After shaking 500+ hands at graduation on Saturday I was looking for a little R & R. So I was more than happy to accept Grant Heston’s invitation to join him for the Rays-Mets game at Tropicana Field on Sunday. Besides I had been bugging my staff to get me one of those cool mascot soap dispensers they were going to give out to kids 14 and under that day. (Hey, I’m the Dean. I get to be unreasonable at times.) I thought the quirky give-away would make a fine addition to my collection.
It was also UCF Day at the park complete with white Rays hats with gold letters and black trim. The Rays hold similar days for other Florida universities, but UCF was the only school to sell out its allotment of tickets this season. The place was packed. Did you make the game Mets fan and UCF alum Merrell Bailey? This day was made for you girl.
As I watched the action, it occurred to me that the Rays and UCF have a lot in common. Both think a move to a downtown location would transform their community and their organization. Both the Rays and UCF lack the tradition of their rivals. They started out as people’s second favorite team and have had to earn the locals’ support. Both are constantly underestimated, but end up beating their more glamorous opponents 3 to 2. And both excel at customer service, going the extra step to surprise you with the unexpected when you visit them. Like this, for example: