Results tagged ‘ Colorado Rockies ’

I Finally Forgave Vinny on Cinco de Mayo

Vinny Castilla

When former Major League Baseball star (?) Vinny Castilla came out to the mound yesterday to throw out the First Pitch accompanied by his 2 sons here at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, I was not sure how I was going to react. As a failed asset of the old Rays “Hit Show” promotion, I still had some bitterness towards the way he ended his Tampa Bay Rays playing venture as well as some of the comments I heard personally outside the hallowed Trop. walls. Oh how I had held that burning aggression and brewing displeasure for Vinny within my gut for the last 12-odd years.

1482452_jpg_3587_0_display_imageI had talked over the last 2 days here in Colorado about Castilla to fellow baseball fans wearing the black and purple accents of the hometown Rockies. It almost seemed like Castilla was a different person in St. Petersburg, almost like the devil might have ripped out his baseball soul while wearing the D-Rays colors and inserted some demonic servant to do his bidding while manning Third Base for the team.

I was told about his charity efforts, how he embraced the Rockies fans and their culture and was a model teammate when he wore the Colorado colors. This confused me as it was so different from his D-Rays persona, as if he was more eager to leave the ballpark then stroll into it on game days. MY icy demeanor about Castilla was beginning to slowly melt away as I saw a different person described to me, almost like someone I could of admired and respected for his play on the field.

3426633817_16af4fa5d6_zI was truly perplexed, not knowing either to stand and clap or sit and just ignore the player who I personally felt “gave up” on his D-Rays teammates and who’s own comments definitely divided himself from his peers. It seemed to me that Castilla had a complete 180 degree difference in personality and playing style high above the desert plains here at Coors Field.

I was completely in flux as to what I wanted to do having still deep seeded feelings about Castilla, but felt each player deserved his time in the Sun both during and after his career, so I stood along with the other 39,220 souls who knew Castilla from his true “Hit Show” days as a Rockies player. I was beginning to see that “Tampa Bay” might have been a bad chapter in the life story of Castilla with downfalls and strife I could only imagine.

050909132214Castilla may not have made a lot of positive memories for me inside the Trop., except for his blast into the old TBT Deck, but the man had history and was almost a cult hero here in Denver. Maybe in my old age I grew up a bit more here in the cheaps seats knowing you can not hold grasps of negative moments against a person as we all are constantly evolving and changing especially as people. I can say today I was proud to clap for him today as he beamed from ear-to-ear with a smile I did not regularly see during his Rays times.

With each clap I seemed to also lose a bit of the resentment and hostile sealed up emotions I held deep in my Rays soul for a guy I felt let his team down. I can say the crowd showing their love and respect for Castilla both in their comments earlier and their loud ovation made me change my stance about Castilla.

Lilvinnyskyline_v1gme7czMaybe the moment that truly clarified I should forgive and forget Castilla’s Rays past was when I met a young Rockies fan who cheered, shouted and was truly a 1-man cheering section for the Rockies that day. He wore a Castilla black T-shirt with white numbers and when I asked him if he ever saw Castilla play he responded, “No, I was too young to see his Home Runs”. Without thought, I reached into my camera bag and pulled out my (lil) Vinny bobblehead and thrust it into the young guy’s glove.

It was the right thing to do, true fan-dom should be rewarded, and with that gesture I also forgave Vinny for his past Rays ways. 

Rays 2010 Commercial Lacks “Wow” Factor

 
 Tampa Bay Rays 2010 Commercial
 

I got to admit, I love the big sound of the drum line resonating in the foreground of the Tampa Bay Rays 2010 Television commercials. But there is something missing…. Something is missing we have seen for the last several years in Rays advertising. How yeah! A slogan. We have been bombarded in the past with “Heart and Soul”, “Feel the Heat” , “Catch Some Rays”, “We Are One Team” and Major League Baseball’s own “I Live For This” campaign.
 

But the rapid fire interaction of fans and players in the commercial does go great with the drum line music. See Carl Crawford taking a base away from the opposition, or seeing Even Longoria tee-off on a long ball into Section 146 of Tropicana Field can get me excited for the April 6th game, but what then…What happens after that?
 

