Results tagged ‘ ESPN ’

Rays Republic Does Not Have a “Support” Problem

Onion Sports Network

I am getting sick and tired of the National media talking heads trashing our region. Just because your own backyards or city vistas have a sparkling outlook in reference to new jobs and seeing their collective unemployment situation sliding downward, some parts of this great country have not had your “luck”.

Take my home state of Florida where both the Florida Marlin and the Tampa Bay Rays have played in front of more empty orange and blue seats than those filled with fans who buy concessions and cheer.

It is heartbreaking to see it, but there is a valid reason for it, and the media juggernauts do not care to tell the real story. It is too depressing. It is easier to rake and drag this fan base over the coals than look beyond the Trop for an answer.

There is a very valid reason for those empty seats. I can tell you from personal experience that even if the Florida unemployment rate has stayed steady at 10.7 percent the last two months, I am one of those who got pushed off the recovery truck and has seen myself fall farther and farther off the economic grid. I try daily to rid myself of this fiscal flu, and a cure is nowhere in sight. But the media doesn’t want to bring the truth to the ballpark.

The rest of the United States combined is currently sitting at around a 9.1 percent unemployment rate.

You ready for a real shocker, the “supposed” economic recovery has not hit this region as many of the usual tourists and travelers have decided to either forgo their yearly adventures, or can’t even attempt such an extravagance. That makes employers cut back, lay-off and reduce their capital outlays and manpower, further pushing the Tampa Bay faithful to their couches instead of to the stadium.

After saying that, maybe it is not such a shocker that the Tampa Bay region is currently sitting farther down the economic ladder than the rest of the country over the Summer. This is the time of the year that this region makes a boatload of its money through hotels, food and even recreational services. But this years the crowds stayed home, the beaches are not empty, but the unemployed Tampa Bay person has a great tan this year.

For July, this area of the state of Florida is mired in a 11.1 percent unemployment whirlpool, and there is no lifeguard or program or project in sight to pull us from the swirling waters. Tampa Bay is going down for the third time and all the National media does is crack harsh jokes or innuendo.

There is no bright and bubbly plan coming out our state capital, and there definitely is no localized effort to help some of us realize our “economical potential” and rise from our financial ashes. I know the rest of this great Nation is also swirling and confused by this fiasco, but why is there no compassion? Why is there no understanding by those in the Press Box or booths who makes a healthy paycheck and stay and travel for FREE.

So the St. Petersburg Times has made sure to push the Rays Republic beneath the water’s surface again and again as they nightly make sure to type a blog post about the Rays attendance figures. They make sure to keep pushing our heads under instead of offering a solution, or being a bit empathetic.

There is a different kind of “support” going on here. It is wrapped around the survival of ourselves and our families, with local disposable incomes at an all time low, attending a baseball game is taking a backseat to rent, food and utilities.

I’m sorry the Rays do not have a caravan of fans flocking into Tropicana Field with dollar bills pouring out of their pockets and an eagerness to spend beyond their means. I am sorry that I myself have only attended a handful of game this season where in the past (2009-10), I attended 161 of their 162 total home games in that time frame. My “support” had to go to living my life and providing a shelter and food for myself.

This season I had to take a huge step back and make a earnest gut check decision. I had to eliminate the Rays from my yearly and weekly budget. Poverty is rough, it makes you decide things you never imagined possible, especially not being able to cheer and see the team you had see grow before your eyes for 13 seasons play their exciting brand of baseball. I think about this decision every day.

There are tons of other people in this same financial boat in 2011 who had to make the same decision or make drastic cutbacks, and it has nothing to do with their support of the team. I think it is a huge farce that this charade has been allowed to go no so long without someone shouting from the Trop’s cupola. This region needs a financial hug, but we are not alone.

So many of the media members sit in their FREE seats, sipping on a courtesy soda and snacks and sometimes forget what the rest of the country is doing with no paychecks and special treatment. Maybe they all should sit down with the masses one night and get the real stories and typical setbacks that fans throughout the Rays Republic have made in 2011.

Some have begun to bring their dinners nightly to the Trop, some have gone from Season Tickets to partial ticket plans, and other have faded away without a clue.

