My Solutions for the Rays “Waterlogged Balls” Situation

 


 
 

Sometimes I just think that the Tampa Bay management just makes a deal with itself not to whine more than once a month. Seriously here folks, two months ago it was about attendance has to increase to even be able to afford a winning team.  Next it was the lack of Season Tickets, which numbers near 10,000 to increase at least 50 percent to provide financial stability for the team. But the latest one might be the best one of them all. I know that the new move south about 90 minutes might be difficult for some of the players, but the wild part is that now the baseballs are the ones in danger.
 

 
It seems that a lack of planning or maybe the addition of some better hitters has brought to light the problem of baseballs hitting the lakes behind the 5 practice fields at Charlotte Sports Park. What is amazing is that when they were setting up the drawings to lay out this complex, or event to upgrade certain fields and fence locations, the glint of the water and the parking lots did not pop into their minds as hazards. This is not the first time the team has had to endure a parking lot situation. At the old complex they had one field on the main4-field setting in the southeast corner who right-center and right field used to send balls into the players parking lot.
 

 
You would see the first 25 or so spaces empty when you first got to the complex and reporters and minor league players would take those spots not knowing the left handed batters would be seeking their cars windshields and looking to produce tell tale marks on hoods and roof tops. The Rays did find a way to combat that element by making mostly the left handed hitters’ play in scrimmages on one of the other 3 diamonds to take away the threat of car harm and rising insurance rates. Even at Progress Energy Field, the old Spring Training game site, you had a left field and right field shopping mall of cars to choose from if you hit it long and deep.
 


I remember going out to Progress Energy before an away game in Sarasota two years ago and watching the Batting Practice balls go out the left field fence and smash into about 5 cars windshields before the construction workers putting the upgrades on the neighboring Mahaffey Theatre finally got wise and moved their cars further from the onslaught of baseballs. They had already gotten about 7 cars either in the windshield or on their body parts and I scampered around and collected over 24 balls that day, just over the left field wall. But down the old right field line, players could hit paying customers cars parked along 1st Street South along the street sides. So what is so unusual about the Port Charlotte situation?



 


 

 

Well, if a baseball gets waterlogged, it is pretty much garbage for some time, or for ever depending on the total amount of time it takes a swim in the water. Maybe this Spring Training the Rays might have to suck it up and expect the added expenses, but in 2010 there might be some unique changes in the structures. Maybe they can develop a screen system like the City of Clearwater did along McMullen-Booth Road to combat balls going out of the softball fields and ending up in the windshields of cars going 45 mph down the road.
 

Or maybe they can contact that old golf driving range off of 66th Street just short of Ulmerton and buy those massive steel support poles and the screening they used for years to keep balls from hitting cars going down 66th Street every day and night. There are solutions in the air to fix this problem, the real situation is what they can do this year. Well, I have at least two ideas that might work or not work compared to what the Rays think the liabilities will be with both of them. Now these ideas are just that, ideas, and you can take and mold them anyways you want as long as you find a great solution that will fit your needs for 2009.



 

 
 

 
First off, maybe check with a local golf course and get the number of their golf ball guy. You know that guy you have seen during the early or late rounds of golf snorkeling or diving in the golf ponds bringing up those buckets of balls to be resold in the course Pro Shop as either range or practice balls. It might be keep and cost efficient because you could have him out there during B P  shagging the balls as the hit the water. The balls still might be wet, but they will dry faster than sitting out there for hours waiting for some kid with a fishing net pulling them out of the murky water before they finally sink to the silt and muck below.
 

 

Second, you could find people like me who would be willing to come out everyday and sit beyond the fences and consider it an athletic workout to get those balls and collect them in a bucket to get them back to the mound for more running and catching and, well exercise. You could even make a game or contest of it all. By selecting the number of guys you will need to cover the areas before the lakes, you could have them sign a waiver, bring their own glove and put them out there in a new Rays cap and let them go nuts for a few hours. Maybe the old lifeguard chair from Progress Energy could be put on one field near the clubhouse and someone sit in that chair.
 
 


 

 

Or maybe you can have the guys go nuts all day long shagging balls and give them each a player-signed ball after the day to show your thanks for a job well done. I hate to say it, but I would drive down there every day to get a bit closer to fulfilling that fantasy of playing baseball instead of football. These are only a few of the ideas that pop into my little mind daily that could help the Tampa Bay Rays in some way. Maybe that is one of the reason I write my blog, to get this stuff out of my brain before it explodes, or maybe I write it because I want this team to be here for as long as I live, and that might be a long time.
 

 

So, Rays Front Office, the choice is yours. Either you think about one of those ideas I gave you, or you have to suck it up and pay out the money for new balls daily. I know this complex is not Raymond J Namoli complex, but it has a beauty and a confined space that just says baseball. This is the infant stage of the new complex, problem will arise daily and be dealt with, but if the fact that baseballs are flying into the lakes or the parking lot might cause further financial damage to you, then think about a few of these solutions. I can be there at 9 :30 every day if you need me until April, then I have reservations to shag balls daily in the right field stands at the Trop. 
 
 

 
Photo Credits for Today’s blog:  www.scubadiving.com, www.texnet.com, falkensmaize and missannthrope723 @ Flickr.com
 
 

4 Comments

I love the idea of giving the fans a chance to get the balls! You know there are a bunch of kids who would love to do it! But isn’t it amazing what some people DON”T take into consideration when they are planning things? I grew up in the city of Newton Massachusetts and we had two high schools – Newton North & Newton South (I know – original.) Anyway, the new Newton North opened while I was still in school (when it was time for HS I went to South) and it had all the bells and whistle. A few weeks after it opened, it was noted that the bottom the swimming pool was peeling and they needed to drain it to refinish it. The problem – they soon discovered that the pool had been built without a drain in it! The fire department had to pump in out! So sadly I can see how the Rays management might have missed the LAKES behind the practice fields. It does make you wonder at times how these idiots can be running things and not the likes of us! Oh well! Happy swimming!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I am usually happy with the idea coming into maturity in a plan, but maybe they did not think we would have heavy hitter on the squad?

The wild part about building something on a large scale is sometimes a small step can be lost until it is all over. I have to think that when Walt Disney World in Orlando was built, they forgot a few things long the way, but masked them well enough to furnish the solutions without everyone noticing them.

Believe me, I would not want to run this ball club. Not that I can not handel pressure or even have a baseball mindset, but becuase of the constant B S I would have to shovel daily. I would need a dumptruck for some of my quotes lol

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

All great and viable ideas! Keep up the insightful work.
~Matt
http://bloggingboutbaseball.mlblogs.com/

It was just funny when I first read about it yesterday.

During B P you lose maybe 40-50 balls per game, and also have some given away by players and that is okay. But if they hit the water by go it is a crime against nature. Hopefully an alligator will not eat one of those balls and die.

Then the Fish and Wildlife Commission will be aprked by the roadside with binoculars looking for balls hitting the water, or endangering the cranes and herons that are heading south again in March.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mblogs.com

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