Results tagged ‘ Aubrey Huff ’

My MLB Video Game Life

 

 


I remember many a Christmas as a kid  running out into the living room to gaze under the tree at 5 am before anyone else had gotten up in the house, It was a cardinal rule in our house that no one gets woken up before 6 am on Christmas Day. Not until I got a lot older, and had to put multiple bikes together did I truly understand that ruling by my Dad.

 


It was always a great time, because I was living in the budding gaming infancy. We had just gotten bombarded by commercials on the television the entire Christmas season about this new Atari system and the game Pong had kinda gotten boring after the first few hundred plays. Seriously, back then those two long slots and that crazy bouncing line was the total dimension of video games. Sure the video arcades had the real games and the pinball machines, but for the kids at home, we had  the ever repressive Pong game.

 

 


Now as soon as I saw that Atari system mentioned on TV, you know what got embedded into my parent’s ears for the next month. So when I found it under my tree with some of the newest and most advanced games at that time in the console package, you knew my rainy days and early nights would be filled with multiple colored 2-dimensional fun.

 


Yeah, that was the real drawback of it all is that height and vertical challenges were the extent of the magic back then, but we still played those suckers like there was no tomorrow. They did have a baseball game, but it was so prehistoric, I traded it for a Donkey Kong cartridge. Now there was a game of skill and magic. You had your ape fighting the massive barrels searching for the top and his redemption.


 

 


It is funny now to think I got so worked up by the controller sometimes that I had to walk away from the game for a bit to calm my nerves and get back into focus. But I also remember that I did not play it for hours, or have memory card save points on that machine. You got as high as you could, then turned off the machine and started all over again in the a. m. But I did have friends who discovered cheating methods to boast high levels completed, and also new adventures I had not gotten to yet on my boards. But I loved the thrill of achieving each one by myself without help or using cheat codes or leaving the machine on pause all night long to save your position on the game.

 


So I have an understanding of today’s youth and their playing of video games. I just do not understand the frustration and the level of self absorption to a screen and a cartoon character. But then again, I was an athlete at a young age and had other interests besides my games and what life had to offer. I guess I was lucky to play baseball and basketball and hit the pool during the summer, while my room mates kids sit in front of the TV for 6 hours and fight Sonic or Megatron.

 


I did buy a newer game system a few years ago and used to play only baseball games on the unit. When Sony came out with the Playstation 2, I won a unit as a sales incentive for work. It had a sports bundle and I got hooked on the MLB2004 as soon as it hit my big screen. I used to play it any time I was bored with computer work or nothing was on cable to my liking that night.

 


I got pretty good with the aspect of taking the lower ranked teams and kicking butt against any of the to tier or even All Star teams. It took a while to get some sort of feel for the strike zone and to know the nuances of the game. So when I went to Game Stop recently to buy a few games for a Playstation 3 system the kids’ were going to inherit from their uncle, I decided to buy MLB2004 for myself. I had a yearning to see if that game could still bring out the competitor in me and make me insane with wanting to beat the top teams.

 



So on Christmas Day, as the kids were bored with their new system, I went into my room and got my used copy of MLB2004 and put it in the player. On came that familiar screen and I decided to see if I still had it by going into the Home Run mode for a bit to get my timing back. After about 5 minutes, it was time to see if the old dog could still play this puppy. I decided to play my old team, the Tampa Bay Devilrays against the Florida Marlins.



Now at that time, the Marlins had a young Josh Beckett, A J Burnett, Dontrell Willis and Brad Penny  on their pitching staff. I always played against Beckett and Burnett. I liked playing against the young arms that had deceptive pitches and made the game more fun to play. So I selected that team and decided to also put the DH  in for both teams. That would make it more offensive, but also give me a chance to experiment with my lineup.

 


Of course this was not the team of 2008 for the Devilrays. They still had the old name, the roster was spotted with young talent like Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford, but they also had old Rays mainstays at the time like Jose Cruz Jr., and Aubrey Huff. Now I always liked Huff Daddy as a Ray. He had power and could still play with some gusto back then. But the team was spotted with guys that were not even in a supporting role in 2004.



They had Devi Cruz at shortstop, and he never even took an inning in a Rays uniform at that position, but then again, Julio Lugo was not even on the Houston roster for me to pluck, and Rey Sanchez was not even considered a Ray at that time. But the catching position got me a bit perplexed at time. They had Brook Fordyce as my starting catcher. Now he might have been a great catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, but he was not my catcher…………..sorry Brook.



So I used to dig down into the minor league system for players and adjust my lineup accordingly. I used to put Jared Sandberg at third base because of his awesome power and his quick hands. I would insert Damian Rolls at short only because I trusted his bat and loved chatting with him back then, and put John Flaherty behind the dish for the D-Rays.

 


I started out as the home team, playing in the Trop., and forgot that down the right field line, they did not have my section in the game. That still pisses me off to this day that the location of my seat for 10 years is not even listed on a video game. Anyways, here I go starting Victor Zambrano for the game and using his slider and change up to confuse the Marlins. I can honestly say that it is a touchy situation to have one of the worst pitching staffs and strike out a side. The next inning you could make 3 mistakes and it is 3-0 without a bat of an eye.

 


I get through 4 innings and the kids come in and begin to watch the old guy take it to the Marlins. The youngest has never seen me use a controller and is a bit impressed I even know where the buttons are on the unit. I have a guy warming up in my Bullpen and have a 21-3 lead at that moment when Zambrano begins to get rocked by the Marlins. Before I can catch my breath and realize it, the score is 21-13 and I have inserted Jorge Sosa to relieve Zambrano.