Kid’s are going back to school this Monday, and with it I expect a crowd under 12,000 even though 2 of the MLB’s hottest pitchers right now will hit the Rays mound. Rays send the Tall Texan Jeff Niemann to the hill for the “good guys” and the menacing Justin Verlander for the visiting Detroit Tigers. This match up should bring 24,000 easy into the Trop, but new jeans, school supplies and the first day of school might exhibit a lower than expected Rays crowd. And you can be sure there will be a broadcast comment on the empty seats, especially in Bristol, Conn.

Will this lack of bodies in the seats be due to a lack of support by the Tampa Bay are…No.

Will the crowds ever again fill the Trop screaming at the top of their lungs, seeking a victory….Yes.

The problem is this economic funk that has darkened the skies above Tropicana Field has to drift away, then recovery of the fan base will begin again. I yearn nightly to be in the stands, cheer for the Rays, even talk a little baseball with friends and foes. There is a unity within the Rays stands that sparks of excitement, pride and a hope for change. Problem is, this plight has not even hit it darkest moments yet.

There is nothing wrong with the fan support in Tampa Bay, we just need to again collectively feel adamantly that this financial storm is over and we can again truck out to games. In the end, when things get brighter, the crowds will again flock to Gate’s 1 and 4 to see this team play. The Tampa Bay area is a huge tourist based economy, and with visitors staying home or taking regional vacations instead of visiting the “Mouse”, this area will stay below the economic surface and the Rays attendance will suffer.

It hurts me to the core to nightly hear other MLB broadcast teams, Fox Sports or ESPN media combos speak down about the Rays fan base and this region. Tampa Bay right now is like a prize fighter hit hard in the gut and reeling on the ropes. There is a do or die mentality in this region, a fight that no one can imagine unless you have lived here. Go ahead National media take your best shot, I guarantee we get back up and land a solid uppercut to your jaw…That would keep you from talking smack.

ESPN’s Steve Phillips implicated in Romance

 

It is rather funny sometimes that people in the entertainment and sports worlds do not learn from their colleagues prior mistakes. I am not one to launch a bevy of stones towards a man for falling for a woman, but I guess my guidelines tend to be a bit more defined both since I am single and compared to some of the recent escapades of the folks in the broadcast industry. It is okay David Letterman, “Mr. Worldwide Pants” I am not aiming at you with this blog.

No I am aiming my wrath at someone who has already had a publicized bout in the sexual harassment arena and fought his way back to fight another day. But again he might have been brought down to size by own ego and arrogance that “this time” it was going to be different. You might have read by now that ESPN “Baseball Tonight” commentator Steve Phillips really messed up this time. Didn’t his firing in 1998 from the General Managers position with the New York Mets not teach him to leave the young one alone?

I mean that tragedy had a huge bite of a sexual scandal to it. But the one thing I have learned in my 3 extra years on this planet than the 46-year old Phillips is that a scorned woman is a deadly woman both mentally and physically to a married man. So Phillips did not learn his lesson in 1998 when you made an out of court settlement on the sexual harassment case where you and another Mets employee were having a tryst on the side.  Didn’t that first  stint with your “no-no” behavior teach you anything?

Maybe I had better send you a DVD copy of the Glen Close classic “Fatal Attraction“, because based on the recent police reports filed in Wilton, Conn, you will have to watch your back for a long, long time. Please tell me your kids do not have a rabbit, because I can not bear to think of the pot boiling over again and seeing another scene like that one. It would be deja vu 1998  career pot boiling over for you.

This time  at least you did not pick a MLB baseball club employee, but you made a mistake of picking someone from your own backyard, a female assistant from ESPN to have a out of sight, out of mind” hush hush affair. The only problem was when you wanted her “out of sight”, she showed up at your home in Wilton speak to your wife and leave a detailed note on your family door for your wife to read upon returning to the house.

Problem was that your psychotic 22-year old gal pal Brooke Hundley was trying to proclaiming that you and your present wife Marni “both could not have him” back during an array of phone calls to your present wife starting on August 5,2009. the trigger for the entire bizarre event was the “right” decision by Phillips to break off their tryst and sever all ties to Hundley. Oh Stevie boy, I do not think she took it well because there she was  just 2 weeks later in your home driveway doing her best Glen Close impression.
 

