Results tagged ‘ Cowbell Kid ’
And the pure fact this is not a game day note or snippet, but an actual written multi-paragraph article is beyond responsive journalism and borders on insane media influence logic to induce or imply any realistic dialogue or discussion into the real attendance woes.
But then again in 2009, the Rays had their second highest yearly attendance figures of all time with over 1,874,962 Rays Republic members filing into the gates of Tropicana Field. And that figure is only 2,506,023 behind the all time mark set in the 1998 inaugural season of 1998. And even with a slight 3.5 percent increase, not a decrease in total 2009 attendance, where is the true logic that the Rays are hurting at the gate?
Even if the 2009 total numbers were 19 percent under the Major League Baseball average and last in the American League East, it is the fourth year in a row that some sort of upwards trend showed in the overall final attendance figures.
Now since we had the New York Yankees in for the first series in 2009, it will make it a bit easier to compare the totals, but the Chicago White Sox came in right after them in 2009 and carry a better traveling fan base than the Baltimore Orioles who were here for the first three games in 2010. But let’s take a look anyways.
And in their three game against the Rays, the Baltimore Orioles, which are usually not a great draw for the Rays brought in 68,384 fans into the blue seats.The immediate numbers do show a decrease of 11,013 fans entering the Trop., but realistically not where in that article does the St Petersburg Times or Jones even remotely show that Rays Television Network broadcast numbers have gone through the roof through the first flurry of Rays home games, plus the decline could be a reduction due to the National Broadcasts also done by TBS and Fox Sports over the weekend during the Yankees series.
But seriously, if Saturday and Sunday’s games were televised Nationally, why would the casual fan come to the ballpark if they can channel-surf at home with as many hotdogs and beers as they desire. So let’s also try and see what the variations in attendance would be if you took the Orioles first series in 2009 attendance numbers and compared them to the Rays first three games.
In 2009, the Orioles had only two early games at Tropicana Field on May 4 th and 5th before they did not come back until August 18th. But the Rays did attract 42,486 fans on those three dates, which is a decrease of 25,998 fans, but the 2010 Opening Day attendance of a sell out crowd, which filled 102.6 percent of the Trop was a huge variable in the figures.
But realistically in 2009, the Rays averaged 13,184 fans during the Orioles 9 games in the Trop in 2009. Already in 2010, those numbers are averaging 22,795 Rays fans with just three games completed in the yearly series. But then again, if you are a media member like the St. Petersburg Times you need to find a scapegoat for every bit of reasoning you can consider instead of a more reliable and viable reason to thrust out to the masses as to why the team is struggling at the box office.
I am surprised that the St Petersburg Times did not blame the Cowbell Kid and his Cowbell Posse for all the noise so far in 2010, but then again, these same cowbells are now heard from the TBT Deck to the Upper Decks to even behind Home Plate. It is an outrageous noise epidemic to some, but a necessary Rays evil to others.
Or Raysvision produced in-house videos submitted to educate and enlighten new cowbell holders to the proper time for their use of this now outrageous item. But then again, you would have to consider me and the rest of the “Maddon’s Maniacs” Fan Club as outlaws since we are some of the loudest participants to this “supposed” attendance decrease.
Got to admit, that was the way to throw an Major League Baseball Opening Day gig last night. From Tampa Bay Rays players coming out and meeting us at the Rotunda Gate 1 location at 4 pm, to the explosions on and off the field, if this doesn’t get Rays fan excited…then this region is in for a heartache. But what better way to get a community pumped up for the first journey into the Trop. of the Evil empire than to have a Walk-off 2-run double produced by one of your marque players.
So with that in mind, and with me still emotional tired and drained from the whole episode, let’s take today as a “photo blog” day and I will throw a few photos up for the fans who were not at the Trop. to see what might have happened in their absence. I have to admit to everyone, when I moved in October 2009, I think I lost my 3.5X Telephoto lens, so you will have to squint and look at thing s a bit out of focus until my new lens arrives from Miami (hopefully by Friday).
But it was all about the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day today with several new additions to the Tropicana Field scene, and even a few new looks to the ballpark that I will show you in the next few days. But different this season is the fact I will not have my laptop with me during games at this time, but that might change in the near future if a few good things happen, like a real job (lol).
When I got to the stadium at 3 pm today, I was the first person standing in the Season Ticket holders line at Gate 1, and was quickly bombarded by Rays friends and ballpark buddies talking about the uypcoming season and just renewing friendships. I even got yelled at by a friend who sit in the Upper Deck for my April Fool’s Day joke, and another baseball buddy in the Rays front office commented on that post too later in the day. But today was all about seeing the 25 members of the Rays surge towards their goal of getting back to the playoffs in 2010.
But there were also some new sight on the field during the Rays Batting Practice as Rays outfielder Gabe Kapler was showing off his new glove that featured a Columbia Blue dyed “U-pocket” on his fielding glove, and a bit of Columbia Blue trim along the inner seams of the glove. It reminded me of the color scheme that ex-Rays infielder Akinora Iwamura did with his glove over the past few seasons. I will try and get a better shot of the glove today as Kapler was in a bit of a hurry yesterday and I did not get an “up close” look at his new mitt.
Rays RP Grant Balfour was also sporting a Columbia Blue T-shirt under his BP sweatshirt that read “Defend The Trop” with a black AK-47 situated in the middle of the shirt. It was produced by the Cowbell Kid in 2009 and given to Balfour, who is an honorary member of the Cowbell Security Force now. Another example of the right attitude can produce amazing results.
I liked the way that the Rays today incorporated the smoke and fire elements in their pre-game festivities, but it ended up producing a smoke and haze within the Trop that had to be a definite obstacle for both teams outfielders during the game. At one point, it seemed early in the game that Rays centerfielder B J Upton had to make an instant change in his path to the ball before collecting it over the shoulder that would have had Willy Mays shouting his name.
