Results tagged ‘ Carlos Pena ’
You want to hate that it happened again to the Tampa Bay Rays. For the second time this season another team not only shut the door hard on them, but left a few toes stubbed and bruised in the process. There were many honest scoring chances to change the final outcome, and even postpone an impromptu Arizona Diamondback Team meeting on the field with Edwin Jackson as the keynote speaker. The chips, dip and the alley-oops did not get instituted into the usual “Rays Way” of evoking late inning theatrics to the thunderous climax, but instead the Rays ended up with a solid and deafening thud heard throughout Tropicana Field.
With the band Tantric set to hit the stage after crushing loss, you hope the band did not start their hour long set with the song “Down and Out“, because right now, how much lower can you go, or feel at this moment if you are in Rays gear. It was one of those nights of mixed emotions and for all intentional purposes, it is am immediate game to forget and discard without review or even thought. Could the Rays be having their one month of trials and tribulation now, nearing the middle way point in the season. Or could this just be the storm before the clear skies and easy sailing for the Rays? This one just leaves you a bit dazed and confused.
You are glad to see an ex-Ray and a great person like Edwin Jackson finally get some props for the job he has done to learn the art of pitching,. That even after tying a Rays club record with 14 wins in 2008, he was jettisoned off to the Motor City for Matt Joyce (who went 0-4 tonight), but his 149 pitch eventual No-Hitter against his former team mates will probably never happen again …..Ever!
How wild is it now to imagine that even after Jackson settled into the Tiger’s locker room and posted 13 wins in 214 innings, plus represented Mo-Town in the All-Star Game, it would net him a plane ticket to hot and steamy Arizona, and not just for Spring Training.I have a feeling that even in the musty and crusty high humidity of Tampa Bay tonight, Jackson is just chilling, enjoying the flow, and reliving that magical moment in his mind over and over again with that wide smile of his on his face. This is the kind of night that defines a player. RRC
But even as Jackson has been on shaky ground ever since he left Tampa Bay, how many people really thought of how far this former positional player would escalate upwards in his career. How many people remember a Rays pitcher who was smiling on the mound even as he went 5-15 in 31 starts in 2007 before he snapped into pitching mode and rattled off 27 wins for the Rays over his next two seasons with the team. Some still say we sold out short on Jackson, before he truly hit his prime. But others saw a chance for decline in Jackson’s control and might have misplayed his calm demeanor for complacency, not a hidden gem of confidence and reviving ability.
But realistically, if Jackson was still a Rays pitcher, he would have never been allowed to hit that 149 pitch plateau that made him part of Major League Baseball history tonight. If he was still wearing a Rays uniform, even with the intense effort, it would have fell on the Bullpen to secure this win. But the Baseball gods were surely smiling along with Jackson tonight as he dodged several Rays attempts to rattle his cages after he hit his close friend B J Upton in the bottom of the sixth inning, then saw D-back teammate Stephen Drew bobble an easy out from his second base position for a sure error and give Carlos Pena and the Rays a chance.
But his defining moment tonight was not in the bottom of the first inning after Jackson walked Ben Zobrist, who advanced to third base after a wild pitch, but was stranded on base. Nor was it a cause for alarm in the bottom of the third inning when Jackson loaded the bases with Rays uniforms on three straight walks, then proceeded to get three straight Rays hitters to produce easy out opportunities and get out of the inning without a scratch. It was after that Drew error gave the Rays a fighting chance and Maddon inserted speedster Carl Crawford into the game as a pinch-runner. After a quick Joyce fly ball to Rightfield, Crawford was gunned down after a 93+ mph fastball was delivered to D-Backs catcher Miguel Montero who threw a perfect high strike to Drew to erase the scoring chance, and end the inning for Jackson.
Jackson’s effort might not have been as squeaky clean and tidy as Oakland A’s hurler Dallas Braden’s earlier season dismantling of the Rays hitters, but he got the same kind of result. But a finite defining moment in this game was the attitude and the on-the-field adjustments by Jackson to keep himself into contention all during this game. In his past, Jackson had gotten into jams by his own hand and could not convert and close the door on the opposition. Tonight Jackson not only closed the door, but he might have bruised a few protruding toes in the process.
So Rays fans, I think it is wise tonight to take Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s clubhouse philosophy of taking 30-minute to dwell, ache and let the pain seep out, then discard it like a used tissue and move onto the next game. Lady Luck flirted with both teams tonight, but she took a special liking to Jackson, and he was handsomely rewarded with a lifetime memory. For the Rays, it is back to basics and the sooner they forget this night the better. But I know when I see Jackson as he wanders over the Rightfield tomorrow, the prior evening hurt and pain will be relived for a few moments, but when he flashes that huge smile, I will be glad a former Rays baseball buddy got the gift of a lifetime.
