Results tagged ‘ Dwight Gooden ’

Thank You Just Doesn’t Seem Enough

On the eve of the day all of us collectively gather together and pronounce our blessing and “thanks” for all the bounty and goodness life has exposed to us in our past year. Like so many other families around this Nation and Tampa Bay, my parents kept that honored tradition of everyone gathered at the table giving “thanks” a loud for the blessing and good things that had transpired over those last 365 days.

I loved those moments, but as the Rays begin to venture into their 15th year of baseball in the major leagues, I have some unfinished business. People and events that warrant not only a “ shout out”, but a significant remembrance or high-5 at this time we want to express ourselves. So, hang on, this list might be a long one.

THANK YOU to the relentless men of the original Tampa Bay Baseball group who shed tears, fought away drowsiness and endured their long path until we got our storied franchise.

THANK YOU to the cities of Seattle, Oakland, Chicago, San Francisco and even the Minneapolis/St Paul Minnesota community that were stepping-stones as the eventual Tampa Bay expansion franchise made it path through the MLB minefields. These MLB teams all brought bits and pieces of themselves to the table as the Rays fashioned their early patchwork franchise.

THANK YOU to our first owner Vince Namoli and his crew who fought the tides and battles early on in this franchise, and still do. Our Captain at the helm since 2007, Stuart Sternberg who has secured a new path, a new identity and a new reason to rejoice being a member of the Rays Republic crew.

THANK YOU to Wilson Alvarez for that first delivery to the plate on March 31, 1998. It completed the completed the mission and set into motion that events that are still unfolding, and will for a long, long time.

THANK YOU to players like Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, Dwight Gooden, Johnny Damon, Matt Joyce, and St. Pete natives Casey Kotchman and Doug Waechter who came “home” to play in the Rays colors for Tampa Bay. Each of you have left footprints in the Rays historical sands that will stand the tests of time, and always be some of our fondest memories

THANK YOU to my friends within the Rays 4th Floor from BK to DJ Kitty’s master. Each of your actions have brought together different scenarios and changes to the Rays experience from the concerts, promotional goodies to the foundations of fan-based gatherings like the “Maddon’s Maniacs”.

THANK YOU to the men who have assembled in the Rays Bullpen over the past 14 seasons who have sat, spat and even chattered with me on their journey’s to and from the Rays “second Clubhouse” under the Rays Rightfield stands. From the gum-tossing and comedic activities of Andy Sonnanstine, to the Elvis-inspired guitar styling of Rusty Meacham, I am thankful for those moments.

THANK YOU to guys like Rays Clubhouse Manager Chris Westmoreland and his crew who let me see things behind-the scenes as their Pepsi vendor for years. Getting to see the Rays Clubhouse as it transformed, and even letting me take a piece of it home forever.

THANK YOU to the assembled hundreds who have graced the Rays roster sporting numbers from 1 (Joey Gathright, Akinori Iwamura, Miguel Cairo, Rey Sanchez, Antonio Perez, Sean Rodriguez) to 98 (Jae Seo) for your spent energies, blood and even heartaches as this franchise went through their growing pains and ultimate defeats and celebrations. I consider you all friends for life.

THANK YOU to the fans I have met, entertained and even fought verbally with our these years. Your opinions, insights and even diverse comments have molded these posts and even gave me more than a dozen reasons to question my own logic. From Jeff McKinney, Pat and Christine Manfredo to George, Charlie and the crew up in the 300’s, if we could bottle your optimism and energy for this team, we could light up the Tampa Bay region indefinitely.

THANK YOU to the 2008 Rays team who let me grace a moment within a team photo etching myself permanently into the fabric of the greatest Rays team to date. Still hard to imagine that the Rays, in their rookie attempt in the post season fought so hard and valiantly had an element like rain play such a critical role in their first World Series.

THANK YOU to the Rays scout and player development people like Mitch Lukevics, RJ Harrison who have been linchpin in the development of so many of the Rays past, present and future stars. Their devotion and work ethic knows no bounds, and their tireless emphasis on quality has made the Rays farm system a model of player development efficiency.

