Results tagged ‘ Joe Magrane ’

Cursi gets ready for All Star game action

 

                   
                     RHaggerty@Flickr.com

Those people who know me in the Trop know I have a good baseball relationship with one of the members of the Rays staff. I would like to think I have a good rapport with several people, but you never really know what is said off the field. Anyways, I have had a post-game gesture with this person since 2001, and I have never tried to revert or change that routine for the fear of breaking a superstition. It is more me than him, but I truly look forward to it right after each third out in victory or in defeat. It is a simple gesture, but it is a bond I have with him  in my baseball world.

It is a simple hand salute off the baseball cap, but it has symbolism beyond just the motion to me. I met this guy back in 2001 when I was sitting the the Bullpen Cafe ( before Checkers bought the rights) and he used to always come over before the games to chat with myself and a good friend. I got to know this guy pretty well beyond the foul lines on the diamond, and also had on a few occasions had the chance to meet him over at Ferg’s with others for a post-game brew and some chatter. It was a special time for me because he was living the dream. He was on the field. It did not matter to me that ex-Ray Toby Hall or Greg Vaughn was standing right next to me up in the upstairs bar at Ferg’s run by former Rays Tony Saunders. Those were the simple times with Rays Bullpen catcher Scott Cursi  and they have been amazing.

I have gone on road trips following the teams in recent years and Cursi and Chico Fernandez, the Rays Video Coordinator have always welcomed me into their post-game events and we have spent some good times in other cities. Places like Cleveland where we went after a game into the Warehouse District and did the usual pub crawls checking out the nightlife and the local club scene. Or maybe it was a great atmosphere of Swannee’s in Seattle when I went a few years ago and he told me of prior years when Wade Boggs and Fred McGriff were in this same small bar drinking  a few beverages and there with the fans.  I just wanted to give you guys another side of the guy former Rays broadcaster Joe Magrane called “The Enforcer.”


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So when Cursi came over the other day before the game and we chatted for a bit I told him I was upset for finding out that he was getting married in December by seeing it in the Rays 2009 Media Guide. But what he told me next was exciting, even bigger to me than the fact he and Stephanie were going to tie the knot on the beach. Cursi sat there and told me he was going to get a chance to maybe catch during the 2009 State Farm Home Run Derby. I was not totally surprised since I knew he was going to be at the All-Star game in the Bullpen anyways as a member of Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s staff. But the added thrill of seeing Scott catch with the world watching him was simply amazing.

But in the last week there might be a small problem here with Cursi even catching in the Home Run Derby. You see, Evan Longoria can bring along his own pitcher for the event, and Cursi is one of the staff who almost daily throws Batting Practice to the Rays players. In such, you would think he would want a Rays staffer, since they are already there for the All Star game to throw to him. But there is a simple answer.

He could ask Rays Pitching Coach Jim Hickey to throw to him with Cursi catching and all will be great in Happy Valley. But I am not sure if Hickey will want to do that on such a large stage. Not that he doesn’t have the chops or the pitching ability ( he does), but the fact si he might be concentrating on the All Star pitching staff during that first day. But it would be a simple resolution to the problem, and would bring about a unique angle to the game.

But to even throw more cold water on either idea is the fact that Longoria, who was imformed by MLB he was the highest vote getter in the American League to participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby, might bow out of the competition to save his ailing hamstring. With the health concern, that is a good idea for Longo, but hopefully he is not pulling out after a poor showing
in the 2008 Home Run Derby. Maybe teammate Ben Zobrist could take his spot?  I wonder, have there ever been any switch-hitting home runs hit during the Home Run Derby? I will check on it and let you know the answer…..

It almost makes me want to find some way financially to make it to the game and see it in person. I do not want an outfield seat, but just something near the field so I could yell out to Cursi before he squatted behind the dish and watch dinger after dinger disappear into the St. Louis night. Think of how amazing that is going to be for the guy who has put in countless hours and time warming-up pitchers and coming in and catching pitching prospects and potential free agents over the years for the Rays. I thought 2008 might be the top of the  proverbial mountain for some people in the Rays organization, but the hits just keep on rolling here for Cursi.

I am truly so excited that my baseball buddy get to live the All-Star dream on the field this season and also get to attend some of those exclusive and sought after events during the All-Star experience. I can not think of anyone else in baseball that I think deserves that honor than Cursi. Seriously here, the guy has bled Rays green, blue and even yellow for this franchise and this is another great life experience for him in his position with the Rays. But I think I need to let you know a little bit about Scott Cursi before I go today. He is in his 11th season with the Rays organization, and his 13th in professional baseball.  He spent three seasons as the Bullpen Catcher for the Double-A Orlando Cubs and the Orlando Rays of the Southern League from 1996-1998. 

               
               RRCollections


And sometimes you will also see him late in the Rays Batting Practice throwing balls to the hitters on the mound.  Cursi played college baseball at Seminole Community College in Orlando and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Physical Education.  Before he made his trek to Florida, Cursi spent four seasons coaching for Bishop Waterson High School in Columbus, Ohio under Ohio baseball legend Scott Manahan. The guy knows baseball inside and out, and that has only endeared him more to the Rays. 

So Congrats Scott. You deserve a spot in the television of the world, and you can be sure all of Tampa Bay will be watching for you to put your mask on and squat behind the plate during the State Farm Home Run Derby. I know you will have some great memorable chats with some of the hitters that night, and I hope I can hear some of those stories some night after a game over some cool, refreshing beverages with great company. But until then I will just give to the hand salute to the cap back every night and wish you a safe road trip, and tons of great baseball memories.

MLB Network, Part 2

 

 


If you missed the first part of this small installment, I am going over the launch and conceptual beginning of the new MLB Network set to debut on New Years’ Day all over the cable industry. I want o tell you that you should make a point of trying to view a show with former Rays broadcaster, Joe Magrane, I can guarantee you it will be a fun time to hear this great former player and tongue-in-cheek broadcaster. So, let’s pick up where I left off before hitting the confines of a small room with the smell of anxiety and bad oxygen in the air:

 


With the cable industry agreeing to allow access to the MLB of the previously contracted  out-of-market concept, Extra Innings package to drive channel carriage. They used other professional leagues as a starting point for their transformation. The NHL has tied carriage deals to its channel with access to Center Ice. And the NBA is planning to use League Pass to try to persuade cable operators to move NBA TV off sports tiers and into the mind of their subscribers as a optional network.

