Results tagged ‘ Stu Sternberg ’

The Ring is the Thing

 

 
               
 
 

 

 
I have been known to say in the past that a championship is not official until you have that ring on your finger. I unfortunately know the good and the bad out of that statement. I was with a team in college that won a conference championship to only have it taken away by NCAA violations. I was not a pretty moment, but the fact that we still got rings, but they stated “Number 1 in SEC” not champions still stings some days. But on Tuesday night, there was no taking anything away from the accomplishments of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. This was the night they got to put that finishing touch on their magical season by getting their own set of hardware. Proud Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg, President Matt Silverman and Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman presented the rings to over 23 players, eight coaches and 14 executive members of the Rays front office yesterday.

 
 
 
 
The two biggest cheers from the crowd seemed to come for Senior Baseball Advisor Don Zimmer, and current Rays Manager Joe Maddon. It was a thunderous crowd that also cheered as the Rays players came out in seniority to receive their rings last night. Last, but not least to step out in front of the pitcher’s mound and receive his sparkling ring was Carl Crawford, the longest tenured Ray. I got to check out the ring first hand after the game at a local water hole with a member of the 2008 American League Championship. I have to tell you, this ring had me at hello.  It has an awesome “wow” factor the moment you first look even into the fine wooden box with it sitting under that etched glass. It looks more like a museum piece than something you might ever put on for cocktail parties or team events. Seriously, the ring had me in awe the moment he opened that box. I expected something this glorious from the team, but it went over my expectations. 
 
 
 
 
The ring is 14 carat white gold featuring a raised Rays logo among a sea of clustered diamond and shimmering light prisms that seem to dazzle and confuse you.  The idea of putting the Rays logo above a outline of a baseball diamond was a classic piece and adds to the glamor of this fantastic ring.  But then you look into the center of the Rays logo and you see a unique sight. The Rays decided to add their own special touch to the ring by setting a specialty cut yellow diamond into the logo’s 18 carat gold star/sun burst.  But the sparkle doesn’t end there as 48 individual sparkle factories seems to shimmer and shine off the lights to create a magical  light display. If you ever want a disco light show at your next party, placing one of these rings within a line of light would produce quite a light show for everyone to enjoy. But that is one of the perks of winning, you get awesome pieces of jewelry to keep for life.
 

 
But this ring is beside awesome in my opinion. I mean one side of the ring has such a great polished look with the bold faced A L East Champs on it with an American League logo with the words added “1st Pennant”. I truly love the fact they added those words to the ring. It shows the positive attitude and reinforcement that this is just the first step towards multiple or even numerous chances at obtaining a drawer full of these rings in the future.  As always the name of the player is added in this space, which adds an air of pride to me seeing my friend’s name listed on the side, which is an honor that no one can ever take from him. 
 
 
 
But the added touch of the team record in this area, just seeing that ” 97-65″ on the side of the ring brings back vivid memories of the 2008 season. The Walk-off homers and runs, the 7-run inning to secure a win, the pitching battles and the suicide squeeze bunt by Jason Bartlett, it is magic that you can wear on your finger. I can not imagine the flow of emotions and churning of feelings that this ring will bring up in members of this team after they finally put it on their fingers. It seems to pulsate on my finger and it feels like a long lost dream to even envision such a event finally coming to a close.
 
 
 

 
 
This ring is just the first in a long line of hardware that members of the Rays will wear in the future. I am not predicting anything here, but this team has had a taste of the playoffs, and that is a bitter pill to swallow every season after you have been to the big party in October. I think it was fitting that the New York Yankees were here to see this tonight. Not for the fact that we punched them out of a possible playoff berth by playing the “Rays Way” of baseball, but because of all their storied past and their own collections of these awesome piece of jewelry. 
 