Over the past two Rays seasons they have used the propane fire pots more in a vertical display before the Opening Day festivities, but this season that had some very interesting variations on the flames paths, and also a nice addition of the Rays blue and yellow to bring out a different feel, but also a collaberation of the Rays color scheme.
And Rays injured reliever J P Howell even came out for a little bit today to sit with his Rays Bullpen mates before going into the Rays dugout and watching the rest of the game. I was talking with Howell before the game and he is feeling the shoulder getting stronger and the wrokout program developed by Rays Strength & Conditioning guru Kevin Barr and Rays Head Trainer Ron Porterfield is showing fast imporvement in Howell’s mobility, but he is still on track to be out until possibily May 15th.
So glad to see that Rays Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos is again down in the Bullpen area for the 2010 season. During most of the Rays Spring Training schedule, Ramos was either doing Third Base duty, or helping out on the Rays bench learning some more tricks of the trade. Ramos would not tell me if he is heading towards a possible Bench gig in 2011, but he is still taking out the Rays line-up cars every game, since he is riding a 12-game winning streak when he performs that pre-game duty.
Also something new at the Trop. this year is Raymond, our faithful Rays seadog has produced a new coat over the Fall and Winter and came out tonight with a shiny new coat that produced multiple sparkles and shimmering highlights. Either that or the Seadog finally began using conditioner on his coat for a healthier look in 2010.
Rays new $7.5 million closer Rafael Sorinano did have a rude awakening tonight against the Baltimore Orioles as he got into trouble early and got bailed-out on a brilliant play at the plate on a throw by Rays Third Baseman Evan Longoria. Soriano was releived as Longoria’s throw kept the Orioles from again tacking on a few runs and gave the Rays a chance to come back in the bottom of the ninth for the victory.
I had my camera going nuts last night and thought I might have caught Rays pinch-hitter Kelly Shoppach’s blast that popped off the Baltimore outfielder mitt and moved towards the yellow line on the railing in Left-Centerfield. But as you can see, it did not come out perfectly, but it did put two men on base, and if it had gone above that nice little yellow line on the fly…The game would have ened 15 minutes earlier.
Got to admit, I am getting slower in my old age becuase I did not pick up the ball in flight here on Carl Crawford’s 2-run Walk-off Double, but then again I was trying to keep moving to get around the errant Rays ballboy that did not want to stay in one place while I tried to gather in a picture that would sum up the game’s event….I will try again. Dang you Ballboy!
But really this picture says it all. And what was so amazing is the discussion I had with Rays Radio Host Rich Herrera before the game about we need to again get those “magical small moment
s” back into the Rays game plan in 2010 to get off to a great start and force someone else to hustle and keep up witrh us in 2010. And the way the Rays employed their confidence and their strive to produce those runs last night shows that maybe a few sparks fromn that 2008 spirit might still be alive and well within the hearts and souls of the Rays players.
I do not have a photo of the event, but again Rays catcher Dioner Navarro is getting pretty stealthy when it comes to the post-game shaving cream pies. Carl Crawford was doing a interview with Todd Kalas by the side of the Rays dugout when a swiftly moving Navarro came out of the tunnel and just missed planting the towel filled with shaving cream onto Crawford’s face. Navarro ended up pushing most of it onto Crawford’s uniform right shoulder, but you can not discount his effort.
But in the end what was important was the “W” last night. And in an interesting twist of fact here, Crawford’s 2-run double was the Rays 13th hit of the night to highlight a victory in the start of their 13th season, and of course, Crawford wears number 13 for the Rays. Nothing unlucky aboiut that number last night, and i have a feeling Rays fans will be looking for that 1 and 3 combination ( Sean Rodriguez (1), Evan Longoria (3), plus the always swifty number 13 to bring another win tonight as the Rays send starter Matt Garza to the mound. God I love this game!
Since Monday was the Rays first off day since their “fly-out” day on April 20th, I decided to just cruise the Internet looking for some great news to bring up for everyone to enjoy. But there are also over 22 teams that got to rest,relax and recharge last night so they can bring the heat tonight as everyone again hit the dirt. So with last night’s absence of baseball, I sat back and watched ” The Shawshank Redemption” for the first time from beginning to end until last night. I loved it, then of course I popped in “For the Love of the Game” as a sweet dessert. So here we go with some tidbits and morsels I found dancing in my mind like sugarplums and juicy bits on the www’s of the Internet.
Cowbell Gone Wild
I have to get this off my chest. I have seen this “member” of the Rays fan base go from being an obnoxious, arrogant mis-representation of the Rays fans to becoming someone who was more laid-back and might have finally considered that his heckling sprinkled with the art of smart heckling might be the way to promote himself and the Rays. But when I saw a recent Twitter message with an attached video from the Cowbell Kid, I began to fear the worse. He was at the Phillies game and heckling that night’s starter Brett Myers from the grandstands. I seriously thought the guy might be just toying with Myers and just wanted to see if he could get his goat a bit. But what I heard on the video , well I will let you form your own opinions on the subject here.
( I want to state here that the written text added to this video might be offensive to some people. If vulgar language, or the written presentation of vulgar language offends you, please do not click this video. The author of this blog does not condone such behavior).
I have heckled players for their on-the-field performance, but I have never used a personal family event as fodder for demeaning a player in front of his home fans. That is right, The Cowbell Kid was situated in the outfield seats of Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia before the Phillies versus Braves game. I did however notice he was wearing a Rays cap and warm-up, but no big Marge Simpson wig at that game. What is even more surprising is I did not hear a single comment to him from the tough Phillies fans about his rants to Myers.
I am not on board with going after a player in his home stadium where you are considered a guest and not a regular. I do not know what might have happened after the video camera was turned off, but I know what I would have said or done at the moment. But maybe I am the naive one in that people do it all the time during the games. But if you want to be a “face” in the stands, and want to have any type of regional or national recognition shouldn’t you do it with class.
