Results tagged ‘ Todd Kalas ’

Rays Jots and “Idol” Rays-style Chatter

 



 

 
Man oh man, here we are, another beautiful day in the Florida sun with the smell of Cheese steaks hitting gentile winds coming across the ball park.  I do not mind coming down here and riving almost two hours now to see a game. Ever since the minor league teams began their exhibition games, you can always stroll on over and maybe see  B J Upton getting his licks in, or maybe Matt Joyce getting his legs under him before the season begins.  But, see those two guys again out there running and fielding shows me that the season is upon us, and it is time to celebrate some of the other things going on down here in Port Charlotte, Florida.

 
 
Rite of Rays Spring
 

Today is also the first locally televised broadcast of a Tampa Bay Rays game this season. That is always a sign of the season coming up quickly on us when we see that strapping young lad, Todd Kalas doing reports from the Tiki Bar, the Cheese steak Hut, and also along the railings over the Rays Bullpen and the left-center field Boardwalk area. But it is not until I see that man-fro of Dewayne Staats that I truly know the year is about to start. If you do not know anything about Statts, then you are not a old time Rays fan. Staats has been stepping to the mike now for 32 seasons, and his 11th season covering the Rays. In 2003,  he hit a  high note point in his career when he called his 4,000th  broadcast. He has come a long way since his first timer up at the mike in a MLB booth when he started with the Houston Astros back in 1977.

 

Todd Kalas
 

But today he was seen walking into the booth with the Rays Assistant Pitching Coach/ Broadcast partner Brian Anderson for this broadcast first by the Rays Television Network in Port Charlotte this year. Missing in today’s initial broadcast was new Rays analyst Kevin Kennedy. But seeing both Staats and Anderson standing up there in their dark blue Rays polo shirts brought a level of normalcy to the Spring. It is like the birds returning to Capistrano, it is a rite of spring. But, the true rite of spring was seeing Kalas wandering the sidewalks and Tiki bar seats shaking hands and just being a true Rays ambassador to the crowd of 6,969 who came out to see them play the St Louis Cardinals today.

 
 

Shawn Riggan aka Rays Seacrest

American Idol Rays-style 
 

The location was kept unknown to most fans, but the results were mixed as the Rays held their own version of the popular Fox Television show this week. The judges were not as picky or prim and proper as the regular shows lot, but it was a wild mix of young and old music styles. You had the Latin goddess Carmine Molina ( No relation to the catching Molina’s) as our resident Paula Abdul, Troy Percival maybe playing the picky Simon Cowell, B J Upton as the new judge Karla De Guardio and the veteran Carl Crawford did his best Randy Jackson moves. The pick of the Rays to do the MC duties might be a bit odd to some people, but Shawn Riggans as Ryan Seacrest would make sense to the women fans of the Rays.
 

I have always called Riggans the “Brad Pitt” of the minor leagues, but now that he is considered a quality and able back-up to Dioner Navarro, maybe this is his first jump into broadcasting. Who would have known he could be so personable with a microphone in his hands. It might be the Rays tradition started by John Flarety, who is currently a part of the YES broadcast team. I am thinking this might be his first audition tape to take along with him to maybe follow Flarety and go high in the stands into the booth after his career is over…….The night’s winner was minor league catcher Steven Vogt, who mesmerized the judges with his smooth sounds and ample singing personalities. Coming in a distant second was the musing of fellow catcher Matt Springs and Chris Richard, who channeled a bit of Warren G and the Regulators during their time on the stage. But it was fun by all, and marked another chapter in the fun and adventure the Rays have had in the last year…………We out Dog!

 
 

 
 

Now Pitching Number 19……………..

 

Only during the spring can you have this kind of problem. During the regular season, players  do not seem to mix jersey numbers or play a game of jersey roulette. But during Thursday’s game, we saw two different sides to the usual number 19 of the Rays. We first saw Scott Kazmir start the game and throw a wild first inning where he gave up 3 runs, one a 3-run shot to Ryan Ludwick into the left field boardwalk area. After the first three batters had tacked an early 3-0 lead on the Rays, Kazmir began to settle in a bit, but still got hit two more times in that inning after throwing around 31 pitches. It started to look like vintage 2008 Kazmir.
 