Worst yet, the woman of your wet dreams did not plan to go quietly into the night and not fit your personal  definition of “out of mind“. You see she freaked out as your wife came home and parked behind her car in the driveway after she posted her “proclamation letter of Love” your front door, and tried to escape by driving up on your well-manicured lawn and busting a cement column in front of your home.  What a shame you were not in front of her car at that moment, it would have made a great episode of “Cops”.

Because not matter what happens next Phillips, this sin to going to end pretty much badly for anyone involved in this “affair.” But what is even worse is the later revelation that your  young mistress was befriending your son and learning all sorts of personal family business by posing as one of his High School classmates through numerous Instant Messages about what was going on at your home. That is right Phillips, I hear that theme music from “Fatal Attraction” in the background right now. Hundley was also so bold as to pretend to be another of your sons friends and chat with your son on his Facebook page to get more Phillips dirt.

I have to give this woman a little credit, she did her research, and got the goodies before going all wacky. And your released Press statement to the Wilton Police will be remembered at Academy Award time maybe for a Best Unsupporting Husband Oscar nomination, I could feel the pain in your words (cough, cough).

“This woman has clearly displayed erratic behavior and delusional tendencies,” Phillips said in a statement to Police. ” She has shown up at our house. She has taken on the identity of at least two people (minors) to violate our son (a minor). I have extreme concerns about the health and safety of my kids and myself.” But here is the kicker people….wait for it………wait for it…….You know you want to wait for it!

After issuing that solemn statement to the Wilton Police Department you stated that you did not want to press charges. Sounds like you are trying to put a bit of closure on all of this, but I always say nothing says “It’s over” more than a protection order/Trespassing writ where she has to admire you from 500 feet away. Just saying Phillips.

Of course presently, Ms. Hundley is on vacation and will chat with local police detectives next week. Wonder if Phillips or ESPN paid for that little trip? But there is a bright side to all of this for Marni Phillips. She filed for divorce on September 14th. So now Phillips will have an empty house and a lot of time to contemplate his next move (hopefully without Hundley).

But you can be sure even if Hundley stays employed at ESPN, this whole ball of wax is not over by a long shot. Sure people like broadcaster Marv Albert have gotten back into his broadcasting gigs after finally admitting and doing his social penalties for his biting crimes, but Phillips might not be as lucky. Just remember Jimmy “The Greek” as they tear up your contract after consideration.

Even though ESPN has had this type of  romance fraternization problems rear its ugly head. Back in 2006, ESPN baseball analyst Harold Reynolds was let go after an internal investigation because a female intern objected to Reynolds advancements and blew the whistle on him. I am not calling for a clean towel when I watch ESPN right now, but they need to clean up the smudges fast.
 

Maybe there needs to be a mandatory refresher course in sexual harassment pronto. And not the weekend workshops, they tend to make people think they have an entire weekend to stop the garbage. What really has me blistering is the fact that these two men in authority over younger women disregarded their moral responsibility to train and mentor their assistants and interns, and not wander into the dark areas of activities like this that could ruin more lives than just their own.

You can bet there is going to be some type of career repercussions from this for Phillips. He might have used his last trump card to cover MLB baseball on air. Sure it might not be  the usual MLB situation where he used a banned substance, or even a corked bat, but the integrity of his expertise will now seem tainted and everything he says will come into question when he opens his mouth.

The broadcasting game right now needs the people reporting  and training their underlings to be as clean as the driven snow. We can not have episodes like this coming out and tarnishing the guys who sit at the desks and tell us “the way it is out on the field.” It is time for everyone who covers the sport to check themselves before they wreck themselves. I want to believe what they are telling me is true by their own actions, on and off the air.

Some might say that Phillips did not drive drunk and hurt someone, and that forgiveness is the first step to progress for him. Granted, I believe that is true, but the fact is that Phillips did not learn his lesson the first time. He might have thought he had the clear cut answer this time, but he picked the wrong person who was not ready for that heartache. So not only is he away from the cameras during the MLB Playoffs, Phillips might have made his last segments on Television for a long time, or at least until those of us with ADD forget all about this affair. Let’s hope there is not a chance for a third called strike for Phillips.