Umpires Boot 4-legged Team Employee
It seems that during a recent Southern Atlantic League game, the Greensboro Grasshoppers had a bit of a situation on their hands. No, the two team Grasshopper mascots were not thrown out for antics during the game, but one of their four-legged friends did suffer from the wrath of the umpires. It has been the custom with the team to send a black Labrador named Master Yogi Berra into centerfield to retrieve balls from the players warming up between innings.
But on April 23rd, the night did not go as planned for the great one. Berra did his unusual motion of going out into the outfield, but on his way back to the dugout with the ball, he decided to stop and re-water the pitchers mound area. And for his action that were deemed detrimental to the game, he was rung up by Home Plate Umpire Jason Hutchings and exiled to the locker room for the rest of the game. After the game the team put Berra on their team injury reports as suffering from a stomach virus and was day-to-day.
The game was delayed a few minutes as Grounds Crew put some soil down to retain the liquids and to be sure no more surprises might have been left by Berra before his exit. But that was not the only delay in this game as Umpire Koyu Inoue was also sent to the hospital after he was hit by a foul ball during the contest. The game was delayed for 47 minutes while Inoue was attended to. When it resumed, base umpire Jason Hutchings moved behind the plate. Following protocol, each team selected one player – pitcher Brandon Todd for Greensboro and pitcher Adam Jorgenson for Asheville – to make the calls on the bases the remainder of the game
Hot Rod have a Bear-able Mascot
Most people might not aware of the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays have now gained the Bowling Green Hot Rods as their minor league squad in the Southern Atlantic League’s Southern division. The team is currently 16-15 , and are only 2 games out of the division lead. But with the new team is the aspect of finding the perfect mascot. With an auto theme, you might think a personable mechanic or a grease monkey might be the perfect fit. But the Hot Rods went another direction and searched the surrounding mountains and caves until they found Axle.
Axle is a baseball lovin’ bear and hot rod enthusiast who is equally at home on the ball field or under the hood of a car. He brings a high level of energy designed to get Hot Rods fans and players pumped up during Hot Rods home games. When he’s not leading cheers from the top of the dugouts, Axle enjoys making kids smile and working on his classic car collection. He also enjoys fishing in the Barren River and spending time at his home in one of South Central Kentucky’s numerous caves, the identity of which must be kept a secret due to his large paparazzi following.
Is this mimicking Stuff Getting out of Hand?
I made a comment in my blog yesterday about the fact that I was glad that Orioles hitter Aubrey Huff gave Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain a dose of his own medicine back when he hit his 3-run shot against him on Sunday. I mean people are varied opinions on the on-the-mound antics of MLB relievers this season. We all know the history of Chamberlain showing outward emotion on saves and great strikeouts to end tense innings. But is it all starting to get to be more of an act than a true form of emotion.
I mean since October I have seen Phillies closer Brad Lidge try and re-produce the famous Tug McGraw “W” sit-down in front of the mound after winning the World Series. Then the Rays Grant Balfour get into the head of former White Sox batter Orlando Caberra so much that when Balfour complained and yelled on the mound he thought it was directed to him. Has the art of outward expression maybe gotten a bit to animated on the mounds,or am I just imagining it all.
Then we get word of a recent San Francisco Giants/ L A Dodger brouhaha where usual cool calm and collected Casey Blake is seen on the bench making a mock mimic of Giants closer Brian Wilson’s usual save celebration. What is so upsetting about this one is that Blake has seen this motion by Wilson before and has not deemed it necessary to mimic or play with Wilson’s head. After Blake hit a 12th inning homer off Wilson during his teams 7-5 loss to the Giants, he is caught on camera on the bench making a reference to Wilson’s personal tribute to his faith and late father that he exhibits after every save.
Made even worse was the fact that Wilson did not even know about the event until he got off the field and went to his locker. there he found a photo on his cellphone of the Blake mimic and it sent the closer into an outrage. It was said that the closer got so infuriated with the display by Blake that team mates had to calm him down immediately before the situation got out of hand. You know this one episode is going to play out again sometime in 2009. I hope that before these two meet again during a gem either Blake or Wilson can get some closure to the event before someone gets knocked on their butt by a high inside pitch or two.
People complain that most of these antics on the mound are done for the media and not for the team unity. I understand getting the perfect picture of Jonathan Papelbon after a great save against the Rays on Sunday night, but does he have to do it in two-different directions to make sure they get the frontal view of the action. Most people might not have saw that since the usual thing is for people to either change the channel or do other things right after that, but I saw it and it did tick me off for a few minutes.
But I also know that baseball is not only about playing the game right now, it is about a packaged set of entertainment for the fans and viewing audience. Did Papelbon or even Chamberlain change their post-game celebrations to promote the team, or themselves. I am not asking that emotional displays get tossed, or even shielded. I am just wondering if most of that outward display can be used to better good than to give a last minute whammy or punch in the gut to another team.
I know we have not seen the last of these displays, but can both batters and pitchers please be sure to get the right message out before some 11-year old thinks it is right to yell at the opposing team after striking out the side in a Little League game. Sometimes the big guys on the mound forget about the smaller eyes that idolize and want to duplicate their hero’s actions and reactions. I am not asking for a change of their collective personalities or antics. Just make sure it is something you can be proud of, and would not mind seeing your own kids do sometimes in the future.
Chris O’Meara / AP
Kazmir Doesn’t Set the Tone
If last nights game would have been an audition for American Idol , the Rays would have been eliminated for lack of harmony and pitchy performance. Simon Cowell would have directed his most venom-filled tirade towards Rays starter Scott Kazmir who did not seem to have any type of rhythm, or a even a sense of direction in the game. Rays Manager Joe Maddon has a favorite saying that” “Pitching sets the tone of the game”. If that is truly the case, then last nights game was played by a group of tone-deaf athletes who seemed to be boring and very karaoke on the field.
