Results tagged ‘ Nathan Haynes ’

St. Petersburg and the MLB Go Waaaay Back

 

                           

 

 It gets to me sometimes how people tend to wrap the “Tampa ” label on the city by the Bay more and more on national baseball broadcasts, ESPN Sportscenter and during post-game interviews. The St. Petersburg area is the 4th largest cities in the state,and would be a far bigger city if it was not for that body of water on three sides of it.

 

 But the media has a love affair and always get wrapped up in the  sheets and covers of  St. Pete’s brotherly city over the water  just east of them.  It is not easy to understand sometimes since this city has had a long love affair with baseball since even before the 1900′s. And to add to it all, the Minor League  Baseball office is located in our fair city in front of Progress Energy Fields box offices right down by the waterfront.

 

The City of St. Petersburg, Florida has always had the moniker of being a town where older people go to die. It has been affectionately called, ” Town of the Newlyweds and Nearly Deads” for as long as I have been alive. It is a town known throughout the world for the endless green benches, sunshine almost 360 days a year, and a bridge span that collapsed onto a tanker in the late 70′s.  But did you know that it was the last stop for President John F Kennedy before he left for Dallas, Texas?

 

The game’s Sunshine State history reaches back to amateur ballclubs of the 1870s. In 1888, major league clubs began putting down Florida roots when the Washington Nationals came to the Jacksonville area for spring training. St. Petersburg welcomed owner Branch Rickey and the St. Louis Browns in 1914, and new transportation routes in the 1920s drew still more springtime teams–many lured to St. Pete by businessman and former mayor, Al Lang.

 

 

Baseball has been in the  seasonal lifeblood of the region for over 100 years. And  with so many clubs using this area for Spring Training, it is about expected that residual energy and phantom sightings and events would blanket the area with a paranormal presence. I have heard all kinds of stories growing up about the early days of baseball in Florida. Sightings among the mist at ballparks and strangers sitting in the empty dugouts that vanish when you walk up to them. Mystery and baseball sometimes go hand in hand with each other. 

 

Stories of ballplayers’ like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig staying in local downtown hotels, like the Ponce De Leon and Don Ce Sar Resort.  And also unthinkable stories of events that today would cause an uproar, like how local innkeepers and restaurant owners would not let former Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson  and some other  african-american players eat or sleep with the rest of the team’s players due to beliefs that would be considered horrific today. In the 1940′s, racism was a social problem in the south, and ghostly reminders rear their heads at old haunts like Mirror Lake or  beyond the top of  “Thrill Hill” off 3rd Street South near Bayboro Harbor. 

 

 

                                 

 

I have heard rumors and enuendos about deep sea boat trips deep into the Gulf of Mexico to follow game fish like the Marlin and players missing baseball games because of losing track of time out on the high seas.   I actually saw a photo of Ruth and Gehrig deep sea fishing off the coast of Florida in of all places, the Diamond Club at Safeco Field. Take the stadium tour, you will see that, and an awesome photo of Babe Ruth as a Red Sox pitcher.  Also the stories ans urban legends of the elaborate shindigs and parties attended by some of baseball’s elite players in places like the old Hermitage Hotel, or the Detroit Hotel’s courtyard, which is now the Jannis Landing concert venue. 

 

With all that wild actitivites and the bold and brass characters of old-time baseball, you would think some of that would still be here, coasting within our eyesight. There are reminders everywhere in the city of baseball’s past here.  Little did I know how much of the past still is present in St. Petersburg until I made a pilgrimage to my local bookstore. I  went on a baseball book hunt to one of the classic bookstore, Haslems to try and find some old editions or volumes written about baseball.

 

Now I know I could have gone to Barnes and Noble, or any other cookie-cutter store with their coffee shops and muffins, but I wanted to have a literary expedition into the past. I do not know what it is about an old bookstore that makes you feel, well nostalgic. Maybe it is the smell of the aging pages and binders glue, or maybe the accumulation of dust and mildew on some collections, but you can always find somethnig to peak your interest.

