Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

2009 State Farm Home Run Derby thoughts

 

Most people call it the “most exciting play in baseball.” I am talking about the one play that can make even a visiting crowd stand up and rise to their feet and cheer and celebrate the true nature of the play. No, it is not a around-the-horn ( 5-6-3 ) double play but the always exciting home run. It doesn’t matter if it is a solo shot or a Grand Slam, people love seeing that ball take its extreme flight path from home plate to its final resting place hopefully in someones hands in the stands.  It is a play that in one swing of the bat can take a game and transform it in so many different directions for the two teams involved in the contest.

It packs the essence of power, of skill and of will power all compacted  in that one solid swing against that little white ball. But it can also hold the hopes and dreams of winning with it’s majestic path towards the outfield walls. There is no other play in baseball that is held in such a high level of respect and admiration when it comes to hitting. 

So we have come to that point just beyond the halfway mark where we celebrate everything that is great about the long ball for one long night. The stage and the players have been set, and their game faces will be different tonight because they will get to also celebrate with fellow teammates and All Stars from both leagues sitting right there within eye sight of the participants.
 

At today’s media day, there will be a million questions thrown at the participants in this seasons State Farm Home Run Derby.  Some asking about totals, distance, or if they can hit the Mastercard banner and win someone some extra spending money for the week. But hopefully someone will remember to ask this one question, this one simple thing that could bring a bold smile to each of their faces. ” What is your motivation for tonight’s event?”

Some of those questions will merit unique answers that might take a player back several years into their past. Others might speak of recent injuries or events that have shaken their core and made them a better player.  And other might just see it as an opportunity to introduce themselves to the world’s audience as both a player and as a person.

The event had grown into a  huge precursor to the All Star Game itself. To say the  Home Run Derby event has taken on a life of its own would not be too far fetched at all. E Bay will be full of 2009 Home Run Derby balls on Tuesday morning, including the gold-colored balls used to escalate the fortunes of charities tonight. For some to be at the event is enough, to celebrate the act of the Home Run and see the cheers of the crowd will be like drinking 5 Amp energy drinks in a row. Sparks will fly, minds will wander and kids will fall all over the outfield trying to catch these hit balls.

Heck, I even took a gander over there today and saw a ball from the 2008 Home Run Derby signed by Hamilton up for bid right now at $ 169.99. But then again that is a “Buy now” option that might not be met. But there is a smattering of about nine past HR Derby balls from 2001 to 2005  all running under $ 40 right now.  It is great that this event has  elevated itself to its current stature in the 3-days events surrounding the All Star Game.

It is hard to even remember that this event might have been made possible by a simple television program stated in the 1960’s. The black and white “Home Run Derby” show was so popular in the 1960’s that it had to have spawned the current event. Even though these shows only pitted two of the best home run hitter of that season, it  did have a huge impact on the future of the art of hitting the long ball. I remember seeing a few dozen of these shows as a kid and trying to copy the swings in Little League. But you did try and copy them because they were your heroes and you wanted to see them blast the ball into the stands with every pitch.

And the Home Run Derby did not hurt its image last season when the world got to see the re-emergence of Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. From the  great personal story of Craig Counsel, his former AAU coach and personal Home Run Derby pitcher, to the struggles and demons Hamilton had to wash away to get back to this stage, it set up a heroes return to the game that impassions him from top to bottom.  And  his shattering of the events record books only goes to show that anyone can take the stage. But how many people remember that he did not win the event?

And America ate it up like a hot, creamy plate of mac & cheese. But it was also the kind of message that needs to be delivered to the youth of this country. That even if you hit rock bottom and the depths of despair, with a little faith and the courage to change, the world is at your feet.

But what will be the story this year?  Will it be another coming out party for another one of baseball’s stars. You know one of the great “feel good” stories will be the coming back from injury of Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, which  also rhymes with power, this season. The young catcher has been known for his scattering of hits and his placement of the ball in achieving his current AL leading .373 average. It will be exciting to see him bend his back and thrust that bat to produce some power tonight in the Home Run Derby.

It might also be one of the “coming out” parties I eluded to in the beginning of the blog. Most people associate him with hitting in general. With a good showing in the H R Derby, he will also put his name on you mind when you think of Home Run potential. It is another aspect of his hitting game that might not get the attention it deserves, before tonight’s event.

