Results tagged ‘ Ozzie Guillen ’

Is Las Vegas Sniffing Around the Tampa Bay Rays?

 

 

 

 

After a  oustanding season like 2008, cities like Las Vegas, who have hungered for a baseball team going on 15 years still have the taste for the game. With Major League Baseball heading to Las Vegas for their  2008 Winter Meetings this weekend and next week, it is not wonder that Las Vegas will roll out the red carpet for the baseball elite and  will again troll the hallways and side passages hoping to talk to ballclubs secretly fighting for stadiums and more  revenues to keep up with the Steinbrenners’ of the world.

 

Stu Sternberg, the Rays principal owner, has stated time and time again that 2008 will be a barometer as to what the fan base pulse of the Tampa Bay area. Would Stu and crew maybe be looking for a way out of town? or maybe could be seduced by the Sin City charm and the aspect of over 39 million travelers to the fair city. Or could a FREE stadium built for his pleasure and  his team’s future financial well-being be beyond just a nibble or taste of future goodness.

 

 

                                                                            

 

We will not know the answer to these questions anytime  in the near future, but with the Rays’ executive team heading to Las Vegas and the Bellagio resort for a week of meetings and backroom trade banter, you can be sure Las Vegas Mayor  Oscar Goodman will be close in hand with a towel, drink or even a ticket to an exclusive show to chat, converse or even entice any team’s officials about  baseball some day coming to the desert.

 

The mayor of Las Vegas sure seems to know a lot about the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. He knows about their young pitching and the offense that can tack on runs like rain when the floodgates let loose, but he also know the payroll limits set by the limited local support of the Tampa Bay community.  He knows that the team has an outstanding infield, where opponents’ line drives and ground balls go to die.  He even think they might have a  future dynasty of sorts if the payroll can equal the win totals of last season ( $97 million would make a great roster even better).

 

                           

 

 

But will the dynasty be forged in  St. Petersburg, or maybe somewhere westerdly beyond the hustle and bustle of Tampa Bay? As MLB offcials and team management head to Vegas for their annula Winter Meetings,  Goodman plans to be there with showgirls on each arm, pressureing baseball’s  high and mighty to listen to his sales pitch.

 

Much like that guy who sold your parents’ that time-share years and years ago, Goodman is great with a small group, but even better when he holds the right cards. And the team that has him salavating is our Rays.  Most people would think that Las Vegas is not far along in the process of even imagining a franchise in their town. If you believe that, please do not play poker with the man. He is alot farther along than even you and me think he is in trying to secure a team for his neon community.

And he’s not the only one eyeing the Rays.

 

                                                  

 

 

Oscar Goodman would probably have a hard time getting elected to the St. Petersburg City Council. Take St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker and times him by 5 and you will get the intensity of this guy. He is a maverick at making a deal, and he has a mission to secure an MLB, NHL, NBA and maybe even a NFL team before he leaves office in 2011. It would be a legend as big as Bugsy Segal if he could pull off that miracle for the town that money built.

 

 

In Nevada, the 69-year-old Goodman may wind up governor. That would put him in position to even pester the MLB brass for years and years until either thry buckle or a team sashshays toward the neon lights and big times. The third-term mayor is a  former high profile lawyer for the mob, once suggested  to the town’s folks that people caught spraypainting graffiti  should lose a thumb on public television. That would take the old western standard of hangings and discipline in the town square to new meaning in the 21st Century

 

 

In 2004, when Las Vegas was  being considered as a  possible future home for the Florida Marlins, Goodman showed up at baseball’s winter meetings with two showgirls and an Elvis impersonator seeking the attention and the votes of the onwership groups of the league.

 

Most of the the baseball owners ran away from him, but then friend and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda came over, hugged Goodman and said hello to the girls. Next came  current Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Then former Cincinnati Red Tony Perez, an executive with the Marlins.

