Results tagged ‘ Stuart Steinberg ’
I’m going to miss Andrew Friedman.
I think we all kind of saw this coming whether you wanted to admit it or not. Friedman was truly that proverbial fish thrown into the deep end of the Major League Baseball pond where money ruled and stockpiling talent and expecting grand results was but a pipedream.
He was a part of a franchise where other teams fan bases flooded Tropicana Field and branded it such names as “Fenway South”. He inherited a job that had broken more experienced men and because of the Rays formidable financial restrictions, a team payroll that basically tied his fins together until he found his own unique way to swim alongside and eventually surpass the once omnipotent MLB sharks.
I mean the guy started out as a optimistic minnow learning to swim in infested waters that could have easily made the Rays into consistent seasonal fodder for the large market sharks, but Friedman brought his experience and innovative tactics he honed as a rising star in the financial field and evolved it into a solid and marketable foundation for a small market franchise to find success in these infested waters.
Friedman used the essence of risk management combined with largely successful algorithms and processes that turned a franchise once mired in a losing persona that emerged within a few years into the 2008 American League Champions.
And that my friends is one glorious legacy to pen onto your baseball resume.
Sure Friedman was but one sharp point of the Rays successful trident during his tenure that also contained Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg and then Team President Matt Silverman, but Friedman was the man out front of it all taking the good and bad hits, being the confident and consistent soldier.
Silverman will now man Friedman’s old VP of Baseball Operations chair and Brain Auld will take a step up and become the Rays new Team President, but do not expect too much of a backslide as Friedman, Sternberg and Silverman it is said could finish each other’s sentences.
Some will be quick to point out that Friedman is vacating his seat as the Rays saw their 6 consecutive winning seasons and 4 post season appearances since 2008 come to an unexpected end.
It is easy to point to another’s person’s faults as they leave to embark on another challenge especially with a large market franchise that is the total opposite of the Rays organization. But no matter your personal opinion on Friedman’s departure, ponder for a moment where this franchise might of ended up without his ideas, guidance and up-tempo perseverance.
ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian once said of Friedman: “ His emphasis on scouting and player development, his ability to piece together a contending team each year despite limited financial resources and his astute use of sabermetrics have made the Rays an organization that others try to emulate, though usually without nearly as much success”.
Say what you want about Friedman’s departure, but realize he has grown so much from that small minnow in the pond surrounded by hungry predators that commanded the other 20-odd M L B franchises.
Friedman has definitely matured within the game in his years with the Rays, brought targeted innovations as blueprints for other small market teams successes as well as brought the Rays out of the deep darkness within the MLB pond to become a consistent antagonist to the rest of the MLB fishery.
Guess it is time to admit for one last time the once defensive minded minnow that was Friedman has now fully evolved into a species of the same predatory animal that commanded the MLB for years.
Maturing from a minnow to a shark, now that’s the Rays Way.
“I’m sure it can, but talk to Stu Sternberg.”
Quite a statement made by out-going Major League Baseball Czar Bud Selig today to the media masses assembled during the Baseball Writers of America Association(BBWAA) briefing.
I’m not used to hearing a civil tone concerning our region in regards to Selig, and it kinds of scared me at first. Most of the rhetoric pointed towards this region be it Spring or Fall has been pointed disapproval or admonishment towards the are not embracing baseball with both hands, but Selig today in his oracle seemed calm almost to the point of finding his point of Zen towards the whole Rays stadium situation.
Selig acknowledged the viability of baseball within the Tampa Bay market, but he also seemed to show more serenity towards the enduring saga than in the past.
The quotes uttered by Selig today seemed a more transitional than omnipotent outbursts displaying his discontent and disappointment of the region’s snail-like pace towards clearing at least one achievable hurdle in the race for the Tampa Bay Rays to find a new profitable hacienda.
It almost seemed as if we were not talking to the same man who 364 days ago during the 2013 All-Star break seemed to be plotting the ultimate revival or hostile removal of any baseball hopes or dreams within the Tampa Bay area.
This was the same M L B icon who in 2013 profoundly voiced his displeasure and loss of patience with this region of Florida stating: ”You cannot ask a franchise to continue, when they have been so competitive and really, really done a marvelous job, in a situation that is economically not tolerable.”