Rays are Truly Affordable!

 

The more I looked underneath the Jumbotron, the more I wanted to go up there with my camera and save this moment forever. Shining under that jumbo picture of Ben Zobrist was a mountain of aluminum casting light prisms all over the rightfield outfield. Tonight was a special night of celebration for the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the night for the fans to feast on the accolades thrust upon the team by ESPN,The Magazine , which made the Tampa Bay Rays franchise the “Most Affordable” sports option in sports.  So the Rays decided to have a festival with their fans and made last night the “Even More Affordable Night” to celebrate with the fans, and we got the treasures.

That is right, the most affordable team in sports in the United States, which included data obtained from every NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB teams.  From sea to shining sea it would be the Rays all day and all night for that honor. This was given to the Rays in combination with all their great ticket options and special pricing to induce fans to come on out to the ball park this season. Yes, it was .50 cent hot dog night, which was also expanded to include $1 Cracker Jack and $1 8 oz. Peanuts. And this was not a scaled down “kid-size” hot dog or Cracker Jack, but the regular size that would set you back at least $4  for each item any other night of the season.

Have to admit I did take in $4 of the fun last night, which included a bag each of Cracker Jacks and Peanuts, and 4 steaming hot dogs. But there were other fans who went by me with a mountain of dogs and headed for the condiment trays to even add further weight to their trays. The success of the event might have been induced a bit by hunger, but the numbers last night are a bit mind boggling. The concession booths at Tropicana Field on a normal day sells 3,000 of those ballpark classics during every game. 

But last night that number topped over 24,000 hot dogs with the stadium still selling and counting them after they did an initial count after the seventh inning. With that total rising even higher before the end of the game, I think we can say that the crowd of 18,474 took full advantage of the event and chowed down to their hearts content. I am so glad I was not a part of that cleaning crew last night picking up that sea of discarded aluminum foil scattered into all regions of the stadium.

In July, ESPN the Magazine’s seventh annual “Ultimate Standings” ranked the Tampa Bay Rays as the No. 1 professional sports team in Affordability, out of 122 Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises.

Affordability was one of eight categories analyzed in the Ultimate Standings, which were compiled based on fan feedback. Other categories included Bang for the Buck, Fan Relations, Ownership, Stadium Experience, Players, Coaching and Title Track (championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans).

Overall, the Rays finished No. 3 among the 30 MLB teams and No. 16 in all of professional sports. Teams were measured on how much they “give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them.” Among MLB teams, the Rays ranked No. 3 in Bang for the Buck and No. 4 in Fan Relations. This is not a huge move up in the poll for the Rays, who in 2008 ranked third among all franchises in Affordability in ESPN the Magazine’s 2008 rankings and 75th overall.

But the Rays are not the only team to have some great option available for fans this season. The Milwaukee Brewers have a special value way up in the cheap seats(Upper Deck) where they sell 200 “Uecker Seats” that sell for only $1 seats only on game day.  The event is to honor the old 1980’s Miller Lite commercials featuring Bob Uecker with binoculars sitting up there enjoying the game and a Miller Lite. And considering the park is named Miller Park, it seems only natural to honor Uecker and the bubbly adult beverage.

If you head to Petco Park to watch the San Diego Padres play, you can get a “5 for $5″ deal that includes a hot dog, 22-ounce soda, medium popcorn, small bag of peanuts and a large cookie (hopefully chocolate chip) for only $ 5 on game days.  And if for some reason might like a bigger boost than soda, you can add a frothy beverage for an additional $5.

The Minnesota Twins even took advantage of one of are darkest days in the stock market to come up with a “Black Monday” promo where the cost of a Home Run Porch ticket would be based on how the Stock Market closed the previous day. For example, if the Dow closed at 8,000, then tickets to this section would sell for $8 the next day.

On special date throughout the season the Toronto Blue Jays hold a special section in the stadium for stroller parking, a private changing area, diapers, wipes, and juice and snacks for all the kids–all at no additional cost to the parents. Only thing needed now would be a babysitter to watch the kids as you take in the game from your seats.