 

 

Its contracts are up at the end of this season. The NFL also is rumored to be considering making Sunday Ticket available to cable operators, in exchange for NFL Network carriage when that contract ends in 2011. It’s uncertain whether this strategy will work for other leagues, but it is clear that other leagues are trying to use MLB’s strategy on their own properties.

 

 

“When we were putting the Oxygen Network together, we thought getting to 30 million homes was a big deal, but now getting to 50 million with the MLB Network, you have a real viable product,” said Tom Werner, Boston Red Sox chairman, a board member of MLB Network and longtime TV producer.

 

 


After MLB owners approved distribution contracts with DirecTV and cable operators last May, Brosnan and Chris Tully, senior vice president of broadcasting, immediately got to work on finding a home for the network. The process quickly turned from daunting to seemingly impossible, even with the commercial real estate market in the New York market softening and available inventories rising. The key issue was finding something that had high ceilings, open floor plans and modern infrastructure to accommodate a high-end studio set design MLB wants that will rival elaborate build-outs at ESPN and NFL Network, while at the same time was not prohibitively expensive.

 


Brosnan and Tully looked for months all over the five boroughs of New York City, as well as portions of suburban New Jersey and Connecticut, continuing to run into dead ends. Network partners such as DirecTV Chief Executive Chase Carey, however, continued to press MLB to focus on Manhattan. Not only is the island the country’s media focus, but a suburban or outer borough location would all but kill much-discussed plans to have players regularly come on set to appear on the network.

 


Common thinking was that New York is considered the center of the world to a lot of people in the country and the world.  And for this new network to be more than a typical league network,  you have to devise multiple ways to create excitement. You really need to be in Manhattan to make it accessible to everyone.

 

 


MLB then became connected with Vornado, which needed an anchor tenant to help push forward its plans for the modern, 21-story office tower in Harlem, using the former site of a hotel and retail development that never materialized. Within a matter of weeks, negotiations were well along for the MLB Network to occupy two lower floors for its studio and production operations, two upper floors for administration and sales, and place elaborate electronic signage and video boards facing the high-traffic, adjacent areas along Park Avenue.

 

 

Financial terms of the real estate venture have not been disclosed. But industry sources suggest that MLB, even after contributing up front to some of the tower’s development costs, will do far better than other city properties investigated that lease for more than $70 per square foot. Further sweetening the situation is that the space will be completely build-to-suit. In the meantime, the MLB Network will operate out of Secaucus, N.J., using the recently vacated MSNBC studios. The tenancy will be temporary, with the move to Harlem projected to occur in mid-2010.

 


The MLB-Vornado deal has not nearly been the end of the story. The project has sparked another feisty debate on the merits of gentrification and whether Harlem truly wants or needs an upscale commercial development such as this. Complicating that debate is roughly $20 million in city tax breaks that Vornado and MLB are believed to be seeking as part of the project. The pair of entities have received city planning approval for needed zoning variances to build the full 21 stories as intended, with city council authorization still pending.

 

 

While its distribution and headquarters location are under control, the network was pretty slow to find an executive to run the channel, especially when compared with other network launches. The NFL, for example, hired Steve Bornstein about 15 months before NFL Network launched in November 2003. Similarly, Jon Litner came over to work on SportsNet New York’s launch 13 months before that RSN launched in March 2006.

 

 


The list includes top media executives from various broadcast and cable channels, sources say. The new CEO will report to a board made up of five owners, two MLB executives and representatives from strategic partners DirecTV and Comcast. Tully has been tabbed as a likely COO candidate. The CEO also will “collaborate on a day-to-day basis with Brosnan,” according to a document Spencer Stuart sent to prospective candidates.



The Spenser Stuart group finally came down with recommendations for the top spot at MLB Network, and the job was offered to Tony Pettit in April 2008. This gave the highly motivated executive a mire 8 months before signing on for the first time for the network. Pettit’s position to manage the daily operations of the MLB Network came with very high references from his former employer, and a key allies in baseball front office.


Petitti  resume showed outstanding points of interest for MLB, and a firm background in media. Pettit attended Haverford where he majored in economics before attending Harvard Law. He worked for two years at the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft before joining ABC Sports in 1988 as general attorney. After being named Vice President of Programming, where he was responsible for acquiring and scheduling ABC Sports programming, he was hired by CBS in 1997 as Senior Vice President of Business Affairs and Programming. In December 2005, Pettiti was named Executive Vice President, CBS Sports and was responsible for all day-to-day operations of CBS Sports, where he was largely responsible for the network’s NFL coverage. He basically, was held responsible for everything you see on the Sunday telecasts nationally.


It was announced on January 3, 2008, that Mr. Petitti would be placed in charge of day-to-day operations of CSTV , the college sports network that is being absorbed into CBS sports, effectively replacing network co-founder Brian Bedol , who had been serving as president of CSTV since the network was purchased by CBS Corporation in 2005. CSTV was renamed the CBS College Sports Network on March 16, 2008. Pettit a few weeks later decided to venture into the new frontier with MLB and lead the new network.

 


So with a high profile CEO now in place of the new network, MLB executives started planning to approach top-tier corporate sponsors such as Chevrolet, Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi to pitch presenting sponsorships that will integrate the company identities deeply into network content.

 

As for MLB Advanced Media, baseball’s interactive arm is barely mentioned in the Spencer Stuart prospectus, and the operation is not expected to be involved significantly in the network. The strategy differs sharply from those at the other major leagues, and in part, is designed to maximize the economic value of both assets.

 

Also at play is that both MLBAM and the MLB headquarters see the respective media product as very different, with the lean-back and lean-in fan experiences quite separate and distinct. Similarly, there is currently no set deal for MLBAM to operate the network’s Web site once it launches.But asked if MLB Network, already on a faster growth curve than even the triumphant MLBAM, will ultimately overtake its Web counterpart in size and scope, Selig demurred. stating, ” Only time will tell.”

 

A Trio of Tidbits: Miller, Baldelli and MLB Network

 

 

                                  

 

It is being reported that former Rays reliever Trever Miller will complete his signing with the St Louis Cardinals today. The former lefty specialist for the Rays will have to complete a physical before the deal can be deemed official. Miller, who was in his second stint with the Rays was the  reliever on the mound when the Rays  clinched their first postseason berth in franchise history. Miller, along with team mate J P Howell were the top 2  lefties in the  MLB in preventing inherited runners’ from scoring.

