Rays Fan Favorite Says Goodbye

                                 
                                  www.tbo.com



When I went to my local gas station today to get my morning paper, I had a sense that it was going to be a special day today. No, it was not the clear blue skies, or even the bird chirping above me in the old oak trees, there was a special crispness to the air. I was not sure why at the time, but something just seemed to click in the wrold today. All just seemed pleasant in Happy Valley. So I wentinto the store and bought my usual morning Moon Pie and a Dr. Pepper, then picked up my local paper for viewing back home in the outside porch swing.

And I followed my daily routine that you could set a watch by, first checking out the Sports section, then doing an always mind rousing game of “Catch my attention” with the rest of the paper. I had done this since I first went to college to get my mind used to processing lead paragraphs and getting into that “journalistic mindset” I hoped to use post-education in my life. But a funny thing happened to me this morning. As I was glancing and bouncing from headline to headline, I usually just pass over all the advertisements without a hint of thought and just check the lead-ins of each story on the page.

But today, a great big color ad on page 3-A of the St. Petersburg Times caught my eye and made me smile and reflect on an old baseball buddy who was now miles away looking at a different water scene. For in front of my eyes was a beautiful eye-catching ad done by the Times advertising department, and it definitely made my day. It was the “Goodbye” message from a player we all got to know well in his short time with the Tampa Bay Rays. But above all, it was the closure most of us needed after a fast and furious trade made during the Rays last road trip. A lot of us did not get to say our goodbyes, or even voice a single note of support or “thank you’s” to this guy.

Anyone who knows me also knows I have a special place in my Rays past memories for Scott Kazmir. He has always been one of those Rays players who always made time, even a few seconds for a fan, no matter what was going on around him. And it is that slice of kindness and humanity that will always has me thanking my lucky stars I got to meet such a great player. Kazmir was just one of those guys who when he talked to you, talked like you were friends for a long time, and that was always a treat. Always had a smile on his face, and even knew some of our names and said them out loud when greeting us.


www.yahoo.com

Sure, he might have come over and chatted knowing I wrote a blog, or he might have just come over with the realization that I speak some no BS when it comes to baseball. But just the fact he came over was amazing to me. But if you ever watched him on days where he did not pitch, or “held court in the dugout”, you would get the idea. He knew the fans were important, and he cherished the loyalty that this fan base had for him. But, most of all, he made himself an open book for all of us to enjoy during his Rays career.

The advert was amazing because a lot of Tampa Bay is still on the fence with the deal, and not sure which way to support at times. But in the end, with this visual if him smiling from the page which was firmly in my hands, I knew that he was going to miss us too. Kazmir really enjoyed the attention and the admiration of the fans, both young and old. Heck, he was one of the only players I ever saw right after coming off the Bullpen mound warming-up for a game to go to the Bullpen wall and sign a few autographs. But that was Kazmir.

I have to say, after the way the trade went so quick, I am so glad I got to have a few seconds with him playing a simple game at the Rays Gameworks party jousting for rebounds and making long 3-point shots. That will be my last moments with this great pitcher, playing a NBA-style basketball game moving the joysticks at break neck speed while both of us fed our competitve spirits.  I almost wished I was 20 years younger so i could hang out with him more at that time. But that is how much he put everyone at ease who met him, and that is a special gift that will be with him long into his baseball career.


RRCollections


On a day when the front page of the Sports section mourned the loss of an offensive giant on the Rays, it is funny that page 3-A is going to have the most impact on me today. Not lost in the moment is the visual closure we can now have knowing that when he got on that plane bound for Los Angeles, he might have thought about the fans he left behind. But with this ad, we have that clsoure, that meaning of what this guy meant to us as Rays fans. It might have been a non-verbal “Goodbye”, but I can still hear him talking, laughing and enjoying his Rays tenure……..and with that a single tear came down my cheek.

  

16 Comments

Rays how wonderful was that post!!

I enjoy your routine.

I know how it is to lose your favorite.

How about Victor Martinez:

He was the one who cried.

He didn’t want to leave CLE.

We loved him and he loved us.

Same with you and Kazmir.

I am so happy that he has said his ‘goodbyes’

and is still being nice to the Rays organization,

and I hope he still is.

But if the Rays and Angels make the playoffs – he isn’t going to be mister nice guy anymore! :)

Great post Cliff.

