April 24th, 2013

Day Trip to SeaWorld

Today a few members of the RoughRiders and I took advantage of an incredible opportunity while staying in San Antonio.  One of the three SeaWorld theme parks in the USA is located just a few Joey Gallo home runs away from our team hotel in San Antonio.  Thanks to a connection provided by team trainer Carlos Olivas, we got a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the park and spent some up-close time with a few of the incredible animals.  In addition to Carlos and me, the others who came along were Cody Buckel, Ben Rowen, Ryan Rodebaugh, Kevin Pucetas, Ryan Feierabend, Jake Brigham, Brett Nicholas, Jimmy Reyes, Tyler Tufts, strength & condition coach Eric McMahon and bus driver Paul Watkins.  Dave Yordi, SeaWorld’s Supervisor of Animal Care, was kind enough to take our group of 13 around the park and here are some of the sights of an awesome morning.

(click on the pictures to see bigger photos)

- Alex

Our tour started at the killer whale pools. They have five Icelandic killer whales at SeaWorld.

Our tour started at the killer whale pools. They have five Icelandic killer whales at SeaWorld.

Some of the players watching the whales and listening to the trainers.

Some of the players watching the whales and listening to the trainers.

Cody Buckel snaps a photo of a trainer giving the biggest killer whale a rubdown.

Cody Buckel snaps a photo of a trainer giving the biggest killer whale a rubdown.

SeaWorld buys the fish it feeds its whales from the same supplier that Red Lobster uses.

SeaWorld buys the fish it feeds its whales from the same supplier that Red Lobster uses.

It was in the upper-40s and windy, so everyone was bundled up walking around the park.

It was in the upper-40s and windy, so everyone was bundled up walking around the park.

A SeaWorld employee feeds a little otter.

A SeaWorld employee feeds a little otter.

The players loved those little guys

The players loved those little guys

Brett Nicholas poses with Dylan the sea lion in an area the public doesn't get to visit.

Brett Nicholas poses with Dylan the sea lion in an area the public doesn’t get to visit.

Trainer Carlos Olivas makes Dylan yell. One of the sea lions here was used as the "voice" of the T-Rex in the Jurassic Park movies.

Trainer Carlos Olivas makes Dylan yell. One of the sea lions here was used as the “voice” of the T-Rex in the Jurassic Park movies.

Cody Buckel dancing with Dylan.  Not sure where Cody learned that move.

Cody Buckel dancing with Dylan. Not sure where Cody learned that move.

An up-close look at the enormous male walrus.

An up-close look at the enormous male walrus.

They keep the two walruses in this pool.

They keep the two walruses in this pool.

A bit later, we hung out with the dolphins. Here, Kevin Pucetas gets his picture taken with "Brady."

A bit later, we hung out with the dolphins. Here, Kevin Pucetas gets his picture taken with “Brady.”

There was quite a line for the players to get their photos taken with the dolphins.

There was quite a line for the players to get their photos taken with the dolphins.

Jake Brigham pets one of the dolphins .

Jake Brigham pets one of the dolphins .

Brady "fin-walks" at the prompt of his trainer.

Brady “fin-walks” at the prompt of his trainer.

Our last destination was the stingray tank.

Our last destination was the stingray tank.

We all got the chance to feed the stingrays some shrimp.

We all got the chance to feed the stingrays some shrimp.

Here's the other half of the group feeding the stingrays.

Here’s the other half of the group feeding the stingrays.

Left side, from left to right: (standing) Paul Watkins, Jake Brigham, Carlos Olivas, Eric McMahon; (squatting) Jimmy Reyes & Ryan Feierabend. On the right, from left to right: (standing) Ryan Rodebaugh, Ben Rowen, Tyler Tufts and a partially obstructed Kevin Pucetas; (squatting) Cody Buckel, Alex Vispoli and Brett Nicholas.

Left side, from left to right: (standing) Paul Watkins, Jake Brigham, Carlos Olivas, Eric McMahon; (squatting) Jimmy Reyes & Ryan Feierabend. On the right, from left to right: (standing) Ryan Rodebaugh, Ben Rowen, Tyler Tufts and a partially obstructed Kevin Pucetas; (squatting) Cody Buckel, Alex Vispoli and Brett Nicholas.

The spirit of kindness

A week ago today, the small town of West, Texas was hit by tragedy when a fertilizer plant exploded and engulfed a large portion of the small Central Texas town in flames.  This explosion came just two days after the terror attack in Boston, making for an extremely tense and sad week in news.  In both Boston and West, the spirit of kindness shined through the destruction as complete strangers stepped in to lend a helping hand and a prayerful heart to those in need.

During the three-game weekend series with Seattle, the Texas Rangers collected tens of thousands of essential items for the West victims and residents that filled two large meeting areas at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington as well as thousands of dollars in gift cards. In addition, some $40,000 in cash donations went to the citizens of West from Texas Rangers fans and employees and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.  Players’ wives, Rangers employees and former Rangers outfield Kevin Mench, who has family in West, loaded the boxes of toiletries, food and supplies were loaded into a truck to take to West yesterday morning.  The Fox Sports Southwest Fan Express accompanied the equipment truck to West, and delivered the items to the West Fairgrounds.

Along with the collection of supplies for West, the Rangers teamed with Carter BloodCare and reported that 80 donors were processed during the blood drive at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington prior to Sunday’s game against the Mariners. The number of units of blood drawn equates to over 200 lives saved.

“Texas Rangers fans demonstrated overwhelming generosity for the team’s relief initiatives for the devastating explosion and fires in West, Texas last week,” said the Rangers in a press release yesterday.

The Rangers’ efforts to help the town of West were one of many in Texas and around the country. Lines at blood banks stretched far outside the doors in Waco and the DFW area in the days following the explosion.  Students at Baylor, UNT and other nearby colleges held drives for food, toiletries, school supplies and other necessities to aid the families in West.  Companies and organizations all over Texas held similar drives, encouraging people to give as much as they could for those whose lives have been shaken.  Nearby school districts donated desks, chairs and even a few buildings for the school that was destroyed by the fire.  All these efforts brought to light how, in the midst of tragedy and destruction, people will come together to help one another.

The next few weeks and months will be difficult for those affected by the tragedies in West and Boston; please keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers as they begin the rebuilding process.

Tomorrow (Thursday, April 25), a public memorial will be held at 2 p.m. inside Baylor University’s Ferrell Center for the firefighters and first responders who lost their lives in the explosion.

WestDrive

Items collected by the Rangers and Rangers fans for the West disaster loaded onto a truck on Tuesday, April 23. (Photo Credit STAR-TELEGRAM/JOYCE MARSHALL)

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RoughRiders Game Notes:

Tonight, the RoughRiders continue their series against the Missions in San Antonio.  Kevin Pucetas looks to bounce back from a defeat his last time out against San Antonio’s Matt Andriese.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 tonight.  Read the game notes here.

Baseball Term of the Day: Cowhide Joyride: a home run

-Ryan

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