 


With an increasing audience, I am a bit nervous and make a huge series of errors to get the game closer in the next frame. It is now 25-18, and I am letting the Marlins creep back into the contest. I decided to have some fun, or maybe it was a bout of madness, and let one of the kid play the 8th inning. After he got rocked and his pitcher was exhausted, it was 29-27. I did not fret, I did not worry, I knew who I had in my Bullpen warming up for the 9th inning. I also knew that I had a good bench and could pull this game out without a problem.

 


I inserted D-rays closer Dany Baez into the game in the top of the 9th and he got the Marlins down quickly, but not without surrendering a 2-run shot by Luis Gonzalez to right field. With the game tied, I got two quick strikeouts to end the inning. In the bottom of the 9th, I got things started by having Carl Crawford put down a bunt, but on this game, Crawford is not as fast as in real life.

 


Pity, in the real game, he was safe by a country mile. I then had Rolls put a ball down the third baseline that was grabbed behind the bag, but threw him out. Again in reality, that is also a base hit. So I am down to my last at bat and decide to use a pinch hitter. I select my old buddy Greg Vaughn. Now Vaughn was beginning to see the end with the D-Rays this season, and that was a shame.

 


He was seeing his speed and his bat become less of a weapon than ever in his career. But I have always had trust in the man, and I also knew he would not let me down. So here is my plan, to have him put a ball into play and hope for a miracle. I get two quick strikes off sliders from the Marlins reliever. I am battling off the next two pitches high and outside that could have gone for strikes against me. Finally, I get a hanging curve ball and put it into the gap for a double.

 

 


At this time, the score is tied, and I have two outs. I am running on anything that Huff puts into play. Huff gets two balls low and outside. He then get schooled on a nice curve ball for a 2-1 count. Then I get a lucky break and they try and pitch him outside and about waist high. Boom a nice liner to deep right field. I start Vaughn off from second base and do not even look up to see if the ball is getting relayed into the infield by the Marlin’s right fielder. I round third streaking for home and hear the room begin to groan.

 


But they do not know what I know. I can slide in this primitive addition of the Sony game. But I decide to take on the catcher mano-on-mano and thrust up into him as he gets the throw from second base.  I somehow get the ball loose and the umpire yells “safe” over the surround sound to the gathered crowd in the room. So here I am victorious with a walk-off  victory and everyone is saying I cheated.


 

 


What! I played heads up baseball, that resulted a a winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat an Inter-state rival. The 2008 Rays would be climbing all over themselves and the plate to celebrate such a win. But in this house, they all consider it a freak and a bit of user luck to beat the game. Damn, and to think I used to play that rectangular moving brick for hours chasing a moving pong ball and never heard the words cheating, or even a word of disappointment. Guess that is the problem with games in 3-D, it also comes with the interpretation of the crowd around you. I wonder if the 2004  Boston Red Sox are up for a rematch of my fantasy World Series win in 7 games tonight?

 

Rays take Series from Jays

 

 

Rays 3, Blue Jays

 

 

Today is the day that the Rays brass shows if they think we have the pieces to contend, or might need to tweak the lineup a bit to win it all.

Trade Deadline deals can be for many reasons. They can be to dump a salary player, to get prospects and players for 2009, or could just be a internal move to upgrade a pitching or hitting group for a playoff run.

In the last 24 hours, we saw our rival Yankees upgrade even further by getting a quality catcher to boost their offense. They up graded their absent leftfield situation, and got a lefty reliever that can be “light’s out” at times.

The Boston Red Sox have not done anything spectacular, but we have 24 hours before they have to atone to their fan base as to why they are buyers or sitters on the trading market. The Toronto Bluejays have been a darkhorse in a few of the Rays deals. They are currently looking at Pittsburgh’s Jasin Bay, and might just pull him out from under our radar.

This time of year can be hit or miss for any team. And with the Rays’ renewed “Wall Street Smarts” configuration for determining if a player is right for our style, just like a stock, it can be a risky move to sit instead of play your hand. I think the Rays have been cautious to the point of moot in the deadline deals.

We have lost out on a few guys we had on our radar. Maybe the computer printouts and future projections show that these players were not worth the prospects. Maybe the projections on the printouts show a downward spiral after August we do not know about, or maybe it is just “Andrew, being Andrew.”

Andrew Friedman has gotten the reputation as being a very intelligent playmaker in the markets, both in stocks and in MLB commodities. He is calculated and analyses situation to the betterment of the teams’ present and future. But sometimes you got to go with a “gut reaction” here in this high pressure, limited time deadline.

With that in mind, Andrew, let them have a Jeremy Hellickson, or a Wade Davis if it will make us better for more than 1 year. We are very pitching deep, but have a shallow pool for corner right-handed hitters and proven outfield prospects.

  We missed out on Xavier Nady, who was a better fit for us than Jason Bay, but that might just be a judgement call by my personal gut feeling. Maybe we can have our own 3-way deal with Atlanta and get our corner guy (Bay), their lefty reliever (Ohlman) and they get some great future players in return.

 We do have a great amount of prospects that will be stockpiled with nowhere to go in the next few years. Maybe it is time to jettision some of the bulk and make the minors an easy flow again.

But then again, I play the Lotto every week in hopes of a miracle quick-fix every Sat. and Weds night too.

 

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Carlos Pena has been on fire lately at the plate. He has awoken his home run swing and been consistantly on base for the last month since coming off the DL. The Rays need this guy to be up to the challenge if we are to make a realistic run at the playoffs this year. And Pena has responded like a champion.

Coming into today contest, Pena has just concluded a streak of 30 straight games reaching base for the Rays. In this series, he has had a bit of trouble getting started, but has responded with key plays on defense and timely hits to hit .318 on this roadtrip, with 3 homers,2 doubles and 5 RBI’s. 

