Results tagged ‘ Peter Gammons ’

Players and Fans Definitely Rocked the Trop at Fan Fest

Rays Fan Fest 2013 120

I saw a member of the Tampa Bay Rays front office while doing my usual trading card route a few days before that Saturday’s Rays Fan Fest. He seemed really excited about the anticipated fan to player ratio at the multiple events held throughout the day, and believe me, the Rays not only delivered, but a few of their players such as INF Sean Rodriguez and P Chris Archer seemed to be everywhere.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 099All day long I heard stories of players going above and beyond. We all have heard of Archer inviting a young fan up to the Autograph tales and behind the Rays blue curtain to meet a few of his Rays friends in the “Blue Room”. It was stuff like this, plus the added touch of players reading to young fans,  being open to fan’s questions and requests all day long that made a deep and lasting impression as to their investment in this region and this special fan base.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 073I did not hear a single story of a player turning down a fan, or refusing any request during this special Rays day that is a huge celebration of the season that is now upon us. Heck I think we all might even have gotten a glimpse at a possible Rays future draft pick as Toby Hall’s son stroked a HR out of the curtained off ballfield a few times from the left side of the plate.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 023I mean I even saw Rays P Jeff Niemann at one point basically depositing basketball over by the hoop carnival games like he was dropping a wad of paper into a wastebasket. And during all of this were a gaggle of screaming and excited kids, adults and a combination of the two relishing in this increased presence of the player this year. Over the past few years as the team has grown increasingly competitive some of the fold reverted a bit back into old habits of selective signings and photos with fans. On this day if they were able, photos were snapped and memories were imprinted forever thanks to their increased visibility.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 039Combine this breathe of fresh air from the Rays themselves with the over 25,000 fans who walked into the Rays Rotunda on Saturday, this region still craves baseball and made sure other in and around the MLB World knew there was a fan base in this community. Even with the huge turnout of fans to Tropicana Field for Fan Fest, it was overshadowed by the fact the team only drew over that 25,000 visitor threshold 17 times during the 2012 season.

Hopefully the recent blast in the media of supposed apathy and nonchalant attitudes towards the game have been erased at least until the regular season when the proof will be in the proverbial pudding if the fans will again flock to the Trop.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 041But this day was about the 2 lucky fans enshrined into the Rays/Pepsi Wall of Fame, the hundreds of scavenger hunters snapping pictures around the Trop in hopes of grabbing an Even Longoria signed bat for their collections. Everywhere you looked there were kids, parents and even long time fans walking, talking and making mostly positive comments about the days events. Baseball Hall of Fame member Peter Gammons visited Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s “Thanks-Mas” event prior to his own panel discussion making a few of those fans not only full of Maddon-induced food goodness, but also got to hear a baseball analyst’s take on the Rays and baseball.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 045Sure there were moments that made you scratch your noggin for a second like Rays INF/OF Shelley Duncan and Rodriguez as a pairing for the “Family Feud event. There were a few scattered “boo-birds” when Duncan was announced, but most have let the Spring incident of 2008 be finally put to rest. Still, it would have been interesting if Elliot Johnson was still here…pairing him with Duncan would have caught everyone’s ear. Still this season’s Fan Fest was amazing in the items up for sale in the Rays Garage Sale to the amount of MLBPA Alumni players participating in the Home Run Derby (won by O’s OF Mike Deveraux), to the huge table of past stars both of the Rays and other MLB vistas.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 095All in all the event might have been a bit reduced in total time we all spent within the confines of the tilted cap, but it was a day spent watching kids frolic in the batting cages, running the bases and getting a high-5 from Archer as they hit Home Plate. Matt Joyce also made a few more Rays fans as he stayed after his signing time was over and came to the side of the autograph stage and signed for a bit longer for fans who did not get a chance to get to him before his time was over.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 019Rays new Stud-du-Jour Wil Myers even made extra time for Rays fans who did not know him before his recent trade to the Rays and with Myers taking that extra moment, he sparked a few comments from people hoping he makes it to the MLB level some time in 2013. So now that the Rays Republic got a chance to see and meet a few of our new players to the Rays fold, and a few of the hungry and eager ones wanting a taste of the MLB life, it is now our time to show support for this team not only this Spring, but all the way until Game 162.

