Results tagged ‘ Reid Brignac ’
Most Tampa Bay Rays fan might not remember the days when Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus used to have their first shows of the year right here in St. Petersburg after leaving their Winter quarters in Sarasota, Florida.
The railroad track spur that slide right by Ferg’s and sit just a outfield throw to the North of Parking Lot # 6 used to accommodate the big cats cages and the elephants before their annual stroll down First Avenue South towards the long gone Bayfront Center.
Sunday night truly had that air of being a 3-ring circus, and not just because Cirque de Soleil greeted fans in the rotunda with tricks, quips and even a bit of pantomime, there was just that sense of anything happening at any time. From the first moment the performers of the La Nouba troupe made their way onto the Trop’s turf, suspense and excitement was on the menu.
Who in their right mind could have predicted, fantasied or even daydreamed the unfolding of the electrified events that were to escalate and vibrate the crowd way past the surrounding tavern’s closing times. The journey definitely reminded me of those first Circus shows of the season, only thing missing was Rays In-Game Host Rusty Kath with a top hat and a sparkling tux.
We saw grown men becoming starry-eyed boys for a moment as the Boston Red Sox bench went back to their Little League roots and sported their “ rally caps”, and even had a rare sighting of Rays Bench Coach Dave Martinez and his trimmed mane both get thrown out of the game on a play that did resemble a bit of frustration and stupidity.
All in all if you took your eyes off the field you were surely going to miss something. Fitting we have a circus act perform the night Jeff Niemann who does resemble Toys R Us icon Geoffrey the Giraffe, post up one of the best performances of his career. Not only did the Tall Texan silent the Red Sox offense with only 2 hits, he also sent 10 grumbling back to the visitor’s dugout via the strikeout.
Then you had Rays resident Roy Hobbs imitator Sean Rodriguez take out not an outfield light pole, but a hot light situated just above the Third Baseline in classic “The Natural” cinematic form. Was kind of humorous for a moment seeing Rays Third Base Coach Tom Foley move faster than he has in years to escape the heated filament and glass particles.
Thank goodness the action did not leave anyone with an injury, just a story for the ages. But that was the second time a ball had hit one of the infamous catwalks in this ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast that showed the entire Nation the heart and spirit of both these teams.
Did you know the Tropicana Field cleaning crew did not punch out until 9:20-ish on Monday morning.
Seriously, from the fan jumping on the field trying to be part of the ESPN experience, and instead being face-planted into the fine grass blades of the Trop., you really couldn’t take you eyes away from the madness. The best part of the evening was seeing that intensity, that energy level ebb and flow all night long like the Tampa Bay tides.
It was a Sunday Fun Day, and definitely if you wanted your money’s worth, you got it on Sunday night. Niemann threw his first pitch at 8:10 pm, and there was no indicator of the barrel of fun to come…ending some 5 hours and 44 minutes later. But Rays Manager Joe Maddon was the first to exit the building at 11:55 pm after arguing a checked swing call, being sent to the Clubhouse.
Twice the Rays saw their leaders sent to the showers, not early, but late as Martinez got his exit toss at around 12:04 am on Monday. Game became so exhausting Rays broadcaster Brian Anderson, who had the night off because of the ESPN telecast fell asleep at 12:45 am during the lucky 13th inning.
Even though Rodriguez brought about his “the Natural” moment, several times during this marathon games guys like Evan Longoria, Reid Brignac and even Matt Joyce had chances to put this thing to bed before midnight.
The most dramatic might have been the pinch-hit by Joyce who had been sidelined by a knee swelling incident and could have had his own Kirk Gibson-style moment. Unfortunately Joyce. Longoria had a chance to break a few television viewing Red Sox hearts in the bottom of the 9th, but ended up hitting a ball to the shortstop for the first out in the bottom of the 9th inning. Longo then came up with two outs and two men on base and hit a routine fly ball to Rightfield to take the game into extra innings.
Briggy Baseball has the last effort for the Rays at around 1:54 am as he grounded out to put the longest game in Rays history officially in the record books. Even though the home side had to go home with a losing effort, this is a firm indicator of the fight and drive within the Rays that could be beneficial in the near future.
We had exploding halogen lamps, superb pin-point pitching by both squads, and saw the giraffe take another step forward in his evolution. We saw balls juggled then fired towards the plate with a perfect break on it, and a single to Rightfield break the Rays hearts.
The only thing missing was that awe inspiring top hat and tux while Rusty was doing his game day shtick while barking into his headset The Trop has 4 rings in its roof system, so maybe it going into extra innings made sense of this circus-inspired night. Oh, and we had a brown bear down in the Bullpen (Bobby Ramos).
