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Celebrating 40 — an addition to the 2023 schedule

Or “Holiday airfare made Michael an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

By the time this essay rolls out, two mildly important personal milestones will have come and gone. First, on January 22, I turned 40, and truthfully, it has generally gone as well as you might expect. The second milestone I will cover in a bit.

Accordingly, some recent events have caused me to make an alteration to next year’s calendar. As such, I am making an addition to the 2023 itinerary.

Planning out travel six months in advance is generally the way I do things. While I do lead a comfortable lifestyle, contrary to popular belief, I am not actually made of money. In fact, I was doing my taxes recently and I added up my travel expenses related to my essays last year — it did not go well.

At the time of my original planning, I had my ailing father to think about, so I figured I had to be the dutiful son. Therefore, I decided to forego my previously stated plans to visit Tampa Bay during Memorial Day Weekend 2023. Two funny things happened though.

Dad started beating expectations as to his cancer

I am not trying to make light of my father’s illness with the above clip from one of our favorite movies. When I started planning my adventures last year, he had just been diagnosed and I worked my plans off the worst-case scenario for his prognosis, which seemed quite probable based on how he was at the time. Thankfully, he doesn’t remember how bad things were.

My life settled into a routine of either working, writing, or traveling down south to spend time with him. Before I knew it, shockingly, the size of his cancer was halved and then halved again in the span of four months. Besides some hair loss and an odd hitch in his gait, he looks fine most days. When Dad asked if I was looking forward to going to Tampa in the spring, I figured I would at least double-check to see if it was feasible.

This essay may age like milk in the hot Fresno sun, but as of right now, it’s good news. And there has been precious little good news in my life as of late. So the emotional hurdle to going to Atlanta and Tampa has been cleared but what about the financial, you may ask?

Holiday Savings on Flights to Atlanta and Tampa

I admittedly forgot to turn off my price alerts for the many routes I was considering in order to get to Tampa for the holiday weekend. Needless to say, when I saw a one-way flight from San Francisco to Atlanta for around $100, the universe had my attention.

Only when I found a decent hotel nearby Truist Park did my intent to travel become that much more serious. I figured that I could tour the stadium and possibly amend the Guide entry, if only for the information from the Tour. Moreover, flights to Tampa from Atlanta were quite cheap, which would allow me to visit somewhere new and fully enjoy the holiday weekend. When I found a reasonable flight back to San Francisco from Tampa, that discovery sealed the travel as one thing led to another as you can see below.

The first tickets of the season.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

I have famously been quite critical of going to Dodgers/Braves games at Truist Park. If I was going to subject myself to all that again, I figured something would have to change. To my surprise, Dodger tickets in Atlanta for the upcoming season were not the exorbitant nightmare that I saw back in 2022, as you can get tickets for $20.

Are they good tickets? Absolutely not, as you would be sitting in the upper deck or in the standing-room-only section. Last season, even standing-room-only tickets were in the neighborhood of $100, which for a non-playoff game in July is absolutely ridiculous.

I purchased a ticket for the finale of the series between the Dodgers and Atlanta on May 24th, which will be my season debut. Now, I expect the ongoing racism will still be omnipresent, which will be frustrating, to say the least.

In my mind, I had no excuse to not make the following plans once I had locked in a ticket to the finale of the series in Atlanta. I will be attending all three games at the Tropicana Field. I am just leaving the Saturday date open (for now) because I might have friends coming from across the state to hang out with me. And yes, I will likely be on your television screens for the Sunday finale that morning. But that game is on Peacock so it is the classic tree-falling-in-the-woods scenario.

Unfortunately and annoyingly, there are no tours offered at the Trop. But considering the park’s almost-infamous reputation, I am hardly surprised by this development. So I celebrate my 40th birthday by going to an infamously-bad ballpark. Maybe the Trop will surprise me? Probably not, but I am trying my best to be optimistic.

In any event, by the time this essay goes live, the 2023 itinerary will be updated to reflect this addition to the schedule. But there is one last thing to discuss with you all today.

The second milestone — one year at True Blue LA

Back on January 26, it will have been the one-year anniversary since I joined the writing staff at True Blue LA. Truthfully, this role has meant a lot to me during the past year. While I was initially nervous about making the switch from commenter to Staff Writer, I am humbled by the response from the community and beyond at my growing skills in this role.

It has not always been smooth sailing, but I have grown from the experience. And I am constantly surprised by who reads what I put out and when I am recognized in public.

I am grateful to Eric for hiring me and keeping me around even though I (figuratively) bury him in long-form essays involving topics you probably would not see on any other SB Nation site.

For everyone who enjoys and reads my essays, I humbly thank you for the gift of your attention. In short, here’s to one year of writing articles and learning how to use Twitter. And here’s to many more years and stories to come about Dodger baseball!