 

If you have never heard about Haslems’ ,it is a huge collection and mish-mosh of books discarded and obtained from people and sources all over the world and  every book known to man seems to flow to them.  I came away with a few great books about our national pastime. They had a huge selection of autobiographies and collections of stories concerning baseball. I have to check out this book, ” The 30-Year Old Rookie” the next time I am in there. 

 

One of the book I chose was, Haunted Baseball, by Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon. To start with, the authors are Boston Red Sox and New York fans, which puts them in good company with the bandwagon fans the Rays attract 64 games a year ( minus the 17 against the AL East foes ) tends to attract  at once to the Trop. this year. The book is a  fantastic collection of events depicting the ghosts, practical celestrial games, and unexplained phenoms concerning baseball and some oif the hotel, motels and Holiday Inns around the league and the minors. 

 

And to my delight, within the inside pages is a unique  insight and local history of apparitions, events and local  urban legends that only back up  old stories and  unwitnessed events I was told as a child. I have enjoyed reading this book. The authors have done alot of research with players, coaches and experts in the field of the unsual and the unknown.  From the first chapter based on events in St. Petersburg, and it peaked my interest to revisit and explore these places again and again.

 

 

 

The first chapter is dedicated to a St. Petersburg park that sits less than a few miles from Tropicana Field, the Rays current home.  I used to run around  this park as a child and fish in it’s lake and read under, and climb the huge banyan trees. The park has always had a eerie feeling to me,like someone was watching you from a distance, and I did not know why. Cresent Lake Park is also the site of Huggins-Stengel Field, which was  one of the Spring Training sites for the old Yankees, Mets, Cardinals Orioles, and the young years of the Tampa Bay  D-Rays..

 

Huggins-Stengel field located in the Southeastern corner of the park near the huge silver colored watertower that has served as a landmark since the 1920′s.  My grandfather used to live on 13th Avenue North between 5th and 6th Streets, less than a city block from the field. He used to take hours telling me about the legends both concerning the field and the playerd who called it home for many years. One of the wildest adventures into the bizzare world of the paranormal concerns former Yankee greats’ Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle .

 

 It is said that the spirit of the “Bambino” loved the Florida sunshine and the city so much that his spirit is still here,  Some say that occsionally a figure is seen sitting in the dugout at twilight wearing a Yankee jersey on the third base side of  Huggins-Stengel Field and can still be witnessed on occasions usually before the weather turns cold in Florida. Mikey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio patroled centerfield at the complex, and legend has it that the day after they died a brown spot turned up in the exact spots both of them used to play on the field.

 

Ruth also was playing in the outfield once and a bull gator decided to sun himself in deep centerfield and chased the “Bambino” from the field . Ruth also used to hit monster shots down the vine-covered leftfield area and kids used to clamor for the balls. Some say a lone figure is sometimes seen out there in the early morning mist just standing in centerfield as if waiting for a ball to be hit his direction. Most take this apparition to be Ruth, who loved playing at this quaint location better than the Yankees old facility in New Orleans. Truth be told, the Yankees moved the spring training site to St. Petersburg to keep Ruth from Bourbon Street and the late night life of New Orleans.

 

The old clubhouse is the scene of several unsual and unexplained happenings. It was like a second home to alot of the Yankee stars who spent plenty of late hours there before heading to the team hotel in town. After the D-Rays moved all their operation to the Ray Namoli complex in the Jungle area of town, the team turned the location over to the City of St. Petersburg, who converted the old clubhouse to an office space currently occupied by the St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation team TASCO.

 

 

 

At Huggins-Stengel Field, some also say the ghost of Casey Stengel is said to have been seen and felt in the old clubhouse. Two plaques in front of a building are dedicated to Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel and that it was the New York Mets spring clubhouse for more than 20 years are all that distinguishes it from the dozens of other baseball fields in the city. There are 3 ex-MLB training sites in the city that are still standing. Besides Huggins-Stengel, there is the Busch Complex ( St. Louis Cardinals ) off 62nd Avenue Northeast, and the Namoli complex ( Mets, Orioles, Cards, Rays ) next to the Walter Fuller Community center in the Jungle Prade area of St. Petersburg. 

