March 2008

The End of a Spring Training Era

I am filled with both sadness and excitement on this perfect day for
baseball. I am about to see the end of an era in my hometown of St. Petersburg,
Florida. The local baseball faithful here in St. Pete., have been actively watching
and participating in M L B Spring Training games for over 80 odd years. And it all
comes to an end today. Our hometown team, the Tampa Bay Rays, will be training
in Port Charlotte, Florida  starting next season.


                 



It is sad because my grandfather,who lived within a stones throw of former
Yankees’ training site, Huggins-Stengel Field, and spent many a day at the old
Busch complex off 62nd Ave. He spent many an afternoon near Cresent Lake watching Spring Training games
both there and at Waterfront Park. That my dad, who loved the game of baseball, and counted a few  MLB players
as friends could not say a fond farewell to this stadium that he saw built and
watched  hundreds of games there from 1947-1976.



Being a third generation baseball fan is a huge responsibility to me. It
involves my commitment, loyalty and a sense of knowing the sky will not fall
for my team. The ending of the era at Al  F. Lang Field/Progress Energy
Park/Waterfront Park is special to me.


                   

 

Special because I spent a lot of my youth here in the Spring and Summers.
Both watching MLB and Minor League teams leave it all out on the dirt and grass.
Watching the St. Petersburg Devilrays win a championship, and the hometown M L B
squad wrestle for wins. Special because my old job with Pepsi Cola had me at the Training complex and
at Al Lang almost every day in the Spring furnishing them with product and
watching some of these players’ develop into stars. I would be on the phone
daily getting orders and securing the items for the team and its clubhouses,
both at Namoli,Al Lang, and the Trop.


 have pushed,pulled and sweated in these clubhouses’, under the grandstands,
and in the dark recesses of Tropicana Field. I loved working with the Rays’
and I consider them  very special people in my life. They have bestowed on me a place in their Wall of Fame for my loyalty, and I
have received numerous phone calls and smiles from the Executive and Front
Office staff when we see each other outside of the stadium. I also hold dear a
million memories that would fill a Myspace server. From winning players
“Jersey’s off their backs”, to winning roundtrip airfare to Seattle for a 4 game
roadtrip.

                                  


But back to today’s final game.


It had all the fanfare and tradition of an Opening Day. You had the local
political forces out. Both teams’ starting players were announced and stood on
their respective foul line before  a barbershop quartet sang the National
Anthem. It was pomp and circumstance at it’s best.


                            


There was a special flyover by a Air Force KC-135 tanker unit that had the
sell out crowd on their feet applauding the sight.


                                  



An anticipated event that did not happen today is that Hall of Famer, Monte
Irvin was not able to attend the game. He is a proud supporter of the Rays’ ,
the fans missed a rare opportunity to talk and get autographs from this great
former player. I send  personal best wishes and hope for a speedy recovery to Monte, and
hope to see him at the Home Opener this year. Another item I picked up on the sly was the fact that there were no special
collectibles or items listing the “last game” on them for sale in the entire
stadium. I thought the Rays’ missed a monetary gold mine here. But was informed
that the Rays’ wanted to pursue this angle, but M L B vetoed the idea. They  might
be afraid of a future conflict if a team ever trained here again. I can see
their point, but this stadium might be gone by that time.


You see, the Rays’ had a spot out in Right Center that was the spot for the
new proposed stadium’s home plate. The Rays hope that the city’s faithful voters decide in a  November
referendum to change the zoning for the area, or sell the stadium land to the
county for future ballpark considerations. Most of this is up in the air right now, but the Rays’ new complex is already
being constructed, and there is no turning back at this time.


                             


The game featured the third sellout game( 6,759 attended) of the season for
the Rays’, and even had some odd places for fans, and creatures to watch the
last contest

.

                            

                    



They were treated to a great contest featuring three bunts for singles, a
ground rule double over the Left Center field wall. A long towering homer, and a
odd play in  Right Center by B J Upton and Eric Hinske. It saw Rays catcher Dioner
Navarro go 2-for3 with a perfect bunt single and a crushing hit to Left field. It
saw Carl Crawford hit two doubles, and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips hit a
triple. It was great contest no matter what the score. Of course, we know that
the Rays did not win today, but it was a thrill just to be there on this
historic day.