Pena connected for his 18th homer of the season today in the 4th inning. Pena now has 64 homers over the last two seasons to take the Rays 2-year homer mark away from Aubrey Huff. Pena’s power will be needed in the next 8 weeks to help the Rays keep pace in the AL East.

 

                               

 

For months I have heard the outcry that Edwin Jackson does not belong in the rotation. That it would be better to put him in the Bullpen and let some in Durham get their shot. But I also think those people are the ones who are buying all that expensive 8 dollars beers and spilling them when something good happens on the field at Rays games.

Seriously, here is a guy who is now 7-7 on the year. Has battles back from a losing record last season and started the year 2-0 for the Rays. Hete is a pitcher who now has 3 wins in his last 8 starts.

Jackson is 2-1 in his last 6 starts, and has aloowed 3 earned runs or less in 5 of those starts. No other Rays p[itcher can say that besides Matt Garza. And he has a 3.71 road ERA, the best on the team this year.

Jackson is currently 7-7, with a 4.20 ERA, with 68 strikeouts. Now his strikeout totals are down this year, but his ERA and win totals are better, and his control is improving every game. To make a better point, last season, Jackson was 2-10, with a 7.0 ERA at this point in the season, and did not get his 5th win until Sept 23rd. He is 2 past that so far this season.

Jackson allowed 2-runs on 7-hits while pitching 5 innings. The only negative right now on Jackson is that he is not pitching deep into the ballgame for the Rays. But then again, they pulled him after 86 pitches in the contest today.

 

Carl Crawford is beginning to heat up also for the team. For this team to be in the heat of the battle every night, Crawford needs to be on base to get better pitch selections for Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.

With Carl on base, the opponent has to be worried about a base stealing mater taking their team out of the game early.  Today Crawford had his 4th triple in 5 games to give him 9 on the season, and move him into the AL lead. He has now hit safely in the last 5 games, going 8-20, with a double, 4 triples and 3 RBI’s. the only concern is the point he has now gone 27 games without a home run for the Rays.

 

                                   

 

With the win today, the Rays will conclude this road trip by winning 4 out of 7 games. Before the second half of the season, Rays Manager Joe Maddon commented that it might take a .500 road record the rest of the year to get them into playoff consideration. I am not as optimistic as Maddon in this figure.  With the Rays still 5 games under .500 on the road this year, I think they will have to win 6 out of 10 to put themselves in good playoff shape.

But then again, you have to hope that their homestand this week is a hugely success and takes some pressure off the road woes.

To add to the road woes is a rough and difficult upcoming Wect Coast tour of 10 games in 11 days, before coming home for 3 games against the MLB-best L A Angels.  The next 14 games will be a true test and barometer of the Rays chances this post-season. If they struggle or flinch too much, the playoff might be in 2009’s plans.

 

The Rays again did not hit that 10 hit plateau, getting 9 for the day. So as of today, the Rays have only gotten 10 hits once in the last 21 games. The good news is that they have won 4 of those last seven, and have won 9 of those last 21 games.

 

All eyes will be on the ESPN television telecasts, or online website like MLBTradeRumors.com today to see what deals, spoilers and failed attempts by clubs show their faces today. The Rays have always had a policy of silience in confirming or denying a trade or play in action with another club.

My perdiction is a Jason Bay incident where the Red Sox/Marlins deal falls apart and they know we have the deal on the table for the outfielder.

Who we give up is a major thing here. Hopefully Andrew opens the talen wallet a bit and give them what they need to secure Bay. He is an upgrade for the batting order, and could be the missing piece we have needed this year.

And the best point is, we will have Jason Bay for another year, not just a 3-month rental, with an option to buy. Tampa Bay is finally in a buyers’ market, and we have to make a good showing to make the league want to make deals with us. Chuck LaMar sometimes made deals just to make a deal……..Andrew is smarter than that………….I hope.

 

Bird’s Eye View to a Loss

Rays 4, Orioles 7

 

 

I have to tell you, I consider Camden Yards one of the most beautiful parks in the country. If our new ballpark can do even half the residential and urban hustle and bustle that the O’s get on game day, it will be a win…win for everyone.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

On May 6,1953, St Louis Browns hurler Bobo Holloman became the first pitcher in modern times to toss a no-hitter in his first major league start.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters      The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

 

                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

                 

                                                The Good

 

After a week of positive every day, it is difficult to look at the boxscore and see a loss. Is this the illusion that winning teams get, that a game is so pivitol in our lives we die a little inside when we lose. This is a new feeling here in Rays-land, but I do like it. I like the anticipation of not knowing a win or loss. I like the “on the edge of the couch” mentality about every inning. I like winning.

 

There were a couples of great plays and scoring drives for the Rays once they got their offensive machine in gear last night.

 

B J Upton blast to right center in the top of the 7th inning scored two runs for the Rays. Carl Crawford was on base after singling to left center. B J  was  1-4 for the night and his average dipped to .287 for the year.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Dioner Navarro was on base three times last night. Navarro had two singles and a walk to go 2-3 and raise his average back to .400. Navarro also got caught watching a Orioles play develop and was out at second on a outfield assist by Adam Jones.

 

** Carl Crawford has found his bat stroke and he is raisingf his average daily. He is currently hitting .296, after going 1-5 last night.

 

* Eric Hinske, playing rightfield last night got an outfield assist after getting Adam Jones at home in the bottom of the third inning.

                            

                                              The Bad 

 

Jason Hammel might have picked the worst time to have a bad outing for the Rays. With the Rays announcing before the game that ace Scott Kazmir will see his first action of 2008 on Sunday in Boston, Hammel went out and did nothing for is cause to stay with the squad.

 

Because Hammel is out of options, and would be certainly picked if put on the waiver wire, the Rays are in a vicarious spot of using him in the bullpen, or trading him to another club.