And if your group needs to be a bit older and you have a huge list of friends in your cellphone program, you should head down to a Florida Marlins game where on Mondays the team gives out $ 25 vouchers for every carpool of at least 4 people. And every Monday through the end of August, if you are unemployed, you can get up to 4 complimentary tickets. So if you have four unemployed friends, and one with a car, you can make a night of it out in the sweat-inducing heat of South Florida on Monday nights.

Oh, and onto that special section I spoke about before at the beginning of the blog. It seems that the Cowbell Posse last night decided to dig into their collective piggy banks and bought a steaming mountain of meaty goodness (120 hot dogs) and even tossing one to Baltimore Orioles starter Jamie Guthrie during Batting Practice. Well the legend of cowbell followers during the game handed out hot dogs to anyone who wanted them, taking down the wall of aluminum sitting on the back wall of the Trop.

Leaving the stadium I saw a huge amount of people looking for antacids and even Pepto to calm down their inner food binge actions last night. I have to admit I did feel a bit fuller than usual, but I am chalking that up to the 4-game win streak and not the hot dogs. Check with your local team for their exclusive savings days or special pricing plans throughout the season.

Every team in the MLB knows that times are tough for a lot of their faithful fans, and each team has exclusive events and pricing that could fir your budget for an enjoyable night out at the ballpark before the end of the 2009 season. So with only about 4 1/2 weeks left in the regular season it is time for you to again make a pilgrimage to your local ballpark and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that make baseball the best sport on earth.

Blogging Outcry….My Response

 

When I first heard the story about Jared Morris, who posted a blog on www.midwestsportsfan.com recently that brought up the “speculation” of the Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez may be indulging in some specially energized vitamin compound outside the rules of the game, I had a eerie recollection of a blog I wrote a few months back about the bloggers being the “Rodney Dangerfields of Journalism”. 

In that blog I was wondering if we did not get the respect for what we did as an underlying check and balance system within the Internet community. I gained a lot more valuable insight on both sides of the issue after posting that article from both websites and media members. Both these entities will be here from now on, the collective joining of the two segments might be the key to everyone seeing and following the same guidelines and beliefs in the new media format.

We (bloggers) have been deemed the  new storytellers of our generation. The way our grandparents used to take us aside and tell us wild tales of the Great Depression. We got a sense of the times that they lived through based on their stories.  Today our recollections and thoughts that are typed onto the Information Highway can be taken with a grain of salt, or taken full bore as the truth or a lie depending on your own personal beliefs and opinions.

I always had the notion that a blogger being basically a buzzing horsefly bothering the cows (media) in the pasture. The cow swats us away at times, but knows we also serve some sort of purpose in the whole scheme of things and basically tolerates us because of it.

I also have to contend with the fact I acknowledge and view the blogging community format a bit different after reading the response blog posting and comments on www.midwestsportsfan.com recently. I see where both side can get a bit animated on the issue posted in the blog. But the fact is the guy was not outright accusing him in any of the chosen words or phases, but the idea of some type of improper conduct seemed to condemn the blog before you even read it. But that is the essence of life in this era that sometimes fast information and recognition along with the lead into a blog posting can be the only thing read nowadays before opinions are based in our minds.

I have come upon the belief that sometimes your true words and thoughts do not fully seem to gel and mesh with your thoughts on paper/net until you hit that “Post” button, then it is too late to edit it.  Once you click on it, the entry is out there for any level of interpretation or dissection it merits. I am not one of those people who posts a blog then re-write it 20 minutes later after second thoughts. The before mentioned blog did cause a bit of a hassle for me for  about one day, then like most online entries, it was yesterday’s news. Since that time, not one comment or even a glance has been made towards that blog. It was now out of sight, out of mind.

I made sure I read the so-called “offending blog” today again before viewing the video about the incident from a recent ” Outside the Lines” show, I can see the views of both sides a bit clearer on the issue at hand. I really do believe as Ken Rosenthal of ESPN and John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer hinted that 5 years ago, this type of “speculation” blog article would have fallen by the wayside and not gotten more than a quick read or even a glance from anyone on the Internet. 