 

Legend has it Ruth gave up shagging flies on the first day of spring training in 1925 because an alligator emerged from Crescent Lake to sunbath in the outfield. Ruth is said to be one of the few players to put a ball into the lake about 500 feet from home plate in right field. Among the others: Mets slugger Dave Kingman.

 

It is a series of wild tales of ghostly sightings and unexplained sounds and smells concerning the vast history that has graced this cement block building. The old Yankees clubhouse, built in the 1930s, was torn down and replaced by the current one in the early 1960s. Lockers from the original clubhouse were moved to the new one, and one of the wood stalls greets visitors in the entrance to the building now used for offices for a teenagers program, TASCO.

 

One of the wildest  and most interesting tales concerns a thick cigar odor that is strong in the AM when the TASCO workers come in the morning, and the strange and odd happening after dark in the building. It is said that former Yankee manager Miller Huggins was a huge cigar smoker and would often light up in the clubhouse or the surrounding areas. But the lone figure in the dugout near nightfall has more of a place in the local lore. Some say it is the shadows that play against the overgrowth in leftfield that give the dugout its errie glow and shadows right before sunset.

 

I used to deliver Pepsi product to TASCO as a Special Events Coordinator, and I always had an uneasy feeling in that building. If I knew about these events, I would have loved to stay the night or visit there at night. The park is patrolled by local police looking for  illegal activities, not ghosts during the night. The St. Petersburg Police Department has never had to respond to a burglar call or break-in at the complex, and the motion alarms have never been set off by the nightly escapades.   

 

 

The third chapter of the book features the  World famous Vinoy hotel where countless stories have victimized visiting teams, and newly promoted Rays players staying in the resort for Rays games.  The hotel was vacant for  over 20 years and fell into  major disrepair before the site was cleaned up and restored to it’s current state. It has been a long time since the hotel was a vacant shell on the waterfront, but true natives know how much the hotel transformed the Straub Park and Vinoy area back to respectability and extreme comfort for local visitors’.

 

The book goes into detail about the haunting and shenaigans of the spectres’ in the old wing of the hotel. I know of one death in the hotel from when it was an abandoned shell. It is of a homeless guy who fell into the water-filled elevator shaft and drowned because there was no one there to hear him scream for help, or rescue him. Legend has it that sometimes the walls of the elevators produce a banging sound and the elevator shakes like someone trying to get in from below or above the unit.

 

I have also stayed in this hotel  a few times on the 5th floor of the old wing and have not had a truly restful night  sleep . One time it was due to weird scratching noises outside my 6th floor window. I took it as a dove or bird trying to find a niche for the night. Never thought about a ghostly apparition or spectre causing the chaos. I also know of doors and windows that have been locked, then appear open to the outer halls during the night while people have been asleep inside of the rooms. The main ballroom has been said to have nightly ghost parties where voices and footsteps are regular occurrances to unsuspecting staff members.

 

It has a Rays’ twist in the form of a ghostly haunting involving Jon Switzer when he first got promoted up to the big club. You have to read the account to believe it. It is a tale you would not believe unless you read it. Other players and coaches have had events happen to them in this spirited hotel.  There is even one player from the Cleveland Indians who will not sleep in the hotel due to a bad night sleeping or the feelings he gest from the old haunt.

 

the paranormal is present so much that it was profiled  in an ESPN story involving the Cincinnati Reds reliever Scott Williamson. He says he was held down in his bed by an unforseen force in the night and in later research, it was noted that the former landowner of the Vinoy site before the hotel was built was also named Williamson.

 

As you can see, some residents of the past might have come back to St. Petersburg to check back into the hotel to rediscover  their glory days or even revisit the best times of their lives. The city has always had a southern charm and relaxing feel to it, but the bumps in the night have gotten a new meaning after reading that book. I recommend that anyone who enjoys tales of paranormal or unforetold strange happenings  should check out this book.  The authors’ also have a  blog page here on MLBlogs.com where they leave blogs entries from time to time. Here is the page if you are interested in either the book, or their blogs: http://hauntedbaseball.mlblogs.com .