 

I am hoping for the first solution, but this is a business, and with all the pitching help we have stockpiled in the minors, the Rays might see him as “expendable” at this time.

A good outing last night might have put a few more positive spins on his future with the Rays.

 

                                               The Ugly

                             

I know that sometimes a former teammmate can come back to haunt you when you see them again with another team. Oriole Aubrey Huff is not only hitting the baseball on us, but doing his best smirk and giggle when he was rounding the bases last night.

 

Huff is batting over .318 against the Rays in his time with the O’s, and is constantly in position to beat the Rays with his bat.  His 2-run homer last night was no the difference in the game, but it made the gap larger at the moment and increased the Oriole’s lead to 7-0. 

 

Former Ray of the Night:

 

New York Mets reliever Jorge Sosa won his third game last night in a 5-4 victory. Sosa pitched one inning for the win.

 

 

Rays Lose Close One 3-2

 

Well, it is that time of the night/day that I tell you my thoughts and opinions on the latest Rays loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. But first, We have to give you some good trivia to make you smile and want to attend Jeff Niemann’s MLB pitching debut tomorrow.

 

 

 

Trivia Question:

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In 1931, Chick Hafey of the St. Louis Cardinals became the first batting champion to wear glasses.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly     The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

Now back to our normally scheduled The Good the Bad, and the Ugly for tonights game.

 

 

                                              The Good

 

The  mire presence of Rays top prospect Evan Longoria must have made an impression on the Rays hopeful fans who do not usually attend games.

 

The Rays experienced  almost a 20 percent increase over attendance from the Friday night contest. I am going to attribute that to the arrival of Longoria tonight, and no the free Rays visors given out to the fans. Evan did almost everything right tonight in his pro debut.  He signed a ball for me after Batting Pratice( again, thank you Evan), he handled the ball numerous times and the throws were tight and on target. And he got a single tonight and his first RBI to top it all off.

 

 

It was a chore just to get the ball for him again. I am getting the impression that the Orioles do not like to give the balls back after major feats, or a rookies first hit, or RBI.  the ball was finally retrieved before we had to send Jonny Gomes over there for it.The  fact that Evan is here will ease the defense about the hot corner. I know from playing third base, it can make or break your ball club in who is manning that spot. If the player has the reactions of a cat, the Hot Corner can be your best friend to your ball club. I personally think it will be manned by Longoria for a long time.

 

But then again, we thought current Oriole and former Ray, Aubrey Huff was the second coming of Wade Boggs.

 

 

*** Rays Designated Hitter/Rightfielder Jonny Gomes cam up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th tonight and the crowd was on their seats looking for a tying run from the bomber.  Jonny connected on a George Sherrill pitch hit to right field, but it fell just short of the wall for an out.

 

The crowd was totally into the at bat, and the entire Rays and O’s fans in attendance were holding their breath when Gomes hit that monster.

 

 

** The hitting of Centerfielder BJ Upton tonight pulled his average up to above .300 again. Upton is seeing the ball better and his contact with the ball is crisp and on the head right now. I am going to predict he will go on a 10 game hitting streak from tonight on………..knock on good wood everyone.

 

 

*The number one Kudo of the night belongs to Evan, but Carlos Pena did nothing to even sit in the shades tonight. In the earlier innings, Carlos snagged a ball going down the first baseline at a backwards angle, and got the runner with a throw to pitcher Jason Hammel. It was a super play, and should be on the Top 10 plays of the night on ESPN without a doubt.

 

In his next at bat, the crowd was calling for a Home Run. And Carlos did not disappoint his fans this night.  He hit a solo homer to right field that would have cleared any ballpark in the MLB.   Currently, Pena is leading the American League with 5 homers, and is tied for first within RBI’s with Blue Jays Vernon Well for the lead with 12.

 

 

                                             The Bad

 

 

There really wasn’t alot of bad tonight by any one player. There was a few bad moments. And for that reason, I am going to just list three plays that changed the course of the game for the Rays.

 

***  A  series of misplayed flyballs to deep Right Center  by BJ Upton and  Nathan Haynes gave the Orioles  DH Aubrey Huff a ground rule double, and two batter later, Ramon Hernandez got  a triple after some confusion in the outfield.

 

**   The Orioles had brought in Chad Bradford, a sidearm slinging pitcher who seems to hit the top of the dirt during his delivery into the contest. BJ upton managed to get a bunt single to third and was sitting on first base. Bradford has a weird pitching style, and a even wilder pick-off move.

 

It appeared to me that Bradford had twice before shufflied his right rear foot on the rubber before he throws to first base.  BJ did not pick up on this and was cuaght in bewteen first and second for a “caught stealing” attempt. I mention this, because I wonder if BJ sometimes is too aggressive. The reasoning for this, is that he has had three baserunning errors in the past three games. The fact he was caught stealing on this occasion would not have produced a run, but maybe a slight moment of concentration loss is to blame here.

 

* The Rays brought in reliever Dan Wheeler for Trever Miller.  It was 2 outs in the top of the 9th innig with no one on base. Wheeler then served up a home run ball to leftfield for Ramon Hernandez.   He is currently batting .194, and got two RBI’s and a triple and homer tonight against our pitching staff.

 

 

                                       The Ugly

 

The ugly tonight is the baserunning situations that have cost the Rays some runs in the last few games. I have already talked about one of them in the above “Bad” section.  Willy Aybar was hurt when he slide into home after running through a stop sign by  third base coachTom Foley.  In the slide st home, Aybar aggrevated his hamstring and is on the 15 day DL for his actions. Not only BJ Upton, but other Rays have been caught in ” no man’s land” this year by over running the bases, or testing the arms of outfielders in the division.

 

I am all for testing the arms of the players, and triyng to be aggressive at times, but do these players have a  personal “green light” to moonlight decisions on the base paths, or do they just mis read the sign sometimes.