It is the new found responsibility and unwritten status now from all of us to maybe rethink  some of our own boundary lines when we write  accusation or speculation blog entries. In the last few years, most of the countries newspapers, and even blog sites like ESPN.com have made their feature blogs and articles a reading mainstay of their reporting outside of the televised or printed editions of the news. Newspapers are going digital every day. It is for this reason that even a blogger can now be held more responsible, as a kind of “uncarded media member” for their thoughts and comments. Which has its own set of pitfalls and future problems.

Twitter,Facebook, Myspace, and even MLBlogs.com do have people who read your blogs daily. You might be doing it as an added entertainment factor for your love of the game, but “Joe Yankee” fan might take offense to your personal rendition and responses to their heroes Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez being used as fodder for your ever growing blog popularity. I have to admit that I take a bit of a relaxed approach at times to blogging more for the fact that this is not sourced journalism where I have access to players,coaches and team personnel to get added information. 

Most of what I find out is on written media sources or face-to-face conversations with players or team officials. Even my simple sidebar postings of the Rays injury updates daily comes from either the local media members, or from personal comment from players or staff about their injury status. I recently talked to two injured Rays players who told me they are starting their throwing programs this Friday. I am not paid,compensated so to find a nice gem of a comment or can make it all worth it at times.

Sometimes the lines get foggy and muted and to cross them can be as simple as that first step. Accountability and accuracy is the keystone of writing in a journalistic format. To check and double-check is a part of the lifeblood you are taught in that first Journalism class. And to think no one is watching or even reading your stuff is a recipe for disaster. But when a person blogs, most of us know usually only a group of 10-20 people who tend to read our stuff, but every once in a while, someone or some site stumbles upon your writing and either takes offense, or sees your point of view and advertises it to the rest of the world too.

The basic premise is a blog is suppose to be the format for personal thoughts, ideas and opinions. The true nature of the beast here is that the bloggers and their readers have grown tremendously in size and importance to be a unwritten focal point of life today. Perez Hilton and other gossip bloggers like him now have a millions of followers because of their outlandish and sometimes erroneous thoughts online. But they still do the basic sweat equity to find out if there is merit to their posting before throwing someone under the bus.

The odd part of all of this is not words or phrases accused Ibanez of wrongdoing, just a questioning of the state of the sport right now after recent finding of some of our heroes abusing the system, and some getting caught red-handed in unfortunate surrounding and actions. I think it is part of the unchained responsibility of blogging to not always trust everything you read and see, but to research and bring your own side of the story too. I know some media sources have agendas that tend to make them more “homers” when they write blogs or articles about our teams and their players.

Should we get the same treatments that mainstream journalists get if they mess up and write something unsourced and ambiguous. I am more and more  insight into this
subject after erroneous posting and comments. But then again, the “He said, She said” mentality of most blogging communities tends to bring to light the honest facts that personal opinions are fine spoken verbally within a small group of people, but voice it online and you can attract more than just a comment. In the blog written by Jared Morris, it doesn’t scream either libel or slander because the intention here was to voice a concern or speculation and not establish fact or circumstances to even thrust Ibanez into the light for further examination by anyone within or outside of the sport.

But I can see where established journalists can come out and condemn and accost him for his efforts. They might  agree with his logic or opinions in their minds, but their journalistic integrity questions the way it was presented to the public via the Internet. But that is the fine line that we cross sometimes without noticing it until we hit that “Post” button.

What looks great to us on the initial posting can turn into a firestorm just as quickly as this blog’s speculation of adverse numbers because of a suspected PED abuse.  His blog actually reads more to me as a true “tongue-in-cheek” action-reaction to Ibanez’s extreme upward trend in his statistics. But it is also being anointed as the key piece of evidence to why there needs to be change in the blogging world in accordance to unsourced or opinion-based blog postings.

I think the comment by Rosenthal near the end of the video puts it all into better prospective here. “It is the power of the written word. That is what we are all taught. You have to be careful, you have to be clear, you have to be responsible,” Rosenthal stated in the OTL segment. In response to the idea that the blog was written without due thought process he added, “I am sorry, as well intended as he (Morris) might have been, you can’t tell me he met these standards in this case.”