Then you have someone like the Tampa Bay Rays Carlos Pena, who had been tossed around the league for a few years from teams from the Rangers,Oakland A’s, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees before he got a non-roster invitee invitation to Spring Training in 2007 from the Rays. Pena  has always had the great glove, awesome power and the ability to pull a team together, but they had not all combined together at the same time before his stint with the Rays.

That spring in St. Petersburg, Florida his game came together and his power numbers have been impressive over the past 2 1/2 seasons. Pena has hit 101 homers with 282 RBI  since his Opening Day start for the Rays in 2007. To even hear the story of him dreaming he was going to be on the plane to New York for the opening series after Rays Manager Joe Maddon informed him he was going to Triple-A to begin the season is amazing. 

An unfortunate injury to Greg Norton opened the door for Pena to fly with the team to New York, and he has been with them ever since. Pena has a very natural home run swing, and the rightfield fence in Busch Stadium, which is 335 feet down the line, could play a major role in how he does tonight.  But when you see him lean back and swing through the ball you have the thought in your mind each hit could go over the wall. He has the ability to take any pitch and drive it, so tonight might make people remember his name.

Brandon Inge, here is a guy I have been pulling for all year long for the Detroit Tigers. He has more homers and RBI than Miguel Cabrera, but most people outside of the American League do not even know his name. Because of his pairing with Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino in the All Star Game Sprint Final Vote, he has been dubbed the front part of the “Bran Torino” pairing.

This former catcher, turned third baseman has been doing the same thing for years without the acknowledgments, but tonight he can also get his name out there for future shots at the All Star team. Hidden beneath the names of Magglio Ordonez and Cabrera, Inge has been the consistent power monger on the Tigers this season. With 21 homers and 58 RBI, he is showing his numbers fit right into the program for the Home Run Derby. He even hit two on Saturday night to maybe get some extra momentum going into tonight’s event.

The reason you have seen only AL names listed here is because of the recent video by Harold Reynolds that put all the focus on the NL first baseman getting ready to participate in the event tonight. I am not taking Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard for granted at all, but to single out the four first baseman and not even chat about the AL competitors is just wrong.

It is for that reason I want to see Mauer,Inge,Pena and Ranger Nelson Cruz slam the door shut on the National League guys. That is right, I want to see a barn burner where the AL comes out on top…again. I am sorry if it is Albert’s house, but it is our event to win tonight. By Reynolds putting that video out with so much emphasis on the NL and not a word about the AL is good old fashioned bulletin board fodder that will be eaten up by the AL participants.

Let the balls fly where they may, but I am going to throw out my final round prediction here: Mauer versus Inge for all the marbles. And if you want a great story, either one of these guys could win it all tonight. But the best part is all of us get to witness some awesome power tonight, and maybe another player will step from the shadows tonight and become another favorite of the world and of your kids.

 

bRAA versus xRR Equals What the……?

I was sitting there in my favorite sports bar the other day when it came to my mind that in the last few years there have been a multitude of adaptations and abbreviations transformed and formulated to even decipher the amount of chew spits a player makes during a plate appearance. It was at this time that I had a brainstorm thought about the Tampa Bay Rays and decided to pull out the old laptop and try and do some fast research while he went to did some business.

I jotted down a few fast pages of statistics from the bevy of sites like www.Fangraphs.com, who have developed a whole new language within baseball and speak about phrases and even notations that most sports fans have not even heard of before. I mean,  until I ventured online looking for their explanation I could not tell you what  bRAA, or even Tra stood for in baseball statistics talk. So let me try and decipher the first two here for you then get back to my conversation. BRAA is actually an abbreviation for batting runs above average. It is computed by taking a hitters RV/PA ( Runs valued per Pitches attempted above average) and multiplying the number of plate appearances  he has had that season.

Okay now that I have you maybe totally confused, or I am talking Esperanto to you, let me use the first research abbreviation noted above with the American League MVP, Dustin Pedroia, and the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria.  So using the formula of  bRAA, I have calculated that Pedroia’s was 24.1 in 2008. 

If you consider that his bRAA has risen from -7.8 in 2006, to a respectable 10.1 last season during his own ROY season, you can see the progression of this young hitting star. If you take the current ROY, Longoria, this is his first true season in the big leagues, so he doesn’t have even 1 at bat to put into account to show the fast progression of his hitting in the AL. But then again, when you come into the league for the first time, and have a projection of 16.4, the sky is the limit.