 

Howell and Miller were the top two left-handers in this category in the Majors. On Aug. 3 against Detroit, Miller recorded his first win and first decision since Sept. 30, 2006 at Atlanta, snapping a Major League-record streak of 121 straight appearances without receiving a decision.

 

The Cardinals would be Miller’s seventh team. He made his Major League debut with the Tigers in 1996.  Miller has been a great tool against left-handed batters in his career and posted an overall ERa of 4.15 last year for the Rays, but was used mostly as a late inning lefty situational pitcher for the team. He got left-handers to hit only .235 against him.

 

Miller will not have to be follicle challenged with the Cardinals. As you might remember, Trever used his think hair to support one of the better Rayhawks on the team. His hair was sculpted by his wife Para, who also did a similar model on their young son to imitate Dad’s hairdo.

 

Miller was very active in the community for the Rays, participating in numerous hispital visits and always chatting with fans before the games. He was a slightly introverted guy who had a soft spot for kids and enjoyed talking about baseball.  Miller will be missed in the Rays Bullpen in 2009.

 

Miller is the first of the Rays 4 free agents who has resigned with another club beside the Rays. The deal is for 2 year.  I wish him luck and hope that his 2009 goes well for him and his family. He will be missed down the right-field line by us in Section 138.

 

 

 

  

The Hot Stove action is starting to heat up for another one of the free agents from the 2008 Rays roster. Rocco Baldelli’s name has been mentioned alot in the Boston newspapers as one of the options for the 4th outfielder for the team. It would be a bit of a homecoming for Baldelli, who is from Rhode Island.

 

One of the obstacles standing in the way of his signing might be the amount of time between starts he may need to recover from his fatigue syndrome that he has suffered since the beginning of  Spring Training in 2008. It was thought early in the season that Baldelli might have played his last baseball because of the ailment, but medication and a change in his daily lifestyle has made Baldelli at least a part-time player.

 

 

                         

 

 

If Rocco were to sign outside of the Rays’ organization, it would be an end to a bitter-sweet relationship with the team that drafted him in trhe first round in 2000. It would also be bitter-sweet to lose one of the most popular players in the Rays short history to another team, hopefully outside of the American League East division.

 

His year did not begin until a series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in August. In that first game, Baldelli made an impressive play in right-field coming in for a low floundering fly ball to make a great shoe-lace catch for the Rays. He also exploded at the plate hitting his first hit since May 2007 in the Rays win over the Seattle Mariners.

 

        

 

Baldelli was instrumental in the Rays success in the post season. He came on in countless games and got needed hits, and some times even hit a home run to secure a win for the Rays. But one of his memorible moments might be in Game 2 of the World Series when Rocco sprinted all the way from first base and went home on the play.

 

Baldelli was out at the plate, but the collision with Phillies catcher, Carlos Ruiz made the front cover of Sports Illustrated for the effort. If this was one of your last momments in the sun Rocco, let me tell you, it was shining bright and clear that night at the Trop.

 

 

                                Logo for the MLB Network

 

MLB Network is set to begin its operation on January 1, 2009 ,and will be a television specialty channel, primarily owned by Major League Baseball,  The Network is se to begin broadcast into over 50 million homes in the United States.  Cable Providers, which include ,Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner and Cox Communications have minority ownership of the new network, with MLB retaining a controlling two-thirds share.

 

The channel is building its state-of-the-art headquarters in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood and moving into MSNBC’s old studios in nearby Secaucus, New Jersey. Profitability is expected by the end of 2009, according to industry sources. And by 2015, revenue from cable subscriber fees and advertising is projected to soar beyond $210 million, with a net value easily exceeding $1 billion.

 

Major League Baseball is the last major North American professional sports league and major professional sport overall to launch its own network. NBA TV dates back to 1999, the NFL Network to 2003, and the US version of the NHL Network to 2007, However, MLBN will have the most households of these four networks when it launches, largely because of the financial participation of the cable systems.

 

MLB Network expects to carry 26 live baseball games in 2009 and Saturday night is the most likely time slot these games will air in. Other early programming will include portions of the 2009 World Baseball Classic as well as highlights, studio programming, international and development league games, and archival material. Also in the works is a nightly news and highlight show patterned after ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.

 

The Network has already begun hiring background reporters and announcers for the new programming. Trenni Kusnierek, who was the Brewers’ former sideline reporter will serve as a network reporter in 2009.  He was previously employed by the Fox Sports Network in Wisconsin in 2008. Hazel Mae will also join the  MLB reporting ranks for the new network, coming from the studio as the host of Sportsdesk on NESN.

 

Matt Vasgersian, who is the former San Diego Padres’ announcer  in another of the well known baseball voices to grace the new network. Vasgersian will be the voice of the MLB Network, and well as the lead host of both the MLB Tonight show and the off season Hot Stove show for the network.  Joining Vasgersian in the sutdio will be former YES Network announcer and former MLB player, Al Leiter on both programs.

 

Coming on as a Network analyst will be former player and ex-ESPN staffer Harold Reynolds, to also participate on the MLB Tonight  show and help sort out the trades and signings on the Hot Stove program for viewers.

 

Ex-Tampa Bay Rays analyst and player, Joe Magrane has also been signed by the network. His position has not been defined yet by MLB, but might be in consideration for the analyst position on the 26 broadcasts by the network in 2009.

 

Magrane is a funny and very colorful commentator and could lend a nice twist to the usual bland broadcasting by television networks.  He has been doing Fox Sports Network and Rays Television Network since 1998. Magrane recently did the studio color commentary for NBC Sports of  the Olympics baseball tournament in China.

 

This season, he was nomintaed for the Ford Frick award, which decides the boradcasters eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for his work with the Rays.

 

 

 

 

 

Rays Postseason Rally in St. Petersburg

 

If  you missed the Tampa Bay Rays Rally at Straub Park in St. Petersburg on Monday, you missed a party 10 years in the making. Not that we have a habit in this area of saving our parties for special occasions, but this day was for celebrating baseball in general. I got there about 1 P.M. to meet with a few on the Maddon’s Maniacs and participate in a short promotion video that will grace the Jumbotron this week during the two ALDS games at the Trop.

It is a short little diddy  around our lovable mascot Rayomnd and the “Feel The Heat” theme song that is  a huge success for the Rays. It was not a long shoot, and it was a bit corny for my tastes, but you never know what the video genies will do with a small piece of film. We shall see on Thursday.

