Results tagged ‘ Rays ’
It is the World’s game. Only in our country does the sport heard ‘round the World take second, third or maybe not even a fifth fiddle. The globe embraces the sport of football, or as we Americans have dubbed it, Soccer.
With our own United States men soccer team showing their grit and glory by winning their first matchup against Ghana in this year’s World Cup last night, I thought it might be fun to pencil in my own Rays World Cup squad based on the current members of the Rays 25-Man roster.
Instantly most of you would wonder why a Baseball blogger would want to write and create a Soccer squad. From the age of 10 to 21 I played either as a Sweeper or on the left-side of the turf on local Men’s leagues (FSSL), on the All-South select U-17 travel teams and spent my 16th summer in Malmo, Sweden working out with that vistas reserves team.
Heck if you look over at the blog photo on right you will see a photo of me playing indoor soccer, so I have the knowledge and know what it takes to play the game.
Of course the Club Rays team’s Managers slot is already taken as you cannot discount the philosophical and game day rhetoric of Joe Maddon. Heck in a lot of ways he might even be a better communicator and guru to young minds than the current USA Manager Jurgen Kilinsman.
I decided this Rays Club needs to play a 4-3-3 alignment which is 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 forwards. We all know the Rays claim to fame in the last few years have been defense, so a line with a left, center, right fullbacks and a sweeper manning the gaps seems as a perfect lineup to help keep games close and with minimal scoring (hopefully).
So let’s start at the last line of defense, the goalkeeper position first. I am going to pick Ryan Hanigan as he has shown he has the ability to block balls in the dirt, move around with grace under pressure and will come out of goal and sacrifice his body for the team. Most people would think I might pick Jose Molina as a back-up, but I chose Alex Cobb as much for his leadership as for his attention to the little things and would be a great communicator back there.
That being said, my defense will also have a few wily Rays vets manning key spots, and even a few surprises to some people. My left fullback has to be someone committed to defense as well as have good sprinting speed to defend an opposing winger who is usually the fastest guy on the team with the ball.
For some reason Jake McGee fits that spot for me. He is a big body guy who should be able to keep his shoulder square to the ball and ride a winger off the ball if he wants to proceed towards the touchlines or the goal box. On the right side I’m going with a gut feeling that Yunel Escobar will be a mirror image of McGee and keep the crosses from getting to the goal mouth and has the closing speed to thwart long passes into the box.
Center fullback is a tough one. I want to get a big body in there, but more in height than in weight. For that reason I chose Grant Balfour who at 6’2” has a bit of a nasty streak, highly competitive and if he chats to the ball, that might scare a few opposing forwards from going up the middle of the pitch. As long as he keeps his back to the goal, I think the snarling Aussie should shut down any middle of the field dribbling and long range shots.
As for the sweeper position I wanted to give that slot to someone who can be both an offensive and defensive weapon. Someone who can be that 4th utility defender as well as crash up into the offensive zone for corner kicks, help take free kicks and set a few boomers toward the goal. Perfect weapon for this Rays Club squad would be Sean Rodriguez.
Now onto midfield, or the engine room of this team. We already know Evan Longoria will wear the Captain’s band and has the grit and stamina to man the center midfield slot and his ability to give out orders and command respect will have opposing defenders marking him tight, so I want my outside midfielders to have a burst of speed and great ball skills.
My selection for left mid will be James Loney. I picked him as much for consistency as for his bursts of power which on free kicks or fouls way outside the box his kicks could free Longoria and the forwards to jockey for inside position on the opposing defense. My right midfielder would have to be Ben Zobrist. I do not know if Zorilla is ambidextrous on the soccer field, but if he was he would be a great fit to the usual attacking side of the field and could center passes or do flanking moves or U-runs down the line for crosses into box.
That leaves the forwards line. Here I’m going for the tall man in the box and shifty runners down the outsides or who can change directions and do crafty diagonals into the box for short chips, passes or provide ball in the air for headers.
So with me wanting to capitalize on speed, it is no secret the left wing has to be Kevin Kiermaier who seems to have a sixth sense to getting into position for the right play and who is one of those players who brings a new level of excitement to the team.
Right wing has to be another speedster as I pencil in Desmond Jennings for this slot and will call upon his quick first burst for great offensive moves and set plays. Add to the fact Jennings did play in that other brand of football, I think he will be a great target in the air for headers and taking a defender out of his position for scoring opportunities at the top of the goal box.
That only leaves the center spot. I had to go with someone here who has leadership, respect and plays on a different level at times. The obvious and clear choice for this spot was David Price. One of the glaring reasons is his 6’6” frame can rise a good 3-4 inches above most defenders for headers and I think he has the foot skills and dexterity to pull off picture perfect passes and provide 110% throughout the contest.