When the Tampa Bay Rays traded SS Jason
Bartlett in the off season, I was hoping that young shortstop Reid
Brignac had made the transition needed to play on a daily basis and
provide a stop gap up the middle using the assets of his outstanding
Having a solid and consistent bat to go
along with a brick wall defense would just be the delicious icing on
the proverbial cake. But something seems to be missing. What I have
seen so far this season is a young player who is still trying to find
Your alter ego “Briggy Baseball” has
the defensive chops to play at this level. I am still waiting for
that player we have seen the past 2 Springs that seemed to punish the
ball both at the plate and in the field. Somewhere, somehow this guy
who produced some dramatic defensive moves and provided more than a
few gasps has been MIA in the Rays infield.
Maybe I am being a bit too critical
here right now since the Rays staff and the front office must have
seen the potential and commitment intertwine as you must have made
the needed steps to sprint over the hump ans was the perfect
candidate to replace Bartlett.
I wasn’t expecting a early season
hiccup of 3 errors and a .971 Fielding Average with 25 games under
your belt. Do I push that under the category of “growing pains”
as you learn the position full-time, or do you need a little more
work than we all originally diagnosed.
Please prove me wrong over the next 10
days. Come on Briggy, you have the talent and the moxy to push out of
this sluggish mode and provide a solid game day performance as the
Rays try and raise the Rays win levels. A good guy in that shortstop
slot will go a long way in securing a few wins.
I want to overlook an early potential
fielding error when there was some miscommunication between you and
Second Baseman Ben Zobrist when no one was covering the bag when
Toronto OF Rajai Davis stole a base in the first inning. Blue Jay OF
Cory Patterson, who is a left-handed batter was at the plate, and if
I remember, when a base runner steals off a left-hander, it is the
Short Stop’s responsibility to cover the bag.
It might have been a slight malfunction
made more interesting by your acrobatic save of the ball not going to
the outfield wall by hurling you body perpendicular to the turf and
grabbing it on the bounce like it was designed that way. If someone
would have been there to catch a great throw by Rays catcher John
Jaso, it would have been another caught base stealer on Jaso’s stat
I have seen more than a few plays in
the field by you in this young 2011 season to make me think it is
just an on-field adjustment for you, but do we have the time to wait
for all the pieces to be pushed into place? A .971 Fielding
Percentage is above average for a young player…over 162 games, not
a stitch over 2 dozen starts.
If you glove is having a bit of a
problem, it can be compensated by bringing the lumber at the plate,
but you are hitting at a .240 mark against right-handers (like
tonight’s starter Brandon Morrow) and has struggled profusely to post
a disappointing .125 against southpaws. Coming into 2011 you were a
.268 hitter against right-handed pitching with 9 career Home Runs.
Instead you are hovering at a .206
average right now with no Home Runs and 4 RBI. Brignac has not had a
extra base hit in 31 games, the longest drought in Rays history.
Interesting enough, the former streak of 29 games without an extra
base hit was by former SS Bartlett back in 2008. Tonight you have
gone 0-for-2 with a nice bunt, but still you are just a bad game away
from meeting Mr. Mendoza.
Do we have to post up teammates Elliot
Johnson or Sean Rodriguez at your spot when Southpaws hit the mound.
I had such great expectations for you since your rookie campaign
where you ranked in 3rd among rookies with a .256 average
4th in RBIs (45), and 4th with 8 Home Runs. You future to
me looked bright as the Rays sunburst.
But I am beginning to worry more and
more with each ball hit towards the hole if the athlete in you is
clicking that night. Becoming more anxious when you hit the plate,
mostly against right-handers now and you seem to have lost that “pop”
that produced a stellar .367 average.
Somewhere between Opening Day and now
the lines have crossed somehow. Briggy you are better than this both
on the field and at the plate. Adjustments have to be made now, or
you might see yourself sitting more and more and might lose that
chance to compete nightly.
Maybe going back to “Briggy Baseball” basics is the best solution. You have one of the best infield
instructors in Coach Tom Foley in your clubhouse, maybe sitting near
him when you are on the bench against right-handers will make the
bells and whistles finally begin to chime for you.
I really want to see the “Briggy
Baseball” persona we have fallen in love with over the past 2 seasons
to rear its charismatic head. You have the talent, now it is time to
show all of us why you are here and not back with Triple-A Durham as
you figure things out. Please prove me wrong Briggy….I double-dog
Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon has
always preached that his “pitchers set the tone of a game“. I’m
not sure, but I think the Rays skipper forgot to tell his young
outfield and his rookie Shortstop.
On a night when the Rays offense struck
early against usual Rays-killer Edwin Jackson, the Rays defensive
unit kept the pressure off southpaw hurler David Price with
incredible plays in both in infield and the outfield. Possibly this
young Rays fielding unit has finally found the right note to play in
harmony with their pitching staff.
Rays outfield Sam Fuld who wandered
over to his more familiar Centerfield spot again left his feet for an
incredible catch, and Ben Zobrist looked more like a sprinter going
towards a ball near the Rays Bullpen that was just a inch out of his
Everyone of the Rays outfielder last
night made incredible running catches last night to help synchronize
Price’s artistic game on the mound. Rays SS Reid Brignac also got his
own note in with a deep ball hit towards the edge of the Rays new
AstroTurf surface, then turned and fired a strike that would have
made any pitcher envious for the 6-3 put out.