                     

                               



After the game, the Rays treated the fans to a hot dog,chips and soda
extravaganza in the Right field corner of the field. It was a time for the kids
to “run the bases”, for the all fans to toss a few balls around like the pros’,
and a time for all to celebrate this Spring’s great record and team. It is also
a time to recharge the batteries for the upcoming season. It was a great event,
and one that should be a yearly event, even in Port Charlotte next year.

                            

                          



I can not end this blog without a few pictures of Carlos Pena. My other half
is a true Carlos mark and she should get some good pictures of her guy in
action.  So, here are a few for your enjoyment:


                                  

                                      



In honor of the last game at Al Lang today, I am going to leave you two
Trivia questions. Please fell free to answer them in comments and I will let you
know if you are right, or might offer a few hints.  Good Luck

1,) In  1947, who hit the first Home Run in newly constructed Al F. Lang
Field?

2.) Who made the last out in today’s game?

 

Al Lang Last Game Promo and Trivia

 

I am so excited to be able to leave two (2) Trivia questions for your amusement today.  I am not going to leave the answers here, but would rather enjoy if you leave a comment with your answers and I will be sure to respond to them and pimp out the people who can find the correct answers. So, get your baseball encyclopedias out and find these two questions today.

 

Trivia Questions:

 

1). Who is the fan in old Ebbets Field who is credited with using the first “cowbell” to spice up a baseball game?

2). Who was the leader of the Boston Red Sox group called, “The Royal Rooters”?

 

 

As you can tell, I am using Fans as my basis for my blog today. There is a local guy here in Tampa Bay who is either getting good or bad publicity for our team. It depends on if you think he is a plus or minus for our team.

Of course, I am talking about the Cowbell Kid here. He is a member of the outfield crew in Tropicana Field who has emerged as a focal point at games. He is an avid hater of the Al East Northern teams, and is not shy to tell you about it at all.

 

 

Now, I have him listed as one of my Myspace friends, but I have not spent time with the Cowbell Kid. I am a bit of a fan favorite myself, but I am not about to putr on a Marge Simpson ripoff wig and carry a pimp stick to games. Now I am not afraid of, or dislike people getting attention for our Rays. I found the Bat/Rays-woman a bit wild flapping around the stadium on game days. And I find the Green-hued Raysman to be a bit of a comical, but likeable facet to our game days.

 

 

But, I am a bit put off by the Cowbell Kid. Now I also have ruined a few percussion cowbells during the seasons at the Trop. The guys in the Bullpen can attest to me breaking every drumstick and mini bat I have brought to the games and used to clang on my bell. But, I draw the line at atagonzing and calling out the opposition either in public or on a blog.

 

 

 

 

I can never, and will never try to encite or bully another fan about his team choice. I think we need to be respectful for a few years before we can also put our chest out and proclaim the Trop a Rays house again. We are getting there more and more every year, but people like the Cowbell Kid could set us back by a rude comment or action.

Our team will have to earn respect on the field before ESPN or other organizations feel we are a better squad that fifth in our own division. that day is fastly approaching, but will take at least 162 games this year to solidify anything.

 

I am not against heckling or trying to be a pest in the ears of our visiting teams. I have done a few to visiting Rightfielders in my time, and have enjoyed every minute of it. But we need to be careful in our stage of showmanship for a few years so we do not get the label of being obnoxious or rude like some of our visiting fans.

 

With this in mind, if you think the Cowbell Kid goes above and beyond the realm of true sportmanship, or just want to see him get wet. Then you need to attend the 97X Fisher and Boys Belated Birthday Bash this weekend at Derby Lanes in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our beloved Cowbell dude will be in the dunk tank and willing to get his Marge Simpson blue beehive wet like a drowned rat. So here is your chance to pluck the blue one into a tank of water and maybe rust his cowbell a bit.

 

Al Lang Tidbits

 

 

I am lucky enough to be going to the last Rays Spring Training game at Al Lang/Progress Energy Park tomorrow. This is a great place to watch a game and get some good sun and a cool breeze off the water.  Al Lang has been used for 84 years as a Spring Training site for MLB teams.

When Al Lang was mayor of St. Petersburg, he enticed the Philadelphia Nationals to come here in 1916. From that point on, the list of players who have been on the fields are littered with Hall of Famers and young pups trying to get a roster spot on their teams.

The McDill Air Force Base will also do a Fly over of the stadium before the game. If you have never seen this done, you are missing out on something really exciting here.

During the contest against the Cincinatti Reds, the Rays will have giveaways foir the fans in attendance, and alot of unique opportunities for rememberance.

Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin will be signing autographs during the game. He is a remarkable man. I have heard him speak a few times and he always tells his stories with great passion and love for the game. He is a true treasure, and a avid Rays fan.

The Rays will also be announcing their Al Lang All-time squads of all the teams that have trained and used the stadium over the years. There will be two spots selected for each position. I think we will see Hall of Famers, and very remarkable names mentioned on this occasion.

 

 

 

After the game, the Rays are inviting all fans in attendance to a FREE BBQ on the field with a host of live music and entertainment for the kids. The kids will be able to run the bases and maybe sit in the dugouts like their on-field heros.

I know of a few Rays personnell poeple who will be digging into the BBQ up to their elbows.

I am looking forward to this with great excitement, and I will have my digital camera in tow hoping to bring you alot of great photos and post event comments.

 

 

 

I hope to see most of you there. But if you can’t make it out that day, remember that opening day is around the corner and most school age kids are being advised of a Spirit Night at the Trop. when the Baltimore Orioles come into town on Saturday, April 12th. Game starts at 7:10 P.M.

 

Rocco Baldelli News Conference and Tidbits

 

Trivia Question:


When was the first match up between a deaf pitcher and a hitter in baseball, and who were the participants?

 Answer at the bottom of the Blog.

 

Rocco Baldelli was once called “Joe’s twin,” by professional Scout Al LaMacchia. This of course, is referring to the great Joe DiMaggio. Rocco had been compared to the Yankee great since his prep days at Bishop Hendricken H.S. in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Baldelli was drafted by the Tampa Bay (Devil)rays in the first round of the 2000 Amateur draft. Rocco worked his way up the Rays’ minor league ladder to be named the team’s starting Center fielder for the 2003 MLB season. Rocco debuted on March 31, 2003 and hit and powered his way to a third place finish in the Rookie of the Year ballot that year.

 In 2004, Rocco was the returning Center fielder and was looking to improve on his 2003 stats. His 2003, .289 average, with 11 HRs and 27 stolen bases was just a glimpse of what might be in store for Rays fans in the future. In 2004, Rocco led all MLB Center fielders in range factor with a 3.3.

Range Factor (commonly abbreviated RF) is a baseball statistic developed by Bill James. It is calculated by dividing putouts and assists by number of innings or games played at a given defense position. [1] The statistic is premised on the notion that the total number of outs that a player participates in is more relevant in evaluating his defensive play than the percentage of cleanly handled chances as calculated by the conventional statistic fielding percentage.

 In 2005, Rocco began the year with a ACL tear while playing ball in his R.I. backyard with his younger brother. He was on schedule to be back by the All-Star break in 2005, but he sustained a elbow in jury and was lost for the rest of the season. Rocco had “Tommy John’s” surgery to repair his elbow and rehabbed at the Minor League complex in St. Petersburg,Florida.

Rocco was fired up and ready to roll in 2006, and finally got back on the turf versus the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim on June 7, 2008.  Baldelli played throughout the rest of the season ending with a .302 average,16 HRs, and 57 RBI’s in only 364 at bats.

In 2007, Rocco began his trip onto the D L after pulling his hamstring during Spring Training. the injury seemed to slowly heal, but while on a Minor League rehab assignment, the injury became worse. Rocco spent the rest of the year inactive, but a very important part of the team. He could be seen on the bench either taking down the pitch stats, or purposely watching the opposing pitcher for signs of him tipping off his pitches or pitch outs to first base. Joe Maddon felt that Rocco had an energy and a positive attitude that was beneficial to his young squad and took him on away games the rest of the season.

During this time, Ron Porterfield, the Rays’ Head Trainer, and the medical staff did exclusive tests on Rocco to try and pinpoint the situation and maybe finally get some positive results.

During  the Spring Training in 2008, Rocco was an early arrival to camp. He was out there every day trying to get his body to function correctly so he could get back on the field with his comrades. He was used sparingly this Spring until on March12, 2008, Rocco released the following statement to the press:

 

This off season, because of the physical problems I’ve been having, I started along with the team’s help to search them out and go see some doctors and try to find out what’s going on.

I was having a lot of problems the last couple years with my muscles and muscle strains. I think a good way to describe it is literally muscle fatigue and cramping, way before my body should be feeling these things. I would go out there and I was pretty much incapable of doing basic baseball activities as far as running and hitting and throwing.

These were things that I had done my whole life pretty easily and at some point in the last two years – we’re not exactly sure why – these things started to change. It was tough for me to deal with, but with the team’s help, they sent me to specialists, basically flying me around all over the country to try to figure out what was going on.