But unknown to the fans, and even the broadcast team at the time was the fact that Kazmir was a victim of that gastro-intestinal situation that has come and gone all spring within the Rays clubhouse. He did not feel good from the get-go, but wanted to try and take the mound in support of his team. You could tell his off-speed pitches did not have the usual snap, as Ludwick took his slower than usual change-up long and deep in that first inning.  Even during the second inning, a hanging slider was hit over the boardwalk in right field and into the restaurant patio area for a solo shot. In the third inning, he faced the minimum three batters, getting a double play to help matters after he hit Yadier Molina in the foot with a bad breaking ball.
 

For his four inning of work today, Kazmir gave up 8 hits and 5 runs, with only 2 strikeouts. It was not vintage Kazmir at all, but considering he was under the weather, I can give him a mulligan today. He has looked good in his other two appearances this spring, and you knew that a set back was going to happen to each of the starters at some point this spring. So this was Kazmir’s “gimme” for the spring. After his outing, Kalas interviewed Kazmir, and you could see by his face that it lacked color and he did not have that usual confidence or Kazmir charm going for him today.
 

But then again in the top of the ninth inning , the Rays faithful saw another number 19 take the mound for the home team. But this time it was not the leftie, but a rightie who was wearing the telltale Kazmir number. Now granted, the minor leaguers do wear the same type Rays B P tops in their camps also located on the adjacent four regular size field here in the Charlotte Sports Park. But couldn’t the Rays have done what the Red Sox, and even today’s opponent, the Cardinals have done and just send the guy out their without a name on the back of a “19″ jersey. I had to get the old binoculars out and strained to see that the guy on the mound was actually the Rays 2002 46th round pick, Jino Gonzalez.
 

If you have not heard a lot about Gonzalez, then you must not be a Montgomery Biscuit fan.  You see, he spent most of his 2008 season with the Double-A affiliate where he appeared in 37 games last season earning a record of 2-4. He also started 11 games for the Biscuits and went over 87 innings picking up 68 strikeouts last year. but here he was today, helping the big club fight off the Cardinals in the ninth inning to try and secure a chance for the Rays to get back into this game.  He ended up only going 1 inning today, but he quickly took care of  Cardinal Joe Mather grooving a nice breaking ball on the inside corner for a called third strike for the first out.
 

He then tried to get the same pitch in on Brian Barden, but hit him in the stomach to give up his first major league base runner. He then pitched Tyler Greene tight inside to get him to hit a short bouncer in front of the plate that Gonzalez quickly picked up to throw out Braden for the second out of the inning.  After another hard pitch in on the hands of Brendan Ryan, he got him to op up the ball towards the backstop and Rays catcher Steven Vogt held onto the ball for the final out of the inning.  It was an impressive outing for the minor leaguer, and might have opened some eyes about his future with the team.

 
 

 

Short Page Scribbles :

 

Now not only does Elvis, the English Bulldog of Pat Burrell have a locker with a nameplate, but the young son of Rays closer Troy Percival also has that honor in the Rays clubhouse. The 10-year old was given a space by Rays Clubhouse Manager Chris Westmoreland today, and the first thing hanging in his locker was his customary “401.2″ jersey. But I guess that is better than the locker room setting for both Ray Sadler and Jon Weber, who have seen all the people around their assigned lockers either get sent to the minor league locker room, or moved to other areas of the clubhouse. But you can be sure
that they too might have to vacate the lockers soon, with one of them hoping to actually have a chance to take their gear to Tropicana Field for the season.

 
 

Something was very usual today around the ballpark. The Rays usual Juggs radar gun seemed to be a bit off today as it showed a slow breaking pitch by Rays Reliever Brian Shouse going 96 mph to the plate. It even tallied a slow 12-6 curve by the Cardinal’s Ryan Franklin going 99 mph.  Who knows what is up with the gun, maybe a ball hit it and the calibration was smacked right out of the stadium piece. Hopefully it will be taken care of before the next game so we do not have a random 102 mph reading hit the scoreboard and freak out a few of the Rays faithful.
 