Little by little this Rays patchwork
Blue defense is gelling and beginning to showcase not only their
defensive skills, but show great support for their Rays pitching
staff by boosting their offense. I have to say, this might be one of
the best Rays athletic defenses we have seen in a while from corner
to corner…Sorry Carl Crawford.
Tell me this little quote will not infuriate the Red Sox
Nation. Rays Maddon on Sam Fuld’s LF defense compared to
Carl Crawford, who won a Gold Glove last year:
“There’s no drop-off. There’s no drop-off. To say
that right now, I would just be appeasing everybody. That’s
not true. Sam’s playing that level of defense right now. He
throws the ball better. And right now, all the different
things he’s doing defensively, I can’t tell you that Carl’s
better. I can not.”
High praise for Fuld from a Rays
Manager that got to see Crawford nightly from 2007 to 2010 along with
a duo of trips to the post season. But this entire Rays outfield
right now is torqued to perform and to provide moments that even ESPN
would be proud. Interesting enough, Fuld currently has a comfortable
points lead (18) on the ESPN Web Gems standings over both Braves SS
Alex Gonzalez and Marlin OF Chris Coghlan.
Interesting enough, Rays 2B Sean
Rodriguez is in a 3-way tie for fourth place with 9 points, and Rays
1B Dan Johnson has 7 points. The Rays as a team currently have 36
points and are being chased hard by the Rockies (24) and the Royals
(19) in this early stage of the season. The Rays current .986
Fielding Percentage ranks second in the American League.
Before tonight’s broadcast, FSN Florida had an on-air interview with Price and his quote says it all: “ I hear that water covers 75% of the World, the other 25% is covered by Sam Fuld.”
Pitching may ” set the tone”, but
if you have your defensive unit also in unison playing extremely
stingy defense, it helps lighten the burden of the pitching staff.
When a pitcher is down 3-1 or 3-2 in a count and his defense is
playing with humongous gloves, they can skirt a ball in on the hands
or outside hoping for a ground ball and a sure fire out.
The overall confidence the pitching
staff can gain by the Rays defense playing superior right now will
play into guys trusting the players behind them and let the game
unfold instead of the pitchers’ trying to win it all on their own
Acrobatic plays, leaping grabs and full
sprint catches might seem like a rare occurrences on a baseball
diamond, but here in Tampa Bay, it is just business as usual for Fuld
and crew. When I played football, my Coaches used to preach that
“defense wins championships “.
Right now the Rays are playing a tune
like “Take It On the Run” by REO Speedwagon in with both starting
and relief pitching strumming along, hitting banging hard to provide
tempo and the entire fielding unit playing in harmony. Maybe Maddon
is right because right now pitching is setting the tone…. and it is
simply beautiful to the ear.
During the last 12 months, Tampa Bay Rays Third Baseman Evan Longoria has tried to mold his image a bit with his 2011 Spring Training Kirk Cameron clone curly-Q hairstyle, a more GQ-inspired wardrobe and the toys that “big boys” buy when they cash a substantial MLB paycheck. As Mel Brooks said in History of the World Part One, sometimes “it is good to be the King.”
Added to all of Longoria’s career accolades is the increased pressure of being marketed not only by the Rays, but by Major League Baseball into one of the most popular players in Major League Baseball. With increased demands both online and in auctions of Longoria jerseys and game-used collectibles increasing immensely in the last year. Suddenly Longo is one of the most sought after autographs of collectors and fans.
For all of the success Longoria has had on the diamond, and with his off-the-field transitions, there have been unseen cloaked figures watching his every moves, tendency and personal mannerisms. They are not MLB opponent’s Coaches or even pitchers’ watching Longoria, they are the unsavory and often criminal element looking to cash in via a 5-finger discount on the new found fame of the 24-year old 3 time AL All Star.
Longoria has quickly been schooled that top tier MLB popularity sometimes comes with a high and costly price tag. Not only do baseball fans want a collective piece of the young star, but stealthy thieves have claimed more than just his signature, or a game used item in the last 12 months.
Suddenly, Longoria’s off-the-field life and adventures has played out more like a high budget Hollywood adventure movie than the real life adventures and escapades of a budding MLB icon.
First there was that epic New Era 2010 commerical where someone stole Longoria’s New Era game cap while he was casually lounging at a Tampa Channelside cafe possibly within a long Longoria throw from his downtown condo. In the commercial, Longo does his best “action hero” imitation as he scampers via a bike, Tampa cable car and also using his charm to commandeer a scooter operated by a cute new Longo fan.
In one of the last scenes of the commercial we see Longo attach himself to the riggers of a rising helicopter from the nearby Davis Island Airport still on the hunt for his prized cap. Inset incredibly ironic moment as Longoria unfortunately finds out the cap on the guy Longo has been chasing is too large for his mullet.
