Results tagged ‘ Matt Bush ’

Was Bush an Accident Waiting to Happen?

I truly want to find a way to somehow spin this into a positive post, but I can’t.

I am not only appalled, but I am both emotionally angered and saddened simultaneously with the recent events involving Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Matt Bush. I hate to admit it, but this is clearly a definite third strike against a guy who has tried to face his demons on his own, and now might be mandated legally to force-feed himself some real medicine and counseling to help deal with his issues.

I am a compassionate human being who truly want to stand up for Bush and his actions, but the reality is that I could not even look him in the face right now for the vile and angry triad that would spill from my lips. I want to show empathy for his past, present and future struggles with alcohol and it’s dependency issues, but to me, Bush broke what I consider the fundamental cardinal rule.

Matthew Brian Bush got willingly into an automobile knowing he was impaired and drove not a few miles, but at least a half hour on US 41 North from Sarasota to Port Charlotte, and in the process Bush could have easily impacted countless additional innocent lives or untold damage before this final horrific event unfolded in front of his Dodge SUV.

That angers me to a state of rage that is not fit for print, and shows the lack of concern or even basic principle of common decency and responsibility that we all assume when we collectively get into our vehicles and take to the roadways. What angers me more to the core is the fact that Bush had an alert to his inebriated state when he hit a pole during his blurry travels back. This first accident should have jolted Bush back into the reality of his state of mind, but Bush still drove on. And that is where my anger increases tri-fold because money for cab fare, a hotel or even the distance should not be the issue for ignoring this basic safety issue.

Getting into a car after even feeling a bit tipsy in my opinion is asking for something bad to happen. I know personally if I go over my predetermined 2-3 beer limit I have alternative solutions to a safe night home. My salvation is a cab ride , a designated driver or non-drinking friend or maybe even a Good Samaritan. These are the options I have laid out for myself in the even of a tipsy evening. I wonder if Bush had any inclinations to any of these secondary actions, or if he just ignored them like that incident with the pole. You do not get into a car impaired because you could effect and change another life, not just your own.

When the Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy asked Bush if this was his “serious awakening”, Bush responded in his arrest report, “ It wasn’t, he had ‘already been there’.” To compound the issue, Bush admitted to the arresting officer he had “stopped and bought a few (adult beverages) and kept driving”, a clear sign of his addiction consuming him. Seems as if things were piling onto Bush with a vengeance prior to this final accident, but he did not heed their signals.

Some of you might not know this of my background, but my father owned a towing service when I was young and I did a lot of the accident calls with him, even at night. I also worked for several police rotation and towing services from 1987-1994 were I got to see the aftermath and destruction first hand. I even had the unfortunate event of having to hold an elderly woman’s hand back in 1988 as the life was leaving her and I was helpless to help her since she was impaled and pinned into her car by the steering column after a head-on collision with a drunk driver. That is only one story of the many I have witnessed first-hand where the effects of alcohol took the wheel and severely changed people’s lives in an instant.

I understand addiction. I want to have empathy for Bush, but even after his horrific crime, he drove away completely oblivious that his SUV had rolled over the helmet of a downed motorcyclist. Even less of a defense is his blood alcohol limit of .180 which clearly is 2 times the Florida legal limit. Truly Bush’s demon was firmly at the controls.

I wonder what broke Bush? Was it the clarity that he might be back in Triple-A Durham and not sitting in the AC confines of Tropicana Field? Could all the expectations, responsibilities have somehow descended on him that day and plunged him into this liquid abyss and Bush knew of no other alternative.

For his ignorance Bush now sits behind bars currently without an attorney and not eligible for bail an a elderly motorcycle rider fights for his life at Lee Memorial Hospital. How his evening would have been different if Bush had been forthright and just picked up his phone, call a teammate, a friend, a Rays clubhouse attendant…..a cab and admitted he was not fit to be behind the wheel. This angers me to the core because this not the road a baseball career, or a life should ever travel.

Hair Today….Gone Tommorrow… for a Great Cause

Some say Rays Manager Joe Maddon has made more than a few headlines for his follicle hair coloring statements over the past few seasons. From his steady head of gray to John Cash black to a more subtle but pronounced medium brown this Spring, Maddon has made his hair fashionable.

On Thursday Maddon’s “ hair moment” or in fact his “loss of hair moment” will proceed over an event that has seen it’s list of participants grow by the hour. Over 26 members of the Rays are set to see their locks fall to the ground and be swept away as a symbolic gesture of support for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Dubbed “Team Rays” on their website, Maddon will be not only leading by example, but following the road set forth by another Tampa Bay sports icon, Tampa Bay Lightning F Vinny Lacavalier.