 

 

Past the glitz and the off-color comments, Goodman is serious about his quest for a major league franchise. Las Vegas is one of the 10 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, with its population increasing almost 30 percent between 2000 and 2006. It’s within driving distance of San Diego, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Has a diverse demographic that probably has a minority of Red Sox and Yankee fans to fill the stadium on game days.

 

And, perhaps most importantly, it saw 39-million visitors in 2007. But will people go to Vegas to do their usual ventures and also come out to a baseball game. Why not, you can not gamble 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, you will need down time. And baseball could be the perfect answer to the stress and pressure of Las Vagas from April to October every year.

 

Movement already is happening. The sports research division of Pricewaterhouse Coopers says it is studying the Las Vegas market for an unnamed client. And while Major League Baseball asked Goodman to stop talking to the  Florida Marlins about relocation after ecent stadium set-backs and high budget restraints, baseball executives recognize Las Vegas’ potential.

 

 

               

 

One high ranking MLB executive called Las Vegas “one of the most attractive markets in the U.S. for a pro sports franchise,” and said it was a serious candidate to attract the Montreal Expos when they were moving. As you might remember, the Expos former owner bought the Marlins, while his old team became the basis for the Washington Nationals. So Vegas as an eye and an ear tuck deep into the sand listeningh to everything going on in baseball.

 

 

          

 

Building a stadium would not be an issue, Goodman says. Neither would a public vote, which would not be required. And you know that they could have the ultimate in in-game entertainment with the local flair for the over-done and the obscene, but tasteful local traditions.  A retractable roof or even a full-time roof because of the high heat could be contructed and manitained with ease in the town that is Las Vegas.

 

 

 

And on sports betting, a sticky issue for professional sports, a compromise likely could be reached that would prevent gamblers from betting on Las Vegas home games, Goodman said. Goodman would not specifically talk about the Rays — he doesn’t want to be used as leverage for the stadium pursuit in St. Petersburg, nor does he want to upset big league executives.

 

But with the current stadium concept now in a grass-roots, fact finding mode, the team might be willing to wait out their results, but what if the findings come out to be negative and non-responsive to the St. Petersburg, or even Tampa Bay area fan base. So could the future be pointing towards the neon and glitter of Sin City, or the breezes and palm trees of Tampa Bay?

 

                      

 

 

But from afar, Goodman has noticed the thousands of empty seats at Tropicana Field during the past season. He wants to nail down a baseball, basketball or hockey franchise before he leaves office in 2011. Rays officals have called the next few years critical to the team’s foundation, but could that just be wordspeak to a possible move or even re-evaluation of baseball on the West Coast of Florida? 

 

 

The Rays still hope to build a new ballpark in the Tampa Bay area, and likely are prepared to continue pressing local officials for public funding. That back-and-forth could take years. At the same time, while Las Vegas might be motivated to attract a team, the citiy is far from a panacea for Major League Baseball. Both come with questions as a market. Just like Tampa Bay.

 

 

The Rays themselves dismiss any talk of relocation. Sterberg has also gone on record  that the Rays are singularly focused on making baseball work in the Tampa Bay area. In any event, the move would not be as easy as the Colts midnight move from Baltimore to Indianapolis. The Rays have a tight and iron-clad lease to play in Tropicana Field through the 2027 season.

 

At a minimum, the Rays would be forced to pay off the outstanding debt on Tropicana Field if it left town before 2016, which now stands at $80-million. The debt total drops to $47-million in 2012 and $24.6-million in 2014. And besides that, fans based lawsuits and anyone with a contract with the team could step up and get a local judge to rule on the team staying in the area.

 

 

 

But it’s not out of the question the Rays could leave if a new ballpark isn’t eventually built, said Rob Canton, director of the sports, convention and tourism division of researcher Pricewater­houseCoopers. “The long-term viability of the Rays is in question if there isn’t a new ballpark,” Canton said.

 

Las Vegas could offer to build the Rays a stadium for free. And the Rays could then use the $150-million they would have contributed to a ballpark in St. Petersburg to negotiate their way out of the city’s lease. The moves are highly speculative, but it’s not impossible.