I know that seems a bit harsh, but the fact of the matter is that the team just got over a huge emotional series against the Boston Red Sox, and they did not need to take even a one-game vacation now against the team we are fighting to stay out of the American League East cellar. It is not like the Orioles are a bad team. Quite the contrary, they have been our biggest pest for several seasons taking wins that used to fall our way. But last night’s contest was in doubt from the first pitch from the mound.
Kazmir threw the first pitch to lead-off man Brian Roberts behind him, and both Roberts and Home Plate Umpire Tim McClelland looked at each other in utter amazement. It would have been great if from that moment on we did not have the feeling we were watching “Nuke” Laloosh from “Bull Durham” fame throw balls everywhere but over the plate. But we had the leftie that used to dominate the plate and send a chill down your spine with that great slider of his. Tonight the only thing scary about Kazmir was where the ball was going on every pitch. Control was not in his forte last night.
But then maybe I am being a bit too critical? Maybe, but if you walk the first two batters in a game on 9 pitches, doesn’t it open the opinion door wide open. Even the fact that the first two guys basically only had to have their bats on their shoulders to enjoy a short stroll down to first was not the major issue here. It was the 1-1 count and the hanging slider that Nick Markakis decided needed to go into the right field stands for a 3-run homer that peaked my concern. That gave the visiting birds a 3-0 lead after only three batters.
But the Rays have been great at digging out of holes this year? That is true, but usually those holes do not find themselves dug as early or as deep as this one in only the first inning. To Kazmir’s credit, he did get the next three Oriole batters in a row to get out of the inning with only the 3-0 damage inflicted on the Rays. Now we all know that Kazmir has been difficult his entire career early in his outings, and maybe this one is a prime example of his woes. But I know the Rays have tried various solutions to try and combat that early wildness on the mound.
They have tried to get him to throw his pre-game warm-up session like a simulated game to maybe get rid of the cobwebs faster and warm him up to game situations. But that had mixed reviews. They have even tried to get him to do more stretching and mental imaging before the game to stimulate his mind towards the actions of the first three batters. If he did do a pre-game simulation or visualization on the bench, thank goodness someone bothered him before he got down deep into the order yesterday.
In his post game comments, Kazmir eluded to the fact he did not” feel right tonight. Some thing was off mechanically.” I have to agree with you there Scott. Something did look a little off. When you were on the side throwing before the game you looked rushed and a bit flustered. But that has sometimes led to great things, so I do not read too much into it anymore. But you are right, something is off a bit with your delivery. Or maybe you are trying to bite on the plate corners too much and the umpires are not giving it to you based on your lack of control most of the game.
Whatever the reason, we need to get our leftie asset back under control before Kazmir get into his own head and begins to doubt himself or his purpose to this team. People forget that this guy is still only 24, and will not even hit 25 until August. Just because he is the longest tenured pitcher, and hold numerous Tampa Bay Rays records, he is still a guy who is growing as a pitcher every start. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a star on this team. But his recent problems have casted a shadow on him that might be deserved at times.
But remember, there are a huge amount of pitchers this year who are also having sub-par years in the both leagues. From New York to Los Angeles, young pitchers are getting rocked and having their control situations. I know most people will just say that is the other team’s problem, but maybe we are hitting a mental or mechanic pandemic that is effecting our young pitchers right now. The only cure to such a virus is to study film, check location placement and maybe even do some side work to try and pinpoint the problem. Usually it is something simple that can ruin a pitching outing. Hopefully for Kazmir it is a simple case of maybe his foot placement on the rubber. But then again, I will leave that to the experts.
Navarro is Doing Some Great Things
For the past few days I have heard a few grumbles and rants from the stands about the Rays current option at catcher. Dioner Navarro has had a history of starting slow before, but people still point towards last season as the barometer for his hitting. They do not take into consideration that we might have seen his best season last year, and this is an example of a average season for him. Catching has never been a position that a team look towards for a huge offensive outburst of power and average.
Usually a .240 hitter with power outbursts is what you find in the catching realms. What they are on the roster for is their defensive excellence and their ability to control their pitching staff. But with Rays current back-up Michel Hernandez having a career night this past weekend, it put the grandstand prognosticators on high alert. They are calling for a change, and there is not current Rays solution. The Rays normal back-up catcher, Sha
wn Riggans is getting ready to head out to the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits for his rehab assignment and might not be back for a week to ten days.
But why are people calling for a change when Navarro is still acting like an All-Star catcher behind the plate? The voices seems to bring up the fact he is increasingly getting more and more prone to not putting his glove to the ground for balls that skip before or on the plate. This has lead to numerous passed balls and wild pitches in the last two weeks. Some of them have been costly to the team in moving up runners into scoring position, but some of that also has to be put on the pitcher’s shoulders. Navarro is not the one throwing the ball in the dirt, but is the one chasing them around the backstop.
But I do see the rationale here for that thinking. It does at times seem like he is giving 75 percent, but he might also be looking back runners at the corners and also trying to do too much at one time behind the plate. He has grown by leaps and bounds behind the plate as a team leader and the controller of multi-personalities that hit the mound. You have to think it might be difficult to pull in a emotional pitcher like Grant Balfour at times, or even try and figure out a character like JP Howell when he cool, calm and collected out there with the bases loaded and no outs.
But considering that in the recent games, Navarro has gunned down Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury and he got the Orioles Adam Jones at third base last night. For the year he is 4 for 19 this year throwing runners out. That 21 percent might not be lights out, but it shows he is trying to get them, and that speaks volumes. When a player is showing up defensively on the field, his hitting is considered a slump, not a lack of confidence. Navarro will be back on track again. He got to the 2008 All-Star game based on the entire package behind the plate.
