Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

American Legion & M L B, Two Peas in a Pod

 

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I was especially proud and honored this past weekend to hear that Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon decided to honor the “American Legion” brand of baseball spirit.

images (7)And adding a cherry on top of it all, Maddon picked St. Petersburg Florida’s own American Legion Post 14 just a few miles down the road from Tropicana Field as a focus point.

American Legion unique style of baseball was first proposed during a speech by Major John L. Griffith (then collegiate commissioner of the Western Conference or called the Big Ten today) during a state convention in Milbank, South Dakota back in 1925.  Griffith centered his comments towards the role athletics can play in the development of youth.

Griffith stated to the assembled American Legion members: “Athletic competition teaches courage and respect for others, fostering their growth into active citizens.”

images (4)The South Dakota convention agreed and passed a resolution urging the Legion to create an organized summer baseball league that started each June and ended with a World Championship series. American Legion’s 1925 National Commander James A Drain backed the resolution and was easily passed during that year’s National Convention in Omaha, Nebraska.

The American Legion held its first World Series in 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where a team from Yonkers Post 321 defeated a squad from Pocatello, Idaho. A World Series was not held in 1927 due to the rising costs of attending the American Legion’s National Convention in Paris, France, but soon the Legion found a common ground benefactor to help nurture the development and funding of its young baseball program.

images (8)Early in 1928 the Legion’s Americanism Director Dan Sower had a plan to help keep the Legion baseball league solvent. Sowers attended an executive meeting of Major League Baseball hoping to catch a sympathetic ear of then Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.  The M L B Commissioner pledged a $50,000 annual donation and within 2 years’ time the Legion baseball program expanded to include teams from every state plus the District of Columbia.

During the lean years of the Great Depression, MLB had to rescind their $50,000 a year endowment, but as the economy rebounded so did their contribution that started again at $25,000 in 1935 and gradually worked its way back to the original donation amount. M L B now contributes about 3 % of the total budget.

images (3)Since its inception in 1925, the American Legion baseball program has grown tremendously to now sporting over 5,400 teams from all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Almost 100,000 young players ages 15-19 pull on American Legion jerseys annually. Nearly 60 % of all current college players are graduates of the Legion baseball program.

M L B has help fund American Legion baseball almost since its inception and Legion baseball has produced a huge bevy of M L B prospects. The amount of former Legion ballplayer who go onto the professional ranks increases with every season and it is estimated more than half of all current major leaguers have Legion roots.

From fresh-faced M L B rookies playing short season summer baseball to current M L B players and Baseball Hall of Fame members, many got their true starts towards a professional career by playing Legion ball.

images (6)Hall of Famer Yogi Berra played for the Fred W. Stockholm Post 245 in St. Louis, Mo and was once heard saying American Legion ball was” the most fun he ever had.” Ted Williams pulled on a Legion jersey for a post back in San Diego, California.

Frank Robinson helped lead his Oakland, Calif. Squad to the only back-to-back World Series win in Legion ball history.

Babe Ruth however never got a chance to play Legion baseball as he was too old to participate during its younger years but spent the final years of his life promoting the Legion program as its director of operations.

Even though Maddon chose Post 14 as his local Post, it is not one of the most prolific American Legion baseball programs in Tampa Bay. That honor goes to Post 248 in Tampa, Florida which produced such future M L B players as Luis Gonzalez, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield.

images (5)Other Florida notables include David Eckstein who played for Post 53 in Sanford, Fl and Chipper Jones and Luke Scott both played for Post 6 out of Deland,Fl.

American Legion baseball even has another great ambassador who played on the gridiron in Bob Griese who played for the Evansville, Indiana post who were the American Legion champs in 1964.

Here is just a small list of some of the current M L B players who have their baseball roots firmly planted within the American Legion program: Cliff Lee (Benton,Ark), Justin Verlander (Post 201), Drew Stubbs and Will Middlebrook (Texarkana), Craig Kimbrel (Post 15), Jason Motte (Post 152), Chad Billingsley (Post 300), Jackie Bradley Jr. (Post 146), Brian Wilson (Post 27), Madison Bumgarner (Post 29) and many, many more…..

downloadI hope this shows some of the sheer magnitude of talent that has come through the American Legion system and are now inspiring members of the major leagues.    