 

Well, got to go run by  old Cresent Lake on my  morning jog, maybe I will see the figure in the mist, or an old bull gator that could to be the re-incarnation of Babe Ruth on the lake bank behind the centerfield wall……………wish me luck, I love the unexplained.

 

 

Rays Go Extra Mile in Win

 

 

 

 

Rays 8, Blue Jays 3

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Gaylord Perry was the first pitcher to win the Cy Young award in both leagues,with the Cleveland Indians(AL) in 1972, and with the San diego Padres (NL) in 1978.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

 

 

                                       The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

 

 

 

                                                  The Good

 

Even though the game has long since left the 8 innings that Edwin Jackson pitched tonight, he showed a great effort in keeping the Rays in the lead. Jackson was pitching a 6 hit shutout when he was pulled  after 8 superb innings. Jackson had great control of his slder tonight and had his changeup dancing all over the plate. Edwin is not going to get a victory, now that the game is in the 13th inning.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Rays rightfielder Gabe Gross has had a wild time adjusting to the plethra of pitches that he usually doesn’t see in the National League.  Jays starter Jesse Litsch hung a high slider over the plate, and Gross deposited it in the rightfield bleachers to put the Rays ahead 2-0 in the top of the 5th inning.

 

** Carlos Pena got that really big ape off his back tonight by hitting an opposite field homerun in the top of the 7th inning. Pena is now second in the American League with 8 homers and has 18 RBI’s for the year. 

 

* Rays catcher Dioner Navarro went  3-6 tonight with 4 RBI’s and scored two runs. Navarro is currently hitting .368 for the Rays. Navarro’s big hit was his Grand Slam homer, his first of the year, in the top of the 13th inning to help secure the victory for the Rays. He now has 10 RBI’s for the year and has a .874 OPS for the Rays.

 

                                               The Bad

 

Jonny Gomes, Nathan Haynes and Eric Hinske went a combined 0-8 tonight in the extra inning game.  Gomes also made a critcal error in leftfield when he misplayed a fly ball to the gap that helped the Jay setup the tying run in the game. Alex Rios lifted a sharply hit ball into leftcenter that Gomes and Upton were closing on, but neither could get to the ball in time before it hit the turf. Rios ended up at third on the play.

 

                                                   The Ugly

 

Troy Percival has been Mr consistant for the Rays all year long. I usually reserve that label until maybe August, and tonight’s game is a great example of not putting undue pressue and expectations on a club early in the year.

 

Percival took the mound for Jackson in the bottom of the 9th and was looking for his 9th save of the year. Before the inning was over, Percival had given up 4 straight hits, including a homer to Rios to tie the game at 3-3.

 

With that, the closer had his first blown save of the year and had to regroup to save the inning for the Rays. Troy pitched 1 inning,gave up 3 earned runs and pushed his ERA to 2.25 for the season.

 

 

Former Rays player of the Night:

 

The Atlanta Braves waited until the last inning of a memorable homestand to put an end to a streak of one-run futility they hope to forget.

The Braves finally won a one-run game when Matt Diaz hit a bases-loaded single in the ninth inning to beat the San Diego Padres 5-4 Thursday.

Atlanta was the first team since the 2000 Houston Astros to lose its first nine one-run games. The Braves were the only team in the major leagues without a one-run victory.

Atlanta Braves signed Matt Diaz  a few years ago because of his “big game” potential. Diaz lined a 2-2 pitch to leftfield to score Yunel Escobar. Diaz went  1-5 in the game and also scored a run for the Braves. He is currently hitting .290 while manning leftfield for Atlanta.

 “Now we got that monkey off our back and we can hopefully get the road monkey off our back,” Diaz said.

 

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Rays begin a 7 game homestand with the Angels and the Yankees. This weekend is also “Carlos Pena” weekend with each day having a Pena themed item for the fans.  Friday night is a Carlos Pena poster to the first 7,500 fans.

