Results tagged ‘ Joe Dillion ’

Good Riddance Hank Blalock!

 

 


 
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It was about time. I truly think it was a month or so past due to take out the trash, but finally the era of the “convoluted contract” is over in Tampa Bay. Finally there is some finite closure to the whining and egotistical demands made by Hank Blalock on at least two opportunities before the Tampa Bay Rays reluctantly brought him up with the Big team. Finally there will be so joy in Rays-ville for the might Blalock is gone lock, stock and bat barrel.


With the Rays finally pulling the trigger and designating him for assignment, they have effectively sent Blalock home to Ranchero Santa Fe, California to re-think his logic to getting back to the Major Leagues full-time. But hopefully, it will not be with the Rays. The team could still offer him a Triple-A deal, but I hope Blalock decided to move in another direction…far away from Tampa Bay. This action was really past due in my mind based basically on his blatant disregard for protocol and using the media to spin his wheels in motion back to the Major Leagues.

The Rays front office finally reached down deep inside their mindset and saw a mediocre utility player who basically verbally extorted them in to compliance to the Majors again, then appeared in only 25 Rays games. The Rays could see that their “Less than a Million Dollar Man” was in fact an overpriced benchwarmer who produced only a .254 average with a lone Home Run and 7measily RBI while up with the Rays. Here was a guy who tossed out accolades and performances, but then looked like a wet firecracker when needed. It was a great inexpensive experiment, but had horrendous results.

This was the guy the Rays chose to take the place of another “B”-list player, Pat Burrell instead of other capable MLB quality players stirring the pot in Durham. Former MLB players Dan Johnson and Joe Dillon, who also were having breakout seasons at Triple-A were bypassed for the charming vocal (sarcasm) renditions of Blalock. Either one of the above mentioned hitters would have been an improvement over Mr Blalock, and all three of them can play multiple positions on the field.

 
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Some team around the game might need a average bench bat or a utility player like Blalock, but I hope the rest of the MLB paid close attention to the series of farces Blalock the negotiator played on the Rays management. Hopefully Blalock will play it smarter next time and let his bat do the talking. Some will throw the blame of the end of Spring Training rant, plus the May manic cry for promotion to ‘bring me up or let me go” towards his agent, Scott Boras. But it was Blalock who stood firmly behind those words and quotes. If he felt Boras had pushed too hard, he never voiced that opinion or showed an ounce of remorse.


It was Blalock who thrust his chest out like he was the Rays answer at their dismal Designated Hitters spot., I would characterize Blalock’s Rays tenure as lukewarm ( at best). But there will be those voices heard loud amongst the baseball world that think Blalock was about to break out after posting a 7-19 (.368) mark with 3 walks over his last 9 Rays games. Combine that with his 2010 InterLeague mark of 8-23 (.357) with 5 walks and his only Home Run off Houston’s Bud Norris, and some might say this Rays move was a tad bit premature.
By the Rays deciding to reactivate Gabe Kapler for the Disabled List last night, and send Blalock packing, it might speak volumes about what the Rays expected out of Blalock after all his distractions and banter.

It seemed that Blalock used his mouth to sign check his talents could not cash with the Rays. I am so glad Blalock was designated during an away series and not a home game. Now Blalock can slither away in peace without a throng of Rays fans shouting or throwing fake love towards him in exchange for a parting gift autograph . Some might see this as a extreme measure by the Rays to break a cursed losing streak. The reality is that Blalock has been a part-time player during his brief stay when the Rays needs a full-time leader and DH right now.


When Blalock first signed with the Rays I was hoping he left his bad baggage still in Texas and did not bring his brash, hard nosed attitude with him to Port Charlotte this Spring. But we all know how that worked out as Blalock cried and whined like a little child when he was not awarded one of the final roster spots. Immediately it threw up huge red flags to me of his past Rangers rants. I smelled danger on the horizon, but the Rays took their lumps and finally got him to agree ( after a nice $$ bump) to go to Triple-A and wait his turn.
Then in May, Blalock wanted to either be in a Rays uniform, or be let go to shop his talents elsewhere, and the Rays let him saunter into the Rays clubhouse on May 15th, as former Ray Pat Burrell was packing his bags.