–Ted “TTW/T” –

http://tribewithted.mlblogs.com/

Ted,
Actually, it will probably be Kazmir making his second straight playoff appearance, and he is a bull against the Red Sox and Yankees.
Our chances are not zero yet, but fading faster than a plate of chicken wings at a NFL Fantasy League draft.
Rocco Baldelli also did the same thing, which shows you the Rays have had a few really classy guys on our rosters the last few years.
Kazmir looked good in his last start, and should have another in the next few days. He will be missed around the Trop.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

That post really choked me up. I’m glad you got some closure from the ad. The trade seemed to happen so fast; suddenly Kazmir was an Angel. So I can only imagine what his leaving meant to you. I know you’ll always wish him well, no matter what uniform he wears.

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
You know me well by now.
I will cheer for him the way I cheer for Edwin Jackson last homestand, and Seth McClung in Milwaukee.
Once a Ray, always a Ray. Even Chad Gaudin tonight.
I would have liked to say goodbye, but so do so many here in Tampa Bay.
But I know in the offseason I might see him bowling and get a chance to do it in person.
Hopefully!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Rays,
Wonderful post. I am truly blessed to know so many of you thru these forums. I throughly enjoy reading the blogs of so many baseball fans here. I should not spend so much time reading but I have so much fun doing it.
.
Edwin Jackson will always have a special place in my heart because he was brought up thru the Dodger organization and I will never forget his first MLB game against Randy Johnson. Just like Mike Scioscia that was brought thru the Dodger organization. He was a favorite of mine.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

I hope you do get a chance to say goodbye this off season. He seems to be enjoying his time in Anaheim – and hopefully he will continue to be a fan favorite out there as well as in the Tampa Bay area. He took the time to say hi to Colin and I in Toronto, and to a couple of kids standing close to us. It’s very heartwarming to know that he will miss the fans. Shows how much he thought of them. The Angels fans are getting a great guy – one who’s smile doesn’t fade very often.
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Emma,
Funny, I think the same thing about Edwin Jackson. When he first got to Tampa Bay I saw him in street clothes on the sidelines of Al Lang and told him he would love it here in Tampa Bay.
I saw him last Friday during BP and we shook hands and chatted for a few minutes and I finally got to say goodbye to him.
They are always Rays players, and that will never change.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ginny,
I am fine.
I know this was his way of telling the community the love and the memories will never leave his mind.
If I see him bowling, or somewhere on the street, then verbally I can only hope he is having a great time in LA too.
Angels are getting a great pitcher and someone who becomes part of the community.
For that they are getting more than just a player, they are getting a role model.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

That was a beautiful post my friend. I was right there with you eating that moon pie and enjoying the Dr. ; )

Buz – http://buzblog.mlblogs.com/

Cliff – when players do things like this, it just reminds us what classy individuals they are. That there is more to them then just sports. They are really people with feelings who appreciate what their fans do for them. I hope you do get a chance to see him in the off-season.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Buz,
Thank you for that.
I do not think you want to be around me when I have my morning Dr. Pepper cravings.
The kids run for the hills until I get my cold caffiene and my sweet, chocolate Moonpie.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Great post, it was a tough loss to the rays when Scott went… the Ad in the paper is a nice touch… pat Burrell did a similar thing in the Philly papers…
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Peter,
Thanks for the kind comments.
Yeah, I saw the Philadelphia Enquirer ad that Burrell took out after he left Philly.
That is the telling point when players leave. The ones who feel a connection to the community seen to post those ads, which is a bit of closure for the fans.
Not sure if he would do it again if he left Tampa Bay. So far it has been a hot and cold relationship with the fans here.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Great post. It’s been really tough to see Scott as an Angel. =(
I’m glad he did the Ad in the paper. Shows his parents raised him right and how much he appreciates his fans.

We miss you in Tampa Bay baby boo!

Thank you Kiki,
Kazmir is missed daily by the Rays fan base, and I know so many wish they could have said goodbye to him either with a standing ovation or a personal shout-out.
But that was not in the cards since he was traded during a Rays road trip.
It was a classy thing for him to do, and is a bit of closure for the community.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Buz,
Hate to ruin the scenario, but i do not share my Moonpie and Dr Pepper.
sorry, but I can get you another one, maybe even the strawberry creme-filled one for your pleasure.
Thanks for the comments.
Excuse me while I finish my Dr. Pepper.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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