This is the same organization that Rays starter Wade Davis showed such support for in 2011 as he let a young cancer patient shave his head as he sat in a chair over the Rays dugout after the conclusion of a Sunday game. That was only one participant, and the crowd was amazing. Think of the magnitude knowing over 25 members of the team and the Rays staff will also sit in the chair and have their locks fall to the grass in support of this effort.

Rays participants set to join Maddon in the barber’s chair before the Rays Thursday afternoon contest in Port Charlotte include Rays pitchers: Davis, James Shields, Bryan Augenstein, Cesar Ramos. Jake McGee, Alex Cobb, Brandon Gomes, Matt Torra, Albert Suarez, Matt Bush, Dane De La Rosa and Rays rookie sensation Matt Moore.

Not to be outdone by the pitchers’, the entire Rays catching corps will also have their time in the leather chair as Jose Molina, Jose Lobaton, Chris Gimenez, Mark Thomas,Stephen Vogt, Robinson Chirinos and follicle-challenged Craig Abernaz will see their hair fly away in the Charlotte Sports Park wind before that days contest. Also making an appearance in the chair will be some of the members of the Rays right-side of their infield: SS Reid Brignac, 3B Jesus Feliciano, INF Elliot Johnson, plus Rays outfield members Matt Joyce, Brandon Guyer and the “Legend” himself, Sam Fuld.

A few well-known figures in the Rays coaching staff will also need more sunscreen this Spring as Third Base Coach Tom Foley and Bench Coach Dave Martinez will also be supporting this great charity. The Rays front office will also have a few hit the chair as Rays Senior VP of Baseball Operations Brian Auld, Sr VP Mark Fernandez, VP of Branding and Fan Experience Darcy Raymond, Sr Director of Corporate Partnerships Aaron Cohn,Manager of Corporate Sales Jake Hornstein and two Directors of Corporate Partnerships, Richard Reeves and Josh Bullock.

I think the paragraph on the pcfcutforacure website under “Team Rays” speaks volumes on why the team is so focused and excited about the event:

This is about being there for the kids and their families. We want them to know they are not alone. It’s a small gesture, but it is our way of showing support for them while gaining empathy for what they are going through. We have a saying posted in our locker room that says ‘Fortune favors the bold.’ As we go forward with this campaign we are doing so under the flag ‘Fortune favors the bald.’ As an organization, we are proud to support organizations and institutions like the Pediatric Cancer Foundation (PCF) and the Moffitt Cancer Center.”

This is the kind of event that bonds a team. Unified with a common thought and goal, it can be a great starting point of the Rays taking another step not only in their development as a team, but as a great inspiration to other teams around the MLB to follow suit. I commend Maddon and his troops for their commitment, their outstanding community involvement and support, and most of all for donating what some see as a status symbol but they see as only hair and a visual stamp that they support this organization.

If you want to help support this cause with a donation of your own, text CUT to 50555 or go to pcfcutforacure.org. Just as every snip of the scissors is a chance to change a life, every text can also be life-changing for someone.

 

 

Andrew Friedman……Scavenger Hunter Extraordinaire

 

                  
                    Www.Tbo.com

Have you checked out the new show on the History Channel on cable called “American Pickerswhere a pair of average looking guys venture out around the country rummaging through people storage spaces, weed-infested backyards and barns on that endless quest to find the perfect pieces to put an accent on their collections or for a possible resale money bonanza.

Well, the guys on this show do seem to find some incredible items, and also seem to dig deep and find a few unforeseen treasures, but the show sometimes comes off as so analytically calculated, and borders on the outer realms of eccentricity, but the action does reminds me of the “digging beneath-the-surface” player searches and untapped player explorations that Tampa Bay Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman has become famous all around Major League Baseball for since he took over that spot with the Rays.

It has become the norm around the Major Leagues that Friedman always seems to be on the phone doing so-called “courtesy calls” to check-out every single player ever put up on the trade block, or any free agent that could potentially be a instant “plus” for the Rays. You only have to go back to 2007 when Friedman might have shocked a few people by signing First Baseman Carlos Pena to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

Friedman took a guy with such great potential when he was drafted by the Texas Rangers back in and made it to the MLB when he played for years with the Detroit Tigers, but had been hidden amongst the weeds in the minor league system and Friedman and his scouting staff could see the potential.The way he seemed to pick Pena out of that situation and we all quickly saw him rise again to MLB stardom is a testament to Friedman’s scavenger hunt mentality when seeking out players for the Rays. By Friedman keeping a watchful eye, and ear to the ground to aggressively seeking out that prized piece of personnel who could improve the Rays has become a trademark of his tenure with Tampa Bay.

