the 70’s. I’m just waiting for Bucky Fuckin’ Dent to make an appearance. Des had a good time though, well, in fact we both did. We’re back at the airport in Tampa, the upside-down airport. Des, the traveler who doesn’t like luxury, is enjoying his cucumber water and avocado toast in the first class lounge all-the-while complaining that there are no upgrades for the flight to Charlotte.

Mark Ainscow

Dad/Husband/UXer/Photographer/Brit/Yank/BWFC/Red Sox — Taker of photos and writer of a few words to surround them.