Rays Fan Fest 2013 002The Rays invest a lot of time and money in an event like this, and with 16 of them now in the books I can definitely say without any remorse that the 2013 edition definitely has set a new standard for future Rays Fan Fest’s. I made a tongue-in-cheek Tweet the other day about the whole Rays front office forming a Congo line today and each of them pat each other on the back for pulling off this grand event in style. I think it was Pepsi who sealed the emotions of the day as the Rays staff and players definitely “Rocked the Trop” on Saturday and I do not think anyone did not leave with a bit of Rays swag, autographs or maybe even a former players jersey tucked under their arm. The Trop definitely rocked a bit on Saturday, but I think we were all having too much fun to notice, which is a good thing.

Did Peter Gammon’s Do an Irish Jig on Crawford’s Reputation

 

 

More and more it seems that every time Baseball commentator and long time Red Sox lover Peter Gammons has opened his trap lately, I have lost another inch or two of respect for the Baseball writing icon. Sure Gammons is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he has a closet full of writing and reporting awards, but recently to me Gammons has become more of a blowhard than an accurate and reliable baseball source.

For many seasons, he has been the loud and proud voice of the Boston Red Sox, and an opinionated thorn in the side of all Tampa Bay Rays fans. But that is what your opposition’s media malcontents are suppose to do…Stir the pot and get the natives a bit restless within the Rays Republic. And Gammon does that side of his job with expertise and committment bar none.


And Gammons has been active this past season to point his bony fingers towards the Rays troubles and bubbling cauldron of concerns as his beloved Red Sox struggled to climb the standings and lay siege on the Rays for a American League East postseason spot. This is the same Red Sox mouthpiece who in 2010 threw out the rumors and ramblings that the Rays were going to move to the Northeast, possibly to Connecticut, then to New Jersey the next week. All throughout 2010, Gammons has done his job poking at the Rays beehive and getting all the Rays republic in attack mode.

And you have to give a guy credit for saying something as outlandish as proposing that the Rays fans listen more to the New York Yankee broadcasts than their own Rays game on television during the season, even when the Rays were constantly in the top 5 spots within Major League Baseball in overall regional viewers in 2010.  

It also seems that in the last year, Gammons has not let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good story. But this time I definitely think his doctors need to maybe do an emergency CAT scan or even check his medication’s side effects, because his recent faux pas might cause his own beloved Red Sox a change to even discuss a contract with Rays Free Agent leftfielder Carl Crawford. This time, the rue might have gone beyond reality and into the obsurd realm.

I can still remember on several occasions this season in interviews where Gammons has considered Crawford the best leftfielder in baseball. More than once those words have swirled off Gammon’s silver tongue and made their way into the airwaves or in news print.
 It was if Gammon’s was beginning a long distance relationship with the thought of Crawford possibly suiting up in a Red Sox jersey and taking balls off the Green Monster full-time in 2011.

Gammons even recently went on Red Sox flagship station WEEI and did an interview last week where he said the Red Sox ownership was going to go full bore after Crawford this off season. I can honestly see that happening, but as a central media figure for Red Sox Nation, then why would Gammons do a 180 degree turn and vote Crawford as the 7th best Leftfielder for a prestigious fielding award? 


Not forgotten here is the fact that Crawford has either won or placed second in this same category for the Fielding Bible Award since 2006, and was looking for his fourth straight trophy this season. Sure I do not condemn Gammons for possibly pushing Crawford below the top spot, but why in the World would a supposed superior baseball mind put Crawford under the likes of Cardinal Matt Holliday (3rd) or even Pirates rookie outfielder Jose Tabata (5th) ?

 

Has Gammon’s medications possibly done some form of dementia or oozed into his thought process? Could this be an indirect mind play game by the Red Sox booster to throw a shadow upon the true abilities of Crawford to hopefully draw down the going price for Crawford to under a ceiling of a $ 100 million contract now?

Seriously, Gammon’s actions have to have a secondary reasoning, and in this case, it might have just slammed the door on Crawford considering a Boston uniform for 2011. How Can Crawford even remotely consider a spot on a team within his own old division that had one of their biggest figure heads disrespect his defensive abilities in print by putting Tiger outfield journeyman Ryan Rayburn (4th) above him in his rankings of the top 10 leftiflders in baseball?


But Gammons was not the only baseball figurehead to push Crawford’s chances for a fourth straight award into the dustbin. But could Gammons have also done some unexpected collateral damage by awakening a sentiment for the Yankees to by-pass Crawford with their own current leftfielder Brent Gardner garnishing the 2010 Fielding Bible Award for leftfield.

Gardner received all first or second place votes to post himself 10 points ahead of Crawford, but it really wasn’t even that close. Third place vote-getter Tabata got 62 points or 33 points less than Gardner in his first Fielding Bible chance. Could Gammons have effectively multi-tasked his demotion of Crawford’s defensive ranking to take him off the Yankees 2011 “Wish List” ?