American Legion baseball is something truly special and I was thrilled to be a part of it back in the late 70’s playing for Post 14.  And even though Post 14 never advanced to the World Series while I was playing Third Base, it solidified my personal growth and life foundation through competition, unity of team and created experiences I have used throughout my life.

Playing Post ball helped mold me tighter and wiser as a person while also embracing the spirit of the organization and embracing as well as respecting and honoring for those who fought bravely for our freedoms.

images (2)Some people see the High Schools and college systems as the feeder systems towards a M L B career. I hope this post shows that the American Legion program has deep roots within the American game of baseball and its presence is only going to increase.

I am glad Maddon decided to embrace this past weekend as an American Legion weekend and that he rewarded those in attendance Friday night in Post 14 by picking up that night’s bar tab of over $550.

I wasn’t there that night but if I was, I would have raised my glass high and saluted Major Griffith for having the foresight to embrace a Legion baseball program and giving so many of us great Legion memories.

I mean as the banner said that was displayed in the Rays Clubhouse, Post 14 is “The Fun Post”.

Getting That Rays Autograph Just Got Harder

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(Jenn McKenney/Photo Credit)

The Trop pre-game fan rituals, they will be a-changing…..and not by our choice.

So if you are one of those eager young or old autograph hounds, or want a photo with your favorite Rays player, it just got a bit harder to accomplish this feat within an hour of game time.

images (2)Seems last night just after the conclusion of the New York Yankees BP, the Sentry security team which protects the field regions around Tropicana Field were informed pre-game to begin informing the amassed crowds of Rays fans who seem to migrate and linger within the Lower Bowl seating area that they will no longer have access to this area 1 hour before game time.

That means that this once prime autograph and photo real estate will be off-limits.

No longer will you be permitted to stand or await a Rays player on the rail or in the first row of seating after B P unless you possess a Rays ticket for a seat adjacent to that area.  If you seem to be loitering or waiting in this area, no matter if you are young or old, you will be instructed to leave the area.

images (6)No longer will kids or adults be able to pop down and get a quick selfie with Longo, “the Outlaw” or others as they finish their pre-game runs and stretching.

Gone will be that last ditch effort some have used to get a signed ball from a player before they head into the Clubhouse or stand for the National Anthem.

Now if you want to possibly get that “must have” autograph or have a conversation with your favorite player, you might have to be there as the gates open and hope and pray the player has not participated in the early rounds of BP and have head into the Clubhouse to get “game ready”.

The Rays will not change  their usual gate opening times so during the week (Mon-Thurs) the gates will open 1 hour before First Pitch while on the weekends they will still open 2 hours before First Pitch.

images (7)With this rule hitting the fan base at the Trop., you can surely bet there will be a bigger grouping of fans over the Rays or visiting dugout during their Batting Practice sessions as this area might be the only viable way now to get a last second signature.

It is not only going to make the task of getting an wanted autograph harder for the fan who planned a weekend or unexpected trip to the ballpark to get that script, but he will be fighting a larger contingent of Rays fans now who know with an hour to go the Lower Bowl area will be off limits to them.

I truly think the pure test of if this rule can be truly effective will be on the Sunday games when fans are let into the Trop 2 hours before game time and usually there is no BP by either team on that day.

images (5)Some of the Rays Field players might wander out to toss a few on the turf before Sunday matinee games, but the largest contingency will be the Rays pitching staff who come out and do long-toss and possibly a side Bullpen session.

With Sunday also being the day we celebrate Family Fun Fest, larger numbers of small children will be on hand hoping to get a glimpse or noticed by a ballplayer, possibly ending with a genuine baseball or an autograph.

What is really going to suck is seeing a small child who used to be able to come down and get an autograph all the way up to the National Anthem be turned away because they do not have a ticket in that section of seating.