People who write online do have to use a bit more consideration and thought before hitting the “Post” button. I am guilty of it myself. But that is also one of the things that sometimes drives us to the Internet. It is like the reason people slow down to watch a traffic accident, or watch video of celebrities becoming moving train wrecks for their actions.  The basic facts is that opposing viewpoints bring about discussion, which can be great for enlightenment and understanding on certain subjects. But they also open you to huge avenues of opinion and commentary either positive or negative towards your own views. 

This controversy  can be food for thought. Either you are going to see merits, or you will go about your business as usual. Me, I am still riding the fence here, but I also know that this will not be the last time we read or hear about an outburst in the blogging world. But hopefully we can all learn a bit from the experience…or not.

Rays win Round 1..ding ding

 

 

Rays 5, Red Sox 4

 

 

Wow! The Red Sox Nation must be a bit upset today.

 One of our own devices, the imfamous catwalks, almost got them a win in this critical 3-game series. It was exciting to see 34,000 plus at the Trop. But more exciting was seeing them trapped in the Rotunda due to torrential rain outside and have to be subject to “Let’s Go Rays” chants for about 25 minutes.

Some stayed and had fun with it all, others just got wet. 

 Of all the teams in the AL East, the Sox should have some small level of empathy for the Rays. They knew how losing the big ones felt, how close they have come to winning more than the 2 titles they have now. But, most of all, they are suppose to be the “seasoned” fans, who skirt and toss insults with the “Evil Empire”.

They are the ones who should know when to fold them….and run through the rain.

 

Red Sox Nation……………………………………………………………meet the Rays’ Rebellion.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Jackie Robinson played his first game in the International League on April 18,1946 for the Montreal Royals.

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I think this issue more than any other will polarize a few Rays fans for a bit. Either you agree with the argument on the mound or you do not.

Troy Percival has become the veteran heart and soul of your Tampa Bay Rays.  I actually commend and applaud Troy for his effort to try and finish what he started Monday night. We do not see sacrifice for the team as much these days, and it is a welcome sight to me.

 I agree that Troy is not fully healed and maybe should have limited himself more, but if you have ever been a professional at any level, you know you will do anything to feel the rush and thrill of the crowd on a night like that one.

You have to understand the psyche of a professional before you can cast even a small pebble at Troy.

 I know from years of gutting out ankle sprains, chest and ribs contusions, and hamstring pulls, that you go until you can not walk or stand up straight anymore. You fight until the pain goes above the pills and shots that  you might have used to get you there.

You fight the good fight………………period.

With that in mind, what Troy did can not be put in any way, shape or form, in the ballpark of any of the incidents around the league in the last week.

Troy had a heated, emotional argument with a man he respects alot. Rays Manager Joe Maddon knows what ticks inside of Troy and he took it for what it was on the mound. An emotional volcano that spewed frustration and disappointment, nothing more than that.

You think he would have had that same charged discussion with Jim Hickey?

Nope, he would have just whisked Hickey and the trainers back to the bench without a thought. Give credit to Dioner Navarro for calling out the troops from the dugout. Even before Troy limped to cover third,  you saw him motion to the bench. That is another classy move by Dioner this year.

Troy is seriously still hurt. That limp/hop covering third was not a charlie horse or a muscle cramping up, it was a high degree of pain and discomfort spiking up his leg. It is almost a certain that he will be shut down and rested for a bit, but he will be back……oh, he will be back.

 

                    

 

3-games, 3 first pitch hits. Where did B J Upton hide this hitting magic, and why did he pick now to showcase it?

Upton hit his 6th homer of the year on the first pitch he saw last night. Great to put the Rays up 1-0, but should B J’s name be mentioned from now on in Lead-off hitter discussions around the locker room. Could he have found a spot in the lineup that has no pressure on him, that he can just be B J?

With Akinora Iwamura coming back tomorrow off suspension for the last Boston-Tampa Bay series actions, we might have seen the last of this “lead-off” experiment for awhile. But there will be talk about it, and there will be arguments that it might be the right home for his bat.