 
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Immediately he was on the clock (with me) to prove he was the solid choice. Just because you work out and carry a strong work ethic doesn’t mean it translates into instant game time production. Blalocks’ gun was not loaded with blanks, but his hit and miss mentality began to grow thin with the Rays, and they cut the cord…….thankfully.


Blalock might go on to prove the Rays wrong, and that would be good for him and his career, but his time here in Tampa Bay is over now. Who knows if he might mimic fellow former Rays DH Burrell and find a spot to rejuvenate and rebuild his career. All I know it is time to finally rest easy and know that the Blalock experiment is over in Tampa Bay.
 
No longer will we see a guy who promised results swing and miss in a critical moment (15 K’s in 63 appearances). No longer will we see a guy brought in to help produce runs have a lower Slugging Percentage than Carlos Pena. No longer is their sorrow in Rays-ville…for the might Blalock has gone home. Do not let the door hit you on the way out.

A Beautiful Day for Spring Baseball

 
 
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Got to admit it here, I love it when the Tampa Bay Rays come north and play the Philadelphia Phillies during Spring Training. It is basically a Rays “homecoming” to their fans who do not have the time or resources to travel the 80 miles down to Port Charlotte, Florida for their Grapefruit League schedule. And making it a double pleasure is that the game is played at BrightHouse Field, which has to be one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in Pinellas County.

So here we go as I pop on a few photos today on my journey northbound to the chilly tundra that is Clearwater, Florida. Seriously, when the game started on Sunday at 1 pm, it was 65 degrees, by the time the game was wrapped up with the Rays shutting down the Phillies 5-3 for their third victory of the Spring, it was down to 61 degrees. Not complaining, just found it kind of weird during such a sunny day with limited wind hitting you in the stands. But then again as I always say….If you do not like the weather in Florida, wait 15 minutes, it will change.

 
 
 
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Always wanted to be a fly-on-the-wall during a Rays Press Conference with Rays Manager Joe Maddon. Here we see the local media gurus along with Rays Vice President of Communications Rick Vaughn doing their daily pre-game meet and greet to discuss some of the days events, and even maybe get news on the expected signing of Free Agent Hank Blalock to join the Rays on a minor league contract. I want to just love to hear some of the news firsthand without the dissection of the Rays quotes and news for once. You know I could find a tidbit or two in just a 30 second voice blurp.
 
 
Also would love to hear what Maddon thinks about the possibility of Joe Dillon making this season’s 25-man roster. I find it kind of refreshing that Dillon has made it clear to the Rays and anyone that will listen that he plans to do whatever is necessary to show he has the abilities and the versatility to play almost anywhere for the team in 2010. Most people do not know this, but Dillon was actually Maddon choice as an emergency catcher if something would have happened in a game with his two normal catchers.
 
 
 
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That might be another reason Dillon has been catching more this season to make his stock rise above just being a utility player mostly playing in the infield. And during Batting Practice today, I saw him moving all around the infield from taking balls at third base, to manning the first base bag for a bit. Dillon did get in the game yesterday coming in for Elliot Johnson and playing third base, but went 0-2 in the game. Got to tell you, I always get a bit jealous of those corporate slugs across from me sitting in the Hooters VIP Diamond Dugout section. Not only do they get waitresses in skimpy Hooter attire, but they have almost instant access to the bench along with some great chicken wings and blue cheese.


 
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Got to befriend someone some day and see if I should be so jealous of this section….I think I would be no matter what. But I also find it kind of wild that in Bright House Field, the Phillies have two Hooters ball girls down the foul lines who sit in these nice canvas chairs with gloves in hand flirting with the fans and just looking pretty. Sure I have seen them get out of their chairs a few times, but I forget they are not there for their baseball skills but to look cute and smile for the fans. Always wondered why the Phillies did not bring down two of their regular season Philly Ballgirls who actually play softball for local leagues or college in the Philly area.

 

 
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Always love how the Rays players treat their younger fans. You do not get the total jest of it in this photo, but Elliot Johnson was actually throwing the ball with the young baseball player in red for about three minutes before the kid had to go back into the infield and stand for the National Anthem. You know it is moments like these that makes a child a baseball fan for life. And what a story he will have when he goes back to school on Monday telling all of his friends he threw a baseball with a Major League Baseball player… on the field before a game….priceless moment.