What the doctors eventually found through all of this was I have some type of metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities. Basically, somewhere along the line in my body – I don’t want to get too deep into the medicine because it’s not really my expertise, but either my body isn’t making or producing or storing ATP the right way and therefore not allowing, apparently, my muscles to work as they should and, especially, recover on a day-to-day basis. So it becomes very difficult to get on the field every day and play.

When I say fatigue, I go out there and my body is literally spent after a very short amount of time out on the field, which makes it extremely frustrating and difficult, but it’s something that’s kind of a reality right now and something we’re dealing with the best that we can.

As far as my baseball career, I’m not here to stand in front of you telling you I’m retiring. We’re still going to pursue every avenue that we can to try to figure out what is going on, have a better understanding of what is going on. But at this time, throughout all of the extensive testing that we’ve done, we don’t have a concrete answer. The doctors’ consensus is that these are the problems that I’m experiencing and there’s a lot of medical proof of these things, but they’ve been unable to specifically identify an exact reason or an exact problem down to a specific name. That’s kind of frustrating, but that’s why we’re going to continue along with the team’s help to find out what’s going on.


I feel comfortable about this because the team has been so good to me and supported me in every possible way I could imagine. Without that, I don’t know really where I’d be right now, because this is as probably as difficult and frustrating a thing as I’ve ever had to deal with as a person. Like I said, we’re going to do everything we can to fix and hopefully solve this problem, and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.

 

Rocco Baldelli announced that he has a mitochondrial metabolic abnormality during a press conference on Wednesday.

 I put his entire statement here to reflect and hope that a solution or a cure can be found for this promising player. I have personally chatted with Rocco on occasion, and I can tell you there is no better guy in the clubhouse than him. He knows what was expected of him on Day 1, and he has done his best to make it back onto the diamond.

The Rays’ are in a pickle here tho. They were looking for Rocco to be a Center field back-up this season to give BJ Upton some needed rest during the season. Maybe the Rays will look at their Minor leaguer’s in camp, or sign a veteran like Kenny Lofton to relieve B J, and Jonny Gomes through the year.

Here is a guy who could have rewritten a few passages in the books, and now might be done in because a metabolic nightmare within his body. I hope the doctors’ can find a solution soon, and have a positive prognosis so we can get this great talent back on the field sometime in the not to near future.

I will miss not seeing Rocco out there on another Opening Day in Baltimore on March 31,but his health is more important than the game right now.

Here is  a short example of what ATP and the human body have in common. I found this on a website, and I hope it is easy to comprehend and understand.

For your muscles, in fact, for every cell in your body — the source of energy that keeps everything going is called ATP. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the biochemical way to store and use energy.

The entire reaction that turns ATP into energy is a bit complicated, but here is a good summary:

  • Chemically, ATP is an adenine nucleotide bound to three phosphates.
  • There is a lot of energy stored in the bond between the second and third phosphate groups that can be used to fuel chemical reactions.
  • When a cell needs energy, it breaks this bond to form adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and a free phosphate molecule.
  • In some instances, the second phosphate group can also be broken to form adenosine monophosphate (AMP).
  • When the cell has excess energy, it stores this energy by forming ATP from ADP and phosphate.

ATP is required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. As the work of the muscle increases, more and more ATP gets consumed and must be replaced in order for the muscle to keep moving.

Because ATP is so important, the body has several different systems to create ATP. These systems work together in phases. The interesting thing is that different forms of exercise use different systems, so a sprinter is getting ATP in a completely different way from a marathon runner!

 

 Trivia Question Answer:

 It happened on may 16, 1902, featuring William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy of the Washington Nationals in the batters box, against New York Giant pitcher Luther “Dummy” Taylor.   the opponents greeted each other in sign language, then hoy knocked out a single against Taylor.

The wording in quotes above is the listing in the Baseball reference material I used for the Trivia question. I, in no manner, used the phrasing, “dummy” as a cruel reference or in a demeaning nature here concerning these fine ballplayers. 

 

 

 

 

Yankees Used to be the Class of the League, Now They are Just A**

 

Trivia Question: Who has the current record for most World Series rings?

 

Answer at the end of the Blog

 

 

I driving along today and listening to the Rays/Yanks game on the Rays’ Radio Network, when our rookie third baseman Evan Longoria was up to bat in the first inning.  Here we are, two days removed from the “whiny” accusations of Yankee manager, Joe Girardi, and Longoria is plucked by the pitcher in the midsection.