He had great coaches who used to catch like Maddon and Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos to guide and watch his mechanics. Navarro will again be stroking the ball hard for the Rays. The entire team has had a few pieces that have been slow to rise to the top this year. That happens some times, but why is it he is single out right now as the problem? Sometimes when you dip below that Mendoza line people doubt your offensive abilities.
He hit .295 last season and set numerous personal highs. The guy can hit, and we have seen it. But let’s give the guy a bit of a break because the Rays do not have huge options to even consider replacing him right now. “Stay the course and the ship will right itself” is an old nautical saying. It is Navarro’s time to sink or swim. Let’s give him the opportunity to rebound before we throw a great talent away for instant success.
Chris O’Meara / AP
Longo and El Presidente
Where would the Rays be this year without these two tearing up the base paths? You have to think of the possibilities of where we would be if not for their offensive thumping so far in 2009. Based on his past weeks heroics, Evan Longoria again garnished the American League Player of the Week honors. Longo hit .379 with an A L best 14 RBI during the past 7 days and 21 total bases. His 2 homers and 4 doubles were included in his 9 runs scored and a .724 Slugging Percentage. This is his third overall Player of the Week honor, and his second this season.
Carlos Pena (28) and Longoria (31) are the first teammates since Duke Snider (31) and Roy Campanella ( 28) with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 to have 28+ RBI through the first 26 games of the year. Longoria and Pena are also the current MLB home run duo with Longoria (8) and Pena ( 11) combining for 19 homers this season. There 58 combined RBI also have them number one in the MLB right now, 8 RBI ahead of their nearest competitors, Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick of St. Louis who have 50 RBI.
**** As everyone knows, the Cowbell Kid will be making his annual road trip this week up for the New York Yankee two-game series and into Boston and Baltimore during the next road trip. He has even compiled a little didy entitled, ” The Cowbell Kid is coming to Town” that plays upon that Christmas classic, “Santa Claus is Coming to town.” He has even gotten a few sound bytes from members of the Rays Bullpen that will be included in the video file he intends to sen to the media members in all three cities of the next road trip. Let’s hope the blue-haired one takes heed in Boston and remains calm when things come flying towards his Marge Simpson hair.
**** Again last night a mysterious orange ball came out of the right field stands after the home run by Nick Markakis in the first inning. People know my opinion on this trend. I know of the old tradition started by the 142 Crew where everything but the kitchen sink used to come out of the stands into the small right field corner, but this orange ball incident might bring about an odd group of copycats that will prolong the game. The 142 Crew did their actions with the Bullpen knowing that the actions would happen and they used to send the ball boy out there to collect the balls and foreign items in a timely manner. To just throw countless balls back onto the field is a time-wasting effort and might be looked upon by the Rays as an insult, not as a fan energy booster.
**** Do not forget that today is Cinco De Mayo. The Rays plan on having their own celebration in the Power Alley Pub above centerfield today before and during the Rays afternoon game. I expect to see a multitude of sombrero’s and festive outerwear throughout the stadium. I will try and get a few photos of the festivities and post them tomorrow. I am expecting to see at least a few Rays fans in ponchos and selective Corona-based wear in the stadium.
I have been a member of the Rays fan base for a long time. I have seen some of the best and worst moments of April played out before me either in person at games, or on television. We have seen 7-6 records after 13 games in 1999. Then there was the 5-8 record of 2000. But wait, that is the same record as this season. And within that 5-8 record in that year, we went 1-5 during that first home stand. In 2009, we have begun with a 2-5 record at home, which is almost the same as the first home series in 2008, which ended at 3-5 before heading to Minnesota for two games during the week. But why is the radio waves got so much negativity right now when we are par for our normal course? Are we expecting more this year because this is “Championship Week”, and forgetting it takes an entire season to make a championship dream come true.
But why are people already throwing out the doom and gloom card.This is a better team than the 2008 squad, but every other team might have gotten better too in the American League knowing they have to either keep up in their teams skills, or sit on the curb and watch as we roll on by in the standings. Heck, we all know the money moves made in our own division this year to combat the Rays way of playing baseball. The American League might be the player-for-player monster of the league right now. The scales have not turned either way for the Rays right now, this is the “feeling out” month where teams take additional chances and try and format a strategy for the rest of the year.
So why does it surprise people that some teams are finding early success, like the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles and other teams like the Rays are chugging on 7 cylinders right now. I mean why throw doom and gloom out their on the radio waves because we sit in the cellar after only 13 games. There is a huge amount of baseball left to be played just in April, with another long road trip on the book starting on Tuesday night in Seattle. You see some of the faces on the guys as they jog down to the dugout after the games puzzled on what is going on with this team. But it is the fans, and maybe a handful of newbie fans that are throwing players and team decisions under the bus on the post game shows. Players being questioned on ability and heart only 13 games into the year, you have to be kidding me.
Then there is the minority of callers voicing roster moves without thought to the structure of the offense or Bullpen. People are calling for a mass exodus of Triple-A guys to be brought up, with no real constructive reasoning to even throw guys under the bus. I feel real sorry for Rich Herrera, who does the Rays post game on the radio. He has had to defend the team and their tactics almost nightly, even when we have won. I know we have some great baseball minds in the Tampa Bay area, who can see what is going on here and know that this is just a bump in the road. But then we have the other set of experts who just have not given up the Rays negativity train.
They are the one who look at the box score in Friday night’s win and sees that Carl Crawford and Gabe Gross both did not get a hit in that game. But they also miss the awesome appearance by Ben Zobrist where he went 2 for 2 with a Grand Slam and 4 RBI’s, or the Carlos Pena home run that came after a monster foul ball that hit the FSN advertisement scoreboard in the back of Section 134. They want to dwell on the imperfections, not the fact that this team is struggling and still winning some of these games. They have focused on the 5 strikeouts, or the pick-off of Zobrist in the bottom of the eighth inning by Clayton Richard as “keys to the game”. Really?