HANK YOU to the people of Tampa Bay no matter if you are a long-time Season Ticket holder or someone who graces the stands only a handful of games a season. Your support is needed and appreciated from those among you in the stands, on the field and assisting you with your baseball experience. The lifeblood of this team is the interaction and reaction of the community, and our return to future games.

Giving “thanks” at this time of the year for things outside of Tropicana Field are also very important. So my last THANK YOU has to go out to Rays Manager Joe Maddon and his cooking crew of Rays Coaches, Rays staff and employees who have yearly venture out into the Tampa Bay region for Maddon’s annual “Thanks-Mas” celebration.

But I would be remiss if I did not make one more “THANK YOU”. I have to also make a huge and humble shout out to you, the readers of this blog. Since our change over in May 2011, so many of you have stayed the course and returned while others have gone away or have not returned. I “THANK” each and every one of you reading this right now for your support, your time and your comments that have made my writing better since 2007.

But then again, you can never hear the words “Thank You” enough these days.

Found New Respect for “Doc” Gooden

Sometimes in life our role model or people we come to admire do not get that respect and admiration for what they have done on the diamond. Sometimes it comes from actions, reversals of their previous bad intentions to themselves or other, but in the end their true colors find a way to shine bright.

Not everything we do in life is simple, defined or even the right path, and this one former ballplayer definitely fits that bill to a “T”. Kirk Radomski’s was a New York Mets Clubhouse staffer during the beginning and most of this ballplayer up and down career. He saw the talent, the generosity and ultimately the decline of a person who got caught up in a drug whirlwind that he could not escape.

In his novel “Bases Loaded” he revealed early on in the book ( pages 31-33 ) about 2 separate MLB Drug testing incidents where a ballplayer adamantly asked him to take his MLB urine test for him because he feared a positive result. It was the era where ballplayer were beginning to use extra curricular drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

The first instance happened in July 1988 when Dwight Eugene Gooden feared for his career after testing positive previously. Gooden approached Radomski shaking and told Radomski, “The pee guy’s here and I can’t pee. I went out with a couple of guys the other night, and if they test me, I’m going to get suspended”.

Randomize fashioned a plan that was executed perfectly to get a positive test result for Wooden. Then again two weeks later, Gooden again asked for another favor. Again the result came back positive since Randomize did not partake in after hours recreational drugs and no traces of any substance was found in Gooden’s test sample.

Finally when asked a third time for help, Randomize had to bring the “tough love” and refused to help Gooden. He was suspended Radomski asked Gooden to consult then New York Mets Team Substance Abuse Counselor Dr Alan Lans. It was a solid action by Radomski, and possibly by Gooden finally being “outed” and found with traces in his system, the mending process could begin.

It has been a long time since that period in 1986, and Wooden has had an on and off again battle with the demon that first took some of his brilliant career away from him in Flushing, New York. His oldest son, Dwight Gooden Jr was also born in 1986 in this same time of turmoil.

Not until recently when watching VH-1’s “Celebrity Rehab 5 ”, where Gooden is a patient did I hear of the idea Gooden had for his son and himself, and it broke my heart. Gooden wanted to hang on in baseball until his son came of age and got drafted, and wanted to play on the same team with him before finally retiring.

Instead they both spent time at Orient Jail in Hillsbough County (Tampa, Florida), Dwight Jr for a drug trafficking charge, and Dwight Sr for DUI and driving on a suspended license. No baseball field for them to play on, and only orange jumpsuits for uniforms.

It takes courage, a drive and a straight forward conviction to take on your demons and drive them from your life. In this episode of “Celebrity Rehab”, both father and son came together and finally began to repair that bond between the parent and their child. So many other families go through this same scenario daily, in this instance, father and son embraced and promised to be each other’s guide.

Finally facing the guilt, shame and remorse of not being their for your children is a giant burden for anyone to hold, much less a man who once held the Big Apple firmly within his pitching hand.

