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Better Than Giant Bottles Of Soda

Which aspects of Tampa Bay culture and history are most deserving of being immortalized as gigantic foam rubber racing caricatures?

Rays fans are familiar with "The Bottle Race," where people dress up in giant Mountain Dew, Pepsi and Aquafina Water (although it looks more like milk) bottles and sprint down the third base line to cheers of encouragement from the assembled multitudes.

Why? Because people love those beverages so much? Of course not.

It's because any time something giant is running, hilarity ensues (with the possible exception of a T-Rex, although we'll probably never know... darn it), especially when it falls down, which is usually what happens.

This is now a pretty common form of between-inning entertainment/advertisement in baseball. In Milwaukee, they race sausages. In Washington, it's Presidents of the United States. And last night, the Arizona Diamondbacks introduced the "D-Backs Legends Race" featuring enormous costumed likenesses of former players Randy Johnson, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez and Mark Grace (watch and note the hilarity).

I think the Rays should follow this trend and go local-centric. There's no shame in stealing promotional ideas from other teams and you could still slap corporate logos on the characters, so why not? The only question is which local entities would be best suited for this "honor"? Here are some suggestions:

  • Courtney Campbell, Howard Frankland and George Gandy - In the spirit of promoting cooperation between Bay Area communities, how about saluting the namesakes of the three bridges that connect those communities? Anybody who has ever been stuck in traffic on any of them would surely get some extra satisfaction from seeing their "favorites" faceplant.
  • Paul Dellegatto, Steve Jerve and Tammy Souza - Weather is a huge part of life in Tampa Bay. Which local chief meteorologist is the best at telling us there's a 70% chance of rain with a likelihood of severe thunderstorms and high humidity? We may never know. Which foam rubber caricature of a local chief meteorologist can run fastest? That's something that can be settled on a nightly basis at the Trop. 
  • Some guy who was on "American Idol", some guy who was on some other reality show and Hulk Hogan - When it comes to homegrown household-name celebrities...we'll always have The Hulkster.
  • Bill Foster, Frank Hibbard and Pam Iorio - A most honorable race as the three mayors battle for bragging rights and a major league baseball franchise (not so fast, Mr. Hibbard).
  • Brian Blair, Kevin White and Buddy Johnson - A somewhat less honorable race between political figures whose egos are so large, the heads on their characters could be actual size.
  • Debra LaFave, Jaymee Wallace and Christina Butler - It's the Teacher Sex Scandal Race! Limiting this category to only three is tough, but we just can't have a couple dozen of these things running around at the same time... or can we?
  • Hugh Culverhouse, Vince Naimoli and Oren Koules - A shout-out to one key component of our illustrious sports heritage; bad ownership. Whoever wins, we lose.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.