Of course this Rays team will have great and skilled substitutes on the bench like Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Joel Peralta, and I might add Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi to the mix as we all need a true “enforcer” on our soccer team.
I know there will be debate about my choices, but I think this squad could do some real damage on the pitch, provide some spectacular scoring chances and picture perfect goals as well as keep the score low and within reach of the Rays offensive unit. Well it’s time for me to set the ball on the middle dot and get this Rays Club team going. Besides, you can always vent your thought at Rays Soccer Night Friday, June 20th.
What? I wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines and watch this team, I would make the perfect Referee plus I want to see this match at ground zero, not in the stands. And besides, St. Petersburg,Florida like the Rays is home to the 2-time North American Soccer League Champions, the Tampa Bay Rowdies who play on the Rays old Spring home. Florida Progress/Al Lang Field.
Now if I can just get the linesmen to keep Jonny Gomes from running onto the turf, we would be golden.
I got an email the other day from the Texas Rangers as they were doing promotion for their upcoming “University Day” on July 11th featuring a special Baylor color scheme inspired cap and game day promotions.
Of course I’m a bit biased being a Baylor grad., but after seeing this I visited my own local team, the Tampa Bay Rays website and found out they are also going to show some Rays love to our Florida universities.
The Rays will also have 3 separate college nights in 2014 with the first showcasing the Florida Gators aka “Chomp at the Trop” on Sat., July 26th when the team takes on the Boston Red Sox. The University of South Florida get their chance on Sat., August 2nd when the Los Angeles Angels come to the Trop, and Florida State has their “Chop at the Trop” event on Sun., August 3rd.
Each event have their own ticket pricing variables from which includes a seat in the Lower Level and a special edition cap featuring your school. USF ticket packages start at $34 and you can use the password: USF1 for your Bulls package. FSU fans ticket packages start at $38 and you can get your special Nole seats with the password: Noles1. Florida fans can get their $42 packages with the password; Gator1.
If you plan on attending the game with a larger group of 10 or more fans, call the Rays Group Sales dept. at (727) 825-3396 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could possibly see a few more dollars in all of your group’s wallet come game day.
I think it is awesome that the Rangers and Rays have devoted a special game day for colleges within their regional grasp and promote their love for those universities with their own college color scheme inspired Rays cap design. I will definitely be in house on July 29th when the Gator Nation invades the Trop and could help the Rays fans out cheer the sporadic outbursts from the Red Sox faithful.
My only complaint or hope is that in the future the Rays can provide a more colorful cap more in tune with each school’s color scheme more like the Baylor cap the Rangers will hand out. The Rays caps seem a bit “plain Jane” to me compared to the Baylor cap, and usually the Rays do not go with a plain promotional item, especially one that will be seen around town bearing their trademark “TB”.
Hopefully this is only a beginning and someday each of the M L B’s clubs can one day carry these special college caps in their respective Team Store and promote these school and their Rays ties 365 days a year instead of for one glorious night.
Now if I can figure out a way to get my hands on one of those awesome Baylor caps….
Renegade Note: Everyone has their own Don Zimmer moments within or outside the game. The following is my first encounter with the beloved baseball soul who held the game close to his heart and embraced it until the end. We will miss you Zim.
It was late January of ’72 when I met Zimmer as he and his wife Soot for the first time as they were out and about the town from their then home situated on the finger-shaped islands of Treasure Island.
I didn’t know the first time he drove into the station he was even a ballplayer. People in that time either dressed up or wore cotton shirts and pants more than the T’s and jeans fashionable today. And M L B merchandised clothing seemed more reserved for the diamond than plastered across your body as every day clothes when you traveled.
I was around 11 years old when I first met Don Zimmer. I always idolized my Dad and worked a lot of after school times and weekends at our Union 76 gas station (Wittig’s Motor Pool) on a popular crossroads towards the beaches here in St. Petersburg, Fl.
Back then every 6 pump demanded Full Service attention. That meant as a young kid I would wash windshields, check air pressure in tires and put the regular or premium gasoline nozzle into that car’s tank. I loved doing my duties in a scaled down shirt emblazoned with AAA patches, the orange Union 76 globe patch and the name “Cliff” sewn in above my breast pocket.
As I was under the hood checking the brake fluid, wiping down the oil dipstick and checking for corrosion buildup on the battery cables. I noticed Zimmer’s eyes peering at me through the small space between the hood and the windshield section of the car. He was laughing and seemed to get a kick out of this young kid going gangbusters servicing his beautiful automobile.