 

In the end, maybe posturing by Las Vegas is what it takes to get a new ballpark built in the Tampa Bay area. Like the leverage St. Petersburg created for the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. Tampa Bay also made people take up and notice in Seattle and Oakland, where the community had to take measures to keep their franchsies.

 

Seattle quickly approved a stadium plan for what is now Safeco Field. That moved turned the Mariners’ facility into one of the best ballparks in the country and scrapped the out-of-date domed Kingdome. Tampa Bay’s first baseball group had a signed contract with the old Oakland A’s ownership group, Levi’s Strauss, and MLB stepped in and found local ownership that could support and control the team before the Tampa Bay group could even move a muscle.

 

 

So there are alot of possible senarios and endeavors to take place beofre any true discussion can enter about relocation, or even removing the Rays from Florida. The stadium committee might have a major say in the future of the team.  They are currently seeking and looking for area to locate the proposed stadium, financial considerations, and the  most feasible way for transportation and the fan base to enjoy baseball for centruies in Tampa Bay. If all the work and the issues point to a dead end, then you never know yet about the eams’ true future here in Tampa Bay.

 

Or maybe it means the team find its new ballpark — 2,500 miles away.

 

I would not want to bet on this one, but for now……………I am going to let it all ride baby!!

 

 

You Know you Need Another Celebration Photo Blog

 

 

Chicago White Sox fans have to know you have a very classy manager in Ozzie Guillen. He has been complimentary to the Rays all year long and as a former Rays, he knows just how far this team has gone in a really short time.

And to add another level to Ozzie’s wild times, after the game yesterday, he made sure to stop by the visiting clubhouse ahd chat and hug Rays Manager Joe Maddon and wish him luck against the Boston Red Sox. He did not have to do this, but being a classy player and a manager can get you some levels of respect within the league.

For every thing that Ozzie does to invoke a fine or a temper tantrum, he is just as classin in the “good” areas too. He is a players’ manager, and they love to play for him. Just becuase you question your team’s General Manager, or remind baseball that sometimes you do hit guys on purpose, he is also a kind and  true soul that is rare in this league. You go Ozzie, and we will see you in May dude!!!!!

 

                           

 

Tell me right now that this team was not better after the first 11 games when Evan Longoria came up and played his rookie season. He is one of the offensive stars of the team this year, and has a killer glove at thrid base to remind you of Brooks Robinson of the old classic Orioles.

 

 

James Shields, Jonny Gomes, Scott Kazmir, Edwin Jackson, B J Upton, and a cast of millions toasting to the Rays success with a little Patron tequila right before changing and hitting the bus for the plane home………..priceless.

 

 

Joe Maddon with the first Patron bottle, with either Chris Westmoreland, theRays Home Clubhouse Manager, or Jeff Ziegler the Rays’ Director of Team Travel. I am not good at judging the back of people’s heads.

 

               

 

Akinora Iwamura getting into the American custom of dropping a full Budweiser over Carlos Pena’s head. Cool clean and good for the follicles guys.

 

 

Carlos Pena in the middle of a blast of champagne. But do not worry people champagne is good for the eyes.  Trust me here.

 

                  

 

Tell me Grant Balfour did not deserve to end out this series. The Rays Bullpen had a .088 ERA in the White Sox series. And the Aussie was more than an intimidation factor after the game 1 fiasco with Orlando Cabrera. With his four-letter exercises in First Amendment speech, Balfour gave way to a new era of wild, excitable relievers in the playoffs.

 

 

 

Rays win in Walk-off fashion……………….Again

 

Rays 4, White Sox 3

After the Chicago White Sox’s thirs straight loss to the surging Tampa Bay Rays, White Sox manager called for General Manager Ken Williams to make changes to the club before Tuesdays home game against the Kansas City Royals’

In an e-mail to the Chicago Tribune, Williams said he wasn’t pleased.

“It’s just not a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had your back as much as I have had his,” Williams wrote. “I expect this team, if the leadership remains positive and the players stick together and continue to play hard, it will be a fun summer.”