 

 

After getting that video situation out of the way, I scoped out my stage right standing position right next to the lous speakers that would be blaring music by the 80’s group Survivior in a few hoiurs. It was about 2:30-ish and I had a bit of time before the activities were to start. Florida Sports Network and Sunshine Network were setting up to broadcast the event and provide some commentary and extra footage from the Rays Television trio of Dewayne Staats, Joe Mcgrane and Todd Kalas.

 

 

As 5 P.M. got closer, Rusty, the Rays usual Tropicana Field game M.C. got us all excited and reminded us that the Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers game was still in a rain delay. This is important to us Rays fans so we can decide who to email and hassle before Thursday’s game. At 5 P.M., Rusty came out and started the event off by letting us know that national figures had sent a few videos kudos to the team. 

We had the usual ESPN people and members of the TBS broadcasting teams shot during the All-Star game, but there were a few unusal greetings also sent to the Rays. Rob Schneider, of “You can do it” fame sent a bizzare, but really thought out diddy that even included his dog pimping out for the Rays.  Kevin Costner unvealed his new song, “It’s All Up To You” written for the Rays as a show of respect from Costner and his band, Modern West. The video was a montage of the visit by Costner and the band last November to help promote the new uniforms, and included some batting pratice pieces from Progress Energy Field.

Orlando, a popular DJ from 98.7 radio station in town also brought his new song for the Rays to be unveiled today during the Rally. The song was titled, “The Trop. Boys”, and it had a grat beat and was a cool sounding song. I know we will be seeing more of that song here in the playoffs at the Trop.

After that, it was onto the introduction of the players. I am going to post an additional blog with the picture on it to save some space here today.  The Television guys, Staats, Mcgrane and Kalas all started the program off with a video recalling the highs of this magical season for the team. the video played up the Boston, Chicago and Angels series sweeps, and showed the walk-off wins for the team in 2008.

After that, Todd Kalas came out and got into the player and coaches introductions of our 2008 Rays team. The most applause of course went to skipper Joe Maddon and Don Zimmer today. After the coaches took their place on the stage, the players were intorduced one by one, with Akinora Iwamura getting the “Aki” chant from the crowd. the guys were all sporting their Rays white uniforms, and it made a great background for the hundreds of cameras snapping their every move. After getting through  all but one of the players introductions, Kalas introduced B J Upton, who I still believe is the most unsung hero of this season.

 

 

After that,  Kalas introduced a few people I know well, but Tampa Bay should get to know. Bullpen Catcher, Scott “The Enforcer” Cursi is one of the most tireless workers I have ever met, and is a great guy to boot. Chris “Chico” Fernandez does a great job getting game and  scouting video for the team. And last, but not least is the Rays clubhouse manager Chris “Westy” Westmoreland. I have heard fron a number of people that he runs the best clubhouse system in the major leagues. Kudos to him for that.

 

 

After these last 3 important introductions, Kalas turned the mic over to the skipper, Joe Maddon to talk a bit to the crowd. Madden as usual, was uplifting and totally believeable and the crowd showed its energy by clapping and cheering for the boss. After he was done speaking, the mic was turned over to the team’s charismatic Carlos Pena who pumped up the crowd more by urging them to come out and make the Trop deafening with their noise and enthusiasm on Thursday and beyond in the playoffs.

 

 

After the players left the stage, Rusty called up a few local icons who have been true Rays fanatics for years. The first was current WWE Champion John Cena, who confessed he used to live in Boston, but has converted into a true Rays believer now. Cena also provided one of the best moments of the Rally when he informed the crowd he had heard from Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and first baseman Sean Casey that the Rays had no heart.

 

 

Well, Cena decided to call Sean Casey on his cellphone, but Casey was probably either at the Red Sox Rally held that day before the hit the airport for California, or he was not going to take the call because he knew he would hear a load of crowd noise in the background.  Cena made sure Casey had an interesting voicemail and proclaimed that the Rays did have spirit and heart and you heard the entire crowd roar towards the stage to voice their opinion on Casey’s comments.

Right before Cena was going to leave the stage, he called up the Rays appointed 10th man, Brian “Nasty Boy” Knobs to the stage for some comments.  Knobs came onto the stage in his usual manner blowing smoke and fire from his nostrils and pumping the crowd into a frenzy. Of course, Knobs could not leave the stage before getting the entire crowd to chant, “Let’s Go Rays.”

 

 

After that, the show was winding down and Rusty intoduced the band, Survivior who put on an amazing concert for about 2 hours. During this time I got to go sit in the VIP section in front of the stage courtesy of Trisha Johnson of the Rays and snapped a few hundred pictures. I am thinking I might include  a few of them on the blog.  The band did an amazing show and ended it with “Eye of the Tiger” to push the crowd into a frenzied climax to the event.

At this time we still did not know who was going to be our opponent for Thursday, but the White Sox were up 1-0 at the time. As I was walking to my car in the Pier parking lot, it hit me that this might not the only Rally this year for the Rays. That we have a possibility of 2 more Rallies and a few hundred chances of cheering for the team between now and a possible World Series game.  I am not going to jinx or  put a hoax on anything, but 10 years ago, that was not even in my mindset for this squad.  Wow, how times flies when you are having fun!!!

 

 

 

 

It must be a true rush to be on stage and singing……….that is something I wish I had done in my younger life….totally, totally into music

 

 

 

 

 

Rays Squander Chances versus Red Sox

 

 

Red Sox 3, Rays 0

 

Scott Kazmir will take the mound tonight in one of the most important games for the Tampa Bay Rays franchise tonight. If the Rays lose, they will be out of first place for the first time in almost 2 months. to add a bit more pressure to ther young lefty, the Rays have not won in Fenway now for 8 games, and the last time they won was on a night that Kazmir beat Curt Shilling 1-0.

 

Not lost on Kamir is also the bravado and vigor he has thrown out in the last week about accountability and playing for the moment.  The lefty is the youngest member of the starting rotation, but he has the demeanor at times of a 10 year veteran in the  MLB trenches. But that is also one of the things you love about they guy. He is not afraid to put it on his back and try to carry the team.

 

Considering if the Rays walk out of Fenway on Wed. night not getting a single win in Fenway this season, they will leave in second place, down by 1 1/2 games to the Red Sox. Not lost on the Rays or Bosotn is the fact that in 9 days they will do it all over again at the Trop., where the Rays have dominated the Red Sox this season.