After I heard the click of the gas nozzle and finished filling the car’s gas tank. I then approached and told Zimmer the amount and awaited the payment for the gas.
He asked me if we, (the station) every got large used tire tubes he could use as an inexpensive but fun float for when his family headed out to the Gulf of Mexico. I assured him I could help him for honest price. I saw that most of them were not very large in size and remembered I had a huge truck tube outside by the alignment rack I used as a baseball aid.
Zimmer watched as I went through the moves of making sure the tube was filled, had no leaks then pronounced without hesitation, “I can sell this fine tube to you for .75 cents”. Now do not forget, a gallon of regular gas at that time cost between 39-45 cents by itself, so for the price of about 2 gallons of fine gas, he could have hours of enjoyment stretched out on that huge truck tube.
I finished the exchange and Zimmer presented the money to my Dad for the gas and the tube and Zimmer asked why there were white lines on the inside circle of the tube. My Dad explained it was my “throwing tube” to practice my aim and accuracy as I played Third Base and sometimes Shortstop for my Little League team.
Zimmer just looked at me and asked if I was good. He looked at my Dad then me and I told him I wanted to be the next Brooks Robinson and Zimmer smiled telling me that “Brooks was a great ballplayer to watch and copy parts of his defensive style”.
As we opened the trunk to put in the tube I saw a few gloves, a stack of bats and a bag of worn and clay stained baseballs. Zimmer quickly said he also loved the game of baseball and worked out with his young son when he had the time. At no time did he pump out his chest or proclaim he was an ex-MLB player.
At that moment he seemed to me to be just an average guy who also loved baseball and seemed to be passing on his love for the game to his own son. After Zimmer had left the station headed back west towards Treasure Island, my Dad told me who he was, and that he was a former M L B player who had played for teams like Brooklyn, Chicago, New York and the Senators.
I was upset I had wasted an opportunity to chat or get a few pointers from a big league infielder, but knew he was also a loyal customer and would be back.
He even came in for fuel before he headed off to San Diego that spring to begin his Managerial career with the San Diego Padres that spring.
I always felt at ease around Zimmer, never got the “better than me” vibe or saw any irritation from him when I asked questions or wanted advice. That is what initially got me to follow his career and take every moment possible to talk with him when I became the Rays Pepsi rep and had a little extra access around Tropicana Field or the Rays Spring complex.
Every time I have met Zimmer since that day in 1972 I start off with asking him if he wanted “Regular or Premium today”. It always takes a moment, but he always chuckles and asked how I was doing while extending his hand for a firm shake.
I will miss Zimmer as much for his humanity as his storytelling and bits of wisdom bestowed upon another generation.
There has never been anyone like him around the game of baseball before, and there truly will not be another beloved soul like Zim to ever grace the game again.
I have had a mountain of respect for Tampa Bay Rays Third Base Coach Tom Foley over the years. He is a funny guy who loves his craft, is eager to teach and mentor young players and swings a mean golf club.
But when he recent came out to his usual spot manning an extra “6” on his jersey ( Foley normally wear just a lone “6” ) and emblazoned with the name “Zimmer” on his shoulders, that sealed him permanently among my all-time favorite list of M L B personalities.
The moment I realized it was emotional for me with my memories of Zim, and amplified this team’s love, admiration and want for the Rays Senior Advisor to recouporate and return to his usual spot on the field during the Rays Batting Practice sessions before games .
“I’m going to wear it until they (M L B ) tell me, ‘Don’t wear it,’ ” Foley said Saturday. “We are 1-0 9 (now 3-0, all Walk-off wins ) with it.” Personally I’m hoping M L B let’s Foley wear it as long as Zimmer is recovering and away from the field.
With Foley being “Zimmer for a day”, the action personally pushed the level of admiration and respect I had for him to an astronomical level. It was the ultimate homage by one of the senior members of the Rays franchise displaying his own kinship and affection for the Rays iconic Senior Advisor. The Zen that is Zim is such a vital piece of this team’s chemistry and spirit.
He is the longest tenured Coach in Rays history. Foley first stepped into the Rays Third Base Coaching box back on October 25, 2001 and has survived the turmoil and change of 3 different Rays Managers from Hal McRae, Lou Pinella and Joe Maddon.
That a magical 13 years giving signals and signs to hundreds of Rays players who have passed him during that time. Only St Louis Cardinals Third Base Coach Jose Oquendo, who has manned the same spot for 14 years has patrolled the box longer.