 

Saturday is the Carlos Pena figurine to the first 7,500 fans, and Sunday is a Carlos Pena “Silver Slugger” wiffle ball bat to the first 7,500 kids 14 and under.

 

 

Extra Innings, Extra Drama in Rays Win

 

Red Sox 4, Rays 5

 

Little did I know when I took my new laptop to the game, I would have a small piece of film time on FSN Florida last night.  I was sitting there with my MLB.TV, and enjoying the game, when a big camera len came poking into my face.

Now, I love the camera, and I have not broken any yet…..yet, but sometimes they need to tell you what they want in the shot.  I  have saved the sampling of it for prosperity and my own amusement.  Now, back to the exciting blog about a drama filled game.

 

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Roger Clemens is the only MLB pitcher to win the Cy Young award seven times.

 

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              The Good, the Bad and the Ugly    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

                                    The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

Nathan Haynes talked about having this kind of dreams as a kid playing baseball. When you are the guy who gets the timely hit,or is the guy to score that deciding run of a big game.

 

Last night, he got to live a piece of his past when he hit a 0-1 pitch from Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin into rightfield to score Carl Crawfoird and award the Rays a win in the 11th innning. Haynes was inserted as a pinchrunner for Carlos Pena in the bottom of the 9th inning and did not expect to be in this position last night. But he responded perfectly, and got the crowd applause he deserved last night.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

***  Rays DH Carlos Pena got a much needed hit last night to keep a rally going in the Bottom of the 9th innning, but it wasn’t enough as the Rays had to go 11 innings to beat their rival Red Sox. Carlos improved his average to an even .200 for the season.

 

** Rays rookie Evan Longoria is starting to look like a seasoned vet out on the field. Contributing in the field and at the plate like he has been here before. Last Night Longoria got a 2-out RBI single to right in the bottom of the third inning. He also stole second base on former-Ray Kevin Cash in the same inning. Evan is currently in third in the MLB slugging percentage at .724 average.

 

* Number one star should have gone to Carl Crawford, but with a outstanding result, and a unproven ballplayer coming through at the right moment, it had to go back one space.

 

CC had two triples last night, and went 3-6 in a game that saw him score 3 runs and collect an RBI for the night. Carl also stole his 8th base of the year.

                                               

                                              The Bad 

 

The Rays sent Matt Garza to the mound last night one week after his rehab assignment in  Class A Vero Beach. Garza did not have great command and struggled in the early innings before finally getting his control issues and obvious nerves out of the way.

 

Maybe another rehab assignment would have been in order after a lackluster performance in Vero Beach, but the Rays decided they had seen enough and brought the righty back to pitch the first game of this series.

                            

                               The really, really Ugly 

                                 

The umpiring crew last night had a really bad night. I know that they are only human, but they missed about three calls that did not work for either teams’ benefit last night.

 

An example is pictured above. B J Upton went into third base for a steal in the bottom of the third inning. This would have given the Rays a victory in the regulation 9 innings if they had gotten the call correct. But, Upton was called out and we played on, and on.

 

Former Rays of the Night:

 

The New York Mets gave former Rays’ catcher Raul Cassanova  a opportunity to play and give his all for the Big Apple. Raul is my player of the night not for a huge play, but for knowing he blonged in the MLB.

 

Cassanova went 1-3 last night to raise his average to .269, and also scored a run in the Mets’ loss.

 

 

 

Rays Lose Close One 3-2

 

Well, it is that time of the night/day that I tell you my thoughts and opinions on the latest Rays loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. But first, We have to give you some good trivia to make you smile and want to attend Jeff Niemann’s MLB pitching debut tomorrow.

 

 

 

Trivia Question:

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In 1931, Chick Hafey of the St. Louis Cardinals became the first batting champion to wear glasses.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly     The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

Now back to our normally scheduled The Good the Bad, and the Ugly for tonights game.

 

 

                                              The Good

 

The  mire presence of Rays top prospect Evan Longoria must have made an impression on the Rays hopeful fans who do not usually attend games.

