A key to the city has a practical use, beyond the honorary and symbolic. After the city of Tampa awarded him such a key on Wednesday, left-hander David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays realized he can now try to open any Chick-fil-A restaurant on any given Sunday, when his favorite fast-food chicken chain is closed for religious worship.
The Tampa Bay Times quoted Price as saying:
"I don't know what else I'm going to do with this yet," Price said. "I'll just try it on different locks."
That's a great perk for anyone, much less a reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. But what about Price's pet French bulldog, Astro? Tampa gave him a key, too, but unless Chick-fil-A changes its pet policy or Astro suddenly finds credentials as a service animal, he's going to have to wait in the car while Price goes inside and works the deep fryer. Other than that disappointment, it was Astro who stole the show at the downtown ceremony, even "speaking" into the microphone, adorably sniffing and grunting as only that species of dog, with its unfortunate sinuses, can.
If Dr. Doolittle were around, he'd probably say that Astro was concerned about the loss of Price's former teammates, James Shields and Wade Davis, who went to Kansas City in the big Wil Myers trade. Is Price going to have to do all of the pitching himself in 2013? Not quite.
But with Shields gone, the 27-year-old Price will have to lead.
"... If they want to look to me for advice, I'm an open book, and they know it. They can come up and talk to me whenever they want, they can call or text, it doesn't matter."
And the same goes for Astro, in case any of the Rays' other pets have misgivings about losing the pets of Shields and Davis. As for the key, Price seemed truly humbled.
Price had never been honored like that before — he joked that the only other key he had was to his condo — and seemed truly humbled by an honor he thought was reserved for war heroes. "You guys didn't have to do this," he told the crowd.
Nonsense, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn (good mayor name) said:
"I know David. I know what a standup guy he is. I know what he represents. I know what he embodies. It's indicative of the entire organization," Buckhorn said. "To know that a Tampa resident and a member of our team was named basically the most valuable player really is an honor. So for me to be able to do this is the least that I could do for him."
Well, that and financing a new stadium for the Rays. I kid, I kid! The best move Buckhorn could have made was making another key for Astro. In case you don't follow Price on Twitter, his pet dog is frequently around, even at Tropicana Field. Astro (named for the Jetson's dog — not the newest AL team) is his buddy. The best way for Tampa to say "We love you" was by including Price's pet. Price won't forget it.