How important is Foley to the Rays game plan? Former Rays Coaches’ Greg Riddoch (1998-1999), Billy Hatcher (2000-2001) and current NY Mets Manager Terry Collins (2001). All have manned that same strategic spot for the Rays, but only Foley has stood there since.
Only 3 other members of the Rays organization’s uniformed corps have pulled on a Rays tunic longer. Field Coordinator and Durham Bulls iconic Manager Bill Evers, current Bulls Manager Charlie Montoyo and long-time Hitting Coordinator Steve Livesey.
Coming into the 2014 season Foley had done his patterned windmill signal and watched 76% of the Rays franchise’s runs cross Home Plate. I do not think there are many if any other Coaches’ in the entire history of M L B baseball besides possibly Oquendo who could boast such an achievement.
I was proud and exhilarated watching Foley’s game day homage to Zimmer. It is not often we see one Rays icon pay homage to another eternal Rays icon. My one hope is that sometime in the future, whoever takes over that sacred Rays Third Base spot after Foley puts away his spikes will someday display the same honor and be “Foley for a day”..
Has it really been 5 years?
My how the time and seasons have flown by since the final nail was driven into the coffin that was supposed to be the Tampa Bay Rays Waterfront stadium. It was May 22, 2009 when the Rays wishes of bay side baseball took its last breathes on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg, Florida
The stadium was supposed to be the new glistening gem on the ‘Burg side of the estuary known as Tampa Bay. Where crisp and salty afternoon sea breezes and occasional showers were to bring outdoor baseball back to the region M L B style. The prototypical sail was to bellow high above the playing field as a new regional Tampa Bay iconic symbol where no balls would ever hide again, and those bloody catwalks would be forever confined to the Rays Wives annual fashion show.
May 23, 2009 was the date the dream officially died. On that date Progress Energy Field or better known as Al Lang won a reprieve from demolition and becoming a baseball footnote in the area. Most people attribute the stadium’s quick death to a lack of sufficient life support from local community groups who bantered and threatened lawsuits, public outcries and general chaos even before the stadium was more than a pipe dream.
Most transient residents or non-Florida natives who did not grown up in this region would not know that the city of St. Petersburg in the 1970’s went to great lengths and expense to clean up and beautify this same waterfront corridor between Beach Drive & First Street and the bay. The land not already occupied by buildings such as the Vinoy, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Al Lang and the former Bayfront Center were victims of the renewal wrecking ball.
5 years ago a group called P.O.W.W. (Protect Our Wallets & Waterfront) did a bit of an Irish jig as they took their victor’s strut around the stadium’s grave. The small but politically tight group basically put a line in the white silky sand and no one from the city or the Rays dared pop a big toe across it.
The Rays also did their own dance by stating that maybe the downtown stadium site might have been a huge oversight or more of a fantasy wish than a real reality for the team. Back then former Rays Sr. VP Michael Kalt stated in a St Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) article: “It’s pretty clear people did not want a ballpark down there. From what we’re seeing, we’re probably in that camp, too”.
Spin doctors were not only playing on the radio, they were doing damage control on this Rays PR gaping wound. The club did a 180 degree turn in their prospective in a 6 month period and to this day has not gone past initial conversations on another potential site either in Pinellas County or beyond.
Sure well placed volleys and comments have crossed both the Rays and St Pete municipal bows, but no movement beyond the political picture-taking and handshake on another potential Rays stadium. As the days tick away cities like Charlotte, N C, Portland Oregon, Nashville, Tenn., and even a city within the Rays own TV and Radio 100-mile radius market, Orlando grow more confident in their own possible M L B dream scenario.
But even as 5 years has now passed since the last physical plans have been shown for a potential Rays new home, you know there are a set of plans somewhere within the offices at One Tropicana Drive that fully explores and provides all the nuts, bolts and screw locations for a modern and sleek Florida baseball nirvana aka the Rays stadium. Problem is the plans might be 5 years old and the Florida humidity or moths might have gotten to it and it will be gone forever.
Oh, and did you know the original design for the Rays current home was suppose to have a sail style design with an open air vista down left field to center field?
On paper the December 2013 trade that brought Heath Bell from the desert to the Gulf coast seemed like a nice addition of Tampa Bay Rays Bullpen depth and a nice sprinkling of leadership. It seemed like a nice added relief corps bonus to insert perfectly between Joel Peralta and Grant Balfour…that is on paper.
Today the Rays did something that could cost them mega bucks for their thrifty franchise, the designated Bell for assignment and if they cannot find another abode for Bell in 2014, the result could be a major blow to any late season help being brought onto the Rays roster.