When I saw that bonding moment between father and son, I found a new respect, admiration and want for Gooden to defeat this demon just like he did on a pitching mound so many times before. I have Gooden’s autobiography “Heat” on a shelf in my home, and will take it down and begin reading it this week during my trip, hoping to get to know this alter-self of Gooden.

Our heroes, champions of right and wrong and people do defeat the odds are what pulls us to players like Gooden. His struggles are not our own, but we empathize, want to give a hand or even guide them after they admit their shortcomings.

Everyone knows and addict has to live life “One day at a time”, and a slip, fall from grace or even a full blow episode is just a bad decision away. But I heard something different in Gooden’s voice on the show. Along with the heartfelt letter he wrote out to his kids telling them how he he has apologizing to his kids for “basically divorcing you guys for drugs,” the healing was started.

Some people look forward to a players fall from grace, providing a defining moment of bad judgment or consequences that makes them human. Other like myself want to extend a hand, give a friendly pat on the back or claim admiration for someone who once made us cry by his actions on the field, and humble us by his admittance of his past and present faults.

I wish you sobriety, courage and a continued positive life affirming results to a man who was born in Tampa Bay. Know there are hundreds beside myself you also wish and pray this same sentiment for you. Go get ‘em Doc!

Rays Star Shine Bright in Price’s Universe

 
 

15 may just be a series of number to you and me. The number 15 might not suggest or emulate anything out of the ordinary to us, but to one Tampa Bay Rays starter, it is the beginning of finally grasping that golden ring and encompassing a major breakthrough both for himself, and for his Rays club. 15 is usually associated with the time most of us get our first chance to venture onto the highways and byways with our parents in the passenger seat of the family car. But for Rays starter David Price, 15 is just a huge stepping stone moment to get to another huge plateau in his young pitching career…..His 20th win.

For some reason people put a major emphasis on that one two-digit number (20) as the initial entry point towards pitching greatness. Even with both Leagues giving relief pitchers more opportunities to take precious wins away from the game day starters, that illustrious number is still a symbolical threshold of establishing a lasting impression of pitching supremacy. And with Price now ¾’s of the way to that historical mark, each step forward in the wins column, Price will rewrite another strong pitching entry into Rays pitching record books.

For the past two starts, Price has shared the Rays record books with James Shields, Edwin Jackson and Rolando Arroyo as the only four-some to achieve at least 14 wins during a Rays single season. Last night, even with a few shaky moments, Price walked solo into the spotlight as the Rays lone 15 game winner. And with a possible 10 starts still on the horizon in 2010, Price could have a great chance to step to the forefront in Rays history with each start and could possibly become their first 20-game winner. But that 10 game slate is a long and perilous journey that could be altered or even reshaped throughout the rest of the season by Rays Manager Joe Maddon, or unforeseen obstacles or pitching limits later in the season.

Price could be the last Rays starter to take the pitching mound, in the last game of the 2010 season against the Kansas City Royals in Kaufman Stadium with a chance to establish another level of Rays pitching history. It would be another bright star in Price’s 2010 universe that has seen him quickly post 10-wins and maintain his uncanny control and command along the way. His extremely impressive start in 2010 provided Price with the great honor of starting the 2010 All-Star game after getting the nod from a rival Yankees Manager who could have chosen one of his own, but admitted Price dominated the competition early on in 2010.

 

Price is also beginning to get another extremely important reputation among his Rays teammates, he is becoming the team’s losing streak buster. With his win last night, Price effectively doused the Rays 5-game debacle streak that saw the Rays lose their last two contests at home against the Twins before getting swept in bold and uncharacteristic fashion by divisional foe, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays had the right cure for their losing aliment as Price had won his previous start against the Tigers at home in a 4-2 victory just a few weeks beforehand. Price’s 15th win last night came in his 21st start of the 2010 season and has pushed him to the top of the American League win list.