 

Rays Manager Joe Maddon is quick to point out after a series whne reporters ask him what series is important. He has said almost reliously, “the next one” all year long. This series might be important more for the team’s morale and their confidience coming back home after 3 more in the Bronx.  This is the time of year where the winners step up, and the also rans get left by the roadside. And I can not see Maddon hitchhiking back to St. Petersburg.

 

 

Red Sox 3, Rays 0

 

 

It was one of those rare nights that you thought the league should not give a loss for such a pitching effort. Edwin Jackson might have lost the game to the red Sox 3-0, but it was his composure and his confidience after the 1st inning that registers high on my admiration meter. Jackson came into this first “must win” game probably a little more psyched and enegetic than he wanted to be when he tossed that first pitch to Mark Kotsay.

 

Jackson had a rough 1st inning against the Red Sox last night. Of course Kotsay started it all by walking on 5 pitches, but Jackson got the AL average leader, Dustin Pedroia to line out to Akinora Iwamura to set the defensive tons for the night.  David Ortiz then came up and hit a ball high off the Green Monster that if B J Upton would have hustled a throw to second, Ortiz would have been tagged out and sitting on the Boston bench. Ortiz’s blast scored Kotsay from first and gave the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

 

Kevin Youkilis ( You-kill-us) then came up and hit a ball up the middle that Upton got early and tried to get Ortiz at the plate, the throw was cut off and the Rays go Youkilis in a run down trying to advance to second on the throw for the second out. Jason Bay, who the Rays desperately tried to trade for at the trade deadline then came on and hit a solo homer over the Green Monster to put the Red Sox up 3-0.  In that first inning, Jackson ended up throwing 28 pitches and it looked like an early night for him.

 

 

 

 

 Jackson rebounded from the 1st inning to throw until J P Howell relieved him in the bottom of the 8th inning. Jackson ended up throwing  98 total pitches on the night. He threw 70 pitches from the 2nd inning on last night.

 

Jackson also shut the Boston offense down by only giving up 5 more hits the entire night before leaving with 6 strikeouts. The rebound by Jackson was a great pick-me-up for the Rays in that they saw this young pitcher battle through his demon 1st inning and regain control of the game and pitch effectively from that point on.  With that in mind, it is a pity that such a pitching display as to result in his 10th loss of the year.

 

 

The last time the Rays suffered back-to-back shutouts was against the Boston Red Sox in April 2004 at Fenway Park.

 

Several plays stick in my mind as to the tunring points in this first game of the series. In the 1st inning, Upton bunted a ball into the air and Red Sox starter, Jon Lester picked it out of the air and threw to first to double up Aki to get two quick outs on the Rays.  The Rays went down in order, 1-2-3 4 times until they came alive in the 5th inning against Lester. Rocco Baldelli ended up striking out on all 4 of his plate appearances last night.

 

 

                                    

 

 

The Rays finally showed a glimmer of offense in the 5th inning when Dioner Navarro started a potential rally by walking on 7 pitches. Jason Bartlett then came up and hit a single into left to advance Navarro to second base.  But Gabe Gross hit a weak grounder down the first base line and Youkilis tosed the ball to Lester to get out of the inning without a run.

 

 

 

The Rays again started a potential rally when Aki singled to left, and Ben Zobrist walked. Both men advanced on Carlos Pena long drive to centerfield, but were stranded when  Rocco Baldelli struck out to end the 6th inning. The again tried to mount an attack in the 8th inning when Ben Zobrist hit a ball off the upper half of the Green Monster for a long single.

 

Carlos Pena then hit a sharply hit ball down the first baseline that was grabbed by a fan with his white cap for a ground rule double. This put 2 rays in scoring position with 2 outs. Baldelli again struck out to end the inning. In the 9th inning, Eric Hinske came on as a pi9nch hitter for Jason Bartlett and delivered a single to centerfield and moved over on defensive indifference to get into scoring position with 2 outs.. Gabe Gross however struck out to end the game for the Rays.

 

                                  

 

 

B J Upton came out of the game in the beginning of the 3rd inning. Upton was hurt on the drive by Ortiz off the Green Monster in the 1st inning. It is a  pulled hamstring muscle and Upton will be day-today at this time.

 

The Rays did keep themselves in the game with some fantastic defensive play during the game. In the 1st inning, that play on Youkilis saved at least 1 run in the game on the quick decision by Navarro to cut off the throw and get the sneaky Youkilis at second base.  In the 4th inning, Jason Bay was awarded a single on a very close play at first on a fantastic backhand grab deep in the hole by Bartlett.

 

 

The Rays ended up with a 5-4-3- double play on the next pitch to Mike Lowell to erase Bay from the basepaths. In the 5th inning Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tried to be a bit fancy and bunted towards thrid, and Aybar took the ball barehanded and threw out Varitek at first base.  Kotsay tried to advance on a single in the inning and was gunned down by Gross to get the 2nd out of the 5th inning.

 

 

Fernando Perez, who moved from  left to center with Upton out, made a great running catch on Dustin Pedroi’s deep fly out near the Red Sox Bullpen wall. And Rays reliever, J P Howell picked off Coco Crisp on first after a single to leftfield. Important is the fact that Howell had just come on to relieve Jackson and picked off Crisp before even throwing a pitch in the game.

 

Great news that Rays reliever Juan Salas is fine after suffering  a epileptic seizure prior to Monday night’s game vs. the Red Sox and was taken to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure, but was released shortly after the contest began. 

 

“He’s had it before,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It just normally takes hours to get him back and he should be back by tomorrow. … We’ve gone through it before. He’s fine, he’s fine.”

 

I  hope that Rays television analyst, Joe Magrane asked Rays equipment manger, Chris Westmoreland for a fielders’ glove after last nights game in Boston. Twice during the telecast, Magrane had to shimmy out of the way of wayward foul balls hit into the broadcast booth by Rocco Baldelli and Dioner Navarro. Magrane was okay on each incident and plowed onward and upward in his on camera moments. 

 

 

4 Rays Broadcasters Up for Frick Award

 

I remember the first time I met Joe Mcgrane outside of a baseall uniform. It was here in St Petersburg at a local watering hole and Mcgrane was pitching for the St. Petersburg Cardinals of the Florida State League at that time. I remember the quick and dry wit of Joe and thought he might be an interesting broadcaster some day.