Bell had a predetermined salary for 2014 of $ 9 million before even pulling on a Ray’s spring jersey, and even with the magical work of financial warlock aka Rays VP of Baseball Ops Andrew Friedman, the team is still on the hook for around $5.5 million.
This move smell incredibly like a past Rays decision to shed a player who not only could not live up to his potential, but did not seem to have enough in the tank to provide a possible upside to keeping him on the 25-man roster. Oh, you mean you do not remember the mid-May slashing of offensively anemic Pat Burrell? How soon we forget a DH who hit only .202 with 2 HR and 13 RBIs over his first 24 games back in 2010.
Bell’s Designation For Assignment today unfortunately has the same odor to it. A guy who was counted on for stability and consistency somehow fell into the “Pat the Bat” funk-a-delic whirling dervish and found himself sucked out of a promising M L B clubhouse while on a road trip….double whammy.
Bell appeared in a now unlucky 13 games for the Rays amassing a 1-1 record and a highly elevated 7.27 ERA for the team. In a completely ironic twist, Bell had been used in both games of the Rays current series with the New York Yankees and was rewarded with his first win since August 27, 2013 when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Want to know just how much the Rays were counting on Bell this season for consistency and long relief appearances? 4 times already in 2014 Bell had thrown 40 or more pitches in an appearance and with Cesar Ramos doing some short-term starting assignments, the team was counting heavily on Bell to take the long reliever role and stress off the Rays Bullpen until Ramos could return to his familiar role.
Bell just didn’t seem to provide the needed stability even though he was on a roll to surpass his previous long-relief record of 7 appearances with 40 or more pitches set back in 2006 when he was with the San Diego Padres. Maybe another vital nail in the coffin of Bell was the pure fact he had allowed at least a run in 7 of his last 9 trips to the mound with an exclamation point last night surrendering 3 runs on 28 pitches in his late inning of work.
Sure Bell did not provide the Yankees initial runs scored that sunk the Rays chances on Saturday night, but his 3 runs given up during his last Rays appearance definitely added enough weight to tip the Rays scales of not seeing him as a viable option for the rest of the season.
Maybe Bell’s April 24th gig when he gave up at least 5 runs during an outing sent warning bells chiming for the Rays. Possibly the 3-run shot given up to the Twins unknown Aaron Hicks in that appearance might have shown a pure weak spot in Bell’s arsenal that he could again give up double digit HR in consecutive seasons ( he gave up 12 in 2013). Even though during that same game Bell experienced for only the second time in his career entering a contest in the 5th inning.
I think the final ring tolled for Bell in the fact entering Saturday’s game he was tied for second among American League relievers with 21 hits allowed and had right-handers hitting .375 against him compared to his .244 mark set in 2013. Bell ended up giving up 3 more hits on Saturday for an even 2 dozen (24 over 17.1 innings of work. Over the last 7 days Bell has appeared 5 times, thrown for 5.1 innings and seem his WHIP explode upwards( 2.09) with a 3 walk/4 K split over that span.
Some might see my display of Bell’s stats as a bit harsh, but this is a player who has been given the task of protecting leads, admonishing scoring chances and keep his team in a game with his pitching. Bell has not lived up to that task in my opinion for the Rays.
Trust me, I know from talking to some of the Bullpen guys at times that being an M L B reliever is a thankless job at times that requires a Teflon shield and a mind healthy game-to-game case of amnesia, but Bell did not answer the call and so his designation was not unwarranted, but was still alarming until you look deeper into the abyss at his 2014 stats. The Rays will have 10 days to try and trade Bell, waive or release him outright.
It is going to be one colorful, extravagant and interesting game tonight under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. For tonight the Tampa Bay Rays not only play host to the Minnesota Twins, but they also invite Bollywood as a salute to their own neighbor Tampa being selected as the sight for this year’s International India Film Academy (IIFA), which some affectionately anoint the “Bollywood Oscars”.
It will be a night of choreographed flamboyant dances, or as the television show “The Neighbors” call it, “screw in the light bulb, pet the dog” large scale ballpark participation sequences. Who knows, all game long during the mid-innings we could see sporadic mob style dancing segments pop up all over the ballpark from the Porch, to the TBT Deck, or maybe even the Papa John’s Bullpen Café.
I am sure we will witness Rays game day host Rusty Kath dressed festively possibly in a Gandi cap or ornate and fashionable Sherwani. Who knows maybe he will put his Gandi cap into the ring and do some impromptu dance moves (we know Raymond will try).
Hopefully Rusty will not chose to wear a Panache or Lungi because that would make hopping a wall a bit….exposing even for the unflappable Rays game host. Now Raymond could pull off the traditional men’s sarong with grace and ease (I hope).