Come one people. Put you complaining lips down and begin cheering for this team to succeed. Negative thoughts breed negative actions. By the end of Sunday’s contest, you could hear the White Sox fans chanting. That is the first time this year we have not silenced an opponent’s chant in Tropicana Field. For the first time this year, we let the Rays players down by not holding our part of the bargain. We did not cheer and provide cowbell ammunition to combat the White Sox fan’s voices. Come on everyone, this is OUR HOUSE. We fought long and hard in 2008 to make teams respect and fear coming in here. I would hate for all of that positive work to go by the wayside now.
Is there anyone besides Twins hitter Jason Kubel who is as hot as Ben Zobrist right now? The guy is white hot at the plate, and with his 2-run homer to right field in the seventh inning today was the bulk of the Rays offense. I mean we did have a small carload of hit today by other guys, but it was Zobrist that took the shutout away and posted the only two runs by the Rays in that 12-2 loss to end the home stand. Zobrist, who is currently hitting .308 got to play for another red hot hitter in Jason Bartlett today. Zorilla took over the shortstop duties today and I remember one fans remarking that “Bartlett” looked good on a 6-4-3 double play today in the fourth inning. The fan looked totally confused when I told him Zobrist was the shortstop today.
But during this home stand, Zobrist did not start off with the hot hand going 0-7 in three games before this weekend. But during this White Sox series from Friday to Sunday, he has gone 4-6 with 6 RBI’s and has hit two homers including a Grand Slam on Friday night as a pinch-hitter. Life has been more than grand for him this weekend. But the start today before a rough 9 game road trip might have done more good than Rays Manager Joe Maddon could imagine. It puts him in the driver’s seat for consideration for more playing time in the outfield, maybe even starting this Tuesday in Seattle.
Rays starter Matt Garza has matured a lot since last season. He has gotten married and is confident on his abilities this season. He is also one of the Rays big three pitchers’ who has openly been vocal about wanting the ball in key moments. With the Rays offense sputtering along right now, Garza could not do it all himself as the Rays could not hold off the White Sox and split the series. In the game, Garza only went 5.2 innings and gave up 7 runs on 6 hits. But during his 98 pitches today, he did get some defensive help as the Rays got three double-plays today, but it was not enough to stop the bleeding on the base paths.
Garza did take control early in the game, but after a A J Pierzenski 2-run shot gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead, he seemed to run into trouble. In the third inning, two quick singles and an inside breaking ball that clipped Carlos Quentin loaded the bases for a Jim Thome ground out to shortstop. For some reason, the Rays did not try and get the lead runner at the plate, but instead threw to first to get the sure out. Garza then took control of the game until the sixth inning when he gave up a lead-off walk to Thome and he moved to third on Jermaine Dye’s double.
Thome then scored on Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough that Carl Crawford could not make a play at the plate. He then walked Pierzenski to set up one of the wildest plays of the day. Brian Anderson hit a short bouncer to Garza on the mound, and he turned and fired a 94 mph slider to Carlos Pena at first base. The ball ended up going past Pena and bounced off the first base seating wall and into shallow right field. Garza was given an error on the throw and Dye came in to score on the play to make it 5-0. Most Rays fans know that any time a ball is hit to Garza, it can be an adventure. He is not considered the best fielding Rays pitcher on the staff.
Congrats to the skipper Joe Maddon who got his American League Manager of the Year award before the game. We in Rays-land know that he has done more for this team last season than make a few slogans and tell a few quotations to the media. He instilled a confidence and produced a team chemistry that has been missing in this franchise. His use of experienced players like Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske as mentors for some of the younger Rays helped build unity and produced the team’s first winning season en route to their first trip in the playoffs and eventually the 2008 World Series.
Gate 4 Now for Season Ticket Holders
During this recent home stand, the Rays informed us of a new gate for Season ticket holders. In order to improve the stadium’s crowd flow on game days, the Season Ticket holders can now enter via an exclusive entrance at Gate 3. The Gate 3 entrance actually provides better access to the escalator service to the Press box Level and Upper Deck sections of Tropicana Field. This gate will reduce the crowding and the confusion that has plagued the Gate 4 entrance the last several seasons.
From this moment on, Gate 4 will be used exclusively for:
* Individual Suites
* Home Plate Club
* Whitney Bank Club
* Club 105
* Fans with special accessibility needs.
Sun Sports and Comcast Cable company have agreed upon a contract to provide service to their customers in 2009. This service will include the 75 games being shown on the Comcast system in the Tampa Bay area. In further news, Knology and Sun Sports have not reached a similar agreement, and their subscribers will still not be able to view the 75 Rays games yet this season. Both Knology and Sun Sports are currently working on the problem and hope to have it solved soon.
I ma beginning to see it more and more done in other parks, including last Sunday in Baltimore, where they actually threw a Ground Rule Double by Dioner Navarro back onto the field . I have to tell you I hate that tradition with a passion. I believe that it is a once in a lifetime thing for a fan to usually catch a home run ball. And for that reason, he should keep it. But I also know that some fans do fall to the peer pressure during the game and want to be a part of the action and throw it before actually thinking about their actions. I am of the theory that if you do not want the ball, do not throw it back, give it to a kid who will be wide-eyed by your gesture. By throwing a ball back onto the turf, you are causing a disturbance at the game, which can get you kicked out of the stadium, plus you are showing younger fans the wrong message.