Then we suddenly see Longo transfixed on a guy in a speedboat wearing a Rays cap and he instantly thrusts himself from the helicopter which has by the magic of Hollywood transformed from Florida to the California coastline, complete with a jutting mountain range in the background. Jason Bourne would have definitely been impressed.
Then in the last month Longoria got a second more personal jolt of the criminal element as a prized possession bought this off season, a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was snatched from a Tucson, Arizona lot where it had been stored while undergoing cosmetic alterations. This time because it happened after the beginning of the Rays Spring Training schedule, Longo could not be personally ” on-the-scene” to coordinate the recovery efforts. Sometimes even a budding MLB Superman can not be in two places at once.
The car theft investigation is taking a wild “Gone in 60 Seconds” vibe as former Long Beach
State teammate Troy Tulowizki had a ironclad alibi, he was in camp with about 60 other members of the Colorado Rockies. Nicholas Cage/ Randal “Memphis” Raines was on a out of country movie location.
Tucson police have no solid leads, but are investigating every channel, even alerting the Desert Valley Auto Parts crew of the classic car heist since they specialize in older model classic auto parts. You might remember their name from their reality television show, “Desert Car Kings“.
The latest brush with loss has been the recent break-in of his Port Charlotte rental home just a few miles from the Charlotte Sports Park where Longoria and Rays team/roommates Reid Brignac and David Price were in uniform for a Sunday matinée contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Price walked in on the aftermath of burglars coming into an unlocked window to steal personal effects of all three athletes.
But one item taken stood out from the rest. An AK-47 assault rifle registered and owned by Longoria. It was not bought out of paranoia or even as a personal defense decision after the prior two losses, but as a personal weapon of choice for his own home protection. I could easily envision Longo and his crew in the backyard of his Port Charlotte abode or in the deep woods hoisting this weapon above his head screaming the words “Wolverines”.
This one “weapon” choice of Longoria’s however comes with underlying and revolving consequences. Sure the rifle was reconfigured to be legal for purchase and use as a security item. Everyone in the house had items taken from electronics, watches and a few personal items by the brave daytime theft.
In the wake of all this, Longoria’s image and his weapon choice might have possibly stolen something more valuable from him. Gone forever is his professional squeaky clean commercial image instantly tarnished by this one possibly impulsive purchase option.
The worst thing about this ” choice” is that the weapon is still out there somewhere in Southwest Florida. The fallout is just beginning to hit Longo as both Rays and other baseball fans recoil and voice their opinions on the young player’s actions. Best case scenario is that the weapon was discarded or dismantled and nothing happens with it. Worst case……..I’m not going there.
Listed here are three different and distinctive thefts. One for commercial value, another might have been more a case of wrong place, wrong time for Longo’s Camaro. The third will have repercussions for some time. Will MLB backpedal a bit and not promote Longoria as much in 2011 hoping the media firestorm doesn’t burn Longoria’s popularity or credibility to ashes.
Hopefully this will have a Hollywood ending. The thieves will return the weapon by putting it on the doorstep of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department, or provide a covert lead to have local officials re-acquire the lethal weapon before something bad happens.
Hopefully this is the last episode of someone taking a piece of Longo’s personal property for a long time….if not, we might have another Hollywood classic bubbling to the surface. A recent St. Petersburg Times article on the AK-47 left us wondering just how low this will take Longoria’s trust and respectability ratings. “Longoria’s legal assault rifle is now somebody else’s illegal assault rifle“.
But then sparkling memories like the Spring of 2008 come rushing into my brain like the Gulf of Mexico surf. This was the beginning of the “Magical Season of Rays Baseball”, and their last time training in their hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Breaking from the untold failures of the Rays recent Spring pasts has been accomplished. This new Spring edition of the Rays will again try and control the controllable from today’s initial game throughout 2011, with an earmark to correcting past inferiors and mental stop signs. The team seems to be focused towards the immediate future, and what each of them can bring to the table.
But I am also a student of the past, and I personally know that sometimes you have to go back to review the past before you confidently step forward. So today as Rays shortstop Reid Brignac steps into the batter box against the Pittsburgh Pirates there will be a heightened sense of renewal in the air in Port Charlotte, Florida.
There is still the frsh pain smell on the wall of the Rays offices just beyond the Port Charlotte stadium pronouncing the Rays 2010 American League East title. Also in the air this Spring is a renewed crispness that only a great Spring Training baseball game can deliver. Potential meets expectations, just as the bat meets the balls this Spring.
With the time ticking away faster towards the doors finally opening at the Rotunda entrance to Tropicana Field, maybe I can give you some information that could make your day more organized. In this post I will be including the (subject to change) Autograph locations, including Table numbers for all Tampa Bay Rays players and minor leaguers participating in the Fan Fest experience.
