Shoppach Finally Won Me Over

Not sure why it took me so long to see this “other side” of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach. Most just get to see that focused and persistent of his Rays game day persona on the diamond where achieving positive results are warranted and his emotional outbursts tend to be genuine to a fault. Not sure why I held a wall up towards Shoppach, not wanting to really know this guy.

It is true I wasn’t a firm member of the Shoppach admiration society when Shoppach first came to the Rays from the Cleveland Indians. I somehow initially considered him a retread version of former Rays disgruntled employee Dioner Navarro. You know, good behind the dish but mediocre standing at it.

Maybe it was his Red Sox past that kept me from seeing him in any hint of early positive light. Possibly I mis-labeled his game day intensity and focus as arrogance and bit of a conceit instead of their true intentions. Got to admit now, I wasted a lot of time avoiding this guy like the plague when I should been open to seeing his true colors.

Over the past month or so I have gotten to see a different side of Shoppach. Not from personal one-on-one conversations over a Vente cup of Starbucks brew, or even on the Rays sidelines. The avenues that opened my mind towards Shoppach was his muses and 140-character visions Shoppach displayed daily on the social media site Twitter.

If it wasn’t for his Twitter handle @ShopHouse10, I would not have known about his deep seeded Starbucks daily obsession, or his love for his old Alma Mater, Baylor University. Maybe that is what bonded me finally to Shoppach, his love for the Baylor Bears. That was the college squad I last played for before taking my next step in my football career, and I hold my moments in Waco,Texas very close to my heart.

Or maybe it was his selfless actions pre-game before the Rays first “Tweet Up” when Shoppach made a point to stroll down to the Rays Bullpen with his own personalized Rays Tweet In T-shirt nestled above his glove complete with his signature in black Sharpie. Shoppach walked over and I almost took the t-shirt, but did the Southern guy thing and made sure the girl next to me got the new found treasure.

It was a grand gesture that finally opened my eyes and mind to the honest fact that Shoppach is truly a “Good old Boy” at heart, and someone I had misjudged. Even though the first day Shoppach wrote on Twitter I made sure to re-tweet his new handle and promote a new Ray on Twitter, that moment instantly made me a Shoppach fan.

Maybe I should have known that Shoppach had those Texas traits embodied in him as I had transfused into me those 2 years in Waco. Possibly his 2010 walk-up song “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean should have awoken me, but that small but grand gesture that afternoon sealed the deal for me.

Heck, I take my cap off to Shoppach, not a lot of Rays players who boast Twitter accounts came down there that afternoon to socialize with the “Rays Tweet Family”, but Shoppach made a point to show his support, even though Shoppach was starting behind the plate that day. Pity it took me this long to see this real side of Shoppach.

Especially since these last handful of home games might be the last time I get to holler towards him as a member of the Rays. Shoppach is one of the three Rays who have pending 2012 club options that will be addressed by the Rays front office after this season. All signs point towards the Rays declining this club option considering the recent bevy of young backstops showing their skills and prowess in 2011. Shoppach’s days are surely numbered with the Rays.

But that is the nature of the business side of baseball. Sometimes you just start to see someone true abilities and intentions and they are gone. But this brief recent discovery of Shoppach’s other side will keep me checking in on him no matter where he puts his glove in 2012.

I have found a player who I can respect both on and off the field for his comments, efforts and his beliefs. Keep posting those great 140-character glimpses into your mind, I am eager to get to know a little more about @ShopHouse10 every day. By the way, I agree with your Twitter follower @LeeBarlett, Starbucks should have a local Tampa Bay confection for the rest of 2011 called the Caffe Vanilla Shopalatte….just sayin.

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