 

There was one play tonight that caught my eye and I am pleased to see it work out for the better.  There was a hit and run play called with BJ Upton on second and Eric Hinske up to bat.  BJ Upton was on the move and Hinske hit a beautiful ball to left center to move BJ to third. During the next at bat, Evan Longoria hit the ball to left field and scored Upton.

 

I guess you just have to play the odds sometimes when you are running the bases. But at  this early junction in the year, are the actions worth a possible loss……….we shall keep this in our sights and see what develops here.

 

 

Rays Former Player of the Day

 

Current second baseman Brendan Harris of the Minnesota Twins is batting .367.

Tonight he was 2-4 with a pair of singles. He also was the pivot man for a 5-4-3 double play to end tonights win for the Twins.    

 

 

 

 

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


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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
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.

      

Garza Goes Down

Instead of a Trivia question during the daily recaps, I will give you a wild
fact to soak in your baseball-filled minds are evolve with your
subconscious fluids to use at any SABRE convention,or for a possible free
beverage at your local pub/wing joint.

During a double header on May 2,1954,  St. Louis Cardinal, Stan Musial became
the first player to hit five (5) Home runs in the same day.


I  have been thinking for about a week on what to use this season to
illustrate the positives, negatives and so forth that happen in every game this
season.

                                              

I decided to use my favorite spaghetti western as a basis for my daily look
at the prior night’s contest. I have always been a huge Clint Eastwood fan. My
Dad used to take us on the Sunday night Drive-In movie experience as a kid. This
generation has no idea of the great times, and wild weather, kids and antics
that can happen at an outdoor movie.

                                            

The best was sitting on the swings underneath the huge  three story screen
and watching the actors as 100 foot action figures. Anyways, this is the
premiere of the Rays’ “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

 

 

                                                The
Good

   

 

The good is a two-fold version today. Major
kudos  for the Rays’ backup catcher Shawn Riggans. Riggs is hitting the cover
off the ball, and connected last night for a beautiful second row left-center
shot into the seats. Shawn also called a great game behind the plate and is
showing the potential we all knew he had to be our starting catcher. Shawn might
have only 14 at bats this season, but he has a .333 batting average at this
moment and is showing power by having 4 RBI’s and two extra base hits in his 4
hits this season.  Way to go Shawn.


Second is a no-brainer to me. Carlos Pena
might not be picking up where he left off last year, but he is surely hitting
the cover off the ball. Early in the game he hit one of the longest Sacrifice
fly in the Trop in a long time to Ichiro. The ball was only a few feet from the
warning track and was hit on a frozen rope. Of course, later the game he
hit his third homer of the young season to Right field to ignite the crowd.
Carlos now has 6 RBIs to go with his 3 H Rs.

 

                                                             The
Bad

Matt Garza leaves with head trainer Ron Porterfield after a nerve injury in the third.



Matt Garza has had a situation with  a radial
nerve irritation for a long time. He has said he usually can fight the pain and
pitch, but tonight the pain hit a new threshold and he could not control the
ball correctly anymore. He had thrown 4 straight balls to Mariners’ DH Jose
Vidro, and did not seem to be able to hit the edges of the
plate. He immediately called for Rays trainer Ron
Porterfield and after a short discussion with Ron and Joe Maddon, was replaced
by Scott Dohmann. Matt has been placed on the 15 day disabled list at the time
of this posting.


This is bad, since it opens another hole in
the rotation early in the season. What was once a solid top three rotation is
now becoming more patchwork as the days roll by here. The Rays subsequently
recalled pitcher  Jae Kuk Ryu from Durham, but his job will be in t Bullpen, not
to start any of the future games.

                                


                                                And the
Ugly….really Ugly



The Umpire crew was not having a great
night.  Rays catcher Shawn Riggans had  asked for a “timeout” after catching a
foul ball behind the plate off the bat of Adrian Beltre. But the home plate umpire did not register
or grant the timeout. So in a bizzare, but heads up play, Seattles Jose Lopez
tagged up and moved to second to put the Mariners in scoring
position

.

Riggans “thought he called timeout,” Maddon said. “That’s a good base running
play by them. You can’t call timeout if the runner’s actually moving,” Maddon said. “The
umpires did the right thing by not permitting time out. There was nothing to
argue right there, but I did want to appeal it. Once I found out specifically
what [home-plate umpire] Marvin [Hudson] thought, I wanted to appeal to see if
the other umpires saw what he saw.”



But that was only the start of the wild and
weird on this opening night. Later in the night, B J Upton laced a beauty
down the rightfield line into the corner where it hit the wall and bounced out
in a wild angle. Upton, who lost his right shoe after leaving the batter’s box,
did not stop at second, but proceeded to slide into third
base. Post game photos and video showed after the
game that B J was safe and did not hit Beltre’s foot blocking the base. He had
snuck in the backdoor on him and was coming up safe when  the third base umpire
called B J out. After a short animated  look at the umpire, BJ headed to the
dugout as manager Joe Maddon was heading to third to debate the
call.


After that, there was a close play at first
that went against the Rays. Throughout the rest of the night, the umpire crew
took a huge vocal response from the home crowd that made me proud. The crowd had
gotten into the game and were very vocal on the Upton play and on any close play
the rest of the night. After the game, as the umpiring crew was
leaving the field, they were met by another chorus of the “boo-birds” until
finally disappearing into the tunnel.