I still get irritated every time the Tampa Bay Rays lose a contest. Some people would say that after 10 years from 1998-2007 of experiencing sub .500 records and years of watching your aspirations for your teams dissolve like sands in that proverbial hourglass until the top of the glass is empty and wanting. I have had a ton of those days, days where the hurt and pain of the loss stands still in the pit of my stomach until I enter the Trop. the next night to attend another round of constant emotional wrestling hoping for a win, or a reason to have hope.
For some reason last night I did not feel that surge of twisting emotions and loss, but instead I experienced a ” we will get them next time” mentality. Maybe it was the fact the Rays showed the 19,000+ in the blue seats that this team has shed their 2009 ways of accepting a one-sided score and showed the fire and intensity needed to compete long into October. It was a great sight seeing the Rays battle tooth-to-tooth trying to crawl back into last night’s contest up to the last swing of the bat. I finally believe that lightning does strike twice, and it has in a place that used to be called the Thunderdome.
Usually it has been the modus operandi of the Rays in the past to take players out of the starting line-up and save them for another day. Last night, we again saw the maddening mind of Rays Manager Joe Maddon as he again dropped the Designated Hitter spot for the second night in a row to bolster his offense and provide an additional chance to come out on the winning side. I saw a strain of emotion late into the bottom of the ninth inning that were missing last season, but was reborn in 2010, possibly with the seeds planted firmly during Spring Training.
We again saw the majesty of Rays slugger Carlos Pena providing a example of never giving up and sending his second Home Run in as many days into the seats in Section 139 right beyond the Leftfield foul pole. We saw the grit and determination of Pena again not giving up on a short fly ball in front of the plate by his hustle down the First Base line and rewarded as Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino dropped the easy out onto the Trop’s turf. Faith had reared is magnificent head again, and it was favoring the Rays and giving them a chance of redemption in this game.
That was missing from this team in 2009. This Rays 2009 team did not visualize a sense of gritty determination and hustle last season but accepted their lot in the Major League Baseball season and let their physical downfalls limit their game plan, and also accepting their fate without a scrappy reprise. But seeing the Rays fight the good fight last night and toss those usual notions of playing for another day aside and individually deciding amongst themselves that this game was within their grasps, up until the last swing.And I love that transformation of this team and it starts with the guy who has hit homer after homer over the last few games, honestly leading by example.
And this is one of those emotions that is contagious and infectious in a good way. And the way the Rays fought hard last night showed they have their priorities in line and are striving for more this season. Rays/ Hess Express Saturday Night Concert performer Dierks Bentley has a song, “Feel that Fire”, hopefully the Rays take a look at that songs lyrics and embrace the fiery emotions needed to boost themselves to that next level.
So I walked out of the Trop. last night not upset the roof was not orange, and we did not finally seal that 40th win of the season. The aspects of blossoming accountability and self sacrifice witnessed last night shows this team is on the cusp of something again that is magical and will send all of us home again with multiple smiles in the near future. The Rays might have lost the physical game last night, but they gained in the mental and emotional aspects of the game, and that in itself can be a solid victory and provide more clarity and focus for the future than a simple “W”.
AP/The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese
Sports columnists around the country will tell you the perfect Major League Baseball game is one where the Umpires’ are completely invisible, and every play goes along like on an organized plan with no need for interpretation, or controversy during the games nine innings of play. I hate to admit it, but that same serene scenario might be as rare as the 20 Perfect Games that have been thrown in Major League Baseball.
I always thought growing up as a kid learning the rules of the game of baseball was that the Umpires were on the field to help guide us and teach us the rules, not become a part of a unfolding fabric of the game. For some reason, today’s mega-personality Major League Umpires seem to be developing their own agendas and meshing them into the convoluted mixture of the game.
With the “hurry up” mentality expressed by today’s Umpire Crews, you expect to see the White Rabbit behind Home Palte with a huge stop watch basically turning the game their direction by throwing their own interpretations and nuances towards every facet of the rule book.
And one of last night’s Umpires has been center stage this season in the “hurry up” offensive move throughout the Major League Baseball system. Seasoned MLB Umpire Joe West has been more than vocal, even complaining after a Red Sox versus New York Yankee game about the molasses pace of the game right now. Anyone within the American League East knows that Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon uses the entire time allotted for every one of his pitches to his advantage, and with that goes the impending song and dance of Papelbon stepping off the rubber, the Boston catchers’ going out to the mound, or the opposing hitter asking for a “time out” right before a pitcher get set in his wind-up.
West had been more than vocally adamant about his displeasure for this routine game action dragging the last several innings of the game to a snail’s crawl. It was kind of funny (strange) to me last night during the Rays and Jays game when the battle betwwen the plate and mound became a bit testy and slowed to a well htought out chess match. The Rays had begun to get the upper hand on their opponent’s closer, then bang! In steps a supposibly conscientious observer, the Umpire.