I am not a Chicago Cubs fan, and I am not in Wrigley Field, where such behavior is common, if not encouraged. I think as a young franchise in the MLB, we can be better suited in not copying a bad habit by a team that has not won a World Series in 101 years. However, as a tradition, Cubs fans inside and sometimes even outside the park will promptly throw any home run ball hit by an opposing player back onto the field of play, a ritual depicted in the 1977 stage play, Bleacher Bums, and in the 1993 film, Rookie of the Year. I am not sure if either of these two started the actual event, but it seems to me to be a bad example for future Rays fans to conduct it here at Tropicana Field.
I decided to venture over to Myspace the other day to check my
mail and maybe tweak my profile a bit when I noticed that I had a message. I
clicked on it and lo and behold had an email from the Cowbell Kid. Now anyone
who knows me will tell you I had a few small run ins with him, but nothing
serious about respect for the game and some behavior I heard about in the past.
But I do have to throw this compliment out there to him, he has made efforts to
clean and polish his act up a bit since late last year, and for that I sit back
and say thank you.
who has ever taken in a game at the Trop will know that he was famous, or
infamous for yelling at players during Batting Practice about certain
inconsistent behaviors in their past or in their playing styles. It is no secret
that he got more than one player a bit upset. I personally know of one incident
last year that got one player almost to the point of jumping into the stands and
taking him on during a weekend series against the Astros. I am not going to name
the player, but if you were at the Trop that Saturday night, you know who he is
by the yelling and screaming go to and from the
was part of his game psyche, to try and get into the head of mostly the
relievers or right fielder in the league. Now there have been a few moments
where personal stuff might have popped down between himself and another player
that were not above board, but that is in the past, and that play is no longer
on the New York Yankees, so it is in the vault with the rest of the deeds. But
since that has been one of his focal points over the year, he emailed me with a
problem he is just now starting to develop because of some recent trades or
actions by the Rays to change their
going to take the quote directly from his email so you can see that I am not
making this up, or trying to embarrass him. He said, “Here’s where it gets
tricky I have grown fond of some of the players that will no longer be a part of
our team, usually I will abuse any opposing players just because they are not on
the Rays team! But because of the respect some of these guys have gained in my
eyes I am going to have to be selective about my targets. ( never thought that
would ever be a problem for me ) oh well .”
know that will be a problem for him in 2009 and the season that will go on for
the Rays. I know he has a fond friendship and a game day type of bond with
former Rays players like Jonny Gomes, who is now with the Cincinnati Reds, and
Rocco Baldelli, who is now a dreaded Boston Red Sox. Because he is one of the
most vocal fans about the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, it is going to be
interesting what will happen during B P in 2009. But then again, he will also
see Gomes during Spring Training games, and it might be a tense moment for him
to see Jonny in red and white for the first
I know I
have had the same situation since the Rays began play. I would begin to talk
with a player and develop a bit of dialogue and when they were in the Bullpen or
out in right field I used to chat it up with them a bit, but when they left, I
did not stop trying to chat with them. My reasoning for this is that we are both
in love with the same thing………Baseball, and that common ground has a huge
amount of conversational pieces. A great example is former Rays right fielder
Jose Guillen. I used to yell out to him every game and even try and tell him if
a player was taking a wild turn at this if the ball came into the corner near
not to confuse or to even play coach, but to be his eyes when he had his back to
the field. I got to know him better and every time he comes back into the Trop.,
he comes over and say hello. Other players like Shawn Camp, who is now with the
Toronto Blue Jays have come over and shook hands and then got to their business.
But the best at keeping his old Tampa Bay baseball friendships up was former
Rays catcher Toby Hall. Every time the Chicago White Sox came into town, he would
stroll down to the corner and we would talk about his time in Chi-town and how
his kids were growing. Hall and I never went out fishing or even for more than
beers at Ferg’s, but we always seemed to have time to talk even during games
when he was in the Bullpen.
It is a
fine line and a personal choice if you want to remain friends or just change it
to a buddy who plays for the enemy. I was talking with former Rays player Joey
Gathright about that last year after a game and he said that it was tough
sometimes to come back here and see the people who cheered for him now booing
some of his actions. But he also knows that he can not pull punches or even
slack off a moment in front of his former home crowd or it would give them
another reason to boo louder to him. And there lies the problem. Can we as fans
of our team separate the player from the team, or are they a whole not matter
takes that problem and decides for themselves. I stood up and cheered for Texas
Ranger outfielder and former Rays Josh Hamilton the first time he came up to bat
at the Trop., and I am not ashamed of it at all. Some things happen in life that
you need to celebrate or show your appreciation to a player. The first time
Rocco Baldelli comes to bat I will also stand and clap. It is my way to salute a
great player that we will miss not only in the lineup, but talking with
field-side before the games. But then again, I have also mourned the loss of
two great former Rays players who I think were stand up guys and died way before
speaking of former Rays pitchers Joe Kennedy and Cory Lidle. I am not going to
go into the moments or the reason for their deaths, but they were moments that
made me question baseball and life in general for a moment in time. I was not a
close friend of either guy, but we did have conversations and used to talk down
in the Checkers Bullpen area any time they came into the Trop. It was a baseball
buddy kind of bonding that you just wanted them to be successful and have a
great life. I have written blogs about each of them, and my blog to Lidle was my
first sports entry in years on my old Myspace page. I have since removed the
posting and it is sitting in my blog scrapbook where only I can read it
So it is
now my place to celebrate baseball, and when it comes to our former players, I
try and keep in touch with them when they come into the Trop. Be is chatting
with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch, who last year told me about his new
home purchase in a great area west of Pinellas Park, Florida, or Brandon Backe
standing there talking with a group of Rays fans talking about nothing in
general, but loving every minute of it. So do we as fans, try and keep these
small friendships or baseball buddy situation alive and well, or do we let them
die because they are playing for another
to decide on a individual basis. There are players who I do not chat with that I
used to laugh at jokes with and see outside the stadium all the time. Even if
the player did not leave here without throwing insults or comments at the team’s
management, I do not hold them accountable because they spoke their minds and
the issue is closed. But it is hard to gain some face time with a player and get
to know them and then they get traded or sign as a free agent somewhere else.