 

The Rays experienced  almost a 20 percent increase over attendance from the Friday night contest. I am going to attribute that to the arrival of Longoria tonight, and no the free Rays visors given out to the fans. Evan did almost everything right tonight in his pro debut.  He signed a ball for me after Batting Pratice( again, thank you Evan), he handled the ball numerous times and the throws were tight and on target. And he got a single tonight and his first RBI to top it all off.

 

 

It was a chore just to get the ball for him again. I am getting the impression that the Orioles do not like to give the balls back after major feats, or a rookies first hit, or RBI.  the ball was finally retrieved before we had to send Jonny Gomes over there for it.The  fact that Evan is here will ease the defense about the hot corner. I know from playing third base, it can make or break your ball club in who is manning that spot. If the player has the reactions of a cat, the Hot Corner can be your best friend to your ball club. I personally think it will be manned by Longoria for a long time.

 

But then again, we thought current Oriole and former Ray, Aubrey Huff was the second coming of Wade Boggs.

 

 

*** Rays Designated Hitter/Rightfielder Jonny Gomes cam up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th tonight and the crowd was on their seats looking for a tying run from the bomber.  Jonny connected on a George Sherrill pitch hit to right field, but it fell just short of the wall for an out.

 

The crowd was totally into the at bat, and the entire Rays and O’s fans in attendance were holding their breath when Gomes hit that monster.

 

 

** The hitting of Centerfielder BJ Upton tonight pulled his average up to above .300 again. Upton is seeing the ball better and his contact with the ball is crisp and on the head right now. I am going to predict he will go on a 10 game hitting streak from tonight on………..knock on good wood everyone.

 

 

*The number one Kudo of the night belongs to Evan, but Carlos Pena did nothing to even sit in the shades tonight. In the earlier innings, Carlos snagged a ball going down the first baseline at a backwards angle, and got the runner with a throw to pitcher Jason Hammel. It was a super play, and should be on the Top 10 plays of the night on ESPN without a doubt.

 

In his next at bat, the crowd was calling for a Home Run. And Carlos did not disappoint his fans this night.  He hit a solo homer to right field that would have cleared any ballpark in the MLB.   Currently, Pena is leading the American League with 5 homers, and is tied for first within RBI’s with Blue Jays Vernon Well for the lead with 12.

 

 

                                             The Bad

 

 

There really wasn’t alot of bad tonight by any one player. There was a few bad moments. And for that reason, I am going to just list three plays that changed the course of the game for the Rays.

 

***  A  series of misplayed flyballs to deep Right Center  by BJ Upton and  Nathan Haynes gave the Orioles  DH Aubrey Huff a ground rule double, and two batter later, Ramon Hernandez got  a triple after some confusion in the outfield.

 

**   The Orioles had brought in Chad Bradford, a sidearm slinging pitcher who seems to hit the top of the dirt during his delivery into the contest. BJ upton managed to get a bunt single to third and was sitting on first base. Bradford has a weird pitching style, and a even wilder pick-off move.

 

It appeared to me that Bradford had twice before shufflied his right rear foot on the rubber before he throws to first base.  BJ did not pick up on this and was cuaght in bewteen first and second for a “caught stealing” attempt. I mention this, because I wonder if BJ sometimes is too aggressive. The reasoning for this, is that he has had three baserunning errors in the past three games. The fact he was caught stealing on this occasion would not have produced a run, but maybe a slight moment of concentration loss is to blame here.

 

* The Rays brought in reliever Dan Wheeler for Trever Miller.  It was 2 outs in the top of the 9th innig with no one on base. Wheeler then served up a home run ball to leftfield for Ramon Hernandez.   He is currently batting .194, and got two RBI’s and a triple and homer tonight against our pitching staff.