Well, the Rays have a call out to all drum lines in the Tampa Bay area to repeat or bring your own style to the auditions to maybe have your own sound bytes on a future Rays commercial. And over the years we have heard several local groups before Rays games get out there and beat their drum skins and mix music with synchronized dancing to the beat. And that is a great thing that the Rays advertising guru’s want to reward the music makers of Tampa Bay.
 

But something is missing in these commercials. Something seriously is missing and needs to have a place within the next generation of the Rays produced ads. And it is really quite simple what is missing to me. It is the players themselves. I loved the old Raysvision commercials produced when John Franzone was here where we saw speedster Carl Crawford racing a wiener dog at Derby Lane. Or the ex-Heckler and my friend Keith as the caddie out at the Vinoy Golf Course getting robbed by Rocco Baldelli catching the fly golf ball.
 
Tampa Bay Rays 2009 Season Ticket Commercial

 

These commercials brought us into the player’s realm where we like to feel safe. For some odd reason, the commercials that have featured small segments with either the players in the action, or even Rays Manager Joe Maddon discussing the player, using their nicknames from 2009 brought you closer to the team. But this is the first segment of the Rays trying to get you to come out and experience the Rays carnival atmosphere that will be stage front in 2010.

 

Sure the many activities will still go on in Rightfield and Leftfield Street before the games, but there are many planned activities besides the Hess Express/Rays Saturday Night Concert Series to gain your attention. Every Friday night there will be a series of fireworks 10 minutes after the game indoors. Now this has been done before in Tropicana Field, but most fans remember it was pre-game, and the smoke decided to stay within Tropicana Field for most of the game that night.
 
2007 Colorado Rockies Commercial

I was hoping the Rays would go the route of the Colorado Rockies who have been producing for years player involved commercials and funny interactions that make each of those players featured more human and extremely approachable. The commercial above was even done about 5 years ago and you can see how the Rockies advertising uses a great dose of humor in their ads to get their fan’s attention.

And that has been one of the Rays key thing in the past. They are one of the most approachable teams in the Major Leagues, and the Rays should bank on that popularity and build a further fan base from it. Because the Rays are so easy to get to know and talk to, maybe a commercial where a 10-year old and Carlos Pena talk about life. Or Maybe a moment with a fan where Rays reliever J P Howell  teaches a lecture on the physics of the curveball. Humor is a big part of the Rays clubhouse, why not also bring it to the Tampa Bay community in their commercials?

 

But what do I know. I only minored in Advertising/Marketing in college, so my views might be 25 years old in concept, but then again, they might have good merit. But what I know is the team is striving to gain additional fans into the seat on nights that traditionally have shown a sea of blue seats to television cameras and the Nation on game highlights on ESPN and other media outlets. Maybe the key to getting those fans is to utilize their best natural resource, their players, in more future advertisements.
 
 
2009 Orlando Regional Tampa Bay Rays  Commercial
 

It is kind of funny, this commercial above was made last season to try and get fans from the Orlando area to attend Rays game, but not sure how that worked out for the Rays. It was a bit boring, but it looked more like a fan produced video, which showed more creativity than some I have seen in recent years.

Both print and visual commercials could be spiced up quickly with plays off of players like B J Upton scaling the wall like Spiderman, or even an old black and white commercial with Zorilla hitting homers into small scale cities. The possibilities are endless if you let your mind wander a bit and think outside the batter’s box on this concept.

Not to say tongue-in-cheek humor like that will fill the stands, but it will generate a buzz in the Tampa Bay community, which could easily translate into fans in the seats wanting to see what magic will happen that night….What about you?

Who I am following in the Playoffs

         NL Division Series Logo                                           AL Division Series Logo

I have to admit, that I have been a bad, bad baseball fan the last couple of days. I have only seen a few innings of a few post season games and have not been as intensely into the playoffs the way I have been in the past. Some might consider since my team was eliminated early from any contention that I have lost the zeal to watch baseball, but that is not the issue.  So what if the Tampa Bay Rays will not be making beautiful memories for my lifetime in 2009, I will survive.

And it is not matter that my second favorite team (Seattle) also did  not make any head ways into the 2009 playoff picture after the Rays canceled their own ticket with a rough start in September. So with neither of my top two in the post season, it is time to adapt temporary arrangements to throw my support towards another team on their ride through the 2009 post season.