Little did I know that Mcgrane would again come back to St. Petersburg after a long and properous baseball career to form a dynamic duo with Dwayne Staats broadcasting the Tampa Bay Rays games. So it is with great pride and honor that I lket you, the Rays fans know that MLB and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, have nominated  Four current  Rays broadcasters  for the Ford C. Frick Award.

Current on-air Television talents’ DeWayne Staats, Joe Magrane, Todd Kalas and  Radio’s golden tonsils, Dave Wills are in the running for the prestigious award.

Balloting for the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence is going on now, with the top three recipients of fan votes automatically qualifying for the 10-person ballot that will be formulated by a 20-member committee and announced Oct. 6.

The winner will be announced Dec. 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and will receive the award during an induction ceremony on July 26, 2009, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.  Fans may vote for up to three of their favorites among 210 broadcasters eligible in balloting conducted exclusively on the Hall’s Web site, baseballhalloffame.org, which will carry biographical sketches of each candidate. Fans can vote once a day throughout September. Results will be announced when voting concludes Sept. 30.

Here are the Rays nominees for this great honor:

 

Dewayne Staats
Dewayne Staats
 
Dewayne anchors the Emmy Award-winning telecast in this, his 32nd season broadcasting Major League baseball and his 11th with the Rays. In 2003, he celebrated 4,000 Major League broadcasts. Before joining the Rays, he spent three years calling play-by-play for ESPN in a variety of sports, including the MLB and NCAA baseball, basketball and football. He began his Major League play-by-play career as the radio and TV voice of the Houston Astros from 1977-84, then called radio and TV action for the Chicago Cubs from 1985-89. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees carried by the MSG-TV network from 1990-94, and spent the 1994 and 1995 seasons calling the action for The Baseball Network (ABC/NBC). Staats began his career as a sports reporter for WSIE Radio while a student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and began his baseball career as the radio voice of the Oklahoma City 89ers (1973-74). In 1975 and ’76 he was sports director at KPLR-TV in St. Louis and received an Emmy nomination. A 1975 graduate of SIU-Edwardsville, Dewayne earned Distinguished Alumnus-of-the-Year honors in 1987 and was recently listed among baseball’s top 101 all-time announcers by author Curt Smith. He is married to the former Carla Berry and has two daughters, Stephanie Wheeler (30) and Alexandra (24), and grandsons Gabriel (3) and Zachary, born in December
 
 
Joe Magrane
Joe Magrane
 
Joe returns as television color analyst for the Rays in 2008, his 11th season with the club. He also appears on numerous FOX Network telecasts. In 2002, he served as postgame reporter for the National League Championship Series. Joe was a color analyst for NBC’s baseball coverage of the last two summer Olympic Games: 2000 in Sydney, Australia and 2004 in Athens, Greece. Before coming to the Rays, the 10-year Major League veteran worked as an analyst on regional ESPN Major League games in 1997 and worked with Rays play-by-play man Dewayne Staats on ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series. An All-America selection at the U. of Arizona in 1985, Magrane compiled a 56-67 Major League record with the St. Louis Cardinals (1987-93), California Angels (1993-95), and Chicago White Sox (1996). He finished third in the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year voting, helping lead the Cardinals to the World Series. He won the ERA title in 1988 while with the Cards (2.18) and the following year won 18 games, placing third in the NL Cy Young voting. His nephew, Jim, is a pitcher in the Nationals’ system. He and his wife, Renee, have two daughters, Shannon and Sophia, and reside in Tampa
 
 
Todd Kalas
Todd Kalas
 
Todd begins his 11th season with the Rays and 16th in the Major Leagues. Kalas returns as pregame host and in-game reporter for every Rays telecast on Fox Sports Net Florida and the Rays Television Network. In addition, he hosts “Inside the Rays” on FSN. He has also filled in with play-by-play and color on both the Rays television and radio networks. Prior to joining the Rays, Kalas worked on the radio broadcast team of the New York Mets (1992-1993) and the television broadcast team of the Philadelphia Phillies (1994-1996). After graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University in 1988, he moved to the Tampa Bay area as sports director at Vision Cable in Clearwater before beginning his baseball career with the Louisville Redbirds in 1991. In the offseason, Kalas has worked the last five years with Cox Sports Television in Louisiana handling play-by-play of college basketball, football, baseball and arena football. In addition, he is an announcer for USF basketball games and also fills in as pregame host for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Todd is the son of longtime Phillies broadcaster, Harry Kalas, a 2002 Hall of Fame inductee.
 
 
Dave Wills
Dave Wills
 
 
Dave begins his fourth season in the Rays radio booth. He came to Tampa Bay having spent 11 seasons as part of the Chicago White Sox radio broadcast team hosting the pre- and postgame shows and filling in for John Rooney in the booth when necessary. His first play-by-play action came with the Class-A Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League from 1991-95 where he was the franchise’s first radio voice. He was the radio voice of University of Illinois-Chicago men’s basketball from 1997-2005 and served as a play-by-play announcer for various high school basketball and football games on Comcast Network-Chicago as well as the lead anchor for the network’s highlight show, Sports Weekly from 2000-2005. He also appeared as the pre- and postgame show host for Notre Dame football and basketball as well as the co-host of the Kevin White Show while with ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago for nine years before joining TB. Wills served as the pitching coach/recruiting coordinator with Elmhurst College (Ill.) in 1989 and as the interim head coach at the University of Chicago in 1990. He owns bachelor’s degrees in Speech Communication and Urban Studies from Elmhurst where he played ball for three years. Dave and his wife, Elizabeth, have a son, Alex and a daughter, Michelle; they reside in Lutz, Fla.
 
 
So go on the Hall of Fame website today and vote for your favorite broadcaster nominated for the Frick Award. Remember, all voting will be final as of September 30th, 2008.  So vote as often as you can to get one of our award winning Rays’ broadcasters in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2009.

 

 

Lee handles the Rays 5-0.

 

 

Indians 5, Rays 0

 

The Tampa Bay Rays have a great strength and conditioning guy by the name of David Barr.  This is an open letter to David to get Jonny Gomes in there and get some speed training and lower body work to get those legs moving a bit faster. I know the benefits of speed. I had to have it to cover recievers and backs in the NFL.

 

But, to watch Gomes glide over to the Rightfield foul line and miss 2 balls is disappointing at best.  There are tons of programs out there to increase a guy’s speed even Jonny’s size a half a step or better in a short amount of time.