 
 
Derek Jeter knows the emotions and the sense of accomplishment that goes with collecting these rings. But he also knows the feeling that eluded the Rays in 2008. He has held a World Series ring, and has enjoyed the accolades and the honor that goes with that final piece of the puzzle. The Rays just missed that pinnacle of excellence. But all they have to do is look into that visitor’s dugout and they will see what class and hard work can do for a franchise. The Rays will again get their chance to fight for the ultimate hardware. It might not be this year,  but it will not come soon enough for these guys.  I have to tell you, just putting this ring on for a few seconds sent chills through my spine. For 162 games last year I saw the sweat, blood and the emotions of this team gel and produce a extreme chemistry that accumulated into a Championship. And I am craving more!
 
 
 
Photo credits:         Both photos are from RRCollections
 
 

Is Las Vegas Sniffing Around the Tampa Bay Rays?

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

                                                                            

 

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

 

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

 

                           

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

                                                  

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

               

 

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

 

 

          

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

                      

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Rays Are In First Place Dude !!!!!

Rays 2, Yankees 1

 

Let me start by humbly Thanking the Rays for letting  me enjoy my birthday,which is the 14th in a  very regal style fitting for a true fan of a FIRST PLACE team.

 

 I was sitting in my little seat behind the Bullpen area when Gabe Gross hit that shot into Rightcenter, I have never seen Jonny  Gomes run so fast in my entire life. And his batting helmet is in orbit over the Trop right now. The mood was electric, and the Yankee fans were in total disbelief at the loss.

 

Thank you Stu Sternberg for building us this dream team. Thank you Joe Maddon for believing in your vision for the last two years.

 

And to the Rays players’, you have undying respect, admiration, and total committment to my team( like there was any doubt about that here).

 

Enjoy tonight, I know I am a ball of fire inside and I can’t wait for 5:30 tomorrow to do it all over again!!!!!

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

11-consecutive Home victories, tops in the major so far this year. Houston and Minnesota each  had 8 straight wins earlier in the season.

 

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

 

                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                            The Good

 

Sometimes it seems that you can do anything wrong on the field. Rays reliever J P Howell must be feeling pretty blessed right now.  Howell has been on the winning end three time this season for his clutch pitching in the late innings. Howell tonight worked 2 innings tonight and his only blemish was a base on balls to Bobby Abreu in the top of the 11th inning. There is an old saying, “It is better to be lucky than good sometimes .” This Rays squad is both lucky…….and good.

 

Honorable Mention “Good guys”:

 

 

*** Jonny Gomes came on as a pinch runner for Cliff Floyd after Cliff singled into rightcenter in the bottom of the 11th inning. Jonny then proceeded to steal second on Mariano Riveria and get into scoring position. Because a righty(Wang) was starting tonight, Gomes had the night off until the 11th inning. Jonny was already past thrid when Melky Cabrera was throwing the ball into catcher Jose Molina.

 

** Rays starter Edwin Jackson held the Yankees scoreless during his 7 innings of work tonight. Jackson allowed 5 hits and struck out 5 yankee batters before leaving the game.  Jackson threw 111 pitches tonight.

 

* Gabe Gross is another guy who is sitting under a magical star right now. When he first got here from the Brewers’, he was having a hard time adjusting at the plate. But in recent games, he has been getting better contact and more aggressive at the plate. Tonight he was a late inning defensive replacement and only got 2 at-bats. We all know that he made his second at-bat count in the “win” column.

 

                                               The Bad

 

To be a closer in the MLB, you have to have a heart of stone sometimes, and a bit of an absent mind. Things happen that would destroy most people. But it is your job to secure  a victory for your team.

 

Tonight is a night Troy Percival will hope to forget when he goes to sleep. His offspeed pitch to Hideki Matsui was wrapped around the righfield foul pole to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the 9th innig tonight.

 

 It was Percival’s second blown save of the week.

 

Carlos Pena is looking like he is starting to try to hard to make something happen at the plate. He did not look relaxed or at ease at all in his at bats tonight.

 

Carlos has been hovering at the low 200’s now since about April 14th, and has shown positive signs of coming back to his power stroke. But, tonight was not one of those night.

 

                                               The Ugly

 

Rich Herrera is the Rays radio pre and post game announcer for the Rays. He has stressed that the Rays fans need to “act like we have been there before.”

 

What he is referring to, is winning.