B J Upton got his first live batting swings in today over the Minor League section of the complex. He did not fair well, but was happy to finally get the bat off his shoulder and swing at some live pitching in a game situation. He did not get to take the field, as he was designated at the DH for the Triple-A squad game today. But his 09-2 performance can not be discounted as he was seeing the ball great and just seems to have his timing off a bit right now. Upton told the St. Petersburg Times that,   “My biggest concern was swinging and missing and seeing how it felt,” Upton said. “I took my normal swing and I didn’t feel anything, so it’s another roadblock we’ve passed. I really had no idea how it was going to feel, and to finally get it out of the way it feels good.”  It is just great again to see him in uniform and ready to take a bat in his hands for the Rays. The timetable is still in place for him to be ready by the time the team returns from their first road trip of the year to Boston and Baltimore. But for him to make his 2009 debut in front of the home crowd might just be what the doctor ordered for Upton.
 
 
 

Photo credits: 1) RRCollection
                       2)  http://www.FSN.com
                       3)  http://www.Stpetersburgtimes.com ; (
                       4)  http://www.Bradenton.com ( Tiffany Tompkins )

Kevin Kennedy Announced as the Rays New Broadcast Analyst

 

 

 
 
I was upstairs on the third floor in the Rays executive offices a few days ago and over heard a conversation that was going on between a few people about Kevin Kennedy. Now I knew that the Fox Baseball broadcaster had been contacted by the team in the past about their job opening, but I did not  know he was considering the position until I read it in another blog ( www.raysindex.com ) two days later. Where was my journalistic instincts that day. 
 

I could have broke a great story, or at least posted the same day as everyone else. But for some reason I did not think he was going to be on the broadcast team. I was under the mindset that he might be a guest during Fan Fest like Buck Martinez and would shed some great light on baseball today.  I was told on Saturday at Fan Fest that they tried hard to get him there for the Florida Sports Network ( FSN ) autograph signing to surprise the Rays faithful with the announcement. Not tell me that would not have psyched you out to go up to the table to see colorful Dwayne Staats and Kevin Kennedy sitting with Todd Kalas singing away like madmen.
 


So even if I am upset with myself for accidentally falling into a story, I am excited that we have a high caliber replacement like Kennedy for Joe Magrane. I was sorry to see Magrane go to the MLB Network. Not so much that I would miss his tall sense of humor and inside jokes during the broadcast, but I liked his analogies during the game. He had a special bond with these players having played at this level and had his own success on the mound.  I recently saw a review of the American League East, and Magrane looked troubled to have to chat about his former team. He will be great at MLB Network, and I truly wish him the best.



 
 

                             

 
Kennedy will be the color analyst for most of the Rays broadcasts in 2009, but he will have to leave the booth from time to time to take care of prior commitments with Fox Sports and will also  still do his daily XM radio talk show with Rob Dibble on  XM Satellite Radio channel 175.  Un known to some fans is the fact that Kennedy has been nominated twice for Emmys for his work at Fox Sports.  So with his new position, Kennedy also has some past commitments and in his absence in the booth, the Rays will have a familiar voice to fans stand in for him. During the 2008 season when Magrane was out of town in New York City for the Olympic baseball telecasts, former Cleveland Indians color commentator Brian Anderson would take off his Rays uniform and strap on his suit to help take over for him.  Pregame and post-game host Todd Kalas will also slide up into the commentators chair on select broadcasts in 2009.
 

 
So let’s get to know a little bit more about the guy who will be up in the Rays booth this year with Staats. Kevin Kennedy did play organized professional baseball, but was limited to the minor leagues as a catcher in the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations.   He began his trek into coaching with stints in  the Caribbean Winter League before finally getting position in the minor leagues. In 1983 he began his coaching career as a catching instructor in the Los Angeles Dodger organization and in 1984, he began his first full season coaching in the Pioneer League with the Great Falls Dodgers.  He stayed with that franchise until 1986, and he appeared in the conference finals twice in the last two years, winning the championship in 1985.  In 1987, he moved up to the Bakersfield Dodgers in the California League and  78-65 record for the season. 
 

 
Kennedy then got his first taste of life in Texas when he went in 1986 to the San Antonio Missions in the Texas League and lead them to a 73-60 record. The team ended up in second place in the conference and lost in the first round of the playoffs that year.  From 1989-1991, Kennedy again stayed put in the  Pacific coast League as he took over as manager of the Albuquerque Dukes. He finished the regular season all three years in first place, but only won in the PCL’s playoff championship in 1990.  That season  the team posted a 92-51 record, which became his best minor league managerial records.
 