What a difference a year makes……or does it?
In 2013 Selig seemed to be bringing a double-edged message to the Tampa Bay community on the one sharp edge by voicing the stern narrative addressing the Rays dismal home game attendance numbers while at the same time using the dull edge of his blade to stroke the Rays leadership’s excellent job of putting a competitive product on the field within their limited revenue streams.
The 2013 edition of Selig sounded off like a disapproving leader who was about to summon Rays owner Sternberg to his chambers and lock the doors until a viable and achievable plan could be at least penned to paper.
The 2014 edition…..not so much.
Today Selig expressed some faith in the Tampa Bay market and seemed to be giving the reins solely at this moment to Sternberg. Selig also threw out a curve ball morsel today in that there could be a breakthrough in the Rays slowly-moving stadium evolution before he leaves office in January.
Some logic might point to the change in St Petersburg’s leadership within the Mayor’s office to being more open to letting the team at least chat region-wide about another locale, but it might come at a cost. But no matter what, you can bet any announcement will be made after the Rays finish playing in 2014, that has been the “Rays Way” stadium-wise since Sternberg took the helm.
And for one of the first times in my memory, Selig threw out an unforced compliment to the region that the “demographics in the market are good”. But when asked later if his comment was possibly an endorsement that baseball in the region could work, the baseball czar just as quickly slammed the lid on the Tampa Bay Pandora’s box added, “I’m sure it can, but talk to Stuart Stenberg.”
Selig is set to leave his baseball throne this January, and with the recent reversal of the Oakland A’s stadium situation, the Rays remain one of his only projects that might not see fruition before he leaves his M L B post.
Possibly Sternberg has a master plan that has been viewed by Selig and has gotten a head-tilt to move in that direction with no current intimidation or threats from the top tier of baseball. At least not until a successor has gotten a feel for M L B’s top job, then all bets might be off.
So maybe Selig is letting Sternberg have the chance during the second half and into the Winter of 2014 to make some headway. Possibly Selig is providing a little distance between himself and the Rays stadium situation to afford the illusion of trust and respect the job will be done by Sternberg and his team without interference of the outgoing czar.
Guess only time will tell if this distance remains and if the confidence doesn’t cease come October.
But maybe Selig did take one last parting shot over the Tampa Bay bow when he spoke highly of the Montreal market as a possibly being revisited as an M L B franchise. “I wish them well. And I think they would be an excellent candidate in the future, no question about it.”
But Selig, the 2014-edition, remained steady and on point when asked repeatedly about his concerns with the Rays stadium debacle. “Stu Sternberg is working hard on that, and that should be his problem. I’m here to help him and he knows that. But it is a judgment call he has to make.”
Yep, what a difference a year makes.
Steve Nesius / AP
No Re-joycing in Rightfield
With the activation of Tamp Bay Rays Designated Hitter Pat Burrell right after the game last night, the team made the corresponding roster move of sending young rightfielder Matt Joyce back down to the Triple-A Durham Bulls. The press release was still hot and wet when the Rays Radio Network broke the news right after the game in their post-game segment. At first this news hit me kind of like a ton of bricks because I truly thought the kid was going to make the transition up here the rest of the season.
Sure he started out like he was going to take names and change minds after hitting two quick hoe runs to make people, think it was “Re-Joyce Time” in rightfield. Even the fact he got two hits off a left-handed pitcher spoke volumes that he had done a bit of the work the Rays asked him to do when he went down first to Durham after spending the first five game up with the Rays while B J Upton was rehabbing after his off-season shoulder surgery. Upon the start of the Sunday game in Baltimore on April 12th he was on his way back to the Triple-A squad ready to work on things and make his way back to Tampa Bay in 2009. Joyce was upset but understood the situation perfectly and vowed to again be patrolling the outfield in the Trop sometime in 2009.
So when the Rays went to Durham and again brought up Joyce on May 30th, it was a sign to the fans that maybe the team was finally considering giving the kid a fair shake in winning the rightfield job during the season. And he did come on like gangbusters hitting the ball his first few games before finally going through a 0 for 15 slide before he was sent out to the Bulls. He was upset about the news, but took it in stride as he told the St. Petersburg Times last night.””Any time you get sent down, it’s not a good feeling. So you just go back to the drawing board, go back down and scratch and claw your way back up.” Coming into the Angels series, Joyce was 0 for 20 lifetime against the team.