 

I like you Jonny, that is why I am asking you to get some help from within the organization to get yourself a little acceleration before they do not even use you in the outfield. You are a great motivator and a fantastic character to have around in a emotional game. But, you need some outfield work on running to balls and wall work to secure at least a part-time role in the outfield in the Rays future.

 

Jonny, they are looking for a right-handed bat to play in RF. Is that enough of a wake up call to get motivated and work on your craft daily. Cleveland is a hard ballpark to play in, but you have made it look like you are just a slow turtle trying to fit in a drag race. 

 

Use the time wisely between now and the end of the All-Star break to work on acceleration and playing the wall more. You are a great insipration to this team, and I would hate to lose you because of speed issues and  mis-guided routes to the ball.  Jonny, the clock is ticking my friend, get it in gear or you might find yourself on another team’s bench, or worse.

 

 

Rays Manager Joe Maddon must be scratching his head and wondering to himself in the dugout lately. Is this the same team that just went 11-1 before now dropping 5 straight on this roadtrip.

 

Can this be the same club that was only 2 games under .500 on the road before leaving for New York this Tuesday.  Can he give Jonny Gomes anymore chances to show his worth in the outfield after 3 bad decisions by  Gomes. Can he awaken the bats that have now gone stone cold at the wrong time.

 

This was the squad that extended losing streaks this year, not promote winning ways. Is this the same manager that ESPN and other publication have touted as a Manager of the Year candidate for what he has done for this team.

 

This is a team that had one of it’s younger starters call out his teammate for scoreboard watching, and not having their heads in the game. The good part is, there are 2 games to redeem themselves before the break. With Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir on the mound in those contests, can the turning point be right in front of them. 

 

Wake-up calls are never pretty for any team. But this squad has come too far upward to fall from grace now. Kazmir has a chance on Sunday to “talk the talk, and walk the walk” for the Rays. I have a feeling this will be a game you do not want to miss……….count on it.

 

  

When you are in a funk, weird things can happen. When you are losing, every bad play and missed opportunity is elevated to twice it’s size in the media. Or are you just a product of that slump?

 

In last night’s contest, we saw Carl Crawford miss a ball he has caught 1,000 times or more for a sure out. It was only CC’s 4th error of the year, but it was a odd play to watch.

 

We saw Jonny Gomes twice pull up near the rightfield foul line like it was a concrete wall. We also saw him blunder on a running catch after taking a bad route to the ball.  Gomes is a great guy and player, but I wonder if he just made a play for full-time DH-only duties now for the Rays

 

Rays Broadcaster Joe Magrane stated that, ” Top flight pitchers take pride in stopping losing streaks.”

 

James Shield is that type of pitcher.  But he has also had struggles on the road this season. Coming into last night’s game, Shields was 2-4, with a 6.09 ERA on the road this year. To add to this, Shields is 0-3 lifetime against Cleveland despite a 2.66 ERA.

 

All 3 of his losses came last year against the Indians. One of those losses was against Cliff Lee, who is pitching tonight for the Indians. Shields  did have 28 strikeouts and held the Tribe to a .189 average, but the Rays have been stymied at Progressive Field losing 12 games in a row in the park.

 

Last night during the first inning, with 2 outs, Shields had early  trouble in the  inning on a infield single by Ben Francisco, then a Gome bobble in right of a Jhonny Peralta double to score Francisco. Shields got out of the inning, but the damage was already done for the Rays.

 

Shields pitched 6 innings and gave up 5 runs on 10-hits for the Rays.  Shields raised his ERA to 3.83 this year, and threw 103 pitches before Jason Hammel relieved him and pitched the last 2 innings of the contest.

 

 

The Rays did manage to get  8 hits in the game, 5  hits against  Indian starter, Cliff Lee. Carlos Pena continued his hitting by going 2-4, with a broken bat single to center in the 4th inning, and a single to right in the 6th inning. Carlos is now hitting .238 for the year. 

 

Ben Zobrist also went 2-4 last night, getting a single up the middle in the 3rd inning, and a 2-out single in the 7th inning. Zobrist raised his average to .261 since coming back up to the Rays.

 

 

Evan Longoria hit a double into the leftfield corner in the 3rd inning and was stranded at third to end the inning for the Rays. Longoria is hitting .321 on the road, tops on the Rays this season.

 

Longoria was not the only Rays to be stranded on Friday night, Zorbrist was left on second in the 3rd inning after leading off  the inning with a single.  Akinora Iwamura hit a blistering double in the 5th innig, but was stranded after Crawford struck out to end the inning.

 

In all, the Rays stranded 9 baserunners last night. The Rays are currently in a slump advancing runners in scoring positions.  Tampa Bay had won seven a row to open a five-game lead in the AL East on July 6. A 10-inning loss Monday to Kansas City started the Rays on their current slide, in which they’ve been outscored 32-7 and had their lead trimmed to 1 1/2 games over the Boston Red Sox.

 

Tampa Bay has hit .192 (33-for-172) with 48 strikeouts during its losing streak. Iwamura and Carl Crawford, the top two hitters in the order, are a combined 5-for-50 (.100).

 

Rays manager Joe Maddon said RHP Troy Percival will test his strained left hamstring by throwing off the mound Saturday. … Rays RHP Al Reyes (shoulder tendinitis) pitched one scoreless rehab inning for Class A Vero Beach on Thursday. … Rays SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) swung a bat and fielded grounders Friday, but his lateral movement still isn’t 100 percent, Maddon said.

 

I do want, and need to stress that I have been a bit rough on this blog towards certain people on the team. I am proud of whast this team has done this year, and know for a fact that some people are struggling and not up to par right now. But, I also know that this is the time of the year that you either step up, or are left behind in the rubble. 

 

With that in mind, I will not apologize for the comments. It is my opinion, and not the opinion of anyone concerned with the Tampa Bay Rays. I have seen enormous stride made this year and hope that more are in the cards before October for this squad. For this reason, I find it totally within my grasp to comment and make suggestions about situations.

 

With that said………………..Let’s go out tonight and get this losing streak stopped, and begin a second chapter to this Rays’ “Summer to remember

 

Hey Evan, here is my personal plea to get Rays Bullpen catcher Scott Cursi to throw for you at the All-Star game. You can bring your own pitcher, so why not use someone who is a great pitcher, and someone who derserves the recognition for everything he does for the Rays.

 

Scott would enjoy the adventure beyond words, and you know you want the best to help you with the Home Run Derby.  Just think about it, I know it would give you an air of familiarity, and also confidience knowing you have a Rays’ staff member throwing to you.

