Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Miami Trip - The Sequel Part 2

For today’s game-day mojo, I selected my black Polamalu jersey over a long yellow-sleeved t-shirt, with Steelers socks. 

Usually I wear the white Polamalu jersey to away games in order to match the team, but for some reason, I had a feeling I should go with the black.  Then when we got to the game, we learned that the Dolphins were wearing their white jerseys, so that put the Steelers in black.  Boo-yah!

We landed in the outer parking lot at Land Shark Stadium about 11:30, surrounded by many, many of our fellow Steeler fans.  They were everywhere.  I was beginning to wonder if there were going to be any Dolphins fans, beside my brother-in-law Scottie.  But yes, there were Dolphins fans there… they were all parked up close.  All in all, I’d say the Steelers fans made up just under half the crowd. 

I know what you’re thinking… “You’ve got a non-Steeler fan in the family?

Yes, it’s true.  My sister is engaged in a mixed marriage.  She married a Dolphins fan.

But it’s OK.  We like him anyway and figured we might need a buffer from the resident ‘Phins fans.  Turned out that wasn’t the case.  Just about everyone we encountered was either very nice or just didn’t care.  Can’t ask for more than that when venturing into an “away” stadium.

And quite a colorful stadium it is!  These are the ramps on the way up to the upper deck:

We saw this guy while on the way up:

You'd have thought we were in Philly!

When we were deciding on tickets, we opted to go with Club Level seats.  Man, what a good deal, if for nothing but access to the Club Level food service area.

Great food, relaxing setting, lots of TVs.  It also helped that the corridors were relatively clear and made for easy entrance and exit.

Our seats were in the first and second rows of the club level.  Here’s the view:

Our view from the corner.

We were thrilled how it turned out.  If you want my advice, when you’re going on a road trip and are paying for airfare and hotels, there’s no sense skimping on the ticket. 

I gotta hand it to the Dolphins, they put on an entertaining game experience.  This was from the pre-game introductions.

They also had something I’ve never seen before… a bubble machine that would send these sculpted Dolphin logos and stuff into the air.  This pic shows a bubbled “80”, in honor of Don Shula’s 80th birthday.

OK, you have to tilt your head to the right, otherwise it looks like a surprised monkey.

The Dolphins’ owners also get into the act.  Besides the usual old rich white guys, the Dolphins also count Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Jimmy Buffett and Venus & Serena Williams as owners.  Each of them made multiple appearances on the scoreboard, exhorting the fans to go “Fins Up”, which is their rallying cry.  Singer Fergie was also on hand… I don’t know if she’s ownership or just there for the Shula party, but she seemed to be everywhere, introducing the players onto the field, getting interviewed on the TVs, doing the Fins Up thing, and just looking sexy.

The game?  Eh, given how the day turned out, I’m not going to get into much analysis.  I was very proud, though, at the overall volume produced by the Steeler fans, as well as the amount of towel twirling.

The picture here doesn’t quite do it justice.  You can see the effect a little better on this video I shot of Ben’s TD pass to Heath Miller.  I was recording all the “goal-to-go” downs when the Steelers were in our end.  There are 5 uneventful plays, and this:

I just have to learn to slow down the pan when I scan the crowd.

The game was enjoyable.  Obviously, the Steelers wouldn’t let us just enjoy an inevitable win; they had to go and give up a couple quick scores to a 3rd string QB, but we were happy with the “W”.  And it was nice to see January football without freezing our asses off.  Worst you can say was that in the shade, it was a bit brisk.  When the sun was out, it was quite warm.  Thank you, Miami!

Unfortunately, before we even got out of the stadium, we learned that the Patriots choked and let the Texans win, so that took a little bit of the air out of our sails.  But all in all, we were quite content with the experience… until we got back out to the parking lot and got trapped for about 40 minutes.  There was only 1 exit and not everyone was lining up in an orderly fashion.  Line jumping seemed to be the status quo.  If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought I was back in Maryland. 