The Yankees’ had minor league pitcher, Heath Phillips, starting the game due to Andy Pettitte’s apparent tendonitis situation. That might be the reason for farmhand  Phillips to get the nod for the game versus the Rays, or there could be another reason Pettitte was not pitching today? 



Andy is a class act player, and maybe he wanted nothing to do with the  kid games about to be played on the field. Pettitte is a hard nosed pitcher who is not afraid to pitch the inside corner, but doesn’t have a history of  brush-backs or knock downs of  any MLB players. The reason I bring this up is that the Yankee starter, Phillips was ejected in the first Inning for a up-and-in fastball that hit Longoria. Kind of funny that he picked that player to pitch closely inside, and not the likes of  Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd or  Jonny Gomes.



Home plate Umpire Chad Fairchild immediately sent Phillips to the showers while being given an earful by Yankee manager Joe Girardi concerning the ejection.


But that would not be the end of the fun today.


Not even an inning later,with the Yankees up to bat in the bottom of the second, Shelly Duncan was running out a ball hit down the Left field line when he came in with his spikes up on Aki Iwamura. Replays showed that the relay throw beat Duncan to the base by about 30 feet, and he would not have had any chance to beat the throw to the bag without Aki dropping the ball.



With that in mind, Duncan decided to do his “Ty Cobb” imitation and come in with the spikes up around the knee/groin area and opened a small gash over Aki ‘s right knee.

 

 


Immediately following the play, Rays Right Fielder, Jonny Gomes raced in and leveled Duncan from behind  to set off  a bench clearing brawl.  Gomes said he wasn’t surprised Duncan did what he did considering his comments to the New York media this week that he would consider retaliation for Saturday’s play, and he didn’t hesitate to get involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“That was sort of second nature,” he said. “I was taught from T-ball all the way up to have your teammate’s back. With that guy trying to hurt a teammate, I just acted how I acted.”


Gomes did get an initial shot in on Duncan, but said an all-out brawl wasn’t his goal. Because of his actions, Gomes, Duncan and Yankees Third Base coach, Bobby Meacham and Yankees Hitting Coach, Kevin Long were ejected from the contest won by the Rays’ 7-6. My question is, where was the secret instigator, Joe Girardi during all of this mayhem. Probably giggling on the bench like a schoolgirl.

 

 


Rays closer,Troy Percival was in the clubhouse for the play, but he saw the spike marks visible on Iwamura’s uniform pants, above his knee on the inside of the leg, and wasn’t happy. “You’re just going out there, spikes high, trying to put them into somebody?” said Percival. “There’s no room in baseball for that kind of stuff. Ty Cobb’s been gone a long time.”


Is this the predestined action for the fun during the upcoming season for these two aggressive teams. Are the Yankees going to try and play hard, intimidation ball with a team that can dish out the same in return every night of the week.

 


In 2000,the Boston Red Sox came in to the Trop. in the send of the year, and tried to do the same to the Rays’ in their home stadium. Red Soz pitcher Pedro Martinez hit Gerald Williams and a brawl ensued. I remember seeing Red Sox first baseman/ Strike Scab, Brian Daubach getting leveled by a bullpen guy and being helped off the field. Of course, in that game several pitches were thrown that got pitchers tossed from the game. The best was the pitch by the late Cory Lidle that missed the back of a Sox’s player by two feet.

 

Does the actions of Jonny Gomes show that this team means business this year. Could we really be seeing the evolution of this franchise into respectability. I think the answer to both those questions is a loud and proud “Yes.”

 

Does today’s clear retaliation mean we have the Yankees worried for a change. Do they have a feeling that their “Empire”or “Dynasty” status is being challenged by an upstart team from the south. The last part of that word is what they have become in my eyes, just plain “nasty”‘


This is going to be a fun year to be a Rays and Yankee fan.

 

“It’s not typical of them, that’s for sure,” said Percival. “They’ve always been a professional organization. They’ve always played hard and they’ve always played smart. I won’t say that about today’s game.”


I am all about hard hustle and playing to win every game,at-bat,or pitch. But what Duncan did was beyond the usual action of the game. Should he be suspended by MLB?, that is not for me to say here.


But I would be leery of him standing in Right Field for Batting Practice at the Trop. I will be ready to lay a few lines on him about his cheap sportsmanship.