So unlike Pedroia, Longoria is showing immediate plus plate appearances and making his presence know in the M L B. That bodes well for the league and for his team in the coming seasons as his bRAA will increase a bit, and might spark another strong run at the playoffs for the young Rays. So as you can see, the S A B R guys have taken a huge hold of baseball, and that is not a bad thing. As Kevin Costner said in the movie, “For the Love of the Game”  when asked if baseball counts everything, he said ” We count everything, it is what we do.”

Odd stats and projections have become the backbone of fantasy leagues and professional betters and has been absorbed into everyday life now. 5 years ago, who would have known what OPS stood for, and what offensive production number were accumulated in that statistic. Now it is a commonly used graphic on most every ballpark in America when a hitter comes to bat. 

I know there have been a few time this past season that I took out my laptop at games and tried to update a certain stat, or even produce a stat to supplement a comment I was making to a seat mate or even another fan in the section. It is almost as if very soon there will be a second language spoken only by statistics mongrels and the cyber republic to express our actions and reactions in abbreviations and commas. But that is not always a bad thing.

Since baseball is a game where statistics are law, and the amount of statistical firepower can make a drunk fan sit down and ponder even a simple fact, it is the reality of baseball in the modern days. I know my Dad used to say the only stats that matter are the ones under the “H”, “R” and “E” spots on the scoreboard. Now that is not to mean he did not know the batting averages or a the pitching selections of his favorite players’, but the love of the game was more physical to them.

Today, the game is taking on more power beyond just the batted ball or the nice 12-6 break on a curve ball. It is becoming a game where science and logic and even that math class we all hated in college statistics is coming to the forefront of information. I mean who was the top pitcher in 2008?

Was it C C Sabathia, or even Derek Lowe?  Or could someone like Randy Johnson or Ervin Santana sneak into the Top 10 without us even noticing it. To be totally truthful here, Sabathia was listed twice in the Top 10 performances of 2008. He was the top selection and also the 10th for his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, and Cleveland Indians. And how did Lee sneak all the way up to number 3 without anyone noticing him until late in the season, and during the playoffs. Sometimes the statistics as a whole show better productivity and more stable references to a players’ true nature at the plate or on the mound in baseball.

Okay, let’s head the other direction, who was the best in the batter’s box in 2008, was it the MVP’s of both leagues, Dustin Pedroia, or Albert Pujols?  Or did someone else have a banner year and got lost in the shuffle?  If you guessed Pujols, you win a huge prize. He had the best season of anyone is baseball at the plate in 2008. But if you picked Pedroia, you might be disappointed to know he did not even rank in the top 20 in offense in 2008.

He did have an amazing post season, but the season only produced him a slot at number 23, and that was not even the best showing on the Boston Red Sox. That slot went to Kevin Youkilis, who came in at number 9. And Pedroia did not come even second on his own team. So you to wonder, just how great a season did he have if he was ranked 4th on his own squad in total offensive numbers in 2008.

Well, if you consider the fact that Youkilis probably had his best season as a professional this season, his selection at number 9 might be realistic for him. But the two guys in front of Pedroia also had injury concerns in 2008, but when they were able to hit the plate, they were effective for their team. Both J D Drew ( 13) and Pre-Trade Deadline Manny Ramirez (12) had better statistics than the American League Most Valuable Player.

So since I am a Rays fan, I also took the liberty of seeing how my guys did on both lists.  Well, even though we did have an amazing run towards that beautiful trophy in October, we missed out and will have to repeat to have another shot to hoist that beauty in the air. I scanned over the sheets and saw that pitching wise, we did not fare really bad on the list.

James Shields actually coming out  18th in the top 20 of the 2008 listing.  Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir came in at 54th and 61st respectfully, and that is a great showing that the Rays had 3 guys in the top 60-ish of baseball.  The one guy who really got me excited was the fact that number 4 starter, Andy Sonnanstine blew past Garza and Kazmir and came out a impressive 31st on the final list. He had some great statistics behind the front numbers and has shown some remarkable consistent numbers in 2008. 