I know with the upcoming IIFA awards beginning today and running through April 26th in our neighboring city on the east side of Tampa Bay, it is a perfect time to bring Bollywood into a baseball stadium and the Rays Promo team jumped right into the fray with a ticket offer with a ceremonial one-of-a-kind T-shirt offer just for the special night with seating starting at $25 in the Press Level (maybe Marc Topkin will pass you a hot dog).
I am also hoping the Rays, who seem closely aligned with Florida neighbor Walt Disney Productions will also have a few trailer or spot videos of the upcoming Disney baseball film “The Million Dollar Arm” which opens May 16th Nationwide. The biological sports drama is a true story of the Indian pitching prospects Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel who began their M L B dream in another neighboring city, Bradenton, Fl. back in 2008.
Tonight should be a great festive night with colors splashes all over the Trop., great dancing and who knows maybe even a post-game dance on the field via walk-off (it’s been a while). No matter how you slice it, tonight will be a collision of the senses as colors, sounds fill the Trop celebrating Bollywood and who knows, maybe even Todd Kalas or Rays Manager Joe Maddon will get into the moment do their own little post-game shimmy….I can’t wait to take it all in tonight.
I also included a trailer for “The Million Dollar Arm” for those interested in the film:
I have never let someone else take the helm of my blog before, even on a one-time basis, but there is but one Haley Smilow. So maybe it is time for me to do some “paying it forward” and provide a forum for a budding M L B beat reporter/ interview guru. I know Haley doesn’t need a lot of help as her accolades and accomplishments already at a young age simply blow my mind.
I always try and encourage writers both young and mature to find their own groove and take their time writing what they enjoy, or what might inform or entertain people. To paraphrase a old saying, “If you enjoy what you do, it will never be work”. I have a feeling Haley will never have to work a day in her life, only enjoy what she does with passion and joy.
So please welcome my first ever guest blogger the aspiring journalist Miss Haley as she gives us an inspiring and in-depth interview she did with Tampa Bay Rays southpaw extraordinaire David Price in one of the that holiest place within Tropicana Field, the Rays dugout:
Do you have a favorite ballpark other than Tropicana and why? And is there a ballpark where you feel you always play well in?
DP: I like Target Field. We usually stay close to the stadium, so we can walk there. They have great food and I like the self-serve ice cream machine. I feel like I play well at Fenway. It is a good park for lefty pitching especially when facing a heavily stacked right handed team.
Do you have any nicknames that teammates call you?
DP: The Latin guys call me “Precio” Spanish for Price, and Homeright.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals?
DP: I would say more like routines. I always wear the same green Tampa Bay shirt and cap to the stadium. When we are on the road, I take guys out to eat and pay for lunch and cabs. I feel like its good karma and that will come back to me.
Better Inning? 3 Pitches – 3 Outs or 9 Pitches – 3 Strike Outs?
DP: Good question!! I used to be really focused on getting the strike outs, but now I think 3 pitches/3 outs. First pitch outs are the way to keep the pitch count down and to go deep in games.
Is there a batter you really don’t like to face?
DP: Yes, Danny Valencia. Lifetime he is 9 for 12 against me. No matter what team he’s been on, he always hits me hard. The last time we played the Orioles he went 2 for 3 with an RBI double, a single and a walk against me.
How did you prepare yourself for games and facing hitters?
DP: I prepare by trying to execute my pitches. I like to stick to my style of pitching and my strengths instead of trying to pitch to batter’s weaknesses.
First Round draft pick in 2007, starting pitcher for the 2010 All – Star game, winning the 2012 Cy Young and of course the cover of MLB 2K 13 what are some of your other accomplishments you are proud of?
DP: I would have to say winning left handed pitcher of the year award in 2010 and Player’s Choice in 2012. Player’s Choice in my opinion is more important than Cy Young because it is voted on by your peers. It means a lot that my teammates and opponents think that highly of me and my pitching.
Where does your love of baseball come from?
DP: My parents. We always watched baseball together as a family. I would come home from school, play baseball, eat dinner and then watch a game on TV. It has been a part of my life always.
If you could go back in time who would you want to play baseball with?
DP: Would have to say Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente. I would also love to play with Dwight Gooden he was an incredible pitcher. I think it would be fun to compete against them.
If I could change one thing about baseball it would be?
DP: After a batter has two strikes, a foul should be strike three. It would keep the game moving faster.
If you weren’t playing baseball what could you see yourself doing?
DP: I would be a teacher and coach. I love kids.
Favorite baseball movie?