I understand totally that the Rays fan base has been spoiled by the great interaction between the Rays very out-going and personable players who have graced our roster. And a huge majority of the Rays fan base has respected the set boundaries between the players and fans, but who knows what happened to set this rule into motion.

images (1)Did someone make a wrong gesture or comment? Could someone have taken a liberty that offended someone on the Rays roster or staff? Might there have been a swift hand involved that took someone’s item as they signed? Or could the worst have happened, someone took a player’s glove, cap or something else?

I have tried to get some glimpse for the quick policy change from more than a few members of the Rays staff and the Sentry security staff, but we truly might never know if this rule change might not be just a security precaution or happened because of an event that transpired between a player and fan at the Trop.

downloadThis is a blow to that Rays unique sense of small degree of separation that the Rays fans had become accustom to since 1998.  This team truly since its inception has been one of the most fan-friendly teams in sports…bar none, but now a slice of that acceptable pre-game ambiance that set the Rays apart has been eliminated.  

Times they are a-changing within the Trop.

If you want that much anticipated autograph or photo you will have to get to the game sooner, post up in a valued spot along the rail or dugout and hope to garner both eye contact and voice recognition with your target before engaging towards fulfilling your goal.

 

Editor’s Note : I want to give Jen McKinney a shout out for awakening me to this new rule and for the 1st Photo……Thank You.

Sale Must Now Abide

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Anytime a young, potentially great athletic person like Tampa Bay Rays prospect Josh Sale takes the dark path it pisses me off to no end. The life expectancy of an athletic career is so short-termed that any and all of life’s hiccups can rob you of the precious opportunity to live out your sports dream.

images (3)Sale at one point had tremendous up-side for the Rays, but that was before his first downward spiral and 50-game suspension for testing positive for methamphetamine and another source of amphetamine.

You had hoped that Sale took it upon himself in his downtime via suspension to eradicate a few demons, found other positive outlets to alleviate the stresses of his career/ lifestyle choices and had found a positive path towards reviving his baseball career.

But little did we know that smile and external optimistic nuance was more fiction that factual as he again took a wrong turn towards darkness and this time had a 100-game penalty accessed against him for his deplorable drug usage.

stripperweb29s-3-webSome will say I’m being harsh as Sale is an addict and I should be wary of imposing my harsh views as he will be fragile and seeking help as he struggles once again with his addiction.

Others will be adamant to point out that Sale did not take a life or impose harm on others, but I truly feel you are only half right here. The reality is that Sale basically injured himself, doing self-inflicted damage by sustaining another vital blow to his dream of being a professional baseball player by again falling prey to his weakness.   

But what really gets me deep and stirs my editorial pot is when an athletic steps once again in the same vapid hole that devoured them the first time and find themselves once again at rock bottom and do not show shame or admonish their dark ways.   

downloadThe one great reaction that will happen because of this is that Sale will be offered every opportunity to try and turn himself around not only for his career, but for himself as a person.

Right now in all honesty the Rays have to fix Sales the young man before any movement can be made to possible re-create Josh Sale, the baseball player.

Even as our world disposes of our less desirable things in life, throwing them instantly into the trash to be forgotten and disposed of, resurrecting another human being, bringing about a positive outcome as a heralded human reclamation project.

joshsale052913Sale has been suspended twice now for drug offenses. Tack on the fact the Rays organization in May 2013 suspended Sale indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the organization” which resulted because of a bizarre incident in a strip club between some hurled quarters and a dancer.

Not only did Sale act immature in the club and in public, but he took to social media (Facebook) and bragged on the event further bringing shame and humiliation to others.

Worst yet, this action came 1 day after Sale was added to the Rays Single-A Port Charlotte Stone Crabs

images (1)Sometimes you just got to eradicate the cancerous evolution or degeneration of morality perpetrated by a person as they take another fall from grace as they blindly blow through the obligatory Stop signs of morality or ignore or heed the substance danger signals around them.