So the next time you want to wonder why Sonnanstine is still here and Jackson is gone, you can look at the 2008 numbers and they tell a very clear story. Jackson was listed at 114th best in baseball, while Sonnanstine was in the 31st slot. Consistency wins ball games, and with the Rays being a truly statistic friendly team, you know that Rays Manager Joe Maddon sees the potential of Sonnanstine even growing in 2009 for the team.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Rays did have a few guys who did better at the plate then imagined early on in the season. The team actually placed 3 guys in the top 100 hitters in 2008. As you might expect, Carlos Pena was the highest Rays with a ranking of 29th for the year. That was followed by a 55th spot by Longoria, and a 92nd slot for center fielder B J Upton.

On the surface, people thought the Upton was having a down season, which he actually was due to a shoulder injury, but with him adjusting his swing and even placing into the top 100, the sky is the limit when he is fit and healthy in 2009. And with Longoria placing so high as a rookie, it also sets a high expectation level for him in 2009. Hopefully the sophomore jinx will not hit him and he can remain in pace to become a new star at third base for the M L B.

But the category that really had my eyes popping was in the relief pitching listings. The Rays were consistently being praised for their upgrades in their Bullpen, and with the huge developments in their relievers, but just how great was this change for the team?  The squad actually placed two guys high on the list.

Considering the guy who came in at number 10 on the list was not even on the Rays Opening Day roster is a amazement in itself, but he did not get any reputation, or even recognition until he came back with a fire in his belly to prove the world wrong about him. Grant Balfour came back to St. Petersburg, Florida to fulfill a potential of being a top 10 reliever in the M L B, not just the AL. If I took the top 10 and split them by leagues, Balfour would rank 7th in the American League. 

But as great as the story is on the emergence of Balfour, the productivity of  J P Howell can not be measured by just the statistics. During the season I saw the guy who used to slunk by the Bullpen area come alive this season and become a fan favorite for his personality and his spunk. As Howell gained strength and great numbers, he also opened up to the fans and showed that great inner champion to him. Howell just missed the top 50 in baseball by 2 slots, but he is a top guy based on his upswing in 2008.

So as we can see, the basic statistics in baseball sites and on leader boards can not always show you the total package of a player. Be it a MVP winner who is not even the 4th best player on his team, or a 5th starter who is actually statistically better than 3 other starting pitchers on his squad, the number can be deceiving at time.  But we already knew that didn’t we?

 

World Series Tidbits…………….. The Late Saturday Night Edition

 

 

                    

 

Tonight’s game might not have been the best weather for a baseball game of this magnitude, but it did live up to each teams’ strong points. the Rays have used the small ball philosophy to score alot of runs this year. the base bstealing and the timely hits came for the Rays, but in the end, a well placed ball did them in last night.

Nothing to ashamed of here. This is the time of year where lucky is as good as a .300 hitter. The Phillies did what they do best last night, they sent 3 balls into the stands and posted 3 runs on them.  The Rays almost had a loong ball fo their own, but the baseball gods in Philly did not want Longoria to post one up tonight. That ball seemed to swirl up the air for a bit before Burrell took it into his mitt for the 3rd out of the inning.

The real winner is the fans of both teams who saw a pitcher almost my age post the game of his life. The Phillies needed Moyer to come through in a big way, and he delivered on the mound and in the field. Okay, okay, he did get Upton in time with that amazing toss from his glove, but big old Ryan Howard also blocked the barehanded catch. If the umpire was placed in foul territory, it would have been a no-brainer call.

Case in point, the umpires have made alot of great calls in this series so far, but we all only remember at least one a game for a sheer fact of it either being a bad call, or a judgement call in a nano second. Give me a break,  the baseball umpires have gotten it right more times than not in this series, so let’s stop bringing them into the eqation every night.

 

 

 

Pujols Slams Another Award Home

For each of his first 8 years in the majors, Albert Pujols has produced more than 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. That already is twice as many as anyone in MLB history. But he said what happened at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night will bring him more gratification than anything in his storied career

The Cardinals’ star first baseman received the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award before the start of Game 3 of the World Series in recognition of the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team. As part of this year’s presentation, Chevy is donating $30,000 and a 2009 Chevy Traverse to the Pujols Family Foundation.

 

 

As is customary before every Game 3 of the Fall Classic, Commissioner Bud Selig made the announcement on Saturday at a news conference that included the recipient as well as Vera Clemente, the widow of the great Roberto Clemente, who died in a 1972 plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua. This award was first bestowed by MLB in 1971, and was renamed in Clemente’s honor in 1973.