Joyce is heading back to the Durham squad with the intention of “tear it up again” in Durham, and “force them to bring you back up.” And that is the kind of reaction you really want to hear from a young star who knows he will again shine bright among the lights of Tropicana field. This is not the last time we will see him in 2009, and you can bet the next time he is up here he will try and make it an extremely difficult decision to send him back down again. Joyce was given some advice and things to work on by Rays Manager Joe Maddon before he left the Rays Clubhouse following their series win against the Los Angels Angels last night.
Joyce will go down to the minors and work a bit on his overall game, including his defense and hopes to again get a chance to make a huge impression this season. During a few games in the Trop., he seemed to have a problem identifying the ball off the roof in the dome and that might have led to a few defensive problems during his time up here. He did not read the ball well off the bat a few times and the ball made it into the Right-Centerfield gap for extra bases.
That is a simple adjustment and recognition program that can be completed easily in the minors. But Joyce has been totally supportive of the decision and is looking forward to more playing time and to prove he belongs here with the Rays. Before he was promoted at the end of May, he was hitting .315 with 5 HR and 27 RBI for the Bulls. He had compiled a 1.000 OPS against right-handed pitching, and a .727 against left-handers.
Pedro Martinez as a Ray?
Oh how Gerald Williams must be all tied up in knots knowing that the Rays might be watching former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez throwing in the Dominican Republic yesterday. How it must be burning in his stomach that the guy who caused such a ruckus with the Rays back in 200 might even be considered for a pitching option. There are numerous reports that not only have the Rays checked out the aging pitcher, but some monetary figures have been exchanged between the two parties.
According to Nick Carfardo of The Boston Globe, Martinez had both the Chicago Cubs and the Rays both exploring what it might take to sign the aging pitcher to their rosters. During his workout the former fireballer was throwing about 94 MPH, which is a nice increase in velocity compared to his pre-surgery speed. Mark Lancaster of the Tampa Tribune said,”I’ve heard that one of the Rays’ officials in the Dominican who has known Pedro for a while just watched him work out, but it doesn’t sound like the team expects anything to come of it.”
A local Tampa Bay television station even commented on their Twitter page that someone was checking out Martinez. And a pretty credible Rays blog,www.RaysIndex.com was reporting that the team did schedule a second workout for Martinez, which is usually a sign of interest. When the World Baseball classic tenure of the Dominican Republic team was over during MLB’s Spring Training, it was reported that Martinez was basically seeking a single year deal in the $5 million range. With the MLB season nearing the 62nd game, that request might have been cut in half to about the $ 2.5 million dollar figure.
Some might say that the aging pitcher would be a great fit in the Rays Bullpen in some capacity. But considering he would supplant someone currently in that unit, it might be a difficult sell to Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach Jim Hickey right now. But even if the Rays have always kept things like this close to their vest pocket, the history with Martinez might not sit well with long standing Rays fans. For the same reason most fans were skeptical of Curt Shilling basically saying he would play for the Rays years ago, Martinez might not be a great fit here. Martinez and Don Zimmer also have their own history, but Zim contends that it is ” by the wayside and ancient history.”
The guys still has the desire and the spunk to pitch in the majors, which is great for him. But the guy might not be a great fit into the Rays bullpen, and definitely can not be seen as a starter right now. Things could happen fast and he will be out of the Rays sights and this all will be dust in the wind. But the idea of adding him to our team kind of upsets my stomach. I admire the girt and the determination, but seeing him brawl on our home field, and throw Zim to the ground is enough for me to print a “VOTE NO FOR PEDRO” t-shirt. Somethings even time can not heal.
Boot Scootin’ Nelson
*** With the Rays getting ready soon to head on out for another road trip, Maddon has picked a “western theme” for the trip out to Colorado to begin their 6-game Inter-League road trip. I am not sure what most of the guys are going to be outfitted in before they board the plane, but hopefully they know that six shooters are not allowed on the plane.