 
             
 

Kennedy finally made it onto a major league squad as a coach with the Montreal Expos in 1992. He  was hired by Tommy Runnels , but ended up coaching  under Felip Alou after Runnels was let go by the franchise. He only stayed in Montreal for one year before getting his big break in 1993 when he was hired by the Texas Ranger to take over as manager of the team. His squad posted a 86-76 record for the year and placed second in the American League West division. But the best was yet to come as in 1994 when he won his first divisional title.  Kennedy is still the only manager to ever win a division title with a sub-.500 record. When the 1994 strike put a premature end to the season, the Rangers were standing atop the four-team AL Western Division, with a record of 52-62. They had finished ten games over .500 in 1993, and their record in the strike-shortened season was considered a serious disappointment, leading to Kennedy’s dismissal. 
 

 
But Kennedy did not have to wait long for another opportunity to manage in the major leagues. He was hired by Butch Hobson to coach for the Boston Red Sox and was the Red Sox managements choice to succeed Hobson in 1995. Kennedy pushed the Red Sox to a 86-58 record in 144 games, and they won the American League East title that season.  But in 1996, the Red Sox struggled and posted only a 85-77 record in 162 games. The  overall team record and his teams being swept in the playoffs by the Cleveland Indians was viewed as a travesty and Kennedy was replaced by Jimy Williams in the off season.

 


 

              
 
 

Kennedy then went on to work at ESPN in 1998, where he spent two years as an analyst on their national Wednesday Night Baseball game telecast, and on ESPN Radio’s Sunday Night Baseball games.  After leaving ESPN, Kennedy began work with Fox Sports Net as an analyst for the ” National Sports Report “, providing commentary and in-depth features. In recent years, Kennedy has been on the Fox Saturday pregame show with Jeannes Zelasko.   I also did not know that Kennedy was co-author of a baseball book entitled, ” Twice Around the Bases”. I am going to have to hit Amazon.com in the next few days and see if I can find a good copy of the book to read, and then get Kennedy to autogrpah. Maybe I might even review the book in a blog sometimes during an off-day during the season.

Within the last two months it has been learned that Fox will terminate the pre-game show featuring both hosts and that might have opened the door for the Rays opportunity for Kennedy. MLB on Fox has not decided on their 2009 direction, but they will now have to stay the course without Kennedy on board the ship. I think this hiring is an excellent decision by the Tampa Bay Rays. They get a guy who is respected for his baseball knowledge as an ex-manager, and as a network show co-host for several seasons. Kennedy was also very pro-Rays during the 2008 season and will bring great insight into the managerial and network side of sports for the viewers.  He will also be a great speaker for the Rays in civic events and will be a firm foundation for the broadcast team in 2009.

He comes on board with Staats who has now done over 4,400 broadcasts in his career, and is always a finalist for the Hall of Fame’s Frick award.  Kevin Kennedy might not have been my first choice to fill that position, but I also did not even know that he was available at the time. People like Bobby Valentine were mentioned for the job, but Kennedy bring with him the clout and the prestige that the Rays need to push their image nationally in the coming years. Again the Tampa Bay Rays front office get kudos for their smart decision and quick grasp to get Kennedy into the Rays fold.

photo credits for today’s blog include Reddawg32on Flicker.com, http://www.orbitcast.com, http://www.grandstandsports.com.

 

Rays Postseason Rally in St. Petersburg

 

If  you missed the Tampa Bay Rays Rally at Straub Park in St. Petersburg on Monday, you missed a party 10 years in the making. Not that we have a habit in this area of saving our parties for special occasions, but this day was for celebrating baseball in general. I got there about 1 P.M. to meet with a few on the Maddon’s Maniacs and participate in a short promotion video that will grace the Jumbotron this week during the two ALDS games at the Trop.

It is a short little diddy  around our lovable mascot Rayomnd and the “Feel The Heat” theme song that is  a huge success for the Rays. It was not a long shoot, and it was a bit corny for my tastes, but you never know what the video genies will do with a small piece of film. We shall see on Thursday.

 

 

After getting that video situation out of the way, I scoped out my stage right standing position right next to the lous speakers that would be blaring music by the 80′s group Survivior in a few hoiurs. It was about 2:30-ish and I had a bit of time before the activities were to start. Florida Sports Network and Sunshine Network were setting up to broadcast the event and provide some commentary and extra footage from the Rays Television trio of Dewayne Staats, Joe Mcgrane and Todd Kalas.