 

Pujols, 28, had been the Cardinals’ nominee for the 4th year in a row. He was selected from a list of 30 nominees, one from each MLB club. A panel of dignitaries, including Selig and Vera Clemente, selected the overall award recipient. Additionally, fans were able to log on to MLB.com and cast a vote for one of the 30 nominees. The winner of the fan vote was tallied as one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

 

Wild Happenings in Citizen Bank Park on Sat. Night

 

The Phillies had only 2 previous walkoff wins in postseason play: Game 4 of the 1981 N.L. East Playoffs against the Expos (George Vukovich homered in the 10th inning) and Game 1 of the 1993 NLCS against Atlanta (Kim Batiste singled in the winning run in the 10th inning).

 

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit consecutive home runs for the Phillies in the 6th inning last night. They were the first pair of teammates to hit back-to-back homers in a World Series game since the Giants’ Reggie Sanders and David Bell in 2002 (Game 2, second inning) and the first teammates to do that from the 3rd and 4th slots in the batting order since the Yankees’ Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson in 1977 (Game 5, eighth inning).

( Utley and Howard hit back-to-back homers only one other time: June 13 this year in the first inning of the Phillies’ 20-2 win at St. Louis.)

 

Ryan Howard, who led the majors with 48 home runs this season, had been homerless in 42 at-bats in the postseason this year until he went deep in the 6th inning of Game 3. The only other player to hit at least 40 home runs in one season and then have a home-run drought of at least 40 at-bats in the postseason that year was Manny Ramirez in 2004 (43 home runs, 49-AB postseason home-run drought).

 

The Rays tied the game in the 8th inning when B.J. Upton stole 2nd and 3rd base, and scored on a throwing error by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. Upton was only 4-for-9 when attempting to steal 3rd base during this past regular season. Upton was the only player with more than three attempted steals of 3rd base this season who was caught more often than he made it.

 

 

The Rays premier basestealer, Carl Crawford is now 7-for-7 in steals this post season.

Matt Garza was the first pitcher to allow three home runs in a World Series game since 2002, when the Angels’ Jarrod Washburn (Game 1) and Kevin Appier (Game 2) both did that.

 



 

 

Evan Longoria to Debut Tomorrow

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Trivia for the Day

Rays’  Left fielder Carl Crawford got his 1,000 hit tonight. That is a major
feat for the 26 year old.


Which two pitchers gave up the most hits to All-time Hits King Pete Rose?

Phil Niekro( 64 hits) and Don Sutton ( 60 hits).

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print             The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print                   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print

                                    The
Good
The Bad,and The Ugly

                                                                     

                                                 The Good

       

 


It was a perfect night to be a Tampa Bay
Rays fan. You saw a wild pitching performance by both starters until
they settled down, then they  took command of the plate for awhile. Then the
sleeping Rays bats came alive like a lightning bolt and tore into the Orioles
pitchers’. It was a night where the longest tenured Ray,
Carl Crawford got his 1,000th hit in the 7th inning off Orioles reliever Jamie
Walker.

 

Crawford  became just the 8th active player
to reach the 1,000 hit mark at 26 or younger. He is in an elite crowd that
includes, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert
Pujols.  But Carl’s great feat was not the only bright
spot in this night. The top honor goes to:

The Rays' B.J. Upton congratulates Carlos Pena after Pena and Carl Crawford, right, score on the first baseman's two-run homer in the first.    


Rays first baseman Carlos Pena.


Carlos had a  personal hand in helping the
Rays score their first 6 runs tonight.  And he did it in perfect “El Presidente”
fashion. Carlos belted two home runs, which accounted
for 5 Rays runs, then he walked with the bases loaded to  help record his  6th
RBI of the night. At a time when the Rays first four batters
were going into a short dry spell, the bunch lifted their team and their
battting averages to help the Rays even their season record at
5-5.


But there were many stars of this game. I
could name almost every member of the team who pitched or batted tonight, but
here is a select three for your viewing pleasure.

                                    


***  Recently acquired Right Fielder, Nathan
Haynes went 3-5 and stole a base tonight  and while on base,o put pressure on
the Orioles pitchers because of his base stealing ability.


** Center fielder BJ Upton  got a few lucky
breaks and bounces tonight to go  3-5 himself, and also collect 2 RBI’s in the
later innings. Upton also got the good fortune of a wild play at second to
record his first Outfield assist of the year.