Another great example might be the trade a few years ago with the Minnesota Twins where he sent a disgruntled Delmon Young, infielder Brendan Harris and minor leaguer outfielder Jason Pridie for the package of pitcher Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and reliever Eduardo Morlan. And it is still amazing that of that group, two members of that trade have formed the backbone of this team, and Bartlett has exploded to become one of the best shortstops in the American League.

But it is this scavenger mentality that maybe sets Friedman apart from his peers. That extra sense of looking deep and maybe even stepping back and then looking at a player again to find that special piece of the chemistry that might solidify the Rays roster. Friedman really reminds me of those people who weekly flock to the local Flea Markets or stroll around your own neighborhood feasting on Yard/Garage Sales and seems to find that one item just kind of loitering around the table, then he picks up at this item for a bargain basement price much our amazement.

But Friedman has also been laid out to dry a few times trying to sneak a player or get a bargain and then have it blow up in his face. All you have to do is mention the name Josh Hamilton to him and you see a bit of the fire die behind his eyes. That was an early wake-up call to Friedman that not everyone else was in awe of him, and if he made a mistake, there were more than a few people who are willing to pounce on his errors. With him trying to sneak Hamilton through the Rule 5 Draft with no one noticing might seem manic, but it was a calculated risk, and one that will haunt Friedman, but also made him wiser about the whole process.

 
 

And then you have the current bloodbath concerning Rays designated Hitter Pat Burrell, who came to the team with maybe some over blown expectations, but still did nothing to subdue the anger and frustrations of the Rays faithful to Burrell or Friedman with his abysmal hitting and injury concerns in 2009. But there is still another chapter to be written in that story, and if all the reports are true, Friedman is still actively trying to be another suitor for Burrell. But this one might stick to Friedman the way the “Hit Show” fiasco stuck to former Rays GM Chuck LaMar. And sometimes people forget that it is what you did just yesterday that people remember, not what you have consistently done during your entire time with a club.

 
 

And for that, I do consider Friedman one of the true great assets of the Rays. He might not get a chance to hit a walk-off homer like Friedman 2008 early pick-up Gabe Gross, or repay the Rays for their confidence in him by pitching a one-hitter like Garza, but this team is a constantly evolving and revolving sphere that is Friedman’s world. There was a recent article by Josh Fisher of “The Hardball Times” baseball blog that Friedman might be one of the best assets in baseball for what he does behind the scenes to improve, orchestrate and also balance this Rays franchise 365 days a year.

And it is real easy to throw stones at the ivory tower on the third floor of the Trop., but Friedman actually has an outstanding track record if you add all of his player moves and removals up on two sides of a sheet of paper. And maybe that is his best quality. Because if you do add some items to Column A or to Column B, you would ultimately see in front of you the true essence that he might be way ahead of the curve and has actually done some amazing things in such a short time. But it is the timing of some of these things that tend to stir the controversy pot for Friedman. Some hate the player discussion comment blackout where the team will not discuss any possible deals in the works until they are finalized, or tossed away.

 
 

And even if the Rays front office formulated a solid strategy to end all active arbitration figure exchanges at a predetermined point and it got some well focused anger from the new MLBPA head honcho Michael Weiner. But missing from those raging comments by Weiner is the actual facts that fellow MLB clubs, the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins also put arbitration time limitations on their arbitration exchanges between the two parties. It is a bit unrealistic that Friedman is solely being hung out to dry on this factor, but that is the reality of the process. Sometimes the “hot name” or the “Golden Boy” get the shaft while the others scramble to do their own form of damage control before the heat hit them square in the jaw.

 
 

Chris O’Meara/AP


People around baseball are always looking for the next big name, or the hidden gem within the minor league systems of your competitors. And right now, Freidman and the Rays Scouting department might be a bit ahead of the curve. So the next time you hear a rumor about the Rays checking in on Chan Ho Park, Orlando Hudson or even Orlando native Johnny Damon, remember that it just might be a courtesy call from Friedman just checking on the status or asking price and nothing more. But with the Rays code of silence imposed until the signature is on the contract, there could be a few deals sitting on the shelf for consideration especially if there is deferred money involved right now.

 
 

And could today’s signing by the Rays of former San Deigo First Round Draft pick(2004) pitcher Matt Bush be another chapter of Friedman finding a talent buried within the minor leagues that could one day produce for the Rays. So if within the next 21 days a player like Damon, Park or another unseen player does fall into the Rays hands, you can be sure the Rays did their homework and poked and analyzed every angle of the equation before Friedman ever steps to the podium to talk about……..anything.

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