Once we got out onto the road, we were back at the Hilton in no time.  We were hoping to catch the Penguins/Panthers hockey game but either it wasn’t on or the hotel didn’t carry the channel that aired it.  So we had to be content with watching the Bengals fold under the Jets.  On the bright side, the pizzas we ordered were much better than the ones we got the last time we were in South Florida

So, no playoffs this year for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  That sucks, but they can’t blame anyone but themselves.  One win over any of those patsies we lost to (Bears, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns) or either game against the over-rated Bengals and they would have been in.  And once you’re in, you have that puncher’s chance that got the Cards in last year, or the Steelers a win in Super Bowl XL.

Or maybe I just take the blame myself, for misreading the mojo tea leaves for some of those games.  I never should have worn the Lambert throwback during the Browns game.  Coach Tomlin was just too polite to mention it at his final press conference.

One final note, just because it cracked me up…

I saw today on my StatCounter page that someone from Maryland found this site when they Googled “Why do people hate the Ravens?”  Boy, did he ever come to the right place! 

So glad to be able to provide such invaluable public service!

9 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great season-ending trip. Look at the bright side... think of how much money you're gonna save with no playoffs!

    Kind of depressing that the last Super Bowl Champion to miss the playoffs the next year was the 2006 Steelers. But, hey, most of the league would give their left nut to make two Super Bowls in one decade even if they missed the playoffs the next year.

    The NFL changes fast. Remember who was in the 2003 Super Bowl? Raiders and Buccaneers.

    Now, a long, cold winter with the warm glow of the Penguins.

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  2. Never too early to start planning trips for 2010? Here's the road sched next year:

    Cincinnati
    Baltimore
    Cleveland
    Tennessee
    Miami
    Buffalo
    Tampa Bay
    New Orleans

    Hello, Big Easy!!!!

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  3. It's so much easier to get into hockey once football is over. I mean, I watch all the Pens games on Center Ice anyway, but I only have so much time to read stuff online, so I tend to drift towards the Steelers sites. (AFTER I read all my friend's blogs, of course.) But everyone knows, the hockey season doesn't really heat up until the turn of the year anyway. So Let's Go Pens!

    As to next year's road games, my family has been perusing the options too.

    We can dismiss Cincy, Baltimore and Cleveland, as we've been there a great number of times already. None are very inviting. (and one isn't even a road trip)

    We just did Miami, we've done Tampa before, and why would anyone knowingly go to Buffalo?

    So I'm favoring New Orleans. I've never been there, and I would expect it to be an entertaining game. Although we had such a good time at the Miami game, we may go back again. But if it's during hurricane season, I'm recommending against it.

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  4. Why do people hate the Ravens? Wow. On my stat counter I got "Sisters messing with their misters." I'm going to assume they're from West Virginia.

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  5. Well, by "misters" they might mean the respective sisters' husbands and all they want to see is... well, never mind. Definitely West Virginia.

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  6. Oh, you'll tell 'em why you hate the Ravens, and then some! Sorry the season ended as it did, but I'm glad you got to see a win on your trip. (That's better than the Penguins gave me on my road trip!) I totally agree--don't skimp on the tickets if you're paying for everything else. It's just stupid.

    Penguins lost to the Flyers, damn it. The Flyers are actually starting to improve. We need to rally around them now.

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  7. Yes, playoffs or not, the trip was a success. We were together as a family (which is rare) and we had a great time.

    At work today, they sent out a memo that we should all wear purple tomorrow, to support the Ravens. Guess who's wearing his Steelers shirt then? I won't even have anything purple in my house! It may be Purple Friday tomorrow, but it's going to be a Blue Monday.

    And I hate losing to the Flyers! I hate them almost as much as the Ratbirds.

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  8. Tony, I was thinking about you all in Miami (with great envy) and am glad you didn't need the ponchos this time! Also, I really enjoyed reading your tribute to your friend Brill. The advice at the end gave me the chills and is appreciated. Thank you. Happy 2010.

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  9. We were thinking about you too, Hon. Wish you could have been there.

    I don't think you ever my met friend... He was out to your folk's house for my Dad's 50th birthday party, but you probably don't remember him there, with all the commotion.

    But you would have liked him... everyone did. The guy was like Sara Lee...

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