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but a small segment of our fans have been taunting and acting like peacocks the last few games.  I know there have been years of hearing the same from Boston and New York fans alike, but a Southern man and woman should have more class than to pull their shorts down and tell a rival to kiss a big hairy wet spot on your &@.

 

Come on people, I am the first to be more than proud, but I also know we need to gain respect before we are treated with it in return. We have not been to the playoffs, like our rivals, we have not entertained a World Series event at the Trop.

 

We have to be humble and know that this roller coaster could come crashing down on us, or we could enjoy the ride and know that better things are in store for us in the future.

 

So, here is my plight, We, the fans of the Rays need to use self control and watch our mouths and antics. The world is watching us, and we can either be viewed as a “redneck franchise”, or as a class of fans who know what sportsmanship is all about……………..the choice is yours……choose wisely.

 

In closing, to all Rays fans, enjoy tonight. We will have the same results and more first place standings in our future. Relish the night we started to turn our franchise and our town into winners the entire country could love too.

 

 

Kevin Costner and the Rays

 

On November 8th, the Tampa Bay  Rays will present the new look of the future to all in attendance in waterfront Straub Park in St. Petersburg, Florida. It has been billed as a event for all ages with special appearances by ex-players Fred McGriff and Mr Hall of Fame, Wade Boggs showing off the new duds.

 This date is only the first of two kick-off dates to showcase the new uni’s and logos. The following day, the crew hits the Tampa downtown Gaslight Park to again display the uniforms and give fans a venue to vent or shout their approval on the choices.

For years, the team has been working behind the scenes to update and translate the new look Rays to the public. They have done a massive retro fitting to the home stadium, the Trop., that has been converted from a average ballpark, to and interactive family friendly park with all the new bells and whistles.

 The next step was the on field look to complete the transition from the Vince Namoli era to the new Stu Sternberg baseball look.

 The uniforms are suppose to convey and old style that will accent the days of uniform lore. Gone will be the green lettering and the blue piping. Gone will be the green modern looking “Rays” logo on the outer gear and home uniforms. Also going the way of the dinosaur, will be the “Tampa Bay” lettering on the away jerseys.

 This is not the last stage of the transformation of the team. The on field product is taking leaps and bounds in confidence and skill. The record does not speak well of the developments, but we did play 17 games against Boston, and 7 against Cleveland this year. This is noted, since they are the two teams via to play the Rockies soon in the World Series.

 Oh, I forgot the main thing about that day.

 Kevin Costner, Mr Crash Davis and Billy Chapel of baseball cinema fame will be on hand to help in the unveiling of this new look. This is a guy who made our AAA franchise a hit with everyone from Cali to Maine. I think he personally made it cool to wear a Durham Bulls hat.

 I still wear mine daily to work.

 Kevin had a special place in my psyche. He has been in 2 of my favorite baseball related films, “Bull Durham“, and “For the Love of the Game.”

 Both are great films with a flair for the cocky and confident nature of the sport. I have the honor to have personal collectibles from both films and they are treasure possessions to me.  I am currently working on getting a “Meet and Greet”  with him for a photo op and a signing of the 1999 Baseball America magazine with him portraying “Bill Chapel” on the cover.

The event will conclude with a waterfront fireworks display, and a few hundreds hats and items throw to the masses.

The next evening, ____Rays players and coaches will be situated all over Tampa Bay to meet and greet fans at the Champs sporting good store locations to help the official public sales of the new look ___Rays merchandise.

I am looking forward to it like a kid at Christmas. I have been a fan even before our first pitch. I was a fan wanting and waiting since the first proposed “buying” of a team back in the days. For those who forgot, before we got our team, we tried to buy the Twins, A’s, Mariners,Giants, and White Sox.  All those efforts went by the wayside by either MLB rulings, or local ownership in the their respective areas finally bellying up to the bar and paying for their teams.

 I am excited to hear Costner’s band , “Modern West”.  If this band had half the talent that he has on the screen, they will rock the bay that night and send everyone home with a memory for the ages…….

 

 

 

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