You might see pretty marquee names missing from the tentative list. Johnny Damon has a prior commitment on this day, but rumor has it that he might just be somewhere in-house at Tropicana Field, possibly greeting the early admitted fans. When the Rays list went to print there was no indication that Manny Ramirez would be participating, but if the last few days have been an indication…We might have a ManRam sighting within the Trop.
But before I get to the recent list and locations of both Rays players, plus the more than 30 Major League Baseball Alumni who will be singing for FREE during Fan fest. There are a couple of other activities I think you will want to Make time for, because they should be interesting and entertaining for all involved.
The first would be the “Reading with the Rays” program which will be held in RightField Street. The event will give you child a chance to sit and listen to an actual ballplayer The Rays have found this reading experience well received in the past as Rays players visited Tampa Bay area school during the regular season.
Starting the event off at 1:15 pm will be recently acquired OF Sam Fuld. At 2:15 pm, OF Brandon Guyer will begin reading and turn the book over to Rays reliever J P Howell at 3:15. Possible Rays Opening Day starter James Shields will begin the last segment of the day at 4:15 pm. This should be an excellent chance for your kid to meet and listen to an authentic MLB player share the gift of reading.
The Pepsi Stage area should be another high energy hub of fun and frolic as the Raymond Stage Show begins the day’s festivities at 11 am, then is followed by the Induction ceremonies for the class of 2011 Rays/Pepsi Fan Wall of Fame. Right after the conclusion of the Wall of Fame inductions, at 1:15, Rays top prospect Desmond Jennings and local resident Casey Kotchman will begin the first of four Panel discussions.
They will be followed at 2:15 by pitchers Jeff Niemann And Andy Sonnanstine taking the stage to talk about the upcoming 2011 edition of Rays baseball. At 3:15 the fellow pitching duo of David Price and Dirk Hayhurst will take to the mike and possibly be one of the more entertaining events of Fan Fest. You can almost anticipate the “Garfoose” questions even now. Batting clean-up this day for the panel discussions will be Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports fame at 4:15pm.
|Time||Table 1||Table 2||Table 3||Table 4||Table 5||Table 6|
|12:00 – 1:00||Evan Longoria||Sam Fuld||Casey Kotchman||Reid Brignac||JJ Furmaniak||B.J. Upton|
|Chris Carter||Desmond Jennings||Russ Canzler|
|1:00 – 2:00||Ben Zobrist||Rob Delaney||Leslie Anderson||Tim Beckham||Sean Rodriguez||Jeff Niemann|
|Ray Olmedo||Daniel Mayora||Alex Cobb||Brandon Guyer|
|Justin Ruggiano||Chris Bootcheck||Albert Suarez|
|2:00 – 3:00||David Price||Alexander Torres||Chris Archer||Joel Peralta||Felipe Lopez||Jake McGee|
|Jose Lobaton||Robinson Chirinos||Dirk Hayhurst|
|3:00 – 4:00||James Shields||John Jaso||Bobby Ramos||Dave Martinez||Matt Bush||Kelly Shoppach|
|Richard De Los Santos||Derek Shelton||Jim Hickey||Jonah Bayliss||Juan Cruz|
|George Hendrick||Ricky Orta|
|4:00 – 5:00||Don Zimmer||Nevin Ashley||Cesar Ramos||Tom Foley||Cory Wade||Jeremy Hellickson|
|Craig Albernaz||R.J. Swindle||Stan Boroski||Brian Baker|
|Cesar Cabral||Stephen Vogt||Dane de la Rosa|
The always popular Metro PCS Call-A-Friend event will be back again in 2011 with Rays OF Matt Joyce and starting SS Reid (Briggy Baseball) Brignac taking the stage to call your friends, neighbors or possibly a jealous friend who had to work on Saturday. Replacing them at 2:15 will be Uber-utility man Ben Zobrist and 2B Sean Rodriguez. Remember , all proceeds from today’s event will benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation, the ALS Foundation, the St. Petersburg fallen officers through the Jeffery Yaslowitz and Thomas Baitinger Memorial Fund and the Salvation Army. Be sure to go on over to the first annual Rays Yard Sale where collectibles and memorabilia from 1998 to today can be purchased with the proceeds going to the above charities.
Also you will have a chance to buy a MLB Authenticated Mumm’s champagne bottle from the 2008 playoff celebration, plus a 1 foot piece of the champagne soaked clubhouse carpet for just $ 25. You can also get a piece of the former playing surface of Tropicana field for another $ 25 donation. Both items are in limited supply and should go quickly.
Also on hand will be over 40 former Major League Baseball players including a signing time from 11am to noon that will feature former Rays players P Dave Eiland, closer Roberto Hernandez, RP Travis Phelps and recently retired OF Jason Romano. This free event will also have a collectible MLB Alumni poster that will feature the name and player photo of a majority of the players signing on that day. Below is a list providing all the players and their times that will participate in the FREE Fan Fest autograph signing.