DP: “Sandlot”. I have seen it so many times that if I just hear one line, I know its Sandlot.
5 songs on your I pod that are on repeat?
DP: Oh man, I just got asked that question the other day and it took me like 20 minutes to come up with three!! I would have to say Young Jeezy “Hustler’s Ambition” and “Go Hard”, Lindsey Stirling and Coldplay.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
DP: Spaghetti, it’s hard to mess up. I don’t make my own sauce I just get the Prego.
Have you ever been Pranked?
DP: Yes, Sean Rodriguez pranked James Shields and me on M L B Fan Cave. Sean Rodriguez planned it and we had to do a couple “fake” promos. For one segment I was supposed to scream in a high pitched voice and jump in Sean’s arms like a girl because of a shark. They got me to do it like five times before they told me. That was a good one.
One-thing fans don’t know about you?
DP: I do not run my dog Astro’s twitter account.
What do you do for fun other then baseball?
DP: Normal everyday things. I play with my dog, hang out with my girlfriend Tiffany, and video games. I like to do many things that kids like to do. I don’t like to take extreme chances like skydiving or bungee jumping, just like to be as normal as possible.
What wouldn’t you leave your home without? DP: My cell phone. It’s how I keep in touch with friends and family. I also run my twitter account through it.
Do you have any other favorite sports besides Baseball?
DP: I love basketball and golf. I would like to play professional golf because you get to go to beautiful locals and the weather is always nice. Not like pitching in 45 degrees in the rain.
What are some of your biggest challenges and how did you over come them?
DP: Just staying focused and staying positive when you are struggling in a game. I try to execute my pitches and keep my mentality positive.
What advice would you give to young players?
DP: Have fun it’s a game.
Renegade: That was an awesome and insightful interview Haley! I know we all learned a bit more about the Rays premier southpaw.
I want to thank Junior Baseball Magazine and Haley Smilow for this fantastic contribution. If you wish you read more of Haley’s posts please click on this link and it will redirect you to her MLBlogs.com . If you want to be one of the army of Twitter followers, feel free to click here and it will take you to her Twitter feed.
I truly look forward to Haley’s future M L B adventures and her budding M L B beat reporter or columnist gig in the future. Thank you again Haley!
I originally was going to write this post on April 1st, but in the past I’ve done posts on leaving the site, changing my team alliances and even a weird player trade that even had a few people call Tampa Bay Rays sources to see if it was official or just a bad rumor.
So I delayed this announcement for a day so that it would not be valued as an April Fool’s notation, but as a true to life change in my literary persona and a widen more broad approach to the game I love and cherish.
When I decided to some back and write again this past December, I knew I had to mix things up somehow since I felt I had become a bit predictable and downright focused only in one direction. Tunnel-vision can be a good thing and a bad thing for a writer. For me it seemed to be just like being caught flat-footed between the bases with a swift infielder trying to tag me out of the game.
So it was time for a thought process about a change. First I had to decide if my blog persona would stay intact or change with the rest of the black and white type renovation. I liked my handle “Rays Renegade”, and it has been whispered (at least a few times) within the tilted cap of the Trop or on various websites and I had to decide if I was going to start 100 percent fresh, or keep at least the persona I had built since September 2007.
The decision about the name was easy. I had built a literary personality and it for now will stay intact, but not written in stone.
So the next phase has been in the process for quite a while. I love the Rays and cherish every moment and victory the team has achieved since I first glanced towards the infield in 1998, but now my focus will be more resembling any team’s pre-game Batting Practice as balls will be going to all fields, high into the stands and well as screamers down the foul lines.
By opening my vision towards 29 other teams I can find more material, base opinions and provide a more compelling blog by using all fields instead of just trying to go to deep center with each and every pitch.
I truly cherish this game and the people who make it special, and that will not change in any fashion. I will hope to bring a broader voice and basis of opinions and facts as to the game from coast-to-coast. Be it good or bad, I hope to bring my realistic views and notions to things going on around the M L B , but there will be moments where the Rays will hold my glance a bit longer.
That being said, it is time to begin the renovation, the change and the revision I have envisioned for a while but procrastinated until now.
Change in life is a good thing. We all do it be it our clothes, jobs or even revising our personalities or character to bring about a positive change in our lives. This blog to me was a uniform I wore, a cap I pulled down tight upon my brow and stared in at a hitter who wanted to place my pitch into the Rays Tank.
So begins the change that will resemble my time in Row C of Section 138 of Tropicana Field. At the bottom of the section, the seat on the field side of the row within a shout or anguished scream at a player or reaction to the game events…….I always loved to Bellow from the Bleachers to the field heckling or even encouraging players during the course of a game throughout a season.