 

O's 'fun' continues vs. Texas


Ex Ray,and current Baltimore Oriole, Aubrey Huff went 4-4
last night with 4 RBI’s.  Huff’s night did not totally go without controversy.
In the sixth inning, he hit a  long fly ball that hit the yellow line on the top
of the Right field  outfield fence. The play was initially called a three-run
homer, but was overturned by the on field umpiring crew and changed to a two-run
double off the wall. “I initially thought it hit the red part behind the yellow line,” said Huff.
“That’s the way I saw it. I was giving [second-base umpire Sam Holbrook] the
business out there at second. After I came in and looked at the tape and saw
they were right, I was fortunate to get back on second and I said, ‘Sam, I’m
sorry.’ He said, ‘I know, I got it right.’ He knew.”


Huff was blasted by the Orioles fans during the Rays opening series for
comments he made about the town on the nationally syndicated “Bubba the Love
Sponge Show” in the off season. Huff , who is also batting .333 this season,
 might be finally back in the good graces of the Baltimore faithful since his 11
RBI’s is leading the M L B at this posting. By the Way, Aubrey brings his karaoke Krew into the Trop this weekend for a
three game series. Maybe we can have “Huffapaloosa II this weekend at a local
watering hole?

Baseball Rays Style

 

Hey there all,


Here we are,a little more than a month before the Big Day in Camden Yards in Baltimore. Season 11 has a great vibe to it. To make it feel even better was the Leap Years Spring Training opener that was won by our Rays.



Edwin Jackson gave himself a leg up on his quest for a slot in the rotation with a solid effort for two innings. Eric Hinske put a exclamation point on his search for a roster spot by producing a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Perfect start to a season with high and lofty goals.



An interesting sidebar to the game was that James Houser was the winning pitcher for the Rays. As you might remember, Houser was suspended by Minor League baseball last year for violations of banned substances. there is a wild technicality where, if the Rays ( they did) put him on the teams 40-man roster in the off season, he can be invited and participate with the parent club during Spring Training. He can be returned to the minors without worrying about the suspension if the Rays keep him on the 40-man roster for the season.  Stay tuned to this one, it might be interesting.



I was listening to my favorite Morning Show,Fisher and Boy on 97X, when they interviewed uber-stud Scott Kazmir about the upcoming season. This was before Scott had his elbow situation that will sideline him for a few weeks. Scott was on track to be the Opening Day pitcher again for the Rays. This will probably put a damper on that goal, but might resurface as he should be in line to be the Home Opening Day pitcher where we can voice and cheer until we are hoarse for him.

 

 

I have to give thank here to a special friend who has left the Rays family after many, many productive and joyful years with the Rays. I will miss John Franzone this home opener. For those of you who have not met john, or know him, he is the brainchild behind the “Rays vision” in-game productions. John was also the mastermind behind the commercials a few years back with Aubrey Huff( fishing) and Carl Crawford( Dog track) that were on local televisions.




He was a tireless worker who I used to see talking into his headset daily to anyone, and everyone who would listen to him. I used to love to chat with him and had the great pleasure to be in a Franzone production of “Braveknobs” a few years ago. I was graced with a speaking role and a central location for the commercial where I was seen in a lot of the scenes.



Whichever team now employs John Franzone is a lucky franchise. He is a true gem who will shine for a long time in the video world. I was not able to call him before he left the Rays and tell him how much his chats and his in game videos and production meant to me as a Rays Season ticket holder. John will never be “thanking the Academy,” but I hope a Clio or an Emmy is in his future.

 


Last, but not least. I will make a comment on Delmon Young here. I like him as a player and a future All-Star in this league, but as a person, he needs a bit of practice. I will never doubt or hide the fact that he is a true 5-tool player that has a mouth of a pre-teen boy. I applaud and laugh at the verbal exchange he ad with Carl Crawford this week. Carl is an honest and pretty shy guy when it comes to commenting on his teammates, or former teammates.



For him to even say those things concerning Delmon, he truly and honestly feels those comments in his heart. Carl is growing into a clubhouse leader, both by on-field example, and by standing up and being counted on by his peers. I applaud Carl, and laugh at Delmon.



You might be an All-Star for a decade, but I can not cheer for a guy who doesn’t respect rookie traditions and team practices, and the holy unwritten rules of the game. I wish him luck.
With that out of the way, I have been browsing the web and found a true Delmon Young gem that will show what talent he has when he loves the game. Minnesota Twins fan will salivate at this, and hope it can happen in the friendly confines of their dome in the not to distant future. 

 


See you in the Berm this Spring.  Do not forget, this is the last year we are training and playing at Progress Energy Field. Come catch the Rays before they head to Port Charlotte next Spring. Support our guys this year.


By the way, my tickets arrived today for the Bon Jovi/Daughtry concert at the St Pete Times Forum on April 27,2008, after the Boston Red Sox game. I will be sitting in Section 209 in the Canon private suite that looks directly at the stage area. Free food and drinks and my sexy lady by my side, and thinking of……….. 

Recent Rays Moves………….My View from Rightfield

 

 

Wow!

Here it is a few days from the Winter MLB meetings in Opry-ville and we made a few needed moves that will help define our current and future goals for our squad.

 

First off, let me get that off my chest right now. I am not a Delmon Young hater in anyway, but, from my seat in Right Field, I could read some of his body language and tell  he was just buying time before the poisoned axe or his actions  dictated a move to new Fieldturf pastures.

 

 Have fun in the pillow-dome Delmon. You complained about not being able to clearly see balls at the Trop. Wait until you look up in that sea of lights and  true white roof at the Metrodome………..you will wish for the grey white roof of the Trop. I do wish him alot of luck in his future and success with that “Young” brothers curse of having a small attitude adjustment problem. His brother seemed to have finally gotten his attitude to shine with the Nats, let’s hope it doesn’t take Delmon as long to fine the right basepath to being the great teammate. Delmon’s departure will come back to haunt us at times,…………..but only for 6 or 7 games a year.