 

I will clap for any teams,even a Yankee, who shows hustle and a great play or show of true sportsmanship. But I hate and loath a guy trying to inflict,or injury a player out of retaliation for a hard-nosed play from a past game. Shelly Duncan had no business doing a “spikes up” play on Aki and it shows his lack of class to even wear that Yankee uniform. 


Gomes,Percival and others also feel unanimously that the play was “Bush League,” and had no business  being attempted today.  Dirty play,” said B.J. Upton. “Just a flat-out dirty play. Period.”

 

Rays’ skipper Joe Maddon summed it up best today:

“The other day we were playing in Tampa, that play you saw at home plate was a good, hard baseball play,” he said. “What you saw today is the definition of a dirty play. There is no room for that in our game, it’s contemptible, it’s wrong, it’s borderline criminal, and I cannot believe they did that.”

 

Triva Question Answer:

 

Yankees’ all-around good guy, Yogi Berra won 10 rings from 1946-1962.

Hey Shelly Duncan, Yogi Berra was a true winner, not a  half *** whiner.

 

 

 

 

Rays vs Yankees Controversy………..or Just Hustle in the Yard

 

I have been reluctant to include my trivia questions in the past few blogs because no one seems to want to comment,or even try and figure them out.
Here is a Yankee/Red Sox teaser for your pleasure:


Who has the best lifetime win percentage as a starting pitcher against the New York Yankees?


Answer at the end of the Blog.


I have to weigh in my two pennies on the recent Rays/Yankees debate concerning new Yanks skipper Joe Girardi and a recent home plate collision. If you are wondering what I am referring to, it is the home plate car wreck between Yankees’ catcher, Francisco Cervelli and the Rays’, Elliot Johnson. I understand that most players are not up to par yet with the speed of the game in the early stages of Spring Training.


That the “rookies” or select Minor League players’ invited to the MLB camp, are seeking to open eyes or even earn a coveted roster spot with the big club. Because of this situation,they ( Minor Leaguers’ )might hustle or take a few risks with base running decisions.  They also want to show a willingness to do what is needed to win.
It is in that vein, that I personally feel that Elliott Johnson did what was needed at the moment of the collision. He went into home plate trying to jar the ball out of the catchers mitt to score another run, not with intent to harm,dismember, or cause such a ruckus out of the Yankee camp.


A few days earlier, All-Star Left Fielder,Carl Crawford bulldozed a catcher in a Spring Training game and there was not even a hint of controversy or bad decision making put towards his actions. Of course, in that collision,Crawford was able to jar the ball from the catcher, no one was injured or taken from the game,and the Rays earned a much needed run against their opponent.


Hustle and willingness to do what is needed is what secures these “invitees” a roster spot,or at least another weeks with the big squad before going to the Ray Namoli complex, which is the site of the Minor League camp.
Now Carl did not have to drive himself into the catcher and dislodge the ball on spec, but it showed he is ready to do whatever is needed to win this year. That is a veteran sign that he is here to play and take no prisoners.
And that, gets both the Rays’ fan base and Joe Maddon’s attention.


Earlier in the Yankee game, New York invitee, Bernie Castro was rounding third with Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans squared up on the dish. Castro could have easily dusted Riggans off the plate, but Shawn left a nice hole for Castro to hook slide around his tag. Base running decisions have to be made in a split second. Both players had to assess the situation and do what was needed to score, or pervent a run. Castro, by sliding in under Riggans, scored the only Yankee run of that game.


He did not need to remove Riggans and ball to score. Question is, did Johnson have the same options?  Answer, No, the relay throw was going to beat him to the plate by a stride, and in a Pete Rose-Ray Fosse moment he buried his shoulder into Cervelli.
He could have slide and maybe gotten in there( doubtful),or he could become a Mike Alstott A-train clone and bulldoze the Yankees minor league catcher. We know what his decision was, and I am totally in his corner for what he did.I was an aggressive base runner also in college, and used to not look back when i had to come in rough on a second baseman or a catcher. I did it when I felt it was needed to help the team. Either as a enthusiastic moment, or a game-changing play, it was done in a split second and no regrets could stop the momentum.

 

I can see why new Yankees skipper Joe Girardi would be a bit flustered or upset about such a play involving two Minor Leaguer’s doing their all to make an impression on their managers.


But, Joe, this part of Spring Training is a time for these guys to show you what they got, and make you remember their names in your nightly meetings with your coaching staff. And all the Minor League guys know that the decision time is nearing for each of them. Johnson will probably not make the Rays’ final 25 man roster, but he made a huge impression on both teams.


