By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy
Wow - I don't know how else to begin this blog post but by saying "WOW"! I've had an incredible weekend as a guest of the Tampa Bay Rays. I was invited along with my 13 year old son Cameron to Tampa by the Director of IT, Juan Ramirez. On Saturday, we went to Tropicana Field - the home of the Rays - and had a fantastic time.
First, Juan gave us a tour of the stadium stopping at the stingray pool where Cameron got to feed them. From there, Juan took us to the Rays Clubhouse where we got to go in just a few hours before the game. While waiting out front, Rays pitcher Matt Moore walked by and said a few words to Cameron and he thought that was the coolest thing. Later he said, "Dad, a Major League baseball player actually stopped to talk to me". Then we went inside the Clubhouse and to the equipment room where they outfitted Cam with some great Rays gear. He was wearing a red shirt (the team color of that night's opposition, the Texas Rangers) so everyone wanted to give him some new colors to wear.
From there we got to go down on the field while the teams took batting practice. The Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton, arguably one of the best players in baseball, came over and was talking to fans and Cameron got him to autograph a baseball. While there were far too many highlights of the weekend to pick one, both Cam and I thought it was a special moment to have a player of that caliber out talking to fans of the other team.
We went up to Juan's office and chatted for a while and then went to visit the suite of Andrew Friedman, the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Rays. As impressive as getting Josh Hamilton's autograph was, meeting Andrew and talking to him for 15 minutes was incredible. He is one of the (if not THE) smartest execs in baseball. Later that night when Cameron called my wife, he recounted the discussion saying that Mr. Friedman asked him about playing basketball (Cam's passion) and Andrew reminded him before we left to focus on his defense. Cam was impressed that Mr. Friedman was genuinely interested in talking to him.
While we were in Andrew's suite, I did a short podcast with him talking about the success of the Rays and the part IT plays in that. I wish I could have talked to Andrew longer (and I'm sure he would have) but as you'll hear, the National Anthem was starting and we wrapped up our conversation. Here's my chat with Andrew.
If you rather download this as a podcast, right click here and save the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to my podcast on iTunes - go to the iTunes store and search for "Around the Storage Block" or you can open this link and click on the "View in iTunes" button under my picture.
I can't say thank you enough to Juan, Andrew, and the whole Rays' organization - I was so impressed by the sense of family that I saw and while the Rays dropped the game Saturday night 4-2 in 11 innings, they hit it out of the park with me and Cameron.
Over the next few days, I'll have more from my visit with the Rays and go deeper into how they use technology to give then an advantage in the MLB.