 

                                        

 

Gabe Gross must be the first person in the Trop last night to curse the catwalks. When Brandon Moss hit a ball into the “B” ring for a ground rule double, Gross was camped out waiting for the ball in rightfield to pass the ring.  Instead, the ball popped off the ring toward the first base foul line and Gross had to hustle to get it before another Red Sox score.

The rings have played a part in other Red Sox series at the Trop. Remember Shane Hillebrand’s shot into the electrical boxes on the “C” ring stuck up there.  It will not be the last hit into the imfamous catwalks, but isn’t the controversy fun to talk about for the next few days.

 

                      

 

The Rays fans are seeing that Carlos Pena is starting to heat up at the plate, which could mean trouble for opposing pitchers the rest of the year. Carlos has been swinging the bat better since his first start Friday in Pittsburgh.

You can see the back and legs working more with his upper body to put more power behind the ball. In the Sunday game in Pittsburgh, Carlos hit a few long fly balls that showed his bat is there, and the swing is coming along great.

Carlos hit a RBI double to deep right center to score Willy Aybar in the 5th inning last night .  Carlos may have only gone 1-3 last night, but he did not have a strikeout, and got a walk in the 7th inning. Carlos had 2 pop-ups to third last night which is a sign he is leaning a bit too much into the ball.

 

 

 

Gabe Gross again helped the Rays to a win with a 2-run homer to right in the 4th inning to put the Rays up 3-1. It was Gross’s 6th homer of the year. Gross also walked twice and singled to right to go 2-2 on the night. On the past roadtrip, Gabe went 1-10. It is great to see he is out of his slump now and hitting for the Rays.

The Rays managed only 6 hits last night, but they were enough for a victory over the Red Sox.  Besides Upton’s ( 1) and Gross’s ( 2) hits, Carlos Pena, Willy Aybar and Jason Bartlett got hits for the Rays. Willy Aybar also went 1-1 on the night with a walk. 

The Rays recorded 8 walks last night on Red Sox pitching, while striking out 5 times for the night.

 

                                         

 

James Shields picked up his 6th win of the year for the Rays by going 6.1 innings and giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs.  Shields started out the night retiring the first 10 batters he faced last night. Shields got 4 of his 5 strikeouts in that span.

Shields moved into 2nd place last night on the Rays all-time strikrout list with 377 strikeouts.  Shields is currently one of three pitchers in the majors with 2 shutout games this year. He is also one of four pitchers with more than 3 complete games this season.

 

The Rays finished 30 games back of Boston last year, according to Elias Sports Bureau, 7 teams since 2001 have held first place at the halfway point in the year after finishing more than 30 games behind the division leader the previous year. 

 

With the win last night, the Rays have tied their thrid most victories in any month. In the last 3 1/2 weeks, only the White Sox ( 5.95) have averaged more runs per game than the Rays 5.67 in the AL.

The Rays also lead the majors with 88 steals on the year. And they are on a pace to steal 107 by the All-Star break, the most by any major league team since the 1997 Reds (113).

     Coverrays

 

Congrats again to the Rays and their  continued success on the national scene.

Meanwhile, the national media is traversing through Tropicana Field and regularly raving about the Rays, and the Red Sox seem to be aware, if not impressed, by what the Rays have done. Above is the upcoming cover from an issue of ESPN, The Magazine.

And it appears the Yankees have noticed.

Even with the Red Sox headed to the Bronx for a fiery Fourth of July, Yankees are definitely paying attention to the Rays, and, from what Mike Mussina said in this Daily News piece, sound a bit concerned:

“I think they’re going to be there,” Mussina said after taking a tough loss Monday night. “They’ve been doing it for three months, and though they don’t have a history of winning, once you believe you’re a pretty good team, then you can do a lot of things.

“I think they believe now. And I know for sure the rest of us believe they’re a good team. Unless they have a major injury, they’re going to be there.”

 

ESPN’s Peter Gammons weighs in on the market for Indians ace LHP C.C. Sabathia, writing that: “Tampa Bay has lurked, but Rays people say there’s now way they can sign him after the season, and their focus is on a right-handed bat with (Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady) and (the Cubs’ Matt) Murton on their radar.”

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