 

 

As 5 P.M. got closer, Rusty, the Rays usual Tropicana Field game M.C. got us all excited and reminded us that the Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers game was still in a rain delay. This is important to us Rays fans so we can decide who to email and hassle before Thursday’s game. At 5 P.M., Rusty came out and started the event off by letting us know that national figures had sent a few videos kudos to the team. 

We had the usual ESPN people and members of the TBS broadcasting teams shot during the All-Star game, but there were a few unusal greetings also sent to the Rays. Rob Schneider, of “You can do it” fame sent a bizzare, but really thought out diddy that even included his dog pimping out for the Rays.  Kevin Costner unvealed his new song, “It’s All Up To You” written for the Rays as a show of respect from Costner and his band, Modern West. The video was a montage of the visit by Costner and the band last November to help promote the new uniforms, and included some batting pratice pieces from Progress Energy Field.

Orlando, a popular DJ from 98.7 radio station in town also brought his new song for the Rays to be unveiled today during the Rally. The song was titled, “The Trop. Boys”, and it had a grat beat and was a cool sounding song. I know we will be seeing more of that song here in the playoffs at the Trop.

After that, it was onto the introduction of the players. I am going to post an additional blog with the picture on it to save some space here today.  The Television guys, Staats, Mcgrane and Kalas all started the program off with a video recalling the highs of this magical season for the team. the video played up the Boston, Chicago and Angels series sweeps, and showed the walk-off wins for the team in 2008.

After that, Todd Kalas came out and got into the player and coaches introductions of our 2008 Rays team. The most applause of course went to skipper Joe Maddon and Don Zimmer today. After the coaches took their place on the stage, the players were intorduced one by one, with Akinora Iwamura getting the “Aki” chant from the crowd. the guys were all sporting their Rays white uniforms, and it made a great background for the hundreds of cameras snapping their every move. After getting through  all but one of the players introductions, Kalas introduced B J Upton, who I still believe is the most unsung hero of this season.

 

 

After that,  Kalas introduced a few people I know well, but Tampa Bay should get to know. Bullpen Catcher, Scott “The Enforcer” Cursi is one of the most tireless workers I have ever met, and is a great guy to boot. Chris “Chico” Fernandez does a great job getting game and  scouting video for the team. And last, but not least is the Rays clubhouse manager Chris “Westy” Westmoreland. I have heard fron a number of people that he runs the best clubhouse system in the major leagues. Kudos to him for that.

 

 

After these last 3 important introductions, Kalas turned the mic over to the skipper, Joe Maddon to talk a bit to the crowd. Madden as usual, was uplifting and totally believeable and the crowd showed its energy by clapping and cheering for the boss. After he was done speaking, the mic was turned over to the team’s charismatic Carlos Pena who pumped up the crowd more by urging them to come out and make the Trop deafening with their noise and enthusiasm on Thursday and beyond in the playoffs.

 

 

After the players left the stage, Rusty called up a few local icons who have been true Rays fanatics for years. The first was current WWE Champion John Cena, who confessed he used to live in Boston, but has converted into a true Rays believer now. Cena also provided one of the best moments of the Rally when he informed the crowd he had heard from Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and first baseman Sean Casey that the Rays had no heart.

 

 

Well, Cena decided to call Sean Casey on his cellphone, but Casey was probably either at the Red Sox Rally held that day before the hit the airport for California, or he was not going to take the call because he knew he would hear a load of crowd noise in the background.  Cena made sure Casey had an interesting voicemail and proclaimed that the Rays did have spirit and heart and you heard the entire crowd roar towards the stage to voice their opinion on Casey’s comments.

Right before Cena was going to leave the stage, he called up the Rays appointed 10th man, Brian “Nasty Boy” Knobs to the stage for some comments.  Knobs came onto the stage in his usual manner blowing smoke and fire from his nostrils and pumping the crowd into a frenzy. Of course, Knobs could not leave the stage before getting the entire crowd to chant, “Let’s Go Rays.”

 

 

After that, the show was winding down and Rusty intoduced the band, Survivior who put on an amazing concert for about 2 hours. During this time I got to go sit in the VIP section in front of the stage courtesy of Trisha Johnson of the Rays and snapped a few hundred pictures. I am thinking I might include  a few of them on the blog.  The band did an amazing show and ended it with “Eye of the Tiger” to push the crowd into a frenzied climax to the event.