Seriously though, I spoke with Rays reliever Joe Nelson yesterday on what style he was going to pull off for the western theme. He said he was going with the “Yul Brenner circa The Magnificent Seven look”. Nelson already has the hairstyle, and I can see him in the black shirt and maybe even black leather pants, but I am really going to be surprised if he can find a great back cowboy hat to pull it all together. Maybe he can call Keith Millar, who is with the Toronto Blue Jays for a primer on how to “Cowboy Up” before the trip. I personally thought Nelson might go for the Yul Brenner look from Westworld where he played a gunslinging robot, but after the picture, I can see him in a black hat for some reason.Season Ticket Gate Upgrade
The Rays instituted a new Season Ticket holder entrance near Gate 3 earlier this season. There is great news that an awning has been purchased that will expand out from the current gate to shelter fans waiting in that line for enter the stadium hopefully around the All-Star break. This new entrance brings you in right at the service desk at Gate 3 for easy access for signing up for the many contests, or getting with a Season Ticket Representative within a few feet of the doors.
I have used the entrance a few times in the past few months and it is quicker and faster than the present system at Gate 1 where most of the current Season Ticket holders enter the Trop. This also might be a great alternative during the Boston or Yankee series later this year when the general standing area outside Gate 1 gets so crowded and heated at times. It is also a great alternative for the “giveaway” days as the lines will be smaller and less confusion.
RRCollections Familiar Faces in the Videos
If you are in Tropicana Field before the game and look up at the Jumbotron before the game and think you might have seen me on the big screen during the opening minute of the “Ground Rules”, you are correct. As a member of the “Maddon’s Maniacs”, I was invited for a taping before opening day this year to complete a fan version of the typical baseball rules explanation played 81 times a year in Tropicana Field. I got lucky enough to be in the first segments of the new video both in the first clip where you see me banging my over sized black cowbell ( which is now broken almost in half) and during the first two rules of the video.
I have to give props to the Rays vision crew who did most of the stand-in spots in the video and also had the changes and segmented video shoots done fast and professional at all times. Also have to give some acknowledgments to Eric Weisberg, Darcy Raymond and Sean Liston from the Rays Fan Experience department for their ideas to include the Maniacs in this years action. It was a great time, and I did get in a bit of a pickle about two pictures, but all is good in Rays-land. I hope you see a few of your friends in the video and be sure to stop us and say hello. We will be more than happy to chat with you about the “Maddon’s Maniacs” club or just about our hometown Rays.
I was glancing today through the new Sports Illustrated that appeared somehow in my Baseball bag and noticed an article in the back of the magazine with the title: “Baseball Needs a New Boss”. Of course after reading that title you would think it might be a rousing call for a change at the top of baseball, with Bud Selig in the cross hairs. But it is not, it is a call for the next generation of “The Boss” Now when you hear or see that name in a paper, blog, or even in a video you only have one true name come to mind, and no, I am not talking about Bruce Springsteen either here.
George Steinbrenner in his prime was one of those pesky flies that buzz your brain, or neighbors that always had an opinion, and was sure to go to the mountain top and tell the entire neighborhood house by house. He might have had a menacing type of management style, but it was effective to a “T”. For some reason, the sport has seemed a bit dull since the Boss officially gave the reins of the New York Yankee conglomerate to his sons only 6 months ago. Hank has tried to be the Boss reincarnated at times, but he lacks the consistent drive and passion his father did in making a scene, then getting his point across with hard nosed facts and a few very loud comments to follow the noise throughout the league.
We truly need another guy like him. There are millions of ideas popping throughout the blogging community on how to improve and even save the game we all love daily. But there is not that loud resonating voice to carry it out into the darkness and awaken the sleepy heads of the baseball hierarchy. George is now 78 years old, and might still have the heart and the passion of a much younger man, but his body is finally giving him a sign to slow down and be more of a silent partner. And you know that is killing him inside. He is not the visual persona of the Yankee faithful anymore. His rare outings are confined to his new Yankee Stadium opening, and a select number of charity and speaking engagements. He is mostly situated in his Westshore Blvd. home in Tampa, Florida now watching from a distance, but you know he yearns to be in the fray of it all.