Rob Carr / AP

With that in mind, I might not make any new friends with my announcement that the teams, one in each league that I plan to follow in the 2009 playoffs, will consist of teams that are situated in the American League East. And the fact I am about to shun the Red Sox and Yankees is not due to any internal forces or even extreme pain against either of these teams that our season quickly dissolved in September. The Rays lost the chance to cash in their ticket to the postseason with their respective series against these two teams. the better teams won in 2009.

So I am going to have to develop a new set of criteria to decide who will get my cheers and jeers in 2009. Maybe I will use a formulated plan of attack based on offense, defense and pitching statistics. Or I could go the way of visiting a Psychic and see what team she sees in the aura around me, or what the Tarot cards have in store for any of the teams in the playoffs. Or maybe I can just go the simple route and decide the team by looking at the post season rosters and deciding it all based on the ex-Rays currently on their rosters.

And for some reason, I like the way that last suggestion looks on the computer, it just seems to jump out off the page and tells me to “pick me! pick me”.  So I think that will be my measure of calculating and deciding the  one AL and NL teams I will root for in this post season carnival. And as I take this road, there are two clear choices that I will lean towards and follow until the last out of their last game in this playoff season.


Mel Evans / AP



But my decision on the team I am going to follow in 2009 will be based on a few criteria that most people might not have considered before now.  Way back in 1991, when the team was first awarded to the Denver area, I did not want to follow anyone else but the black and purple of the Rockies. But there was a solid reason behind this selection that still to this day makes me not want to root or even hope for any prosperity for the Florida (Miami) Marlins. And it was a simple case of money over community want that sealed the deal for my fish vendetta.

You see, the Tampa Bay community was in a fight with local cities Orlando and Miami for a chance to be the first expansion team in the state and might of had a better chance at securing that first Florida team if not for the deep, deep pockets of former Blockbuster Entertainment head honcho Wayne Huizenga. So my instant alliance went to the team that would play almost one mile above sea level and far from the sandy beaches of Tampa Bay.

But there is a secondary reason why this team is being considered as my “team ” for the 2009 playoffs. Since the Rockies sacked their old manager, they have played more inspired ball and have come a long way both in their record and in their team concept. For that reason, they give me a slight feel of the atmosphere and the thrill that I felt with the rays in 2008. But more of the reasoning might have come via ESPN’s talking heads. You see, when the Rays were making their run last season, the announcers kept reminding people they were that season’s ‘Rockies”. 

As much as that was funny at the time, now I hope the Rays can be next season’s “Rockies” for the second time in a row and follow the same path (minus the manager firing) and get back on the playoff train in 2010.  So I will be following the Phillies and Rockies series with extra motivation. But the fact that the Rockies have been there before, and have gotten as far as the Rays did in 2008 boast a weird similarity that entices my support. The Rockies fought back the doom and gloom disillusion of so many around the league this season to secure a playoff berth and then go on and challenge to overtake the mighty Dodgers in the last series of the season shows the heart of a champion again.


Mel Evans / AP

It brings up a lot of the same emotion I felt in 2008, and so this is the team I have decided to follow in this season’s playoffs. Granted, they have been labeled a long shot, but I remember so many who said that the Rays would not go far either in 2008. And the added bonus that former Rays Jason Hammel is on the post season roster gives me more of a reason to want to see “Hambone” take the mound and throws laser beams. And Hammel will get a chance to leave his impression on the NLDS when he gets the start Friday night because of the unexpected injury to Jorge De La Rosa late in the season.  

So that is it, that is my team for the playoffs. No wishy washy wavering between teams, this is my solid choice and one that I will live by even if they do not get out of the first round of the playoffs. I am not a bandwagon fan. If I make you a pick of mine, I stick by you even in defeat. but that is not the case in so many sports fans in this country. So no matter what happens from today on, the Rockies will have my attention, and my support to try and again get back to the World Series this season. And it would again be a great surprise, or even a great honor in 2010 to have the Rays be considered “this seasons Rockies”…..again.

  

Rainy Days and Mondays Get me Down

 

 

 
 
 

My Weather Channel Views

 


Man oh man. I have been here before. As Yogi Berra once said, “It was Deja vu all over again” today. I still can not believe it has been almost 161 days since our last official rain out involving the Tampa Bay Rays. That is right, we have not seen the tarp, or even a mention of that liquid sunshine since October 27, 2008 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. How ironic is it that basically two out of our last three games have been postponed by the actions of random drops of liquid. Wow, considering that we play in a domed stadium, this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often to use during the regular season.