And for Price to see such success as such an early age is tremendous, and makes watching this young talent mature more enjoyable with each and every start. The last pitcher Price’s age or younger to be leading the AL or NL in wins on this date was Detroit’s Justin Verlander, who had 14 wins in 2006. Another star pushed right up into Price’s ever expanding universe that just seems to get bigger and bigger every day. To illustrate another impending star that could find its way into Price’s galaxy, ESPN currently has Price as the top points getter in their Cy Young Predictor on ESPN.com. High praise for a guy who always seems to have a calm and cool demeanor on his game.

And Price has developed that demeanor after posting some impressive and focused numbers so far in 2010. Price has surrendered less than 3 earned runs in 20 of his 22 starts this season. Another tasty Price pitching morsels include more strikeouts than hits allowed in 8 of his last 9 starts. The last time he gave up more hits than strikeouts was his first start after the All Star game on July 18th when Price gave up 7 hits versus 3 strikeouts against the New York Yankees on the road. But the cherry on top might be his .159 average with runners in scoring position this season. When the Rays have needed someone to shut down the opposition, Price has answered the call with authority.

But during 2010, Rays fans have kind of gotten spoiled a bit by Price’s success. We sometimes forget just how young Price truly is as he matches pitch for pitch with some of the best in the game every 5 days. To illustrate just how impressive this budding star has been in just the first half of 2010,at the All Star break, Price was the youngest pitcher in either league to lead the league in wins and ERA since the Twins Scott Erickson in 1991. Price was the youngest pitcher to start an All Star game since New York Met and former D-Ray Dwight Gooden (23) in 1988 and the youngest in the AL since Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen (23) in 1987. To fully put this into proper prospective, Price received his first All Star game on the player’s ballots, and had a total of 290 players votes cast for him. To show the early dominance of Price, that was 76 votes more than his closest competitor (Boston’s Clay Buchholz).

 

To further put Price’s rise into prospective further, Price’s 100 strikeouts at the All Star break made him one of 6 pitchers all time under the age of 25 to reach at least a dozen wins, an ERA under 2.50 and post 100 K’s before the break. Price was also the first to do it in 25 years since Roger Clemens did it in 1986. This all might seem a bit perplexing to Rays fans right now, but we are seeing the foundation right now of a pitcher who could possibly set the standard in the next few years in the American League. With 50 games left in the regular 2010 season for the Rays, the consistency and the calm of Price’s demeanor could be key to if the Rays gather a chance to win their division, or garner a Wild Card berth for the Playoffs.


Some might have found it bold of this left-hander during the Rays 2008 Spring Training to point out he wanted to be at the Major League level by September. Some might have found his bravado and calmness a bit alarming until you talk with Price and see that the cool nature of his personality makes you want to see him succeed. Stars can still be seen shining bright in the sky even with the urban haze in Tampa Bay. It is even better to see one more special star shine every five days as the Rays try to again make history within a small part of Price’s ever expanding universe.

Kazmir strikes out 10, but loses to Angels

 

 

Angels 4, Rays 2

 

There is widespread misinformation about the Rays new Waterfront stadium project. Starting this week,I will be giving you some information form the group, Friends For a Waterfront Stadium (FFWS).

I will give you one quick fact per week about the new stadium and redevelopment of Tropicana Field. If you would like to know more about this group, or their activities, please send an E-mail to their address: info@fansforwaterfrontstadium.com so we can you to their mailing list.  

  RE-DEVELOPMENT OF THE TROPICANA SITE
 
The project calls to build a state-of-the-art waterfront ballpark, while re-developing Tropicana Field.  The two are interdependent on each other when it comes to this 1.2 Billion dollar investment into our downtown.
 
Currently, Tropicana Field sits on 86 acres owned by the county. As a result, no property taxes are generated.  Did you know that 37% of all property tax dollars goes directly into our school system and 11% goes into other public services (such as the PSTA and Juvenile Welfare Board)?   By re-developing the Tropicana site by one of two world class developers currently bidding, approximately $200M will be invested into our school system and 75M into our other public services over 35 years.  
 
This project is great for baseball, but is reaches well beyond the scope of baseball.  It is great for our entire city and county. 
 