At this time we still did not know who was going to be our opponent for Thursday, but the White Sox were up 1-0 at the time. As I was walking to my car in the Pier parking lot, it hit me that this might not the only Rally this year for the Rays. That we have a possibility of 2 more Rallies and a few hundred chances of cheering for the team between now and a possible World Series game.  I am not going to jinx or  put a hoax on anything, but 10 years ago, that was not even in my mindset for this squad.  Wow, how times flies when you are having fun!!!

 

 

 

 

It must be a true rush to be on stage and singing……….that is something I wish I had done in my younger life….totally, totally into music

 

 

 

 

 

4 Rays Broadcasters Up for Frick Award

 

I remember the first time I met Joe Mcgrane outside of a baseall uniform. It was here in St Petersburg at a local watering hole and Mcgrane was pitching for the St. Petersburg Cardinals of the Florida State League at that time. I remember the quick and dry wit of Joe and thought he might be an interesting broadcaster some day.

Little did I know that Mcgrane would again come back to St. Petersburg after a long and properous baseball career to form a dynamic duo with Dwayne Staats broadcasting the Tampa Bay Rays games. So it is with great pride and honor that I lket you, the Rays fans know that MLB and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, have nominated  Four current  Rays broadcasters  for the Ford C. Frick Award.

Current on-air Television talents’ DeWayne Staats, Joe Magrane, Todd Kalas and  Radio’s golden tonsils, Dave Wills are in the running for the prestigious award.

Balloting for the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence is going on now, with the top three recipients of fan votes automatically qualifying for the 10-person ballot that will be formulated by a 20-member committee and announced Oct. 6.

The winner will be announced Dec. 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and will receive the award during an induction ceremony on July 26, 2009, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.  Fans may vote for up to three of their favorites among 210 broadcasters eligible in balloting conducted exclusively on the Hall’s Web site, baseballhalloffame.org, which will carry biographical sketches of each candidate. Fans can vote once a day throughout September. Results will be announced when voting concludes Sept. 30.

Here are the Rays nominees for this great honor:

 

Dewayne Staats
Dewayne Staats
 
Dewayne anchors the Emmy Award-winning telecast in this, his 32nd season broadcasting Major League baseball and his 11th with the Rays. In 2003, he celebrated 4,000 Major League broadcasts. Before joining the Rays, he spent three years calling play-by-play for ESPN in a variety of sports, including the MLB and NCAA baseball, basketball and football. He began his Major League play-by-play career as the radio and TV voice of the Houston Astros from 1977-84, then called radio and TV action for the Chicago Cubs from 1985-89. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees carried by the MSG-TV network from 1990-94, and spent the 1994 and 1995 seasons calling the action for The Baseball Network (ABC/NBC). Staats began his career as a sports reporter for WSIE Radio while a student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and began his baseball career as the radio voice of the Oklahoma City 89ers (1973-74). In 1975 and ’76 he was sports director at KPLR-TV in St. Louis and received an Emmy nomination. A 1975 graduate of SIU-Edwardsville, Dewayne earned Distinguished Alumnus-of-the-Year honors in 1987 and was recently listed among baseball’s top 101 all-time announcers by author Curt Smith. He is married to the former Carla Berry and has two daughters, Stephanie Wheeler (30) and Alexandra (24), and grandsons Gabriel (3) and Zachary, born in December
 
 
Joe Magrane
Joe Magrane
 
Joe returns as television color analyst for the Rays in 2008, his 11th season with the club. He also appears on numerous FOX Network telecasts. In 2002, he served as postgame reporter for the National League Championship Series. Joe was a color analyst for NBC’s baseball coverage of the last two summer Olympic Games: 2000 in Sydney, Australia and 2004 in Athens, Greece. Before coming to the Rays, the 10-year Major League veteran worked as an analyst on regional ESPN Major League games in 1997 and worked with Rays play-by-play man Dewayne Staats on ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series. An All-America selection at the U. of Arizona in 1985, Magrane compiled a 56-67 Major League record with the St. Louis Cardinals (1987-93), California Angels (1993-95), and Chicago White Sox (1996). He finished third in the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year voting, helping lead the Cardinals to the World Series. He won the ERA title in 1988 while with the Cards (2.18) and the following year won 18 games, placing third in the NL Cy Young voting. His nephew, Jim, is a pitcher in the Nationals’ system. He and his wife, Renee, have two daughters, Shannon and Sophia, and reside in Tampa
 