Ray Finish InterLeague in Winning Fashion

 

 

Rays 4, Pirates 3

 

I was watching an old classic baseball movie last night on Starz and was wondering if the 1919 White/Black Soxs’ might have been the only club that was involved in any  odd hanky panky. 

Baseball’s Game fixing did not start with the 1919 White Sox. Although the Black Sox scandal has come to define the crime to the public . It actually began when the National League was barely one year old.  The first-place Louisville Grays made a number of uncommon errors and mis-guided plays during an East Coast roadtrip, causing them to lose seven games and only win one.

This prompted speculation that the players dumped game, and the pennant intentionally.  And it turns out, they did!

Western Union telegrams linked players with a known gambler and 4 players were banned for life from the game.

The first two decades of the century were filled with  small episodes of baseball coruption. First baseman Hal Chase served as their poster boy, having been linked to several “fixed” contests before finally earning his ban in the Black Sox scandal.

Could this have been a prelude that the Sox might have been charmed by Chase to committ the crime, or could a  greedy owner who did not pay his players a living wage,  been the prelude to the entire scandal.  You be the judge!

 

*************************************************************************************************************************

Trivia Fact of the Night:

An embarrassing situation happened when Ebbett’s Field opened on April 15,1913, in Brooklyn. No one could locate the keys to the gates, leaving thousands of fans roaming outside the stadium waiting to be seated.

*************************************************************************************************************************

 

  

 

The Rays are 6-0 now when Andy Sonnanstine pitches after a Tampa Bay loss.

With that fact in mind, you can summize that the Rays, who now own the BEST record in baseball won against the Pirates 4-3 on Sunday. This win comes on the eve of the Rays playing a 3-game series against their AL East foe, the Boston Red Sox. 

 Missing from this series will be the mani aggressor of the  on-field actions in Boston. Coco Crisp will be serving his suspension during this trip into the Trop, and this might take alot of tension from the series for both squads.

Sonnanstine pitched an effective game going 7 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball for the Rays. Before this start, Sonnanstine had averaged 5.2 innings in his 17 starts.  Andy threw 98 pitches today and used his off speed pitches to confuse the Pirate batters. Sonnanstine is gaining more confidience in his slider and is usung it more as an out pitch against opponents this year.

 

B J Upton again started this game with a bang.

This is the second day in a row that Upton has lined the first pitch into centerfield to start on base for the Rays. B J  is hitting in the lead-off spot until Akinora Iwamura is back on Wed.

B J  also reached base on a single to left before getting caught leaning off of first base. Upton currently leads the majors in being caught stealing with 10 for the year.

In the bottom of the same inning, the Pirate’s Freddy Sanchez sent a  long fly ball into the gap in left center. Upton closing on the play could not get the ball before it hit the turf.

But instead of picking the ball up and throwing it in, Upton kicked the ball into left and Carl Crawford had to retrive the ball for the Rays.  Upton recived his 7th error on the play. The play also put Sanchez on third with no outs. Jason Bay hit a Sacrifice Fly to score Sanchez from third and tie the score at 1-1.

 

                                 

 

Willy Aybar, filling in for Aki at second, again proved to have the offensive stuff today.

Aybar hit his 3rd homer of the year to left in the 6th to put the Ray up 2-1. It is the 2nd homer of the year from the right side for the switch-hitting Aybar. Aybar went 2-4 today with 2 runs scored and is hitting 257 for the year in his limited role.

 

 

In the 8th inning, Aybar  also hit a single to right, but reached third on a throwing error by Xavier Nady.  Carlos Pena scored on the play to put the Rays up 3-2.

 

       

 

Speaking of limited role players coming up big for the Rays, you have to put back-up catcher Shawn Riggans on the top of that list. 

 Riggans has seen very limited duty with the emergance of Dioner Navarro, and his playing time has diminished considerably this season. Shawn has played in 18 of the Rays’ last 48 games this year.

But in the time he has played this roadtrip, Riggans has almost orchestrated a no-hit bid for the Rays, and come through with clutch hits and moves behind the plate.  Riggans hit a single to center in the 8th inning to score Aybar and put the Rays up  for good, 4-2.

In the 4th inning, Riggans, who also caught Jonny Gome’s pinch-hit homer to the Rays Bullpen on Sat. night, hit a  monster shot over the Rays’ Bullpen in center. It was Riggan’s 4th homer of the season. He also went 3-4 at the plate upping his average to .274 for the year

 

  

 

The Rays Bullpen again came in and got the victory for the Rays. Troy Percival got his 19th save of the year in 22 pitches for the Rays. Troy is curently 2nd in the the majors this season in opponent’s batting average at .140. The only reliever above him is  the Chicago  Cub’s set-up man Marmol, who has blanked the oppostion to a .138 average.

All of Percival’s 332 saves have come in the AL, second only to Mariano Riveria of the Yankees, who has 461 saves.

The Rays have now allowed 4.05 runs a game, this would match the 1931 Philadelphia Phillies for the 4th greatest decrease in opponents’ from one season to the next in the majors since 1900. The Rays are on pace to give up 288 less runs than they did in 2007.

Andy Sonnanstine is also chasing the Rays record for wins before the All-Star break. He currently has 9 wins and trails only Rolando Arrojo( 10 in 1998) and Scott Kazmir ( 10 in 2006).  Wit his win today, Sonnanstine has tied Victor Zambrano also with 9 wins ( 2004) before the break.

 

The Rays will be holding a braodcast auction on Monday with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) to benefit the Rays Foundation and the FRLA Foundation. The auction will be conducted via ION television network and will feature many awesome and one-of-a-kind dining and travel experiences. Here is a short list of some of the items:

The live auction items include four travel and game packages to California’s Wine Country, Boston, Chicago and Toronto.

The auction will also feature a  Celebrity Chef Private Dinner at Tropicana Field  with special guest Dan Wheelerand Dewayne Staats

 A Latin-flavored VIP Dinner with Ybor City’s favorite family, the Columbia Restaurant’s Gonzmart family.

Another great outdoor’s adventure is a golfing four-some, which will include  Rays broadcasters,Joe Magrane and Todd Kalas at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida 

Each of the travel packages includes airfare, accommodations, VIP tour of the city, meals at high end restaurants, and tickets to watch the Rays play other MLB teams in the respective cities.

Bid often, and bid high for these great adventures with the Rays

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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