 

I mean some of the only games to ever be postponed at Tropicana Field had a rain element, but it was associated with Hurricanes, not  basic thunderstorms. But for the Rays to again be subject to a postponed game via the elements is just nature’s way of telling us they have control, and not us or Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. We even streamlined the regulations and ruling in our MLB rule book to keep these water goblets from controlling our baseball existence. We have modified and summarized the paragraphs to facilitate a strong and useful guide to rain and its hazards…right?  I mean come on, is the real problem just a simple rain shower, or could all of this simply be erased with a bit of better meteorological brain usage about the climate changes involved with Spring weather and its surprising effects on the Northeast and Central regions of the country.
 
 

I know that the logistics and the early bird planning into the years schedule are submitted and even laid out before the September games even start each year. But it truly amazes me that in the last few years, the dominant section of the country to get Opening Day games is the Northeast, and when a game is postponed by weather, we all gasp. I know the schedulers do not like the Rays, that is fine with me, I am not here to change society, just the machine that keeps picking northern cities that can still be subject to snow and rain to begin the season.  I mean come on eggheads, you have to know that this first week in April can be as predictable as a storm in the Gulf of Mexico.

 



 

And with that simple knowledge, can’t we pick southern or warm weather climate for the first series of games every year. I know that in September, you can usually get approval and even make solid appointment dates on the upcoming years calendar for stadiums and concession needs. But why is it that this is the second year in a row that some kids, and kid/adults have to suffer and stroll aimlessly back home after coming into the city to see the first big game of the year. Cleveland fans had their days ruined last season. Chicago White Sox fans have their dreams halted for at least 24 hours because of snow. Okay, solidified masses of rain can be dangerous to play on, that is a gimme, but could it have been avoided if the team had played this first match up in Kansas City today?
 

I am not saying that the Rays should be playing Boston at home to open the season. I think the Boston fans might think it was too early to again hit the parking lots of the Trop. since Game 7 of the ALCS. But seriously, we have a forecast for rain today, and the only wetness that might hit your lips in our stands is the gentile first sip of that beer or soda after you enter the stadium. Planning can be hard, I can understand that. But I also know that every team submits a proposal to MLB about their wants and desires for the upcoming season. And in this reports is the fact that every team wants to start the year at home. And what is wrong with that you say?  Not every team can get their initial wish list, and hard decision have to be made about the schedule.
 

But shouldn’t the easiest bit of the schedule be to pick cities that do not have a history of weather situations in April. I mean if Buffalo, New York had a MLB squad, they would certainly be on the road the first week of the season almost every year.  That is just the fact of the Great Lakes weather pattern to drop snow and rain in the region in this time of year. With the Central region or the Iron Belt getting hit the last two years with late Winter weather, should the Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit region get a slate of Opening Day games? There will be a debate about this for years, but doesn’t MLB get embarrassed, and even a bit nervous that fans can not just take a second day off work, or even make their way to the ballpark after a postponement.
 

I know after the October 27th game in Philadelphia, I had to give my ticket to a close friend who lived in Boyertown, outside Philly to the conclusion of Game 5 of the World Series. I did not have the money to book another flight home, or even find a hotel room within the Philly city limits for the following day. Conventions and other activities kept me from staying for that final game. You might remember that the Rays had to find lodging in Delaware at the DuPont Hotel to even be able to stay for the extra two days for the conclusion of the game, and the series. I am not going to close this my stating that everyone needs an domed, or even a retractable roof stadium up in the northern states. Far from it.

I would not have Progressive Field/ The Jake, so high on my list of favorite stadiums if it was not for the city skyline right there hovering over the stadium. I would not have the same homely feeling about Wrigley field if I could not see the people in the neighboring high apartment building also cheering along with the stadium hopefuls. And I can definitely say that Camden Yards would be doomed by a dome or any kind of retractable roof on it. The sight of the warehouse in right field is as symbolic to me as ivy on Wrigley’s walls, or the plane beacon twinkling in the Cleveland skyline. I just want, hope, and dream that some compromise can be reached so that we can somehow play these games in the first week of April on time. Summertime is made for rain delays and also weather’s magical changes. But not when the energy and the anxious anticipation of a season is dashed by rain, snow or sleet.