Either you are for or against his actions, there is no middle ground here. In his playing days, Joe Girardi was a feisty and gutsy catcher with the Yankees.  He knows what it takes to hold onto the ball in a train wreck situation. That is what I find kind of “whiny” here about the Yankee skipper.  


Remember, this is the manager who told his Florida Marlins’ team owner to, “Shut up!”, when the owner was heckling a umpire during a game. Does that sound like the same guy who whined to the press about the event, and did not even consult or send a message to Rays skipper, Joe Maddon about the collision before the newspapers were printed and on his doorstep.


How many Yankee fans are thinking WWTD right now. (What Would Torre’ Do?).


I know that Girardi is in the infant stage of his managerial career, but is this the thing he wants to be remembered for this Spring?
He has a few holes in his team, and questions that needed to be addressed on personnel and setting his starting rotation.
And he pick this play to spouts off about this?



Both Joes’ have different opinions about the event. Joe Maddon,the Rays’ manager sees it as a rite of Spring basically.  Hard nosed baseball that unfortunately ended in a Yankee injury. (Francisco Cervelli could be out 8-10 weeks with an injury). What would either manager have said if the events was reversed. Johnson was hurt in that play, or Riggans in a prior home plate play.  If Cervelli had dropped the ball and the Rays scored another run to make it a 5-1 win, would it have been different or still have the same effect on Girardi.


I personally think Joe Maddon would not be crying to the heavens wanting the baseball gods to rain displeasure down on anyone. He would have applauded the effort and give kudos for the hard nosed-style of play of Johnson. I am including a video from that game,shot by a Yankee fan. It shows both home plate plays and you can make up your own mind on the issue of the collision.


In closing, I think the comments of Yankee savant and yoda, Don Zimmer speak volumes here: “Of all people – Joe Girardi’s a tough guy, a tough catcher. I don’t know what spring training’s got to do with it,” Zimmer said. “I think he was out of line. That’s the best way I can put it, whether he likes that or not. That’s the way I feel.”


Amen Yankee Yoda, Amen.

 

I am all for hard play and hustle on the diamond.  If Delmon Young had more hustle than his mouth, he would still be patrolling right field in the Trop for the Rays.

 

The answer to the Trivia Question is:

Former Yankee great, Babe Ruth. When he was first with the Boston Red Sox, he owned the New York Yankees on the mound.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Career Imploded

This is a re-posting of a blog from February,18,
2008.


Since the posting of this blog, the Food Network
has pulled chef Robert Irvines bio and edited his current shows introduction to
suit his culinary accomplishments. The Tampa Tribune broke the story this
morning,  and I feel I should repost the blog and show the
accomplishments/embellishments of Robert Irvine. Below is a statement issued by
Irvine:

“I was wrong to exaggerate in statements related to my experiences regarding
the Royal Family. I am proud of my work while serving in the Royal Navy and on
board the Royal Yacht Britannia, also as part of the Guest Chef program in the
White House with the United States Navy, in addition to my culinary
accomplishments. I should have stood on those accomplishments alone, without
embellishment. I remain committed and enthusiastic about my work with Food
Network and other future endeavors. I am truly sorry for the errors in my
judgment.  To all my family, friends and loyal fans, I will work tirelessly to
regain your trust and continue to use my show and life to benefit the less
fortunate.”


It saddens me that his culinary career is
tarnished now. From his current show “Dinner Impossible,” it is evident that he
is a talented and very intelligent chef. The Food Network also announced that
Irvine will conclude this years taping of the show and will be replaced next
season. I am sorry that he had to go through this
journey of journalism integrity, but sometimes you have to watch what you say in
public. I have included a link to show a trailer to his show if you are not
aware, or have seen, “Dinner Impossible” on the Food
Network:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdfqVhzUeTM

Oh my God,

Today I opened my Internet edition of the “St Petersburg Times”  and saw the
grinning picture of the Food Networks’ Robert Irvine staring back at me with
that cocky smile that only a celebrity chef can have at a moment like this.

photo



It seems that  the local restaurant, Ooze and Schmooze might never even cook
a practice meal. The bistro that was to be established at 400 Beach Drive in St.
Petersburg, Florida. the current  “foodie” venture  is not even a remote
possibility at this time. Irvine’s credibility and culinary exploits are being examined with a fine
tooth comb right now. As stated in the “Times” article, the Food Network has
pulled his blog and is investigating his tales of the extraordinary for accuracy
and even his culinary resume’ and credibility.