Certainly this second smack has to be the moment Sale is shocked back into a real reality and brevity of his actions. I sincerely hope that Sale heeds this last chance at any possible career or life redemption and takes to it with the same grit and determination he did his early baseball career.

Sale must now abide. He must admit and address the severity of what has happened to his personal and professional life and begin to again format a battle plan to combat his weaknesses or the only way Sale will ever get into a M L B stadium will be if he buys a ticket.

 

 

 

 

Ice Bucket Challenge…Do You Have It in You?

 

If for nothing else, the Summer of 2014 is going to be known for ice cold buckets sloshing all over the heads, upper bodies and shoes of people from all walks of life. What’s a little H2O when it can be done for a great cause, and to also call out for friends, family, co-workers and maybe that one person you always wanted to get a little revenge on…..now is your chance.

The challenge is actually quite easy in thought: you get a full bucket of icy cold water, dump it over your head, record the action, post the video out and about on any or all of your social media outlets and then loudly call out or challenge anyone and everyone to also take the plunge and make a donation to the ALS Association.

I mean tons of famous and also non-famous people have already gotten their cold shiver on with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I mean athletes and celebrities like pro golfer Greg Norman, actress Elisha Cuthbert, Toronto Maple Leaf Dion Phaneuf, Household goddess Martha Stewart and even the Tampa Bay Rays mascot Raymond have completed and sent out their own challenges to other to also compete and complete the icy adventure.

I am simply flabbergasted that the watery “Tag..Your it!” endeavor has risen to such high standards with hundreds and thousands of people through their social media pages and messages calling for the friends, followers and even family to take a cold one for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Amazingly enough, the event has raised over $150,000. Already this year and before the first leaf falls could surpass a quarter of a million dollars just by people all over the social map calling out others to douse themselves and to extend the challenge to their select intended targets to also partake and donate, then keep the cycle going…possibly all summer long.

And this awesome fund raising challenge actually has a bit of a baseball foundation. Seems that this whole icy situation began back in 2012 in the Boston, Mass area and quickly began to gain a more wet footing as friends, relatives and former teammates of former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates who was diagnosed with ALS.

Pete’s close knit group of friends, family and others decided used the cool idea as a visual physical challenge to raise awareness about ALS. Frates, 29, has been living with ALS since 2012 and has worked for The ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter. Frates is a former Divion1 college baseball player for Boston College and is a tireless champion for the foundation and its awareness.

Recently Pete’s own parents, John and Nancy along with 200 assembled dry souls doused themselves in Copley Square. His parents state that the ice bucket challenge has done more to increase the understanding about ALS than anything else they have imagined over the past 2 years.

How much has this event helped the ALS Association?

ALS Association National President Barbara Newhouse said donations to the national office have surged during the last 10-day period that ended this past Thursday to about $160,000. From $14,480 during the same period a year ago. And you have to believe that local and community chapter offices have not been able to give their donation yet, so a figure of $250,000. Seems within reach just for a few moments of uncomfortable chills for a tremendous cause.

I have been the subject of a ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge twice now (8/10/14 & 08/17/14) and have been honored to take that heavily laced bucket of ice chips and some water  and dumped it over my Rays capped noggin.  I completed my first challenge after being called out by a former Colts teammate on August 10th and completed my second tour of icy goodness on Sunday, August 17th after a challenge was issued to former Baylor football players. I also donated $100 each time with the second donation being presented in the name of my daughter Alex Hougham.

All I can tell you is thank goodness it is 90+ degree in St. Petersburg, Fl right now so the water not only cooled me down, but kept my feet and shorts cool for an hour or two afterwards as I did not bring spare clothes (Hint: remember spare clothes, at least flip flops). 

I mean I have heard of some wild challenges already like the one completed by Boston Bruins stars Brad Marchand and Torey Krug who willingly dropped frozen ice (not from Boston Garden) on themselves and then promptly issued their own set of challenges to their intended water-logged friends.

So friends, family and old arch-enemies be aware, for soon I might be calling you out to also partake in the chilling but totally satisfying adventure of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Now if only my Nike’s would dry out…

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Was Wily Mr. O. Possum be the New Oakland Spirit Animal?