I got the privilege of meeting George on Super Bowl Sunday about 10 years ago when he was out chatting with a NFL vendor selling merchandise at the roadside for the big game. He and his bodyguard/chauffeur were at a small gas station at Kennedy Blvd and West Shore and he was getting ready to go to the game as a guest of Malcom Glazer, the Tampa Bay Bucs owner. We stood there talking for about 10 minutes about his team and his recent hiring of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry and the wild new rivalry starting between the then Devilrays and his beloved Bronx Boys. He was very courteous and polite, and was a bit of a joy to speak with on that roadside. I could not see the horror that most sports people saw in the man that day. But then it wasn’t baseball season, and his team had just finished another great season months earlier.
So who do we have in the ownership community in baseball right now who could become the next “Boss”?. Could it be the ever loving Stuart Sternberg, the Rays owner? I am inclined to say that Sternberg has too much of a good guy charisma going for him in the ownership circles. He has been one of those guys already who just seem happy to be here and is loving the ride. But then again, the team has not floundered and we could see another side of him if the day turns dark and the skies are filled with boos in the stadium. But, no, he is not in the running or even on the ballot for this post. We need to find another Marge Schott in the majors right now. You know, someone who treats her dogs with more respect than her team or its players. For a short time there, in the past I thought Ted Turner when he was up on that Atlanta Braves totem pole might be another great “boss”, but he fell from grace and sold his soul to Liberty Media Corp.
Who among the current owners is at least has the spunk potential of “The Boss”? I guess the best answer to that might be in the genes of the previous boss. Hank Steinbrenner has the boldness and the “foot in mouth” karma he father possessed, but he is more tactical and more driven by the sheer dollar signs than his father right now. His passion for the game is without question a fraction of his father’s, but time and the American League East standings could change that. Maybe it might be the crew of owners not firmly seated into the ownership bubble yet that could make some noise. Troy Aikman is a part of the new San Diego Padres ownership conglomerate. Maybe he can pull out one of the old Barry Switzer’s speeches and get some fires built under the wealth group, but then again, he has always been a team player and might be happy in a behind-the-scenes role that pumping his fist and bellowing throughout the San Diego community.
Or maybe it might be the proposed new owner of the Chicago Cubs. You know the same guy who is now pimping $ 25 million pacts to the Windy City celebrities to come on board on the ground level of his bid to take over the team from the Tribune Corp. Such a bold move to even try and bring in the celebrity Cubbies like Bill Murray, John Cusack, and Jim Belushi could be just the kettle beginning to boil a bit for the soon-to-be confirmed owner. But then again who is this guy………….Oh, he is Tom Ricketts, who is a part of the TD Ameritrade brood that brought you that adorable baby winning at golf from a high chair. Could he be the guy to take over the boss’s karma and lead the baseball top tier back into the light?
I would love to think he would based on his unconventional measures and outlandish schemes to get the extra capital to purchase the Cubbies. But, you never know, he could just be hiding his true personality until they get to know him, then spring on them like a cheetah on a helpless zebra. But really, the current mosh pit of MLB owners doesn’t have another brash, abrasive owner in their mix. They all seem to either be business men who love baseball, or just plain business men. So far I will have to give the nod to Hank for coming the closest to his father. His throwing away contracts and players like an ol
d Reggie candy bar wrapper this season is a perfect example of Steinbrenner-ism.
I mean even his taunting of the powerful Red Sox Nation earlier in the year is an action that is becoming a Steinbrenner. But still, he is in the infancy stage of his transformation into a true baseball owner. He is silent and respectful now, but who knows what will come of his personality or his behavior once he feels like he belongs in the ivory tower for good. Even during the recent Yankee pitfall to a cellar spot he seemed to stand by and watch while in the past his father would have bellowed that everyone from the ticket taker to the General Manager was accountable for the team’s success.
Some one has to come forward soon, because I can truly say I miss the old George Steinbrenner rants and raves. I truly think if Joe Girardi survives this year with the Yankees, he had better play the Lotto, because you know the previous owner would have been down in that clubhouse looking for a few skins for his wall by now. Baseball needs these figures to bring the top tier closer to believability for the fans.
I am lucky to be a Rays fan, because Sternberg is always on the field or strolling the stadium walkways talking to fans and is very hands-on when he is here. But you never know, maybe before the end of the 2009 season some owner will come forward and question the status quo, or might even embark on a crusade to lighten up the owner’s box and let the fan enjoy some more “George” somewhere in baseball. So let the search begin for the new coming of “The Boss” I miss that growl more and more every day.