 

 

                                       The Ugly

 

The ugly tonight is the baserunning situations that have cost the Rays some runs in the last few games. I have already talked about one of them in the above “Bad” section.  Willy Aybar was hurt when he slide into home after running through a stop sign by  third base coachTom Foley.  In the slide st home, Aybar aggrevated his hamstring and is on the 15 day DL for his actions. Not only BJ Upton, but other Rays have been caught in ” no man’s land” this year by over running the bases, or testing the arms of outfielders in the division.

 

I am all for testing the arms of the players, and triyng to be aggressive at times, but do these players have a  personal “green light” to moonlight decisions on the base paths, or do they just mis read the sign sometimes.

 

There was one play tonight that caught my eye and I am pleased to see it work out for the better.  There was a hit and run play called with BJ Upton on second and Eric Hinske up to bat.  BJ Upton was on the move and Hinske hit a beautiful ball to left center to move BJ to third. During the next at bat, Evan Longoria hit the ball to left field and scored Upton.

 

I guess you just have to play the odds sometimes when you are running the bases. But at  this early junction in the year, are the actions worth a possible loss……….we shall keep this in our sights and see what develops here.

 

 

Rays Former Player of the Day

 

Current second baseman Brendan Harris of the Minnesota Twins is batting .367.

Tonight he was 2-4 with a pair of singles. He also was the pivot man for a 5-4-3 double play to end tonights win for the Twins.    

 

 

 

 

Evan Longoria to Debut Tomorrow

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Trivia for the Day

Rays’  Left fielder Carl Crawford got his 1,000 hit tonight. That is a major
feat for the 26 year old.


Which two pitchers gave up the most hits to All-time Hits King Pete Rose?

Phil Niekro( 64 hits) and Don Sutton ( 60 hits).

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print             The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print                   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print

                                    The
Good
The Bad,and The Ugly

                                                                     

                                                 The Good

       

 


It was a perfect night to be a Tampa Bay
Rays fan. You saw a wild pitching performance by both starters until
they settled down, then they  took command of the plate for awhile. Then the
sleeping Rays bats came alive like a lightning bolt and tore into the Orioles
pitchers’. It was a night where the longest tenured Ray,
Carl Crawford got his 1,000th hit in the 7th inning off Orioles reliever Jamie
Walker.

 

Crawford  became just the 8th active player
to reach the 1,000 hit mark at 26 or younger. He is in an elite crowd that
includes, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert
Pujols.  But Carl’s great feat was not the only bright
spot in this night. The top honor goes to:

The Rays' B.J. Upton congratulates Carlos Pena after Pena and Carl Crawford, right, score on the first baseman's two-run homer in the first.    


Rays first baseman Carlos Pena.


Carlos had a  personal hand in helping the
Rays score their first 6 runs tonight.  And he did it in perfect “El Presidente”
fashion. Carlos belted two home runs, which accounted
for 5 Rays runs, then he walked with the bases loaded to  help record his  6th
RBI of the night. At a time when the Rays first four batters
were going into a short dry spell, the bunch lifted their team and their
battting averages to help the Rays even their season record at
5-5.


But there were many stars of this game. I
could name almost every member of the team who pitched or batted tonight, but
here is a select three for your viewing pleasure.

                                    


***  Recently acquired Right Fielder, Nathan
Haynes went 3-5 and stole a base tonight  and while on base,o put pressure on
the Orioles pitchers because of his base stealing ability.


** Center fielder BJ Upton  got a few lucky
breaks and bounces tonight to go  3-5 himself, and also collect 2 RBI’s in the
later innings. Upton also got the good fortune of a wild play at second to
record his first Outfield assist of the year.


B J was throwing home to get a advancing
runner, when Carlos Pena cut off the ball and toss it to second base. The only
problem was there was no one there at the moment to receive the ball. Out of
nowhere come a leaping Jason Bartlett to tag Ramon Hernandez sliding into second
base.  A wild play indeed.  Worthy of a ESPN Top 10
slot.

                            

 

* The number one honorable mention has to go
to Rays management and Andrew Friedman for finally seeing the light and bringing
up uber third base prospect Evan Longoria. Just because he as a sexy name, do not get
confused that he is a pretty boy, or not a guy chomping at the bit to get his
MLB career going.