 

Native Americans believe that nine different spirit animals or totems are connected to us throughout our lives acting as guides to steer us towards events or occurrences that will define our lives. They believe these nine animals are with us for life and even as they all have their purpose, one is the lead animal that will show the way and provide moments of clarity and awareness.  downloadWe now know that the opossum has to be one of the Oakland Athletic’s nine focal spirit animals. And possibly with this white-faced creature showing itself to the assembled masses last night in the bottom of the 10th inning of a tied contest between the Tampa Bay Rays and the home town A’s, his presence had to be the deciding element to sway the energies last night and provide a victory. It’s the only logical reasoning  for the way the bottom of the 10th inning played out for the Tampa Rays last night. For the Opossum spirit animal is a deceiver, a strategist and an animal that uses deception to his advantage now both on and off the baseball diamond.  Whatever else could have caused such a rapid and defining chain of events that led to the A’s snapping the Rays road winning streak with this very peculiar stage of events? download (2)I mean the Rays had the fiery ex-Athletic, current Rays reliever Grant Balfour growling on the hill, but somehow the elements did not favor the Aussie one tonight as he saw not one, but 2 consecutive hitters get out of the 0-2 hole and find solace upon the base paths.   The first Oakland hitter Alberto Callaspo saw 4 pitches before lining out to left for the first out of the inning. The inning started to look a bit uneventful for the A’s. Then all bets seemed to be off as our opossum made his appearance strutting down the outfield wall in left field to his favorite cubbyhole just after Balfour’s first pitch to someone the O-town locals call “Super Sam” ( wonder where they got that name) Fuld. Possibly the opossum occurrence  inspired Fuld who was down 0-2 at the moment on 2 straight called strikes.  Fuld then found his pitch and deposited it into center field to become the A’s first base runner of the inning. Opossum 1, Rays 0. Then another former Rays, this time a chap named John Jaso swung mightily at 2 straight Balfour offerings as Balfour again had another A’s batter down 0-2 before Jaso, possibly through the vision of the opossum, gained  a bit of serenity and somehow secured himself a free pass to First base via a walk.  Opossum 2, Rays 0. imagesThe during the at bat by Oakland 3B Josh Donaldson we witnessed the usually steady defensive duo of Sean Rodriguez and Kevin Kiermaier somehow let a white sphere drop not in their gloves, but to the green turf  down the left field line missing a golden opportunity to garner a much needed out from this A’s  and keep them from victory. Wonder if S-Rod or the Outlaw saw a opossum out of the corner of their eye, or possibly seated in the stands? Donaldson’s at bat also produced a double whammy of not only reaching base by another walk by Balfour, but also via a deceived fourth ball that got Rays Manager Joe Maddon all ballistic and led to his eventual ejection from the contest by Home Plate Umpire Quinn Wolcott. Opossum 3, Rays 0. That set up a bases loaded situation with one out for the A’s next batter, Brandon Moss. Unfortunately Moss ended up striking out setting up the possible walk-off scenario for the next hitter, Derek Norris.   images (1)Balfour quickly got Norris behind in the count 0-2 before Norris followed Fuld’s lead and hit a game-winning single into center field breaking the Rays road winning streak and sending the Aussie muttering to himself about lost opportunities. Sure the victory went to the A’s that night, but somewhere, under the stands I can just see Mr O. Possum doing the “Dougie” knowing he might have helped by diverting just enough attention to deceive a win. 

Glad I Never Have to Make Trade Deadline Decisions

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How would you decide if it was your task to determine if your Major League Baseball squad was in “Buyer” or a “Seller” mode?

Would you compile a list of Pros and Cons onto an over-sized white board constantly striking out the illogical and mundane ideas while encircling the plausible and rational and in the end combining them neatly into a realistic orderly outline hoping they have the explosive measures to strike down any additional counterpoints.

images (2)Would you air on the surreal side of whimsy and instead flips a coin hoping that this twirling silver-plated marvel can secure you a viable answer, or take you down a long road of regretful actions. Taking the gamblers’ way and letting the bone decide you, your team and your continued careers path.