Guillen’s frustration boiled over after a 10th innig walk-off homer by the Rays Gabe Grosss sent the White Sox home without winning a series from the Rays. In the first series of the year, the White Sox won the series and their pitching got them that victory. This time, the Sox offense was stymied by the Rays and the pitching had unfamiliar breakdowns.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Outfielder Al Simmons real name is Aloysius Szymanski.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Poster

                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                                  The Good

Gabe Gross is making a statement that he loves playing with these young guys. He is also letting his bat do the talking for him the last month. In Sundays series closing win against the Chicago White Sox, Gross did everything right offensively for the Rays.

                

He accounted for all three of the four RBI’s, adding a 2-run triple to the mix in the 5th innig by hitting ball in the gap in right center and scoring Jonny Gomes and  Shawn Riggans. Gorss came up in the bottom of the 10th, and was the only ray to bat that inning. Gross hit a long drive that rightfielder Jermain Dye just looked up at to beat the Sox and send the Rays to their 35th victory of the year.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

***  The Rays reserve players made a statement on Sunday by filling in offensively for their counterparts by going 5-10 for the Day.

Jonny Gomes (1-2), Shawn Riggans (2-4), and Gabe Gross ( 2-4) helped score 3-4 runs scored by the Rays. B J Upton got the other run scored on a Carlos Pena single in the 4th inning.

**  Carlos Pena, who is slowly coming out of his offensive slump got his 32nd RBI today. Pena is slowly starting to crank up his production numbers and played is usual superb defensive self in the ballgame.

I chat with J P Howell every chance I get this season. the guy is a bright guy who is so energetic if you talk to him. That is a 180 degree look compared to last year when he did not know his role on this squad and was reserved and quiet to most of the Fans.

This year he is slapping hands and chatting up the rightfield faithful on his way to  “Wheeler’s Watering Hole” my personal name for the Bullpen’s area beyond the rightfield walls.

Howell is 4-0 for the season, and is mixing his pitches extremely well and getting the out his sqaud needs to stay in contention most night. Sunday, he pitched 2 innings of 1-hit ball for the Rays.

 J P is the youngest member of the Rays’ Bullpen and has appeared in 37.1 innings this season, tops in the American League.

                          

                                           The Bad

Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine has been inconsistant the last three starts fir the Rays.  Andy has lost his last two starts, allowing 19 hits, 14 runs ( 9 earned) in 11 innings of work for a 7.36 ERA.

This recent skid came on the heels of his career high 5 game winning streak, the longest on the staff this season before Scott Kazmir equaled it Saturday night. Sonnanstine seems to have has control, but at times doesn’t have the placemtn on his breaking pitches he had in prior starts.

Sonnanstine needs to regain that form for the Rays to be successful on this upcoming long road trip against Boston, Texas and the LA Angels.

                                         The Ugly

It has been quite awhile since B J Upton has made a baserunning blunder. I am going to give him half blame for the pickoff by White Sox’s starter Mark Buehrle . Upton was caught 15 feet off first by Buehrle in the bottom of the 1st inning. This is the 6th time he has been caught  stealing this season, and the fourth where he was caught off the base and  leaning to steal a base this season.

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Just a reminder that the Thursday game aginst the Boston Red Sox has been moved to 6:05 P.M. because of the pending NBA finals game in Boston that night. The game was moved up to ease traffic situation in the city between fans trying to attend either event.

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The Empire Strikes Back…..Again

 

Yankees 5, Rays 3

 

                                Click Image to Enlarge



I give credit where credit is due.  The Evil Empire came in and played two great game against us. Now back to the blog.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to purchase their own airplane in January 1957.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C           The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C         The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C      The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C

                                  

                                         The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly.

 

                                           The Ageless Good  

 

I have to admit, when the Rays
announced earlier in the Spring that they signed Mike DeFelice to a
minor league contract, I thought it might be as a coach. As many of you
know, Mike was one of the original  catchers with the 1997 team.
DeFelice has been around the block a few times and has had his shares
of ups and downs.