B J was throwing home to get a advancing
runner, when Carlos Pena cut off the ball and toss it to second base. The only
problem was there was no one there at the moment to receive the ball. Out of
nowhere come a leaping Jason Bartlett to tag Ramon Hernandez sliding into second
base.  A wild play indeed.  Worthy of a ESPN Top 10
slot.

                            

 

* The number one honorable mention has to go
to Rays management and Andrew Friedman for finally seeing the light and bringing
up uber third base prospect Evan Longoria. Just because he as a sexy name, do not get
confused that he is a pretty boy, or not a guy chomping at the bit to get his
MLB career going.


I personally think that the Rays walk up 
game attendance will go up 10-20 percent in this one game because of his MLB
debut. Who would not want to be at the debut of such a talented and well
received player. ESPN’s Peter Gammons and Buster Onley have
nothing but praise about this kid, and I , personally, have been impressed by
his demeanor and his professionalism during Spring Training. I think in 10 years I can say with total
confidence that I will be glad to be at his first game EVER at this
level.

                                            The Bad



In a game like this, it is hard to harp or
even want to put a “bad” on here, but I have a concern that I want to address
here. James Shields is currently our top of the
rotation guy. I know he is hitting a few rough patches, but he had some serious
control and location  problems for the first two innings of this
game.


He is currently posting a 3.00 ERA, which is
respectable and shows he is improving more and more every outing. I had to find
a “bad” in all the great and good moments of this game. I know that Shields just
had an off night, and I will not spout stats or problems I see here tonight. I
want to celebrate the fact we are starting to gel and need to just enjoy the
moment tonight.


With that in mind, I do have two really ugly
moments tonight


.

                                                    The Ugly

The first ugly is the fact it was $ 1.00 hot
dog night at the Trop. Now, I did not tackle or even try and top my previous
record of 15 dogs. I decided my girlfriend likes a more svelte and more
attractive guy, so I only had 5 dogs ( With kraut, spicy mustard and relish, No
ketchup ). But the people around me must have had  a
really bad  kraut and spicy mustard  dog jones, because after the game I saw
hundreds and hundreds of those aluminum wrappers all over my section of the
stadium.  I even saw two by the Bullpen. Maybe one of the guys could smell all
those dogs and had to get one for himself.

The carnage of those wrappers and the smell
of cooking meat in that stadium would send a vegetarian to their graves.  No
tofu dogs tonight. All American, Red,White and Blue, Hebrew National Hot Dogs.


I wonder if the buns are
kosher?


The second “Ugly” kind of ticked me off. It
was a bunch of closet Yankee fans heckling Al Reyes about the events that
unfolded the prior night. The guys decided to take it upon themselves
to try and humiliate and intimidate Reyes while he was warming up on the
mound. I guess these guys were out getting their
first beer when Reyes apologized to the team, its fans and anyone who would
accept. Al is a great guy and an outstanduing asset to this team.


Every one of us has made a mistake and it was
not played up on your Television screen. The only effects Reyes showed the fans
from last night was the cut on the side of his nose that he received in the
incident. The heckles went over the line and the fans
began to turn on them. I think they also felt that these guys had finally
crossed that line into vulgar, drunken-ize that tends to upset eveyone within
the sound of their voices.


The stadium security and St. Petersburg
Police Department stepped in and reminded the guys that it was within their
rights to banish them from future events at the field if they continued their
assault on Reyes character. I have to say, I stood up and looked the one
guy in the eye and he had commented to others, “What you going to do about it,”
but he did not say that to me.



Former Rays player of the
night.

                     
  


I have decided, since it is my blog and I can rewrite the
rules, I will present the best performance by an ex-Rays ballboy instead
tonight.


While attending Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg,
Florida, Jesse Litsch was a Rays bat boy. During that time he spent hours with
the pitchers and the coaches on improving his pitches and hoping to some day
pursue a professional career. Jesse has now been in the majors for almost one year, and is
currently in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation. He is off to a great start this
year and I am going to showcase his effort tonight against the Texas
Rangers.


He pitched 5.2 innings tonight and allowed 6 hits and 2 runs. He
also had  5 strikeouts in the game. Jesse only threw 93 pitches before leaving
with a lead tonight. The Blue Jays won the game, and Jesse improved to 2-0 for
the season. The reason he is showcased is for the younger ball players to
know that even though you are playing Little League right now, if you want it
bad enough, you can achieve it.