 

 


Hambone Goes to Mile High

 


I going to miss that tall and lanky kid. I truly am. But I am not the only one, there are several people already posting comments and lines about Jason Hammel being traded by the Rays yesterday to the Colorado Rockies. The kid was well liked by the Rays faithful. More because he was still a huge kid-at-heart. Hambone was one of those guys you wanted to hang out and maybe fish or just talk sports with after a game. He was so perfect for the fan base of the Rays. I remember his smirky grin and smile daily down in the Bullpen, but you never saw him get upset on the field. I did however see a glove thrown at the bench after a bad outing, but that is just part of the game. Frustrations come and go, but people like Hammel come along once in a while, at best.

 

So when the Rays said he was going to pitch on Sunday in an inner-squad game, I knew he was about to be jettisoned from the team. Even though fellow tall and lanky fifth spot prospect Jeff Niemann was going to be throwing in the same game, you knew that Hammel was going to be the prize. Not just for his youth and experience already in the MLB, but because he has not had any serious health or injury concerns yet in his career. That is a major thing in baseball trades. People see the numbers and reports, but the physical elements play just as big a factor in the conclusion. So Hammel will take his career mark of 7-15 with him after his three years up with the Rays. He will be used first as a long-reliever for the Rockies, but it could work into a few odd starts during the season for him.
 
 

But who would have imagined that the guy who once put on the mascot costume for Treasure Valley ( Ore.) Community college would ever be pitching on a major league field.  That is right, during his freshman and sophomore years he would don the Chukar bird costume and entertain during his teams baseketball games. At 6 foot 6 inches, you might think he would be on the court in uniform, not in costume.  But that is the character of Hammel. He is that “good old boy” that people talk about, he is the guy who think beyond just himself both on and off the field. I mean how many people know that this guy is a real artist. I am serious here, he has designed tattoos for team mates, and also has a “Hammel” original on his own body.

 
                             

 
That is right, he designed his own body art. It is a baseball ( of course) with red flames trailing off of it with a baseball diamond in the background. Hammel is also a huge supporter of Barry Zito’s charity “Strikeouts For Troops”. He was first informed by fellow Rays Bullpen member Dan Wheeler about the charity, and quickly got a hold of Zito and the organizations staff to provide his services.  So for every  one of his 44 strikeouts in 2008, he donated money to the organization. But he is also one of the first guys to always volunteer to go to events like the Moffitt Cancer center and do clinics and work with the kids on their baseball skills, or just throw the ball around for a while.
 

Hammel is one of those guys you want to root for once he leaves your team. I am so sorry to see him leave the Rays and head to Colorado, but I also know I will see him again real soon. You might remember that the team has a 3-game series in Denver from June 16-18th, and I will be in the stands for that Inter-League series. I was kind of on the fence about going to this series before the trade announcement. Now I want to go to just wish him well, and see that toothy grin one more time.

 
Thank You  MAX Blog Voters

 

I am truly humbled and thankful for everyone who took the time to vote and also even consider me for the 2008 The Max Blog Tourney still going on at
http://themax.mlblogs.com.  Seriously here people, I am having a great time voting every day for these match ups and never thought I had the mustard to get past the top 16, much less be considered for a Final Four slot. It can be truly mesmerizing at time to see how people view you online. Most nights and day we see the comments and the rankings, but sometimes an event like this can show you why you love to write these blog entries every day, and look forward to it.
 

I love writing, and with your votes you have told me you like what I write most of the time too. I am sorry that all of the bloggers in this tourney can not survive the match ups. I mean my last match up was with fellow American League blogger Jen, our favorite White Sox fan from “The Diatribes of a Law Student”.  She  is an awesome writer who seems to get better every month and is streaking up the ranking because of her muses. I know I checked at one point on Friday night and she had a good lead, and I thought it was all over for me at that point. But somehow I got a last minute surge on Sunday. Please do not forget to vote for the other people trying to gain a spot in the Final Four.  I know today’s match up had my buddy Don at “Rockpile Rants” going up against “Eat, Sleep, Baseball.” This is another great match up that deserves your votes for either guy. So do not forget to cast your ballots at http://themax.mlblogs.com today. I am one blogger who can attest that every ballot and vote counts in this great tourney. 

 
Photo credits:       1) www.boston.com ( Jim Davis)
                             2) Associated Press  (unknown)
                             3) RRCollections
                             4) RRCollections
 
 
 
 

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