Category: Stephen Overton

11 Exciting Factoids About MLB’s Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays

MLB’s Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays rank as a favorite for many for countless reasons. While some are taken by its legacy, others are drawn in by the Tropicana Field, formerly known as the Florida Suncoast Dome or Thunderdome, which was built to beckon The Rays to the area. It’s well recognized that the Rays are one of the most colorful teams in baseball and  it’s a fact that their faces are always painted for battle. However, there are some other facts that aren’t quite as well known.

  1. Did you know that the Tampa Bay Rays were featured in the film, ‘The Rookie’? MLB player Jim Morris, who had had a sparkling but brief career, was a 35-year-old baseball coach who was able to pitch 98 miles per hour. For two seasons, he was a relief pitcher for the Rays.
  2. Raymond is the official mascot of The Rays. Raymond was once identified as an undiscovered species of dog… a seadog by the name of “Canus Manta Whatthefluffalus.”
  3. DJ Kitty, a cat wearing a Rays jersey that uses a turntable, went viral in 2010. The black and white feline was featured on the MLB.com and Huffington Post sites and in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times online. Of the cat, some spectators said, “It’s just too much for words. So awesome it hurts.” It’s a fan ritual to rally around DJ Kitty.
  4. While the stadium, Tropicana Field, was constructed for baseball, a host of other sports utilize the facility, including soccer, tennis, and equestrian events. In fact, in 1996, Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals took place at the arena, and visitors were able to watch Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers go toe-to-toe. With more than 26,183  people fans in attendance, it was the largest single-game attendance figure in NHL history.
  5. Local Tampa Bay leaders sought to acquire another MLB baseball team during the 1980s and 1990s before opting to create a new one, The Rays. According to reports, the Chicago White Sox, the Minnesota Twins, the Texas Rangers, the San Francisco Giants, and the Seattle Mariners were among the many considered for relocation to the Tampa Bay area.
  6. More MLB  Spring Training games have been played in St. Petersburg than any other city. This is impressive considering the MLB didn’t arrive in Tampa Bay Rays until 2008.
  7. Following the conclusion of 2007, Stuart Sternberg, who then had the controlling interest in the team, changed the team’s name from “Devil Rays” to “Rays,” so that it would refer to the sunshine, rather than a manta ray.
  8. The Rays Republic, which is the moniker for the team’s fan base, has a host of notable fans and outrageous traditions.
  9. Once a year, the Rays hold a “cowbell night,” and free cowbells are giving away, meant to ring when the opposition’s batter has two strikes when the Rays make a good play, or when the opposing team’s fans chat. Principal owner Stuart Sternberg got the idea from the Saturday Night Live sketch.
  10. Frequently, Rays games receive visitors, who happen to be… wrestlers? In the past,  The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags), Brutus Beefcake, and Hulk Hogan have made appearances during games. John Cena has also made numerous appearances.
  11. Since the 2008 World Series, the Rays players and coaches have taken to wearing mohawks during the playoffs.

 

Tampa Bay’s Millennials are Encouraging Winn-Dixie, Publix to Carry Local Products

stephen overtonMillennials are provoking grocers, such as Winn-Dixie and Publix, to carry products that are produced in/near/around the Tampa Bay area.

Mike’s Pies, a 20-year-old staple in the Tampa Bay community, is an example of homegrown goods that’s been featured in supermarket Winn-Dixie. On its Winn-Dixie’s shelves for more two years, the 9-inch pies have sold well, selling at $7 to $8 each. Today, Mike’s Pies can be found in more than 500 Winn-Dixie bakeries. Sales are climbing for Mike’s, it’s now up 57 percent. The relatively small company has 64 employees who prep and bake 30,000 pies each week.

Over the last handful of years, consumers have expressed a hunger and thirst for local and regionally produced items. Grocers are making the effort to meet demands, and this is positively impacting small businesses and the local economy.

“I think what’s happening is everyone’s looking for that local brand they can associate with in the marketplace,” Mike’s Pies owner Michael Martin, told Tampa Bay.

Millennial consumers are the largest subset in the nation, and their shopping trends have changed the market, and their buying power is helping to dictate trend movement. Millennials are more inclined to buy local because they perceive it and made with better products. Millennials tend to be more trusting of these brands.

Publix Super Markets have created special branding efforts to draw attention to local products, aware that this will beckon Millennial dollars. “100% natural,” products with a name, or “made in Florida” are buzzwords

“Millennials have driven things now for the last several years,” he said. “Particularly for produce in the last few years we have made more of an effort to promote the fact that those items are grown locally when that’s the case.”

“I joke all the time that I’m really tired of the word millennial,” said Cammie Chatterton, owner of Tampa-based Bay Food Brokerage. “I’m at corporate Publix three to four days a week working on promotions, and at every meeting the word comes up.”

CDS Hot Sauce Products, which produces Tabañero Hot Sauce, has capitalized on this trend. Publix launched Tabañero in 1,300 stores this summer, coming a long way since it was founded in 2011, when it was exclusively sold in restaurants. The young population’s taste for the spicy condiment has helped to boost the CDS, which has reached a $1 billion valuation. The company is presently on track to sell 7 million bottles of hot sauce.

Grocers have developed a symbiotic relationship with local businesses than to the support of millennials, who are considered to be smarter about food and more conscientious about what goes into their mouths.

 

Tampa Bay Restaurant Spotlight: Taco Bus

Stephen OvertonThese days it seems like you can’t go wrong with Mexican food. There are so many ways in which you can spin a dish to have a Mexican flare, and with the help of worldwide chains like Chipotle, Qdoba and Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mexican/tex mex food is reaching new heights! Some of these major food establishments have locations worldwide based on their tremendous success. Just to give you an idea of success, Chipotle became a publicly traded company in 2006, with a share price of $42. In August of 2015, almost 10 years later, the stock price was valued at $750! Talk about a huge upside (Chipotle’s current stock price is $461).

Enough with Chipotle and the other leading brands, the point of this post is to highlight a smaller player unlike the brick and mortar restaurants mentioned above. Let’s cut to the chase and talk about Taco Bus, a delicious Tampa Bay restaurant on wheels! Taco Bus has locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Downtown Tampa, Brandon, University of South Florida, Soho and Lakeland. Taco Bus offers what you’d come to expect from a Mexican restaurant or taqueria: burritos, tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, tortas and more. Widely popular in the Tampa area, Taco Bus has been featured on two major food TV shows in Food Network’s Diner’s, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri and Travel Channel’s Man v. Food Nation with Adam Richman.

During Guy Fieri’s visit to the bus, he tried chicharron tacos, butternut squash tacos and a chilorio torta. For those who may be unfamiliar with what a torta is, it’s simply a Mexican sandwich. Taco Bus makes their torta with pulled pork in an ancho pepper sauce with roasted garlic, refried beans, and cheese. On the television show, Guy remarked after having the sandwich that it was the best he’s ever had. For such a prominent TV star who’s visited thousands of food establishments, and being from California (a Mexican food haven), Guy’s comment is saying a lot!

On Man v. Food Nation, Adam Richman and Taco Bus owner, Rene Valenzuela, together made a beef kabob taco. Traditionally served as a shish-kabob, Taco Bus makes a unique play on the dish serving it up taco-style. On the show, Adam Richman said “the flavors are gigantic and unbelievable” and he doesn’t often have a taco that brings bacon and sirloin together.

If you’re looking for a quick eat and bold, fresh flavors, and happen to be in the Tampa Bay area, look no further than Taco Bus! To check out their main site head here, and if you like’d to get your mouth watering, check out the menu here.