  
 
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Always love it when the United States Army’s Golden Knights parachute team does a pre-game event like this in BrightHouse Field. I have now seen it a few times and it is always a great spectacle and an extremely emotional sight seeing the billowing red smoke and the final recognition of our flag attached to his parachute. I find it really interesting to see this Sunday prior to the Oscars last night that saw the simply amazing film “The Hurt Locker” take the Best Film honors. I have to say I have seen the film and loved it for its realism and attention to military detail.

 
 
 
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What was amazing in this game on Sunday is we saw everyone of the Rays players fighting for a roster spot play in front of some of their hometown fans who came out and helped set a attendance record for a Spring Training game held at Bright House Field. 10,474 fans filled every nook and cranny of the stadium on Sunday. It was definitely standing room only out in the grassy berm areas, and the concession stands did look like the usual rush during a Rays/Yankees or Rays/Red Sox series. Even saw one of the Trop’s beer guys Mark working in the stands yesterday and it made the game feel more like a home game.

 
 
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Had a funny thing happen to me yesterday while I was sitting in the 7th row down in Section 104. Had an older gentleman tell us to either give him play-by-play of the game or shut up. My new found friends from Philly were a bit perplexed, but I reminded them that we do live in a retirement region here in Florida, and some people like to concentrate on the baseball game. I did not want to upstage the guy and tell him I would be more than willing to do audio for him of the game. The few fans around us were a bit upset, but for me, it was just business as usual in Florida. But I do understand the guy’s request.

We were talking about Philly places I knew and the Winter they just went through up there, and maybe this guy was not into our discussions. One of the Philly guys actually remarked that if we were in a movie theatre, it was not a problem to stop talking, but we were at a baseball game. I just laughed it all off and said it was fine, I could get some more photos and maybe get some much needed sun on my farmer-tanned bones. Funny it really got a few people around me upset, but I made sure they knew if it was Tropicana Field I might have kept talking, but since I was in someone else’s stadium, I respected the guy wearing his green Phillies cap.

 
 
 
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One thing I did notice was that Rays First Base Coach George Hendricks seemed a bit unprepared for this game today. I tried to ask someone in the Rays clubhouse if George’s usual number 25 jersey might not have made the trip north, but they were really closed-lipped about it. It was kind of funny to see him wearing that “95” jersey, which usually a sure sign of a Rays minor leaguer getting a chance with the big club. Notice Hendrick’s batting helmet shows his “usual” jersey number 25 on it 

 
I tried to get George’s attention a few times during the middle of the innings to see if maybe the 25 jersey was still hanging up in the Coach’s area at the Rays Spring complex, but never got an answer back from him. Another wild moment was when Heath Phillips started the eighth inning and was relieved by Heath Rollins. I made a few people around me chuckle a bit when the first Rays pitcher who was about 250 pounds left the mound and I called the new pitcher “Heath” too. It was a unique situation and one you might not see during the regular season, but might be more commonplace during Spring Training.
 
 
 
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I also asked a few of the photographers about these wild looking silver camera I saw in at least three different spots around BrightHouse Field on Sunday. I was advised that they were permanent Major League Baseball Network cameras that got primary shots from the First Base, Third Base and Centerfield angles during Spring Training games. I had not even noticed them before and found it quite interesting they did not employ three different cameramen for these regions during telecasts earlier in the Spring.

 
Guess you learn something new every day at the ballpark during the Spring. I am going to be sure to also try and check out the Home and Visitor’s dugout at Tropicana Field to see if these might also be put into a permanent position around our home ballpark for game situations during the regular season. I know from walking around Charlotte Sports Park that the Rays do not have this capability yet, but who knows what might happen in the future.

 
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But it was a great simply beautiful day out in the sun in Florida on Sunday.  And the day was even made more special after Rays Radio man Rich Herrera yelled out “Renegade” from his silver car as he sped away from  a side street onto Old Coachman Road on his way home from the ballgame. Plenty of excited Rays fans and Phillies fans enjoying one of the best weather days this Spring. Congrats to the Phillies again for setting a new single game attendance record, and hopefully we can make another run at that record on Tuesday, March 23rd when the Rays come back to this amazing ballpark and I will sit instead out in the berm region to give a different prospective to this great ballpark.

 

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