And only 4 short years ago, Jesse was thinking the same thoughts
while guarding the Rays Bullpen catcher and the staff from balls in
play……and now he is wearing a MLB jersey every day.

 

 

An Afternoon Celebration

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Daily Trivia fact.

On August 23,1953, Phil Paine became the
first ex-major-leaguer to play baseball professionally in
Japan.

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Now onto today’s edition of The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly


.

   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print               The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print            The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

                                        



                                                 The
Really, Really Good     



Edwin Jackson has been feeling more at ease
on the mound in recent outings, and today he turned in a gem of a pitching
performance for the Rays.   Jackson pitched 8 innings of two-hit ball and with
the help of   lefty reliever Trevor Miller closed out a 7-0 shutout of the
Seattle Mariners.


The Mariners accounted for  only three hits
all day, with   Mariners’ third baseman, Adrian Beltre getting two hits. In the effort, Jackson lower his ERA to an
impressive .064, and had 6 strikeouts for the day.  He was effectively getting
his pitches over and was in cool command of the mound today. The small afternoon crowd even boo-ed Rays
Manager Joe Maddon’s decision to not let Edwin get the complete game. In the
post game interview, Jackson looked relaxed and  showed a renewed air of
confidence.

                                                Way to go “Action!!!!”     



Honorable Mentions
Kudos
:

 

*** Jonny Gome went 2-2 with 2 runs scored,
and upped his average to .294 for the year.



** Carl Crawford made a diving backhand catch
on a dying ball hit to left center field in the Top of the 4th to end the Seattle
inning.



* Rays backup catcher, Mike DeFelice went
2-4, with both hits being broken bat singles.  He also had 3 RBIs for the day.
And to top it off, he called a great game behind the plate giving Edwin a great
target to pitch to all day.


                                         
The Bad

                        

For a change, the bad will be short and hopefully to the
point here.  The first four batters in the Rays order today did some damage,
but  we still have two of our prime hitters under the Mendoza line for the
season.  Akinora Iwamura had two hits today to
raise his average to .222, which is
tops for the first four hitters.


A hopeful sign for a positive weekend series, is the
sheer fact all four scored at least one run today. This might be a sign that the
sleeping giant is awaking again. The only other Bad thing U have to add, is the fact that
Hillsborough County kids have this week off for Spring Break, and the Trop. was
only 28.8 percent full. That worked out to 11,898 souls if you were wondering.
That is better than a week night game, but I would have expected a bit more
people to trot over and do an afternoon under the dome.


                                         The Really Ugly



I was hoping I might not have an “ugly” after such a
great game today, but such is life. It is a recycled event that has plagued this
team for almost a week now.


Another player has been in the Training room today with
Ron Porterfield and is showing signs of pain. After his great game last night,
Rays third baseman Willy Aybar was scratched from the game with soreness in the
hamstring area. Aybar has been fighting a hamstring situation since the
beginning of Spring Training and might have reinjured his leg during  his slide
into home plate last night.

“He’s been getting all the treatments, doing all the right things, he’s
been working his butt off to stay out there,” Maddon said. “It’s just that play
took a little bit out of him.” Those are the kind of things that really mess you up,” Maddon said. “He’s
been sore the last couple days and he’s been playing through the cold weather
… just extended on that play and he just felt it a little bit.” Maddon, always the wordsmith, even put a
positive spin on the latest injury.


“Right now we are way up there on ice — ice and injections,” Maddon said.

In the meantime, Eric Hinske will probably
get most of the reps at third until Aybar return. Hinske broke in at third base with the
Toronto Blue Jays and has ample experience for the
position.



Former Rays spotlight of the
night:


The former Ray who is in the spotlight is Astros starting pitcher
Brandon Backe. He was seen during last night’s batting practice jawing with
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. It seems that Backe to exception the 8th
inning play the previous night during a home plate situation where Pujols roughed up rookie
catcher J R Towles .

Pujols collided with Towles hard that inning and while first
looking like a clean play,not everyone took it that way. We can bet Brandon was in the “not clean” group about the hard
slide.



Tomorrow  The Baltimore Orioles and former
Ray Aubrey Huff brings their merry band of closet Karaoke men to the Trop for a
three game series.  This should be an interesting series for both
teams.

      

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