Rainy Days and Mondays Get me Down
My Weather Channel Views
Man oh man. I have been here before. As Yogi Berra once said, “It was Deja vu all over again” today. I still can not believe it has been almost 161 days since our last official rain out involving the Tampa Bay Rays. That is right, we have not seen the tarp, or even a mention of that liquid sunshine since October 27, 2008 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. How ironic is it that basically two out of our last three games have been postponed by the actions of random drops of liquid. Wow, considering that we play in a domed stadium, this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often to use during the regular season.
I mean some of the only games to ever be postponed at Tropicana Field had a rain element, but it was associated with Hurricanes, not basic thunderstorms. But for the Rays to again be subject to a postponed game via the elements is just nature’s way of telling us they have control, and not us or Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. We even streamlined the regulations and ruling in our MLB rule book to keep these water goblets from controlling our baseball existence. We have modified and summarized the paragraphs to facilitate a strong and useful guide to rain and its hazards…right? I mean come on, is the real problem just a simple rain shower, or could all of this simply be erased with a bit of better meteorological brain usage about the climate changes involved with Spring weather and its surprising effects on the Northeast and Central regions of the country.
I know that the logistics and the early bird planning into the years schedule are submitted and even laid out before the September games even start each year. But it truly amazes me that in the last few years, the dominant section of the country to get Opening Day games is the Northeast, and when a game is postponed by weather, we all gasp. I know the schedulers do not like the Rays, that is fine with me, I am not here to change society, just the machine that keeps picking northern cities that can still be subject to snow and rain to begin the season. I mean come on eggheads, you have to know that this first week in April can be as predictable as a storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
And with that simple knowledge, can’t we pick southern or warm weather climate for the first series of games every year. I know that in September, you can usually get approval and even make solid appointment dates on the upcoming years calendar for stadiums and concession needs. But why is it that this is the second year in a row that some kids, and kid/adults have to suffer and stroll aimlessly back home after coming into the city to see the first big game of the year. Cleveland fans had their days ruined last season. Chicago White Sox fans have their dreams halted for at least 24 hours because of snow. Okay, solidified masses of rain can be dangerous to play on, that is a gimme, but could it have been avoided if the team had played this first match up in Kansas City today?
I am not saying that the Rays should be playing Boston at home to open the season. I think the Boston fans might think it was too early to again hit the parking lots of the Trop. since Game 7 of the ALCS. But seriously, we have a forecast for rain today, and the only wetness that might hit your lips in our stands is the gentile first sip of that beer or soda after you enter the stadium. Planning can be hard, I can understand that. But I also know that every team submits a proposal to MLB about their wants and desires for the upcoming season. And in this reports is the fact that every team wants to start the year at home. And what is wrong with that you say? Not every team can get their initial wish list, and hard decision have to be made about the schedule.
But shouldn’t the easiest bit of the schedule be to pick cities that do not have a history of weather situations in April. I mean if Buffalo, New York had a MLB squad, they would certainly be on the road the first week of the season almost every year. That is just the fact of the Great Lakes weather pattern to drop snow and rain in the region in this time of year. With the Central region or the Iron Belt getting hit the last two years with late Winter weather, should the Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit region get a slate of Opening Day games? There will be a debate about this for years, but doesn’t MLB get embarrassed, and even a bit nervous that fans can not just take a second day off work, or even make their way to the ballpark after a postponement.
I know after the October 27th game in Philadelphia, I had to give my ticket to a close friend who lived in Boyertown, outside Philly to the conclusion of Game 5 of the World Series. I did not have the money to book another flight home, or even find a hotel room within the Philly city limits for the following day. Conventions and other activities kept me from staying for that final game. You might remember that the Rays had to find lodging in Delaware at the DuPont Hotel to even be able to stay for the extra two days for the conclusion of the game, and the series. I am not going to close this my stating that everyone needs an domed, or even a retractable roof stadium up in the northern states. Far from it.
I would not have Progressive Field/ The Jake, so high on my list of favorite stadiums if it was not for the city skyline right there hovering over the stadium. I would not have the same homely feeling about Wrigley field if I could not see the people in the neighboring high apartment building also cheering along with the stadium hopefuls. And I can definitely say that Camden Yards would be doomed by a dome or any kind of retractable roof on it. The sight of the warehouse in right field is as symbolic to me as ivy on Wrigley’s walls, or the plane beacon twinkling in the Cleveland skyline. I just want, hope, and dream that some compromise can be reached so that we can somehow play these games in the first week of April on time. Summertime is made for rain delays and also weather’s magical changes. But not when the energy and the anxious anticipation of a season is dashed by rain, snow or sleet.
Hambone Goes to Mile High
I going to miss that tall and lanky kid. I truly am. But I am not the only one, there are several people already posting comments and lines about Jason Hammel being traded by the Rays yesterday to the Colorado Rockies. The kid was well liked by the Rays faithful. More because he was still a huge kid-at-heart. Hambone was one of those guys you wanted to hang out and maybe fish or just talk sports with after a game. He was so perfect for the fan base of the Rays. I remember his smirky grin and smile daily down in the Bullpen, but you never saw him get upset on the field. I did however see a glove thrown at the bench after a bad outing, but that is just part of the game. Frustrations come and go, but people like Hammel come along once in a while, at best.
So when the Rays said he was going to pitch on Sunday in an inner-squad game, I knew he was about to be jettisoned from the team. Even though fellow tall and lanky fifth spot prospect Jeff Niemann was going to be throwing in the same game, you knew that Hammel was going to be the prize. Not just for his youth and experience already in the MLB, but because he has not had any serious health or injury concerns yet in his career. That is a major thing in baseball trades. People see the numbers and reports, but the physical elements play just as big a factor in the conclusion. So Hammel will take his career mark of 7-15 with him after his three years up with the Rays. He will be used first as a long-reliever for the Rockies, but it could work into a few odd starts during the season for him.
But who would have imagined that the guy who once put on the mascot costume for Treasure Valley ( Ore.) Community college would ever be pitching on a major league field. That is right, during his freshman and sophomore years he would don the Chukar bird costume and entertain during his teams baseketball games. At 6 foot 6 inches, you might think he would be on the court in uniform, not in costume. But that is the character of Hammel. He is that “good old boy” that people talk about, he is the guy who think beyond just himself both on and off the field. I mean how many people know that this guy is a real artist. I am serious here, he has designed tattoos for team mates, and also has a “Hammel” original on his own body.
That is right, he designed his own body art. It is a baseball ( of course) with red flames trailing off of it with a baseball diamond in the background. Hammel is also a huge supporter of Barry Zito’s charity “Strikeouts For Troops”. He was first informed by fellow Rays Bullpen member Dan Wheeler about the charity, and quickly got a hold of Zito and the organizations staff to provide his services. So for every one of his 44 strikeouts in 2008, he donated money to the organization. But he is also one of the first guys to always volunteer to go to events like the Moffitt Cancer center and do clinics and work with the kids on their baseball skills, or just throw the ball around for a while.
Hammel is one of those guys you want to root for once he leaves your team. I am so sorry to see him leave the Rays and head to Colorado, but I also know I will see him again real soon. You might remember that the team has a 3-game series in Denver from June 16-18th, and I will be in the stands for that Inter-League series. I was kind of on the fence about going to this series before the trade announcement. Now I want to go to just wish him well, and see that toothy grin one more time.
Thank You MAX Blog Voters
I am truly humbled and thankful for everyone who took the time to vote and also even consider me for the 2008 The Max Blog Tourney still going on at http://themax.mlblogs.com. Seriously here people, I am having a great time voting every day for these match ups and never thought I had the mustard to get past the top 16, much less be considered for a Final Four slot. It can be truly mesmerizing at time to see how people view you online. Most nights and day we see the comments and the rankings, but sometimes an event like this can show you why you love to write these blog entries every day, and look forward to it.
I love writing, and with your votes you have told me you like what I write most of the time too. I am sorry that all of the bloggers in this tourney can not survive the match ups. I mean my last match up was with fellow American League blogger Jen, our favorite White Sox fan from “The Diatribes of a Law Student”. She is an awesome writer who seems to get better every month and is streaking up the ranking because of her muses. I know I checked at one point on Friday night and she had a good lead, and I thought it was all over for me at that point. But somehow I got a last minute surge on Sunday. Please do not forget to vote for the other people trying to gain a spot in the Final Four. I know today’s match up had my buddy Don at “Rockpile Rants” going up against “Eat, Sleep, Baseball.” This is another great match up that deserves your votes for either guy. So do not forget to cast your ballots at http://themax.mlblogs.com today. I am one blogger who can attest that every ballot and vote counts in this great tourney.
Photo credits: 1) www.boston.com ( Jim Davis)
2) Associated Press (unknown)