Gammon’s is a smart and  very calculating individual, and it will be interesting to hear his latest rhetoric on why Crawford is not in his top 3 leftfielders in baseball after singing his praises for so long this season. Some will say that Gammon’s brain injuries or even mental status might well come into question with this recent blatant show of utter disrespect towards Crawford. But even with a steel trap mind like Gammons, the trap can end up catching you in its teeth instead of your true victim. 

 

Others around baseball  will see Gammon’s wild comments as a cat and mouse game started early by Gammon’s to downplay the defensive and offensive skills of Crawford and possibly bring his salary demands within the guidelines of team’s like the Red Sox. Sure it will take a multi-year huge contract to land one of the biggest fish of the MLB Winter Free Agent markets. But at what price will Gammon’s ploy end up costing Crawford’s old American League East rival. Will the apparent gamble be worth it all in the end? 


Could the vaulting of Gardner to the top of the Leftfield pile by such MLB royalty as Gammons and statistics guru Bill James (who voted Crawford as his 5th best leftfielder) possibly push Crawford towards thinking more about teams like the Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angels in stead of staying in the AL East? Or could it turn his mind towards the National League and a team like the Washington Nationals or even Los Angeles Dodgers? 

Today signals the first day of the beginning of the Winter garage sale when the MLB’s top brass will start actively considering their options for 2011. There is no doubt Crawford will make more money in 2011 than ever in his career. The question now is just how much will this apparent ploy by Gammons cost Crawford in the long run? Plus did Gammon’s ploy effectively start a campaign within the Pinstripe Populous to keep Gardner entrenched in leftfield for 2011?

It is going to fun sitting back and watching to see if the rest of the baseball world think Gammon’s is either a genius, or speaking with a foot firmly planted in his own big mouth.  Maybe I am dreaming more of Gammons planting his left foot a little further down into a hidden location and wiggling like mad, but that is just me.
 

Are the Gold Gloves tarnished?

 


Gail Burton / AP

I do not know what to think about the recent results of the 2009 Rawlings Gold Glove awards. I guess it kind of reminds me of the days when the “cool” group in my High School used to sit on this wall outside the 100 wing of the school before and after school, and we collectively nicknamed them the “Ivy’s” since ivy clings to walls. I get that same feeling now when I first saw the list of American League Gold Glove winners.

But what I saw behind the names had an old instant of nostalgia of that long ago Southern staple,the “Good Ol’ Boys” network.  For years when I was growing up here in Florida it was a wildly held political belief that some people got elected and also appointed to a high ranking position because of their friendships or political ties to a person instead of their qualifications and leadership abilities. And is some realms of the world this system is still alive and well today. 

For some weird reason, I am beginning to get more of a feeling of true professionalism and in-depth analysis from the Fielding Bible Awards than from the more commercial and MLB-friendly Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.  And that sentiment might be felt more and more around the Major League Baseball fan community as we see some of the old guard in baseball still hanging onto these Gold Glove awards even if their defensive skills have diminished a bit in the last season. 

There has been a small group of up and coming MLB players who also produced some impressive defensive numbers and also feats this season who did not seem to get any acknowledgment on the 2009 list. At least with the Fielding Bible, they had a tremendous fight at the second base position between Adam Hill, Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley before the groups tally produced a tie between Pedroia and Hill. Because of the tie, the group used its tie-breaking format of total first place votes( 10 points) to decide the eventual winner of the award. Hill had 4 first place votes to one for Pedroia.


Steve Nesius / AP

Of course my main concern with the Gold Gloves here might be for the third year in a row, the award has seemed to snub Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Carl Crawford. Maybe it was the ease at which Crawford seems to glide and catch difficult fly balls as they are going towards the wall or in the air. Maybe it is that with his abundance of speed you expect him to make a play like that and it takes on a  more routine feel after seeing it day after day since 2001.

But maybe he might be a great poster boy to boost prop up right now to show that there might need to be some changes made within the Gold Glove voting system. As we all know by now, Crawford won his third Fielding Bible Award in 2009 for his play in leftfield. And right now the Fielding Bible actually has more of my respect because they do not bunch the outfield into a single category, but award the players in each of the three outfield defensive position for their efforts and abilities.

A good example of this is outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who won his second Fielding Bible award in a row,but in a different position for 2009. That’s right,he won the award in 2008 as a rightfielder, and was rewarded in 2009 as the centerfielder in the Seattle Mariner’s outfield. For that reasoning alone it seems like the Fielding Bible awards excellence by position,and not by name recognition.