I personally think that the Rays walk up 
game attendance will go up 10-20 percent in this one game because of his MLB
debut. Who would not want to be at the debut of such a talented and well
received player. ESPN’s Peter Gammons and Buster Onley have
nothing but praise about this kid, and I , personally, have been impressed by
his demeanor and his professionalism during Spring Training. I think in 10 years I can say with total
confidence that I will be glad to be at his first game EVER at this
level.

                                            The Bad



In a game like this, it is hard to harp or
even want to put a “bad” on here, but I have a concern that I want to address
here. James Shields is currently our top of the
rotation guy. I know he is hitting a few rough patches, but he had some serious
control and location  problems for the first two innings of this
game.


He is currently posting a 3.00 ERA, which is
respectable and shows he is improving more and more every outing. I had to find
a “bad” in all the great and good moments of this game. I know that Shields just
had an off night, and I will not spout stats or problems I see here tonight. I
want to celebrate the fact we are starting to gel and need to just enjoy the
moment tonight.


With that in mind, I do have two really ugly
moments tonight


.

                                                    The Ugly

The first ugly is the fact it was $ 1.00 hot
dog night at the Trop. Now, I did not tackle or even try and top my previous
record of 15 dogs. I decided my girlfriend likes a more svelte and more
attractive guy, so I only had 5 dogs ( With kraut, spicy mustard and relish, No
ketchup ). But the people around me must have had  a
really bad  kraut and spicy mustard  dog jones, because after the game I saw
hundreds and hundreds of those aluminum wrappers all over my section of the
stadium.  I even saw two by the Bullpen. Maybe one of the guys could smell all
those dogs and had to get one for himself.

The carnage of those wrappers and the smell
of cooking meat in that stadium would send a vegetarian to their graves.  No
tofu dogs tonight. All American, Red,White and Blue, Hebrew National Hot Dogs.


I wonder if the buns are
kosher?


The second “Ugly” kind of ticked me off. It
was a bunch of closet Yankee fans heckling Al Reyes about the events that
unfolded the prior night. The guys decided to take it upon themselves
to try and humiliate and intimidate Reyes while he was warming up on the
mound. I guess these guys were out getting their
first beer when Reyes apologized to the team, its fans and anyone who would
accept. Al is a great guy and an outstanduing asset to this team.


Every one of us has made a mistake and it was
not played up on your Television screen. The only effects Reyes showed the fans
from last night was the cut on the side of his nose that he received in the
incident. The heckles went over the line and the fans
began to turn on them. I think they also felt that these guys had finally
crossed that line into vulgar, drunken-ize that tends to upset eveyone within
the sound of their voices.


The stadium security and St. Petersburg
Police Department stepped in and reminded the guys that it was within their
rights to banish them from future events at the field if they continued their
assault on Reyes character. I have to say, I stood up and looked the one
guy in the eye and he had commented to others, “What you going to do about it,”
but he did not say that to me.



Former Rays player of the
night.

                     
  


I have decided, since it is my blog and I can rewrite the
rules, I will present the best performance by an ex-Rays ballboy instead
tonight.


While attending Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg,
Florida, Jesse Litsch was a Rays bat boy. During that time he spent hours with
the pitchers and the coaches on improving his pitches and hoping to some day
pursue a professional career. Jesse has now been in the majors for almost one year, and is
currently in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation. He is off to a great start this
year and I am going to showcase his effort tonight against the Texas
Rangers.


He pitched 5.2 innings tonight and allowed 6 hits and 2 runs. He
also had  5 strikeouts in the game. Jesse only threw 93 pitches before leaving
with a lead tonight. The Blue Jays won the game, and Jesse improved to 2-0 for
the season. The reason he is showcased is for the younger ball players to
know that even though you are playing Little League right now, if you want it
bad enough, you can achieve it.


And only 4 short years ago, Jesse was thinking the same thoughts
while guarding the Rays Bullpen catcher and the staff from balls in
play……and now he is wearing a MLB jersey every day.

 

 

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