Tomorrow during the Fan Fest event I will also be Tweeting live @Raysrenegade starting around 1 pm giving some interesting tidbits of information every 15 minutes on several members both new and returning that have been invited to the Rays Major League Spring camp. Going to be a great day, and those in attendance, come on by the RF seats and say hello. I would be glad to meet you…personally. Got to go now, so much to do, and so little time…..
I remember once as a kid some one telling me that things happen for a reason. That fate, destiny and even the kiss of the Gods can not foresee some things that bring people together. I think this was focused more on romance than one two people bonding under a common goal, But I’ll take it.
So here on the last day of the “Charity week” I am going to tell you a story about how two different individuals got together and formed something that is changing lives. It is a reminder that two different worlds can combine and conquer anything in their path.
Jesse Litsch volunteered for a off season charity golf event back in November 2008. In his paring was a young financial wizard named Kevin Bechtel. The golfing event was to help children in the northern reaches of Pinellas County. During the nightly awards ceremony, the two shared stories of other charity tournaments they had both attended and came upon the realization that if they combined their charitable efforts, both could reach a wide spectrum and fulfill their passion of giving back to children in need.
Each told swapped stories about how Litsch had done fundraising and benefits before for the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Betchel told Litsch about his “Bikes For Kids” charity that gave bikes to needy and under privileged kids through the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Department. When both attended the opening of the Police Athletic League (PAL) center in the Lealman region of St. Petersburg, the bond began to form a tournament to facilitate the needs of both charities.
What might have cemented the bond was the way Litsch talked about how the PAL had helped mold him and performed a vital part of his life growing up in this region of Tampa Bay. Soon, Litsch attended the “Bikes for Kid” event that holiday season and Litsch witnessed firsthand the joy and passion of Bechtel’s own commitment to his program. That evening over 100 bikes and helmets were delivered by PCSD deputy’s. That day formed the basis of what became the Jesse Litsch & Bechtel Financial Celebrity Golf Tournament.
The first joint effort between the two newly formed friends came in 2010 and expectations rose quickly as to the extend and paths the future could bring for both organizations, and for the tournament as a whole. I caught wind of the tournament right before the Toby Hall Celebrity Golf Classic and spoke with Jesse Litsch tournament organizer Sarah mire moment before I was heading out to help in that tournament.
When I saw Litsch that day on the golf course I spoke to him about my volunteering and he gave me that huge smile I had known for so many years when he was a Rays batboy/Rays intern. I was anxious for Friday to arrive so I could have my first experience of this tournament.
I got there just as Kevin from the Pinellas Park Boys & Girls club along with a few other volunteers were fitting each cart with some golf tees and some water for the days action. I then went up to the registration area and met Jesse’s fiancée and walked into an amazing silent auction site with just over 50 items up for bids. The items ranged from signed hockey sticks and framed signed photos to a pair of glistening exquisitely cut diamond earrings that held an appraisal price of $ 1,650.
Massage and photo opportunity for yourself or family, plus if you bid for a razor scooter, the charity will but another scooter with your bid for another youngster in the Tampa Bay community. But the thing that had me salivating was the chance to purchase 1 of 10 bats that were signed by every celebrity in attendance.
But there was some additional high brow auction’s out there that piqued my interest. A chance to join your favorite MLB player on the field for BP, plus two tickets to the game. A California Wine Country Tour complete with hotel accommodations, dinners and a plethora if wine tours and tasting’s. 2 tickets to Vinny Lecavalier’s suite for any Tampa Bay Lightning game. Two Park Hopper passes to any Walt Disney Park in the World.
The event was a “who’s Who in the Blue Jays organization such as pitchers’ Brett Cecil, Casey Jansen, Shawn Camp, Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, David Purcey, Scott Richmond, Jesse Carlson and Josh Roenicke. But not being outdone was the display of hitting talent from the Jays Jose Bautista, J P Arencibia, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider.
The Tampa Bay Rays had a few member in house today representing the Rays present and past. Shortstop Reid Brignac and reliever Andy Sonnanstine, plus former Rays catcher Toby Hall were all out here for the kids today. Heck even World Class skateboarder Anthony Furlong was out there giving his all for the event. And the display of interesting golfing attire was out with a fury today as both Bechtel and Litsch had on by far the most eye irritating pants of the event.
I am going to flash forward to the Awards dinner that was MC’ed by local television personality Charlie Belcher of Channel 13 fame. The show of support by Litsch’s Jays teammates combined with the other golfing competitors today made the night just seem to sing. This really felt more like a team gathering than a golf event with great bellowing laughs and bold predictions as to the tournament’s winners.
The team that actually pulled it out today was led by celebrity Toby Hall, who’s 5-some spotted a score of 55 over the 18 holes. But the real winners here today were the two charities of both Litsch and Bechtel. There were whispers in the air that night of an even larger event in the future, and possibly two or more years at this same golf course.