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Trivia Fact of the Night:
 
In 1985, Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets became the youngest player to win a Cy Young Award at age 20.
 
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Rays starter Scott Kazmir lost for the second time this season, and snapped his 6 game consecutive win streak. Kazmir’s  6.2 innings of 6-hit 3-run was not enough to gain a win for the Rays today. Kazmir did strike out 10 Angels to raise his strikeout total to 54 for the season.
 
 
 
Before today’s loss, Kazmir has the second longest consecutive winning streak in the major this season. Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka has 8 stright and counting this season. Since the beginning of the 2005 season, Kazmir’s strikeout per 9 IP is 9.65, tops the majors.
 
Kazmir retired the first 14 batter he faced until Gary Mathews Jr. homered to left in the bottom of the 5th inning.
 
 
 
 
Akinora Iwamura lead off the game with a triple to deep center.
Aki scored on Carl Crawford’s single to put the Ray up 1-0 early in the game.  It was Aki’s 2nd triple of the year. He also leads the club with 10 infield hits this season.
 
Aki went 2-4 this season and raised his average to .273 for the Rays.  Aki is still stuck on numer 199 home runs. He will hit the 200 homer milestone with his next shot.
 
 
 
 
Evan Longoria hit another double and got two walks against the Angels in the get-away game. Longoria finished the Angels series going 6-9, with 2 homers, 4 doubles, and 3 RBI’s.
 
With Longoria’s two homers the other night, he is currently 1 homer off the team lead held by Eric Hinske and Carlos Pena.
 
 
Dioner Navarro hit a Sacrifice Fly in the 7th inning to score Longoria from third .  Navarro is leading the AL with a .349 average, and is leading all major league catchers in average.
 
Dioner’s average has not dipped under .300 this entire season. Last year at this time, he was hitting .189, with no homers for the Rays.  Navarro is also hitting .381 with Runs In Scoring Position (RISP) this year.
 
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Starting tomorrow night, the Rays will again start their Inter-league game against theri inter-state rivals the Florida Marlins.  Both squads have been the early surprises of the league, with the Marlins threatening the Philadelphia Philles for the NL East crown.
 
This series will begin a true test for the Rays. In the next three series, the Rays will battle the upstart Marlins ( 36-29), the Chicago Cubs ( 43-24) and the Houston Astros ( 33-34).
 
Do not let the Astro’s record decieve you, this squad has been competitive all year long and has na excellient pitching staff. The Chicago Cubs feautre the top record in the majors, ans are managed by former Rays boss, Lou Piniella. This will be Piniella’s first return to the Trop. since leaving the Rays bench several years ago. 
 
 
 

Odd Facts and Figures in Rays History

 

I am feeling a bit bored today and decided to write a short blog and list some interesting facts I have acquired over the test of time.

 

First, my trivia question for the blog:

What coach, associated with the Rays minor league system gave up Home Run  number 150 to Barry Bonds? 

 

Answer will be at the end of the blog.

 

I was cruising through a statistics site the other day and was looking for odd facts and figures and decided to see what former Rays helped Barry Bonds get the All[Time Home Run crown. Here is the list of victimized  ex-Rays pitchers I found:

Jason Jennings, Albie Lopez, Hideo Nomo,Cory Lidle,Casey Fossum,Joe Borowski,Steve Trachel,Dan Miceli,Brian Meadows,Dwight Gooden,Mark Guthrie,John Burkett,Brian Rekar,Rheal Cormier,Xavier Hernandez.

Unfortunately, some on this list got hit more than once by the Barry-nator during his romp through the history books. A few even got smacked hard.

 

Hideo Nomo served up 3 to Barry. Dwight Gooden got smacked for 3 during the 80’s, Cory Lidle gave up a multiple homer game to him in 2004,and former Rays and Marlin John Burkett got him another multiple homer game.

But the guy who seemed to be habitually hammered by Barry, was Denny Neagle of the Rockies and Reds. He gave up a total of 6 homers to Bonds, including a Multiple homer game on 7/30/1999.