Hmmm, maybe that would be a great name…
Yep, “Bellows from the Bleachers” it is.
You kind of knew going into the idea of an M L B Opening Day national holiday might be more of a mythical swing for the fences or every baseball lover’s day dream of an impending 3-2 count bottom of the 9th with the bases fully juiced.
Maybe it was a bit of too much emphasis on pushing the positives and thinking that our current Commander-in-Chief who ceremonially upheld that awesome Presidential Opening Day tradition on his home turf of Washington DC during the 2010 National’s home opener would stand tall and proud that one of his treasured sports wanted to be embraced like this on a national scale.
Possibly I held too much hope that President Obama, who bolstered more of an athletic background and love for the game of baseball then in the first Presidential First Pitch moment back in 1910 by that famous spit-baller President William Taft. Maybe I was hoping President Obama who relish in the fact the Tampa Bay Rays own Raymond stood with members of the Red Sox Nation as Mr. Met joined arms-in-arms with Philly phanatics in wanting a special day of celebrating what is still rightfully, our national pastime.
But what truly rocked me to the core is not just a personal or even cap tilt from the White House’s main occupant, but a well-versed but truly polish response to the M L B Petition submitted to make Baseball’s Opening Day a National holiday.
Sure the press release did come from the White House’s “Bullpen” via a mound visit/release by White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Ernest. In Ernest’s defense, he is a life-long Royals fan, so maybe I’m cutting him a bit of slack since he personally knows a bit about the awful feeling of feeling disappointment with regards to the game.
Ernest was quite earnest and frank indeed to show some empathy with the entire baseball nation as he stated in his brief: “While we are sympathetic to your pitch to make Opening Day a national holiday, it’s a little outside our strike zone: creating a permanent federal holidays is traditionally the purview of Congress. So it’s up to the men and women on Capitol Hill to decide whether to swing at this pitch.”
So quite possibly seems we, as a petitioning nation somehow misread the signals from our own Third Base Coach (M L B) on the transpiring play and were ultimately caught red-handed standing in “no-man’s land” between First and Second Base with our feet stuck in clay….an easy out for the White House as we consulted and petitioned the wrong governmental body to get some resolve to our want.
Hopefully next time we can get a clear second opinion or honest impression on the signals before striding off the bag and committing a mortal base-running sin. Giving a precious out even in the game of politics can be detrimental to any swing or aggressive actions at the plate or on the base paths and could result in an inning ending defensive recourse or a debilitating 5-4-3 double play.
Sure I wanted a personal opinion or statement from our Chi-Sox loving Commander as to his future vision for this plan of making Opening Day a national celebration, but outside the aforementioned Press Release, the Oval Office or for that matter the Rose Garden still doesn’t seem to have a keystone shaped Home Plate nestled within its carpet/grassy regions at this time.
I guess it is true that baseball makes all of us feel like youngsters, kids of all ages, and maybe it was truly naive to think that by gathering 100,000 signatures (mine included) would put this grand plan on firm ground for such an undertaking.
Maybe the same 100,000 people’s want to deport Justin Bieber delivered to this same prestigious address will be met with the same fate…..a hearty and pronounced bellowing from a black-clad Umpire screaming “Strike One!”
Sure we might have been caught flat-footed watching that ball break across the plate and we stood there groggily-eyed and mesmerized, but hopefully this experience did not only educate us, but made us pop a bit more pine tar on the barrel, grip the lumber a bit tighter and square off in the box hoping the “meat” throws that same old weak stuff again.
Maybe the reality is that by petitioning the White House we can as a baseball nation take the necessary steps to accelerate our plans advance through the political minor leagues to take a healthy step up the ladder to make ourselves truly noticed and possibly get that battlefield promotion to “The Show”.
We as a collective baseball-loving nation are now a bit wiser for this whole experience. From the initial gaining of the first petition’s signatures to the reassembling of the whole enchilada as our Bench decides our next game plan.
Believe me, next time we will not have a deer-in-the-headlights moment when we final get that call to the majors aka where surely someday get our shot with an at-bat against the high caliber Washington DC Bombers and even with a 0-1 count against us we will not show a hint of fear as we want and shall one day have a national day to rejoice our national pastime.
Washington forgets. A baseball game is never over until that 27th out, so we still got time, the energy and the will to provide a classic comeback moment. As that wise baseball philosopher John Fogerty once said: “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play…today!”
Excuse while I step personally back into the Batter’s Box after adding a bit more tar to my Louisville Slugger wearing my “WE the People” away baseball cap and jersey.