Or would you rely on the perception of scientific reasoning and radical decision management by resigning to the feasible factions of conducive tinkering of statistics and numerical normality’s to hedge the risks and rewards of anyone or everyone on your roster, including some of your previously off-limits top tier prospects.

Could you conclude without a shadow of a doubt orchestrate the perfect transaction scenario, isolate a primary trade package down to the last detail and complete the action before the last tick of the Trade Deadline clock without regret or second-guessing?

But that is the reality of the next couple of days until the sounding of that last tick of the clock on Thursday, August 31, 2014.

images (1)All 30 G.M.’s, Vice-Presidents and even Team ownership groups will have to make public via their voices or their players’ their final decree of being “Buyers” or “Sellers” as we approach the last few months of the season.

This is a time when a team can possibly regain their winning ways, forge into uncharted playoff glory or resort to the reality they do not have the horses to realistically make a final charge for any of the Wild Card or Division title slots.

For this brief moment in time so many will evoke the ever-changing thought processes of a Vegas gambler who decide within moments with instinct, a brush of Lady Luck or blind odds that the direction their team, and quite possibly their selected careers paths will be deemed failure or success by a unhuman 6-sided entity.

images (5)Every year some team rolls them bones and gets pieces that accumulate into a winning moments of glory accented by a joyous parade, while others over-pay, over-evaluate and commit career Hari-Kari as their selected seasonal saviors, needed for that last push towards a postseason dream come crumbling down upon themselves when an injury or unprovoked slump finally derails the most honest of intentions.

Some of these soles will have to decide the personnel value of a player or what number of bodies or wealth will be needed to secure their services, even if only for the short-term. The same players these franchise leaders shake hands with, joke with and see on a daily basis will be assigned a monetary stamp that other suitors will see affixed to them as that team’s negotiable first bartering price.

In that instant contact moment each M L B G.M. will have visions of future yearly salaries, arbitration raises and years of control numbers dancing in their heads.

images (7)Medical charts will be viewed with fine toothed combs, decision made on-the-fly concerning their compatibility to their present team’s chemistry and if the move has merits beyond just the 2014 final postseason push.

Yep, this is the time of year I’m glad I do not work in one of the 30 M L B offices as daily the pendulum can swing from “buyer” to “seller” with each sway of the arm over the final push of the Trade Deadline.

But then again, there is ample time between now and this Thursday for mistakes to be made, triumphs to be planned and careers to see set aflame.

Who knows what disasters and blockbusters await us over the next few days. How many bottle of the pink stuff and Tum’s will be consumed, and if someone’s cell phone provider’s minutes will be exceeded for the common good of their team.

images (8)At this moment each team has questions and await the conclusions that may provide finite and fulfilling answers for every team.

Only on Friday morning after the final smoke clears will there be  prognosticator assessments as to if there are clear winners or losers and if the “Buyers” this year should have really been aware.

Tick…Tock…..Tick…Tock….

Dance Willis, Cause the World is Watching

 

Somewhere in the Far East there is a Tampa Bay Rays fan, or at least he is a super fan of the funky and classic dances moves of Rays Mascot coordinator Willis Harris.

images (6)Most Rays fans have seen Harris performing during the break when the Rays Grounds crew drag the clay surface and replace the orange-spotted bases during the bottom of the 4th inning during Rays home contests.

You knew the Rays dancing and highly flexible moving and grooving crew member  had a following because of the many videos posted to Youtube or mentions in new articles or blog posts over his tenure with the team. But now his side-splits and gyrations have taken to the International stage as his persona has been jacked and become an instant hit or miss depending on your political views or geographic locale.

images (5)It seems someone has positioned the mighty mug of North Korean leader Kim Jong- Un upon the shoulder of Harris who dominates the first 38 seconds of the newly released dance track featuring the North Korean leader.  