And I think when Rawlings officially started the Gold Glove awards back in 1957 they envisioned the competitions voting to evolve with the game and even transform to meet the ever-changing aspects of the game. But the award has now seemed to become a bit stagnant and has wielded more of a “Prom” popularity atmosphere where the popular kids are getting the Gold Glove awards, and not the deserving people also playing the game besides them.

The Gold Gloves have been viewed as the “Mount Everest” of fielding awards. That to get a spot on that exclusive roster of MLB players is a showing to the world that you have arrived, and are within the top 18 players in the Major Leagues.


Elaine Thompson / AP

But the one position on these collective teams that appear to have become muddled beyond simplicity is the outfield selection for the Gold Glove. There can be a possibility of three centerfielders winning the Gold Glove currently, and nothing can be done about it. And in 2009, two centerfielders made the list out of the possible three slots.

But a bit of controversy erupted when the AL 2009 results were announced  and revealed that Baltimore centerfielder Adam Jones was the third member of the Gold Glove outfield for 2009. Now I think Jones is a great emerging star since his trade from Seattle to Baltimore a few seasons ago, but is his rise so great in 2009 that it trumped the stats and play of a player like Crawford?

And here lies the wild truth that certain players seem to be selected year after year even as their abilities start to show age and flaws in their defense. The Gold Glove award is currently voted on  only by the Managers and Coaches of each individual league, and they can not vote for a member of their respective teams for the award. Maybe it is time to tweak the system a bit and make it a more universally accepted award than a glorified baseball beauty pageant.

Maybe the current system is stagnating  and is quickly becoming an antiquated system to award the Major League’s best in defensive excellence. Maybe we need to inject some new blood and some extended voting members into the equation like possibly enlisting the last two seasons of Gold Glove winners to dissolve the  popularity chaos for the award. 


Steve Nesius / AP

Since every MLB Manager and Coach can not vote for their own players, maybe the simple fact of adding a few more sets of eyes that see these players daily might throw some more excitement in the process and actually make this more of a “professionally-based” award than a popularity contest aka beauty pageant.

If the system was more like the Fielding bible Awards would Crawford had been selected as a Gold Glove recipient? You would think that would be an easy answer, but Jones won a Gold Glove while appearing in 36 less games than Crawford. .

But this is a “no-win” situation because we all know that the powers above (Commissioner Selig) will not entertain the notion to tweak the system and actually award the best players at their positions for the Gold Glove. And in a way that is okay. Most people have the same problems with the College Football ranking system and the eventual awarding of their seasonal seeding via the BCS formula.

Maybe Rawlings needs to look at the Fielding Bible a bit closer for possible inspiration and the essence of  wanting to change the rules. Because in the Fielding Bible system, the award is voted on by people outside the influence of Major League Baseball.  Think about it,  a total of 10 baseball eggheads/analysts make their random scaling from 1-10 for every spot on the field. And the outfield is broken up into their three positions and awarded accordingly.

Such baseball gurus like Baseball Info Solutions John Dewan, ESPN Baseball expert Peter Gammons, Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated and the Kansas City Star
and of course the Stat brain child, Bill James use the same 10-point system instituted by Major League Baseball to eventually pick the Major League Baseball MVP award to tally their personal votes for the Fielding Bible Award. And maybe that is a direction that the Gold Gloves  should embrace as a model for change.

By adding outside influences and maybe even the past two seasons award winners into the mix, it could become more universally accepted for its fair and concise measuring of players abilities and achievements. Right now the Gold Gloves is a popularity system that is rewarding name worthy recipients than qualified winners.


Tom Gannam / AP

And a perfect example of this might be the Fielding Bible voting for Crawford’s position in the 2009 awards. With 10 voters able to cast up to 10 points for each candidate, a perfect score would be 100 points.  So according to the voters Crawford was the best leftfielder in the game of baseball in 2009. And he was not perfect, but his score of 99 points was the largest tally ever since the 98 total points given to Adam Everett in 2006.

So neither awards system is perfect. And there will always be some teams fans voice crying in the night about their guy being worthy. But right now the Gold Glove is not a fair competition, and maybe change will come in the future. And by the way, only 2009 Gold Glove winner Ichiro Suzuki was selected to also receive a Fielding Bible Award this season.  Shows that maybe the system needs a push in the right direction. And maybe the best don’t always get the gold.

Evan Longoria to Debut Tomorrow

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


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).

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


 

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.