I found it interesting the other day that the Rays now will not ask for the $60 million dollars from the Florida Legislature to help build the new open air stadium. They were originally slated to ask for the money as start up capital to secure the contractors for the project. It seems that the Pinellas County politicians were polled and were in agreement that the Rays were asking for too much in this close fiscal climate. The politicians said that other needs were more of a  priority than the team.

 

I agree that Child welfare and county services are needed more right now in this budget tightened situation. Just remember, the Marlins tried to get this same tax break last year and were almost laughed out of the capitol building.

I like Mike De Felice as the veteran backstop to Dioner Navarro. Mike was a extremely emotional player when he was last with the Rays, and had a few flareups, in a good way, with the Tigers a few years ago. The emotional firecracker that beats in his chest might be the right medicine to get some emotional strength and power out of both Shawn Riggans and Dioner. Mike has the veteran presence and the spirit to get even the bench fired up during the games. I remember sitting in my seat down by the Bullpen and seeing Mike come down in the late innings and make the entire bench come alive and seem a bit more controlled by his mere presence. This might not seem like the player needed to push either catcher, but it might be more for game control and organization than to put a hole under either guy this Spring. Josh Paul was a student of Joe Maddon’s system with the Angels, and I think he passed a lot of great information and knowledge to both catchers in the last two years.

 

Josh always commented about writing a book on catching. I think it would be a hit from the controversy surrounding him and the White Sox series in the past, and for his great preparation and historic knowledge of the position. I am not a ghost writer, but I would enjoy talking to this practical joker and serious ballplayer about anything concerning catching or the game.  I hope you write it Josh. I know I will line up for a copy.

The Edwin Jackson rumors will not die concerning the Seattle Mariners and the Rays fire baller. I might have a impartial reason for wanting Edwin not to go anywhere. I enjoy talking to him on the sidelines and receiving his 2006 Game worn jersey at the end of the year.

 

But for the purely baseball angle, I feel that the LA Dodgers organization gave up on him too early in his career. It seems that a pitcher needs to have about 200 plus innings in the minor leagues before you can get a grip on their type or need for your MLB squad. I think that Edwin in the second half of 2007 began to relax and take the game for what it is……… a bunch of hits and misses. He relied more an his ability than on his velocity and his game to him in the end. It was thought a year or two ago, that he might be the closer of the future for the Rays.

I think that would not serve him well. At worst, he would be a killer inning eater for long duty in the Bullpen. I would rather see him as a starter, but the squad will have its first year that the first two spots might be settled even before the pitchers and catcher report in Febuary. I hope he can hunker down and finally cement himself in the rotation for 2008.

 

 

Trivia answer:

The current Durham Bulls pitching coach Xavier Hernandez gave up number 150 to Barry in Houston on 5/2/1992 while Bonds was still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Post Script: 

 Also a member of the Barry
Bonds hit squad is current Rays announcer/ color analyst Joe Magrane who gave up a home to Bonds as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals on 8/11/90 at home.  It doesn’t seem like he has been out of the game that long. Joe still looks like he could throw 6 solid innings a start.

Last but not least, congrats to Goose Gossage for finally getting that great call from the Hall of Fame. He is only the fifth reliever in the Hall of Fame, with a lot of company to come in the upcoming years. Gossage received 85.5 percent of the vote to finally get that beautiful bronze plaque of himself and that signature mustache. Goose was a nine time All-star with 310 MLB saves for nine different team during his career.

 

Here is a truly impressive stat. Gossage got 52 of those saves when he got 7 outs or more. By comparison, today’s specialist relievers usually do not have to go that far in the earlier innings to get a save opportunity. that says a lot for the teams he played with, and the strength of his pitches.

Gossage will be inducted in that small hamlet in New York on  July 27,2008. He will be joined that day by five men selected by the Veterans’ committee: former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn,former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams, and ex-Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss.

Congrats again to all the above men and lets all hit the hamlet of Cooperstown sometime in our lives and feel the thrill and chills of that great museum and ball field.

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