If you were wondering, the musical soundtrack is set to a Chinese pop hit by the Chopstick Brothers, which is pretty toe-tapping. The Korean online new source Chosun Ilbo says the video was the brainchild of a Chinese man surnamed Zhang from Suzhou who reportedly studied at Kyonggi University in South Korea.”

Here’s to hoping that Jung-Un has some sort of comedic bone in his body and can appreciate for a second that someone gave him righteous dance moves and even a great finishing move….but I have a feeling Jung Un is out for almighty revenge against anyone featured in the video, even if they did not send it or let their image be used in such a fashion.

download (1)Hopefully Harris will not come back to his Rays 4th floor office any time soon and find a ton of well fermented Kimchi stacked from the carpet to the ceiling tiles and a terse letter from the depot leader stuck to his door with a ceremonial Liaoning bronze dagger.

Whoever did post the video most certainly will be popped into the crosshairs of the infamous North Korean State Security Department in the near future.  We know by the translated message on the video it was not sent or made within Tropicana Field, or by any member current or past within the Rays, but Harris will probably be guilty by association since someone brandished his trademark dance moves for all the World to enjoy.

images (4)Surely the video will play on every television news program for at least the next 24 hours…or more and Harris will get a bit more great free publicity on his antics during Rays games and hopefully will return to an office free of fermented veggies, Korean symbols and a bronze dagger.

Still, you got to love that the Rays also got some free publicity, few bytes of video antics as to the fun and entertainment you can be assured of at a Rays game.

So for now….Dance Willis, dance like the World is watching, because it is.

 

A Rays Groundskeeper video Encore featuring Korea’s Psy  “Gangnam Style” :

 

 

Peralta’s Skeeter Bite Might Force a Painful Ending

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In tropical regions like Florida, the Caribbean or the Dominican Republic, outdoor activities are anticipated and welcomed with each rising of the Sun. Doing things in our yards, beaches and even in our neighboring parks and backyards is a godsend of living in the splendor of this tropical oasis.

Even among our slices of paradise here within the Dominican Republic or in Tampa Bay where one of the smallest creatures, airborne by design could have possibly placed one of our own Tampa Bay Rays in harm’s way of possibly contracting a virus that could forecast months and possibly a lifetime of pain to Rays reliever Joel Peralta.

imagesIt is still simply amazing to me how something as small as a skitter (mosquito everywhere else in the World) could take down something 1,000 times larger than itself like a human. Even more amazing is the sheer minute possibility that a lone mosquito found Peralta during his stint back home in the Dominican during the recent All-Star break.

Peralta has been sent back to St. Petersburg, Fl to undergo a few more blood tests under the guidance of Rays Team Physician Dr. Michael Reilly to confirm that a lone mosquito might have given Peralta the infamous Chikungunya virus. Peralta’s blood work will also be reviewed and double-checked by the CDC and other governmental agencies tasked with investigating the virus within the United States. 

downloadChikungunya was first discovered in the Caribbean back in late 2013.  With the Dominican Republic being within that prime location within the tropical Americas island chains, it has been listed as a possible nesting point for the painful virus. Peralta believes he was either bitten once or twice while visiting his home back in the Dominican, but could he have possibly contacted the virus even before heading back to his home in Bonaro?

Florida where there have been 82 confirmed cases, including 2 victims locally who might have contracted the virus on their travels.

The virus is not considered initially life-threatening, but even if Peralta gets through the incubation period and gets through the symptoms with minor effects, it could saddle Peralta with arthritic joint pain that can be extremely painful, possibly lasting for weeks, or for a long time period.

images (1)The Rays did the right thing by erring on the side of caution and placed Peralta on the 15-day disabled list as he seeks treatment and a firm diagnosis of his fever, headache and joint pain. There was no mention of if Peralta was in the possible febrile or elevated body temp (possibly as high as 104 degrees) format of the virus, but this phase can last typically from 2-3 days before the onset of other symptoms.

Other symptoms can be a rash on the extremities or trunk region of the body and severe or nagging joint pains comparable to those felt by arthritis sufferers. Headaches, nausea, possible “pink eye”, eye sensitivity to light or even experiencing a loss of taste which could last as long as 5-7 days.