The Umpire again made his presence known at centerstage when Home Plate Umpire Angel Hernandez decided to look the other way and focus elsewhere when Rays slugger Carlos Pena treid to ask for time during a strategic 3 ball ,2 strike count. Hernandez decided to not voice, hand signal or even flinch as he let Jay closer Kevin Gregg throw a perfect strike right down the middle as Pena quickly had to try and readjust after taking his lead hand off his bat and stepped instantly towards the spinning sphere. The pitch sailed easily into Jays catcher John Buck’s glove and Hernandez wihtout thought rung Pena up on a third called strike.
Instantly Pena began to question the action, or non action by Hernandez, but he was talking to a concrete wall at that point. Quickly Rays Manager Joe Maddon went to furiously to work on Hernandez by questioing his interpretation of the “time out” request by Pena and his subsequential rant was not for those under 17 years of age to lip read. With Moddon’s opinion well set into Hernandez’s mind, Maddon was instanyl ejected from the game by Hernandez, Maddon still hot under his Rays collar, decided to vent some more frustration since he was already going to have to pay MLB a significant fine for his previous rant with Hernandez.
He instantly strutted up the Third Base line to confront the Umpire Crew Chief ”Cowboy” Joe West and the Battle at the RC corral was off and running at that point. Maddon made sure to push and shove his own interpretation far down West’s throat, and Maddon adamantly let West know the recent MLB Umpires ”hurry up offense” move was all West’s fault and made more than sure West knew his entire opinion on the matter. There are quite a few MLB Managers, including a duo within the American League East( New York, Boston) that wish they could have done the same themselves to West last night.
AP/The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese
It is great when a baseball game can remain clean and unfolds without the Umpires putting their “two-cents” into the mix. What really got my goat was not what unfolded on the turf during the ninth inning last night in Toronto. It was the impromptu vocal aftermath in the Umpire’s Room after the game when West made sure to throw his own spin on the whole episode. Marc Topkins of the St. Petersburg Times got a chance to sit down and have a soda and some grub with the “Cowboy” and his crew following last night shootout. It is unheard of that an Umpire will provoke an episode like this outside the realms of the game, but West is an old style gunslinger who sometimes seems above the rule book.
West voiced his opinion that he supported Hernandez’s actions, and even quoted the specific rule in the MLB Rule book for all of us out in Leftfield barristers to intrepret ourselves. West contended that the Jays closer (Gregg) had begun his delivery, so under MLB Rule 6.02 , the timeout should not have been awarded since the rule protects the pitchers’ on the rubber who have already begun their delivery.
But post game replays on FSNFlorida of the play in question showed that Gregg was not yet beginnig his “set position” on the mound.
That is a clear sign that Hernandez missed the call here, but it was at his own discretion at that moment to grant Pena the initial”timeout”. The uninterpreted grey area here is huge because it is up to individual Umpire’s personal interpretation of the rule and its boundaries, which should be solidified in black and white with more clarification, but multiple shades of grey were bountiful last night.
West told the St Petersburg Times, “You can not ask for a timeout once the pitcher is coming to a set position, or once a pitcher would be in jeopardy of hurting himself“.
West made sure to point out that the MLB does provide clubhouse signage to each of the 30 MLB teams explaining the rules in great length and the “official” MLB interpretation of these rules. On a side note, I have seen a poster of these rules, and they are printed both in Spanish and English to keep a possible language confrontation to a minimal. West went on to tell the St Pete Times:
“The rule is two-fold- One is to protect the pitcher from starting his delivery, and then having to stop because the hitter stepped out. That is why we do not let hitters cause balks. It’s all intertwined with the protocol of the pitcher and the hitter and the Umpire. And the hitters all know, you ask for time and have to be granted time or it’s not out. They do not get to call time, the Umpire calls time.”
As Topkin sat there in their usually “off limits” Umpires sanctuary as West held court, Hernandez did the right thing by not stirring the pot or adding any additonal to the spice to the mix and I gained a smidgeon of respect for him last night as he added a bland, but honest opinion to the St Pete Times :
This will eventually evolve into another Joe West involved gunfight either won or lost according to your sense of fair play and gamesmanship. The Rays ended up overcoming the ruling and winning the battle, but could Maddon have stirred up a hornet’s nest that could plague his squad in tonight’s finale against the Blue Jays. My opinion is that the MLB Umpires are the true providers and protector of the rules of the game of baseball. I understand their wide interpretations and even their bending of set guidelines at time with both the strike zone and some “in-the-neighborhood” calls on the field.
In the end, these bad judgment calls are further diluting the games and extending its time by the arguments and ejections following a confusion over the rulings. But the Umpires should never be a visual part on these contests. Umpire crews should do everything in thier power to remain invisible and not be made an intricate part of the game. I like that West has fire in his big old belly for the rules of game, and that Hernandez made sure to vocalize to the St Pete Times that he doesn’t have to explain his action to them, but basically only to his own superiors.
Baseball games should be decided by the players on the field and not those croaching along the foul lines or behind the plate. It is great that the game has such colorful characters within its ranks, but those same characters should not be anointed protectors of rules of the game, all dressed up in their dark blue uniforms. They should be ghosts…invisible until needed.