The Jays player community came out in force to support one of their own, and everyone involved vowed to be a part of the 2012 event. When a cause and a golfing event both run true to themselves, people want to be a part of it again and again. I hope to volunteer in 2012 for another go-round of fun in the Sun, competitive tomfoolery and to support two great and noble causes. By the way, I did end up bidding on one of those 10 autographed bats… all for a pair of great causes.
Day 2 of the Charity Week experience. This charity event actually took place last Thursday, but somehow I lost my little camera video card in the movement from the camera to the computer. Now that the day’s photos are safely within the computer, it is time to give you some of the highlights and tales from the 2011 Toby Hall Celebrity Golf Classic.
This is my second year volunteering for this golfing event that first started out as a bowling event in Tampa so many years ago. Arrived at the Bayou Club gold clubhouse about 9:45-ish and immediately came face-to face with three off-duty members of the St. Petersburg Police Department.
They were there as special guests of Hall to participate in a fundraising event through their memorial T-shirt benefiting the families of two recently slain SPPD officers. During the charity event, the SPPD representatives set up a tent at the turning point or Hole 9.5 of the course and as the golfing pairs came up to do the putting challenge, they could also purchase T-shirts and speak to the officers( including a K-9 officer) that knew the two officers.
When Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder B J Upton’s 5-member pairing came up for the putting contest, Upton took a moment to go over to the SPPD tent and purchased not one, but over a dozen T-shirts, including one for everyone in his pairing group.
Fellow Rays Fans Wall of Fame member George Stone was on the scene again that day spreading the word about the featured charity of the event, The Miracle League. Some might not know that the Miracle League is a baseball league formed so that children of all ages with special needs and abilities can also enjoy the greatest game on dirt. At one point later in the evening, Stone actually got a verbal commitment from St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster to attend the 2011 Opening Day event in St. Petersburg.
There were plenty of Rays, plus ex-Rays on hand this day helping Hall in his quest to help this great organization. I remember a few years ago when they completely re-constructed the Miracle League field in the Azalea region of St. Petersburg, just down the street from the old Rays Spring Training facility.
On hand that day supporting Hall’s charity event was Dan Wheeler (Red Sox), Jesse Litsch (Jays), Brian Stokes (Jays).Boof Bonser ( NY Mets), Jason Michaels (Astros), Trever Miller (Cardinals),Ryan Webb (Marlins), Gregg Zaun (Padres), Miguel Cairo (Reds). Bobby Wilson (Angels) and Jorge Cantu (Padres), plus former NBA star Matt Gieger and retired Bucs running back Mike Alstott.
Representing the Rays was Upton, starter James Shields, RP Andy Sonnanstine, and new RP Adam Russell. Also on hand were a few other well known Rays faces either from the Coaching ranks, or from their on-the-field reporting. Broadcaster Todd Kalas was joined on this day by current Rays Third Base Coach Tom Foley and former Rays Coaches Bill Evers ( Durham Bulls), Ozzie Timmons (Columbus Catfish) and former Hitting Coach Steve Henderson. Rays shortstop Reid Brignac was also scheduled to attend, but had an emergency.
I was stationed to begin the day in the registration area handing out specially made Toby Hall caps, visors and rain slickers. But just as it seemed I might have an early end to my day, I volunteered to run the putting contest. It was a great time in which each pairing member got a chance to hit one golf ball into a sectioned off squared area for multiples of points with a maximum of 10 points if you sunk your putt..
You could cut the air with a knife as to the early competitive nature of the event as Cairo was the closest to the hole for most of the day until 5 pairings from the end, the cream began to rise to the putting top of the pot. Local attorney David Papa, who was in the Wilson pairing found the center of the hole to become the first to thrust his team to a sizeable lead. ( total 14 points).
That total seemed safe until one of the last groups, which included LPGA star Brittney Linicome, had their first putting contestant Tim Nalls of American Marketing put in square in the hole. With an immediate 10 points, this team was quickly putting (bad pun) itself into contention for the Putting contest crown.
But suddenly we all noticed that Linicome, who had an early flight out of Orlando in the morning for a LPGA event had left before taking her putting chance. I made an executive putting contest decision to let Nalls put his way to either team victory, or a second place finish. The climatic moment was short lived as Nalls pulled his second try to the right and did not even register a single additional point. I wonder if Linicome would have gotten them that needed 5 points for their victory by putting her golf ball in the inner square within a foot of the hole? We will never know.
But the solace of placing second was definitely short lived by the Linicome pairing as they finished the event with a 52, good enough for the eventual top finish in the tournament and bragging right for the entire year. As the teammates from the Linicome pairing basked in the afterglow and celebrated at the after party at Courtside Grille minus Brittney. The real winner here was the Miracle League.
I have been proud the last two years of volunteering in this event, and also made a commitment that day to help another event that will be held this Friday. On that day I will be helping out the Jesse Litsch & Bechtel Financial Celebrity Golf Tournament in Oldsmar, Florida. How can I possibly complain, another great day in the Sun with athletes supporting their local charities and spreading the news of this great charitable golfing event.