 

Now the players we got for Delmon are quality guys. Matt Garza is a young player that can br dialed into this rotation for years and will be a positive and needed upgrade to our constantly inproving and maturing pitching staff. Garza has not even hit the stride in his career yet, so the sky is the limit right now with him.

By the way, in Garza’s last 2007 start in, he pitched 6.2 innings with 4 hits and 1 ER against the Royals and Lost the game. We will take 6.2 inning outting any day with only 1 ER…….with the offensive power we have on our roster right now, it should always  be a “W” with the Rays.

 

The additon of Garza is great because this staff can grow into a huge AL East  pitching monster. Scott “The K” Kazmir is just getting started. James Shields was perfecting a few of his pitches last year, and gaining a boatload of knowledge about American League hitters.

 

 Those two will hold down the front of the rotation for a long time. Matt Garza is a great addition to help get those extra ( hopefully) 10-15 wins a year to get close to that hallowed 82-82 mark.

 

They only curious point to this trade is Jason Barlett,the second player involved in this trade.  He is destined to be just a stop-gap fill-in until protege’ Reid Brignac is ready to man the 5 hole for years to come. Bartlett  hit .265 last year, but only has 10 HR’s in his career and only 1,079 AB’s in his career.  He has primarily been a utility man during his career in the bigs, and this is his first extended playing time in the shortstop position.

 

Now he knows the role he will play here in Tampa Bay, but who knows, someone could come to camp to even replace him ( maybe Ben Zobrist ). Worst things have happened to our team.  Remember Danny Batista and Roberto Alomar retiring from our squad with only days to go in Spring Training. Losing these ex- All-Stars was viewed at the time as a failure by the team. It turned into the emmergance of Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomes as “go-to” guys for the Rays for  that year.  So, sometimes a bad look can turn into a solid gold treasure when you only look at the surface of a situation. But that is why we play the games and do not award a trophy for roster potential, but game results.

 

With that in mind, let me wander a bit. and fantasize here.

 

 Can you go back home again in baseball? Not to a home per se, but to an old team that left you unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, and you selected to a good NL team that did not even know if you could play an entire season because of health and personal concerns.

 

Josh, I have always wanted success for you and knew that you could and would pull yourself together and show the world what a ture 5-tool player looks like up here. You went on to  prove you can play at the highest level and even make their opening day lineup in Right Field. the start of the season offensive expolsion you provided made everyone’s jaws dropped in awe. You finally had an entire country knowing you had it in you, and you proved it to everyone.

 

Hey Josh, I was there the day you came back after your off field problems that took you from baseball and the Rays. I was the Pepsi  guy in the locker room talking to Tim M. right before you went out the door of the training complex and first met the media.

 

I knew then that you had it again. That your head and attitude felt right to me, and I wanted the sky for you. Can you forgive the powers from beyond the Trop’s D-rings and just listen to them if they want to trade and include you on our squad.  I would cheer and enjoy watching you in Right Field again. And a huge plus that people forget, you can be the left-handed bat that Joe has been searching for in the lineup. Could be a sea of pluses for both the team, and yourself.

 

Okay, fantasy time is over……… Trade number two might not seem big on paper or even in reality, but it can be the jump start for each player. Elijah Dukes and Glen Gibson both needed a team that wanted them and believed in them. Now I do not think the Rays ever disliked or wanted harm for Elijah. His off-field and on-field distractions just took their toll on himself and the front office. Both parties knew that a change of scenery can work wonders for you, as a  person and a player.

 

 I wish you a cartload of homers in that new park Elijah. And we will not see you for  about 6 years. It take a few years for the schedule to again list the Nats’ as a interleague opponent again.So this trade might be a hidden blessing for you.

 

 Now Glen Gibson is  daily becoming a more polished pitcher.  Baseball America rated Gibson’s changeup and curve the best in the Nats’s farm system. Now we  know he has inherited talent and a great barometer a phone call away from him. Not every guy has a father that pitched in the majors. That could end up being a hidden blessing for him and the Rays.

 

Fantasy time again…………this time Minor edition.  The Rays’ top draft pick last year, David Price has set high expectations of himself and his progression in the Rays farm system this year. Now I will never argue with a Vandy grad, but I just want him to have a shot to know the systems and not rush his progress. When he gets called up to the Big club, he may  get hit like a pinball for a few weeks, but being a Southeastern Conference pitcher is a bit of a farm system in its own right. The best have had a rough beginning until they adapt and conquer the unique strike zones and brutal power potential of a MLB batters’ box.

 

I love to hear bravado and throwing caution to the wind, but I think a year in triple-A and a call up down the line could be his best medicine. There are a great amount of talent in Double-A and Triple-A right now biting at the bit to get that Spring Reporting date here and start to show their stuff. Jeff Neimann, Jeff Ridgeway, JP Howell,Mitch Talbot, and ex-big club guys like Chad Orvella, Jae Kuk Ryu want another shot up here as well. And that does not include the future power pitchers scattered in the Montgomery, Columbus, and Vero Beach teams. The future looks really bright for this team in the pitching department.

 

Having a prospective rotation of………Scott Kazmir, James Shields,Matt Garza, and add any of these  current teammates names,………Andy Sonnanstine, Jason Hammel and my favorite, Edwin Jackson to the mix, make for an exciting rotation problem  that could win anytime they hit the rubber.

 

Back to reality.  The addition of  closer extrodinaire, Troy Percival only makes the 6th through 9th inning  a more secure spot for the Rays.

 

What I am talking about is the fact that  Gary Glover,Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler are proven MLB relievers who can make it a challenge for any team to try and score after the starter leaves the game.  We have had great relievers before, but never in the middle roles.

 

 I think Reyes showed a huge amount of class in knowing that what is right for the team is great for the future of this squad. I think that is why they picked up his option. There is no doubts or questions he is a plus everytime he hits the mound for us.