But until Peralta completes a battery of blood tests that will expose certain cell lines to samples of whole blood. He will also have his blood analyzed via RT-PCR can confirm a definite diagnosis of Peralta contracting the Chikungunya virus.

images (3)If Peralta did become infected, there are no approved vaccines available at this moment to fight the virus, but there is a phase II vaccine trial currently being tested that has provided a virus resistance in 98% of those tested after 28 days and 85% showing resistance after 1 years’ time. But the doctors could prescribe napoxen, paracetamol and fluids to his regiment.

Even if Peralta comes out of this with minimal time and effects there is a chance he could experience a extended bouts of joint pain. In some past cases, people who have contracted Chikungunya had joint pain symptoms as long as 2 years after their initial diagnosis.

images (2)The worst thing that could happen within all of this is the fact that any prolonged arthritic or joint stiffness after completion of his required rehab could possibly derail Peralta’s baseball career.

I’m personally hoping that a simple bite from a mosquito cannot and will not ultimately change Peralta’s physical gifts and allow him to further fulfill his baseball dreams .  

Rays to Hold Third Social Media Night

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Well I guess the term “Tweet-Up” no longer grasps the always expanding persona that is social media today.  With so many known platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Google+, Flickr , Vine start growing some grey hairs, others like PinIntrest, Snapchat, FlipBoard,  and newbie Cyber Dust have been included under that always expanding Social Media umbrella.

065So it was great to see the Rays Promotional Department take the selection of their 2014 Social Media Night t-shirt design to their fan base. But you got to hurry, as voting will end sooner than you can pop up 140-characters and the team will announce the final T-shirt selection on @Raysbaseball on Friday, July 25, 2014.

If you want to vote for either the #SPEAKSOFTLY, #SHOWYOURSTRIPES, #RAYSUP OR MY FAVORITE, THE #RAYSREPUBLICSHIRT.

Voting for any of the 4 designs is easy as you only have to include the appropriate t-shirt design hashtag on your social media to submit you vote. But unlike the All-Star game voting, you can use the hashtag as much as you like, as often as you like and vote until your fingers cramp up or your tablet battery dies.

001 (2)And if you want to attend the Friday,August 1st contest against the visiting Los Angeles Angels, the Rays have set aside a special Lower Reserved seating area, a great ticket offer and a chance to win multiple prizes throughout the night focused towards the Rays social media members.

All you have to do is click this link and it will take you to the Rays ticketing offer that will get you your seat (usually a $37 ticket) for $20, the winning social media selected T-shirt, in game recognition, plus a chance to have your game time tweets, photos and other media morsels selected to be displayed to everyone in the stadium as well as your own social media followers.

T-shirts can be redeemed during this contest in the Gate 3 Concourse where you can choose from Adult S-to-XXL and will be distributed on a first come-first serve basis until the 5th Inning.  You must show your Social Media Night ticket to receive a T-shirt.

023I would get there earely and maybe you can be as luck as @skittykatz did in 2011 and get a Rays player’s T-shirt with their social media name imprinted on the T-shirt. (Hopefully the Rays Promo Dept does this again…It was an awesome keepsake).

This will be the third time the Rays have celebrated social media with the last 2 events holding the “Tweet-Up” moniker on August 4, 2011 and May 7,2013. By going to a more generic theme like Social Media Night, the team can embrace all the social media apps from popular, to those gaining followers and subscribers.

039Looking forward to this night as the Rays Republic electronic Air Force all come together to celebrate everything Rays and post photos, tweets and even a few special moments for us all to enjoy.

See you there, I might wear my old @TheRaysRenegade “Tweet-Up” T-shirt just for nostalgic purposes.

What a Difference A Year Makes

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“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.

2014+MLB+Star+Game+News+Conference+-SQf36A1Hn1lI’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.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer 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?

images (2)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.

Bill-Foster-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.

images (5)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.”

images (4)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.

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