best example might be Rays relievers Dan Wheeler and Trever Miller. I was not
close to either of these guys the last time they were here. We would exchange
comments and glances as they passed my seat, but it was not until they came back
to Tampa Bay after stints with the Houston Astros that the respect and the bond
grew. Every day they would pass my seat area and we would chat with them for a
few moments, and during the year, if I missed a game , they noticed and asked me
where I was, like friends sometimes do. And that meant a lot to me. But it was
the day after the Rays clinched their first playoff berth that really set the
tone for me with my Bullpen guys.
given one of the champagne bottles used in the celebration by a member of the team, and I asked Wheeler
if he would mind signing it for me. He took the bottle back in its bag and it
stayed back there for about 4 innings. He ended up having everyone in the Rays
Bullpen sign that bottle and then brought it back to me. I stood there and just
stared at the bottle for a bit then remembered why I like to talk to these guys.
They are good people, and even the short times we chat with them are remembered.
Guess sometimes there can be bonds outside the foul lines in baseball. So with
that, here is a question for you. Do you maintain your friendships and
conversation with your ex-players, even if they are playing for a division
All pictures used in this blog were obtained from the RRCollections.
I am so excited to be able to leave two (2) Trivia questions for your amusement today. I am not going to leave the answers here, but would rather enjoy if you leave a comment with your answers and I will be sure to respond to them and pimp out the people who can find the correct answers. So, get your baseball encyclopedias out and find these two questions today.
1). Who is the fan in old Ebbets Field who is credited with using the first “cowbell” to spice up a baseball game?
2). Who was the leader of the Boston Red Sox group called, “The Royal Rooters”?
As you can tell, I am using Fans as my basis for my blog today. There is a local guy here in Tampa Bay who is either getting good or bad publicity for our team. It depends on if you think he is a plus or minus for our team.
Of course, I am talking about the Cowbell Kid here. He is a member of the outfield crew in Tropicana Field who has emerged as a focal point at games. He is an avid hater of the Al East Northern teams, and is not shy to tell you about it at all.
Now, I have him listed as one of my Myspace friends, but I have not spent time with the Cowbell Kid. I am a bit of a fan favorite myself, but I am not about to putr on a Marge Simpson ripoff wig and carry a pimp stick to games. Now I am not afraid of, or dislike people getting attention for our Rays. I found the Bat/Rays-woman a bit wild flapping around the stadium on game days. And I find the Green-hued Raysman to be a bit of a comical, but likeable facet to our game days.
But, I am a bit put off by the Cowbell Kid. Now I also have ruined a few percussion cowbells during the seasons at the Trop. The guys in the Bullpen can attest to me breaking every drumstick and mini bat I have brought to the games and used to clang on my bell. But, I draw the line at atagonzing and calling out the opposition either in public or on a blog.
I can never, and will never try to encite or bully another fan about his team choice. I think we need to be respectful for a few years before we can also put our chest out and proclaim the Trop a Rays house again. We are getting there more and more every year, but people like the Cowbell Kid could set us back by a rude comment or action.
Our team will have to earn respect on the field before ESPN or other organizations feel we are a better squad that fifth in our own division. that day is fastly approaching, but will take at least 162 games this year to solidify anything.
I am not against heckling or trying to be a pest in the ears of our visiting teams. I have done a few to visiting Rightfielders in my time, and have enjoyed every minute of it. But we need to be careful in our stage of showmanship for a few years so we do not get the label of being obnoxious or rude like some of our visiting fans.
With this in mind, if you think the Cowbell Kid goes above and beyond the realm of true sportmanship, or just want to see him get wet. Then you need to attend the 97X Fisher and Boys Belated Birthday Bash this weekend at Derby Lanes in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our beloved Cowbell dude will be in the dunk tank and willing to get his Marge Simpson blue beehive wet like a drowned rat. So here is your chance to pluck the blue one into a tank of water and maybe rust his cowbell a bit.
Al Lang Tidbits
I am lucky enough to be going to the last Rays Spring Training game at Al Lang/Progress Energy Park tomorrow. This is a great place to watch a game and get some good sun and a cool breeze off the water. Al Lang has been used for 84 years as a Spring Training site for MLB teams.
When Al Lang was mayor of St. Petersburg, he enticed the Philadelphia Nationals to come here in 1916. From that point on, the list of players who have been on the fields are littered with Hall of Famers and young pups trying to get a roster spot on their teams.
The McDill Air Force Base will also do a Fly over of the stadium before the game. If you have never seen this done, you are missing out on something really exciting here.
During the contest against the Cincinatti Reds, the Rays will have giveaways foir the fans in attendance, and alot of unique opportunities for rememberance.
Hall of Famer, Monte Irvin will be signing autographs during the game. He is a remarkable man. I have heard him speak a few times and he always tells his stories with great passion and love for the game. He is a true treasure, and a avid Rays fan.
The Rays will also be announcing their Al Lang All-time squads of all the teams that have trained and used the stadium over the years. There will be two spots selected for each position. I think we will see Hall of Famers, and very remarkable names mentioned on this occasion.
After the game, the Rays are inviting all fans in attendance to a FREE BBQ on the field with a host of live music and entertainment for the kids. The kids will be able to run the bases and maybe sit in the dugouts like their on-field heros.
I know of a few Rays personnell poeple who will be digging into the BBQ up to their elbows.
I am looking forward to this with great excitement, and I will have my digital camera in tow hoping to bring you alot of great photos and post event comments.
I hope to see most of you there. But if you can’t make it out that day, remember that opening day is around the corner and most school age kids are being advised of a Spirit Night at the Trop. when the Baltimore Orioles come into town on Saturday, April 12th. Game starts at 7:10 P.M.