But, this season when Dioner
Navarro went down with his freak accident in New York, it was a godsend
that Mike was there to fill the spot. Since he has come on, De Felice
has hit .429 in his short time up with the Rays this season. In that time, Mike has collected 4
RBI’s in his 10 at bats. That is right, Mike has only batted 14 times
this season and has driven in 4 runs as a backup to Shawn Riggans.
DeFelice is also carrying a .929 OPS with him this time up with the
Rays.

Mike is a superb game caller and
is an instant coach for these young pitchers. He has the insight and
the ability to see the trouble brewing and try and squash it before it
festers and get nasty.


For that reason, Mike is my main “Good” guy of the night. I do have a few other who needs some press as Honorable Mentions:


***       Rays First baseman Carlos Pena
saved a few runs with his great glove work at first tonight. First he
stopped a rocket off the bat of  the Yankees’  Robinson Cano.  Pena
snuffed the play diving to his left just shy of the line and stepped on
the bag to squash the Yankees efforts in the Top of the 6th Inning.


**       Designated Hitter Jonny Gomes
continues to be on a RBI tear as he had another tonight and went 2-4 to
raise his average to .296.


*       The first star goes to the team
for their display of spirit and team unity by all wearing Jackie
Robinson’s number “42” this season. Last year only Carl Crawford wore
the retired number of the first African-American to play in the MLB.


Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.



“It’s an honor the way certain clubs are wearing 42 — the whole
team, like our team,” Zimmer said. “I just look back and just think of
how lucky I am to play on the same team with him.

“I wasn’t there in the early days, when he really had to go
through hell, as they say; it had lessened by the time I got there, but
it was still tough. He had to be a very strong man, to go through the
whole ordeal that he went through, no doubt.”

                                         

                                                        The Bad


Tonight’s game showed a few spots
in the Rays armor that need to improve if this team is to tackle the
upward climb in the American League East. The Rays knocked out 10 hits
tonight, but left 9 men stranded on the base paths.


In order for this team to win “the
close ones”, like the last two games, they will need to figure out that
formula that is missing when the pressure is on for runs.  I am not
demeaning the coaching staff or the players here, I just see a glaring
issue that might just be a simple adjustment in mindset or thinking on
the field at times.



I have all the confidence in the world that this problem will be solved soon, and with great results.

                                    The Ugly

 


I never saw our team lay down and
quit tonight, or even show signs of let down, but the faces on the
Bullpen bench were speaking volumes from my sight line. It was a face
like, “Here we go again.” That mental clog can fester into a
bad attitude and confidence for our relievers. I know they are not the
kind of guys to quit, or even not make the ultimate performance for
their squad.


I just know from playing on
borderline losing teams in High School and College, that the mindset
can destroy even the best of intentions. I know who;s faces had that
look, and one was inserted in the game tonight.


This team is so much better than
our record. And we better start believing that, or we will be looking
up at four teams the rest of the season. I believe in this team. I have 100
percent confidence in their abilities and skills. And I want to be here
to celebrate the highs with them in September or beyond. 

                            


Let’s Go Rays  (Banging my cowbell)

 


Former Rays Player of the Night:

 

Julio Lugo of the Boston Red Sox is my former Rays
player of the night for going 3-4 tonight in the Sox’s 5-3 victory over
the Cleveland Indians. Lugo is currently batting .280 for the season and has 14 hits already for the year.

 

The Rays are leaving town tonight for the cool confines of the Metro dome for two games against the Minnesota Twins. This is the first regular season series for the teams,
and the first time these teams have played since their big trade this
past off season that sent Brendan Harris and Delmon Young to the North
country.


Both games will be on television, so check your local lisitngs or MLB TV.


See you at the Trop. on Friday to welcome Ozzie Guillen
and his Chicago White Sox into town for a weekend series. This weekend,
former Ray Toby Hall should see action behind the plate.



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