 

 He might be the last guy to get the ball on most nights, but he is the first to know that this team has  within reach lofty goals, and they are within reach most nights, even in Fenway Park.

 

Now I have heard a bushel basket of rumors about additons and subtractions to this team. I want to address my views on a few subtractions here.

 

 Delmon might have been a player with a career that will bury his older brothers, but he also has the Young family cancer of that hidden danger and aggression that could ruin all that is good with……..a simple, casual walk to first.  Rays’ fans know what I am talking about here. I enjoyed watching Aubrey Huff hit for years here, but when he started to jog down to first is when he got that dreaded “Ben Grieve” epidemic. Maybe it is in the aura of Right Field that our players get that attitude and begin to falter right in front of us. 

 

Brendan Harris and Josh Wilson were the “blue collar” guys last year. Each guy experienced  a banner year. they got to play ball almost every night and did it the right way. Both got rewarded in different ways.

 

 Brendan got to play in another Dome, but has a great chance to be the everyday guy in the 5 hole up in Minn. Josh Wilson was put on the daily MLB waiver wire with the hopes he could pass through without a hitch. One big hitch, some people actually read those waiver wires daily.  The Pirates took a gamble, and got another quality infielder for their rebuilding ballclub. We wish you a ton of success Josh……you did a great job for the short time you were a Rays. Just a reminder, we did get Josh on waivers from the Nationals last year.  Karma?  you never know.

 

The last two trades I want to discuss did not happen as of the writing of this blog. That does not mean that the teams are not on their cellphone right now mending the deal or twisting the pieces to fit both teams.

 

 The First is the rumor of Edwin Jackson shipping off to Seattle for  1b/DH Ben Broussard. Now I am a huge “Action” Jackson fan, just ask him (lol). I liked Ben Broussard when he was an Indian, but I think his production has slowly seem a downward spiral. We could have done better even in a rumor than this one.  Another rumor had the Mets again this year coveting Jackson.  I do not know what the Mets’ still have left in their farm system. They have been active the last few years adding the missing pieces to their squad. But I am not sure their farm system is as strong as when we plucked Scott Kazmir from their clutches.

 

The second  non trade is a two-parter.It is the “non” trading of Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli.

 

I know that Carl would love to be a part of the first winning team in this franchises’ short history.  He should be a part of this celebration……front and center. Rocco I believe will come out of Spring Training in better shape, and better condition than any other time in his short Rays tenure.

 

 I used to be out at the Rays complex delivering alot, and when Rocco was mending from his surgeries and bumps and bruises, he was  always eagerly training and building himself up for his return. If you remember, Joe used to like to have Rocco in the dugout at home games and selected road series because of his great attitude and zest for success.

 

 I think this time it is totally personal for Rocco. I feel he knows that the team took a gamble and signed him to a long term deal. He is a proud guy, and he is probably the most excited about reporting in  Feb. 2008. Rocco stated in a news article he will relax this off season for a change. I believe that like I believe the “Clear” was a muscle relaxing ointment.  FDA approved too………right? He is probably getting in the best condition both mentally and physically for this team.

 

Right Field has been a concern for the big wigs upstairs since Delmon hit the road for the Great White north.  I think Jonny Gomes, Rocco, or even the tandem of Triple-A studs Fernando Perez or Jason Ruggiano can man it better than Cliff Floyd, Geoff Jenkins, or Darin Erstad. No disrespect to Darin, Luis Gonzalez, or Cliff. I even recently heard a rumor of my old baseball buddy Trot Nixon maybe being a good fit for us. He did hit great here against us, But remember fans,so did Jose Cruz Jr. when he was with the Jays and then got suddenly an average hitter at the Trop.

 

I think the Rays can have a perfect “wait and see” attitude here, unless Josh Hamilton is truly availiable….hint hint Andrew and Matt.

 

In conclusion, the non-tendered list of players will be announced in the coming weeks. This is a huge announcement that always has a few jaw dropping names on it. Things can change dramatically if a huge or unexpected name is released.  There always seem to be a  a few  high dollar drops, or a player with  health questions when  these names hit a wire……………We shall see.

 

 Kick the tires and look  real close under the hoods  there guys. This team is finally in a position to take quality over quantity in a players signing.

 

This team will have Carlos Pena back with a projected one year deal.  Pena has two years until he is a Free Agent, but both sides are working towards a agreement in place before the Spring Training report date.

 

I think this might happen to both prove both sides points.  His agent,Scott Boras says that “Carlos is just heating up”, and the Rays are hoping it was not  just a fluke year offensively for Pena. Either way, Carlos will be a rich guy come Feb. 2008.

 

 And we are a richer team both in knowing the talent is the best this team has fielded in its 11 years in the MLB. Sorry Fred McGriff, Wade Boggs and Jose Canseco. I wanted the “Hit Show” to be the thing that we measure our successes by, but that is not the case.

 

I will end this with a note about the hardest working Rays I have nkown in my years watching and following this team.  Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi  is always working with the pitchers and providing BP pitching and foul pole comments and analysis. I have known Scott for years and truly feel blessed to have ever met him. We have had a routine of him coming to give me some grief before every game down the Right field line after he tosses with the Rightfielders.

 

 We have a habit of tipping our caps after the last out before he heads into the locker room for the night. Scott is a guy who has invited me out a few times when I have gone on road trips to celebrate with himself and a few people on the team. I have cherished these moments in Seattle and Cleveland. I look forward to 2008 for both the Rays sucesses, and seeing my baseball buddy again manning the Bullpen with Bobby Ramos. As always Scott, I tip my hat to you for what you do for the Rays, and our  Section 138 fans group.

 

Only ( as of Dec 7th, 2008) 77 days until Pitchers’ and Catchers’ report ……..and I can’t wait until 8 am that day.

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