I want to remind the Rays Republic that the memorial T-shirts that benefit the families of the two slain SPPD officers will be ongoing in the Tampa Bay community. You can contact, or visit the St. Petersburg Police Department’s lobby to purchase a T-shirt, or contact them about ongoing outside T-shirt opportunities within the community. Please support this worthy charity and remembrance of these Tampa Bay heroes.
Again I want to thank Tracey and her staff plus Toby for the adventures and memories. Believe me, I have more than a few moments to tell people about that would not fit on this post today. But that is the great thing about charity events like this that happen so close to Spring Training. The excitement levels in seeing past friends and the approaching report dates just adds to the zeal and essence of the tournament.
I am already looking forward to the 2012 event. I want to post a link here for the Miracle League of the Gulf Beaches and hope that all of us can contribute in some way to a great organization that brings the love of the game to some that might not be able to run, hit or even pitch like everyone, but the smile and joy on their faces as they move around the bases makes it so worthwhile.
All photos taken at the 2011 Toby Hall Celebrity Golf Classic can be found in a photo set on Flickr.com
Some of us at the end of the countdown professed to transform ourselves with hearty and healthy vows to lose weight, cut back on certain foods, or maybe eliminate a unhealthy or dangerous habit like smoking or texting while driving.
Or possibly you are one of those people who really got excited when the thought of ecology was mentioned in classes and looked beyond our own visionary limitations to evoke a personal challenge or make a mental proclamation to enhance some external segment of this World’s by cleaning up a creek or riverbed or possibly helping bond in our communities building safer playgrounds for our next generation.
Secondly,if you find the guy who stole your cap and give the Rays Republic his name….We will take care of him.
In addition, if you need a ghostwriter for a possible book on Pho eating establishments throughout the MLB cities…you know where I sit, and I work cheap (possibly for a steaming bowl of Pho).
Secondly I wish for your community/charity efforts to be fruitful. You are one of only a handful of Rays players who’s community interests (BJ’s Bunch) has opened to the Rays Republic another side of you that is sometimes hidden by game day bravado.
As a two-time Rays Roberto Clemente Award recipient, the continued success of the “Heart Gallery”. I hope more baseball fans around the country in 2011 learn about this photographic and audio exhibit that helps kids in foster care find great family environments.
Secondly, to provide inspiration to kids in Tampa Bay that an athlete can be book savvy and math friendly and still compete at the highest level of the sport. Most people outside of Tampa Bay do not know about your love of numbers and analytical equations.
Secondly, we have to find someone else, possibly Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos to teach you to dance. Doing the “Dougie” for the cameras during the Rays postseason celebration made most of us cringe and wish you did the “Carlton” instead.
Second resolution for you is to somehow eliminate your bad habit of licking your fingers after you grip the resin bag disappears. Resin doesn’t taste good, has no nutritional value, and has solidified that “spittin’ Cobra” moniker. Maybe Price can get you a pail of Double Bubble for 2011.
Secondly, that your charity “Discovery Your Path” which includes the “Healing Hearts Foundation” that helps children and youth facing difficult situations to find the mentoring and life path guidance needed to achieve a meaningful life.
Jake McGee: My resolution for McGee is that he takes the critical next big step in his Bullpen transformation. McGee will be in competition for a spot in the Rays Bullpen this Spring. He could make the Rays Opening Day roster with a solid Spring with an eye into taking a bigger role with the team by the end of the 2011. Every good outing is another notch on his belt to helping McGee possibly develop into the Rays future closer.
My second resolution for him is a double dose of the first one. He is one of the future linchpins for the Rays.
Desmond Jennings: My resolution for Jennings is for him to develop a thick skin for 2011. He will hear more than a few jeers about Carl Crawford. They key for Jennings might be to put an early exclamation point on his rookie season by showing the Rays outfield game will not take a step back this season. Playing his style of game without compromise will be the ultimate key for Jennings MLB survival in 2011.
Dan Johnson: My resolve for DJ is that he finally feels he belongs in Tampa Bay. Johnson hit one of the more memorable Home Runs in Rays history back in 2008, but has never gained the Rays fans all out support. Whether he is at the DH spot or manning the First Base bag, Johnson needs to announce his presence with authority. A big first month impression can do wonders in silencing the Pena critics.
Secondly, DJ, we have to get you a good MP3 file so we can pick you a better walk-up song than “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats. It is catchy, but it drives me simply insane trying to not stand up and do the dance mannerisms…Seriously!
My second resolution for Rodriguez is that someone teach him the “Stingray Shuffle” this Spring so that we do not have to worry about his Gulf of Mexico activities on Rays home off days.
Hope you enjoyed my small journey into some of my hopes and wants for the Rays in 2011. There is a link attached to each players charity if you would like to explore and learn more about their efforts outside of the ballpark to help those in and around our baseball world.