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays Scribbles

I was trolling the Internet today looking for MLB news, and I found this great story about a prank pulled by Philadelphia Phillie’s Bret Myers pulled during Spring Training.  It happened in my hometown of Clearwater, Florida. This is the Spring Training site of the Philadelphia Phillie’s, and is located not even two miles from my home. 

It involves a young pitcher named Kyle Kendrick. The prank involved a few veterans like starter/closer Brett Myers and the entire coaching staff and some management. He also got punked by his agent in this prank. It is funny as all get out as the player was told he was traded to the “Giants” of the Japanese baseball league. His (pun) salary was $ 1.5 million dollars, thank god it was not Yen.

The next clip is a failed PDA by Philadelphia Phillie pitcher, Brett Myers. No, it isd not Brett Myer Day on my blog, just ran into a few really funny clips that I think can make your Monday feel better.Brett had a bit of problems up in Boston a while back during and Inter-league series with the Red Sox. He was out on the town, with his wife and made a bad character call. I do not condone what went down here, but I do know that he is making every step possible to help him in his situation.

I did my usual pilgrimage Friday morning out to the Rays Spring Training complex in St. Pete., and saw the pitchers’ and catchers’ come out in their new uniforms and greet the assembled fans and the new baseball season.
A few of the guys looked really eager to get out there and begin to finally throw some meaningful strikes and get set for “live” batting practice here in a few days. the first game of the spring is approaching fast.

Remember, we start our quest on Feb. 29th in our “turn-around” year.
Fitting we start playing on the Leap Year date, because this is the year we hope to change the national outlook on our squad. This is the year we hope to have a few heads pop sideways from Seattle to Miami. We are hoping in the next few months to finally have people at places like ESPN, love to show our highlighted without the jokes and puns included in the broadcast.

One of the guys I am keeping an close eye on will probably not make the Major League roster this year, but was a colorful addition to last years Southern Championship team in Montgomery, Alabama.Chris Mason is a major pitching talent for the Double-A Montgomery  Biscuits. He is known for his amazing pitching as well as his hair color.  Now everyone remembers the movie, “Summer Catch”, based on the Cape Cod Baseball League. 

In this movie, there is a hot shot pitcher who has his hair spiked in white and black to almost look like a Naruto character. Now Chris does not look exactly like this, but he did start the year as a platinum blond, shave it all off, go “goth” black, shave it off, and almost came out in a “pink caddy” look last year around the playoff time. Thanks Goodness his coach on the Biscuits vetoed that move. He wants to be on ESPN for talent, not showmanship.

Good thing this guy has some really great true talent, or this “hair statement” phase might not go well with the parent club. 

This next weekend is the 11th Annual Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. It is held only on Saturday and is a great place to get the vibe started for the upcoming MLB season.
Now, I have only missed 1 of these events, and that was by choice. It is a great time for kids of all ages.

It features a Pepsi/Rays Wall of Fame induction for the new class of fans that demonstrate a talent, special charm or endeavor for our hometown team. And yes, I have been on the wall for almost 5 years now. I am the guy who looks like a coach in his picture. It is a great time to see what spirit and commitment some of us have for our team. This is not a celebration of the “bandwagon” fan, but the true die-hard fans that can make or break the stands in a close game.

Along with this event, there will be baseball displays through the venue featuring items from Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb and other Rays notables like Wade Boggs. 

 Also, there will be tons of events for the kids. there will be a base running timed event, a batting cage area that looks like old Ebbetts field, and face painters and tons of events for all ages. There is also going to be a silent auction going on all day to benefit the “Rays of Hope” foundation. That is the arm of the franchise that awards grants and scholarships to deserving teams and players throughout the year in our community. I am a huge supporter of this cause and would love for everyone to also be a part of it in some way.

There will also be a tour of the Home Rays’ locker room. This will give you a glimpse of the area that these warriors get ready to face the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees’ firsthand.

Harold Reynolds of ESPN fame will be on stage in the Budweiser brew house taking questions and meeting with the masses. A few years ago, Peter Gammons was here before his injury, and he gave a fantastic speech on what he saw in our future as a team. It was a fantastic look into the mind of one of the greatest baseball writers, and recent inductee in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Last but not least, there will be an autograph signing involving the Rays players, and some veterans from the past. Players like Carlos Pena, Scott Kazmir, and Cliff Floyd will be signing for the fan.

If you have never been to this event, it is free parking and admission. Well worth the time and an experience the kids will remember for years to come. I will be there almost all day. Just look for the guy with the Cheshire cat grin, that would be me. See you there.

 

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