I am an avid Food Network freak. I love the likes of Anthony Bourdain ( I have
read a few of his books and stories ), Guy, Paula Dean, Rachael Ray, and the Iron
Chef series is one of my  favorite shows. I TIVO more of this network than
anything else on television. So to find out my  guy from,”Dinner Impossible,” might be a bit of an
imbellishing chef is a rude awaking. I know alot of us have stretched the truth
a bit to seem more elegant or refined, but to state you helped bake a cake for
England’s favorite princess, and you would have been all of 12 at the time is a
bit much. There are a bevy of tales being uearthed daily about his expliots and
bravado over the past few years.


Taken from his website:

Robert’s philosophy is: If you are going to do
it, do it right, don’t take short cuts, spend time researching, and most of all
be dedicated to whatever and whomever you are working with and have lots of fun
doing it. If you do not do the above, it’s time to change your career
direction.

In my local town (st. Petersburg, Florida), he was to open the a fore mentioned restaurant in a  very romantic and waterfront area of the city. Being near the world famous and well-received Vinoy hotel, and situated a
mire block from the Fine Arts museum, it would be the kind of place to put this
region on the world-wide culinary map.  Food critics and “foodies” would travel
to see the chef’s creation. Much like people flock to Emeril’s establishments in
New Orleans, La, or Bobby Flays’ Mesa in Las Vegas.


Magazines like Bon Appetit, Gourmet and maybe even Zagats’  might book
flights to this elderly hamlet to examine and taste his creations and hopefully,
put this region on the map. In an area, already reknown for seafood and citrus delicacys, we might have a
new chapter in the food annuals.


photo



Now, this area is already known for it record days of sunshine and lightning.
And the “St. Pete Times” did make it famous for our many  green benches in the
city. But something like this would be like Johhny Weisemullier wanting to set
up a local business back in the early 70’s in Largo, off Belcher Road. Celebrity
can be a curse and a blessing. Only the true in spirit and heart seem to be able
to make a transition from star to owner without a hitch. Wolfgang Puck has done
it.  Paul Newman has established an empire based on the charity and fine
products from  salad dressings to popcorn.



But something like this in an area striving and yearning for positive
recognition from the world would have been a godsend to the area.l With a
well-known television personality showing success and culinary masterpieces out
of local resources and goods, it would have been a thunderstorm in an
outhouse to this region. The “Times” contacted Dave Avery, the actual chef who actually did the
original and final blueprinting and major bakers’ magic on Princess Diana’s
wedding cake. It seems that if Robert Irvine was in fact at the Royal Navy
Cookery at that time, Chef Irvine would have been 12 at the time of the cakes
inception. 

 


Other tales have come up to test and tarnish this chef. Another was his
working at the White House in an official capacity in the  main kitchen area. It
has been revealed that he did have some time in the White House,but not in a
common kitchen area, but in the Navy section of the culinary section teaching
some techniques and procedures to aspiring chefs, possibly for embassy duty or
personal chefs for high ranking officials.



There is the fable of cleaning and re-doing the plates of chef’s Tom Keller,
Charlie Trotter, and Eric Rippert at a James Beard event before they were served
that night. Either of these three chef’s would have thrown him out of the
kitchen for attempting such a bold and callus disrespect. Another tale that has come to surface that has a local flair is that the
venture was to be backed by Wendy La Torre, a local woman with a flair for
feeling important and regal in a non-regal world.



While Robert was here to promote the bistro awhile back, he was very inviting and
willing to take pictures and autographs with people while telling the future
tale of this fine establishment. During this same event, La Torre was rude,
manipulative and wanted to share the spotlight totally with her new found savior.
Greed and Ego have no place in running a place of culinary creations. In a
moments notice, you can be on cloud nine with the hit of the local scene, then
you are looking at a vacant dining area with no customers.

 



I hope a lot of this gets cleaned up fast. Irvine seems like a chef with a
great creative flair, but this can reduce him to mere “dishwasher” status in
culinary circles in a moments’ notice. I have seen amazing thing done on the fly on his show, “Dinner Impossible.”
Be it using a wheelbarrow to mix cole slaw, or a bucket to strain pasta . He has
shown that he can work under extreme pressure and conditions. Now he will have to use those talents to show he is a true chef, man of his
word, and above all, human and make mistakes. either that or his next show will
be entitled,” Career: Imploded.”

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