 
Todd Kalas
Todd Kalas
 
Todd begins his 11th season with the Rays and 16th in the Major Leagues. Kalas returns as pregame host and in-game reporter for every Rays telecast on Fox Sports Net Florida and the Rays Television Network. In addition, he hosts “Inside the Rays” on FSN. He has also filled in with play-by-play and color on both the Rays television and radio networks. Prior to joining the Rays, Kalas worked on the radio broadcast team of the New York Mets (1992-1993) and the television broadcast team of the Philadelphia Phillies (1994-1996). After graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University in 1988, he moved to the Tampa Bay area as sports director at Vision Cable in Clearwater before beginning his baseball career with the Louisville Redbirds in 1991. In the offseason, Kalas has worked the last five years with Cox Sports Television in Louisiana handling play-by-play of college basketball, football, baseball and arena football. In addition, he is an announcer for USF basketball games and also fills in as pregame host for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Todd is the son of longtime Phillies broadcaster, Harry Kalas, a 2002 Hall of Fame inductee.
 
 
Dave Wills
Dave Wills
 
 
Dave begins his fourth season in the Rays radio booth. He came to Tampa Bay having spent 11 seasons as part of the Chicago White Sox radio broadcast team hosting the pre- and postgame shows and filling in for John Rooney in the booth when necessary. His first play-by-play action came with the Class-A Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League from 1991-95 where he was the franchise’s first radio voice. He was the radio voice of University of Illinois-Chicago men’s basketball from 1997-2005 and served as a play-by-play announcer for various high school basketball and football games on Comcast Network-Chicago as well as the lead anchor for the network’s highlight show, Sports Weekly from 2000-2005. He also appeared as the pre- and postgame show host for Notre Dame football and basketball as well as the co-host of the Kevin White Show while with ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago for nine years before joining TB. Wills served as the pitching coach/recruiting coordinator with Elmhurst College (Ill.) in 1989 and as the interim head coach at the University of Chicago in 1990. He owns bachelor’s degrees in Speech Communication and Urban Studies from Elmhurst where he played ball for three years. Dave and his wife, Elizabeth, have a son, Alex and a daughter, Michelle; they reside in Lutz, Fla.
 
 
So go on the Hall of Fame website today and vote for your favorite broadcaster nominated for the Frick Award. Remember, all voting will be final as of September 30th, 2008.  So vote as often as you can to get one of our award winning Rays’ broadcasters in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2009.

 

 

Kazmir Posts 9th Win Against Rangers

 

 

 

Rays 7, Rangers 4

 

 

I always like to watch these Ranger series games in Arlington. Not that the female fans are the only reason to want to see the scan shots of the seats in the stadium, but sometimes you see that gut who doesn’t know he is on camera  and the dip in his mouth is drooling down the side. To make matters worse, he did not know it and kissed his girlfriend who promptly popped his cowboy hat off his head.

Seriously tho, this series is one of the wildest series the Rays usually have during the year. Both squads are equally matched and the Rangers have an offensive advantage in their home digs, but the heat gets to both teams. That is the main reason this game is played at night instead of 3 PM. The temperature on the field would be around 105 degrees and fluids would be flowing like water in the dugouts between innings.

Heck, with that kind of heat, you might as well put a water cooler behind the pitcher’s mound, or at least have semi-inning sprinklers come on to drench the players.  I know playing outdoors in August in Florida is usually both a humidity bath and a sweat factory. Now when the Marlins and Rays play in South Florida, the afternoon games begin at 11 AM to try and fool the Florida heat, but that never seems to work for either team.

But the Texas heat can be murder in the middle of the day more because of the non-humid conditions that tend to have the sweat bake on your sakin and a huge sunburn can be blistering and reddening by the 9th inning.  So, thse night games might seem weird for viewing fans, but the players love it because of the slight wind that does sneak into the stadium at night fall. 

 

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Scott Kazmir has had problems with his pitch counts in most of his 2008 starts. Kazmir has been averaging 18 pitches per inning this year and needs to bring that number down to be able to stay in the ballgames longer and help the Rays’ Bullpen situation.

Tonight, Kazmir collected his 9th win of the season, and went 6 inning. He still threw 114 pitches, but did not have the control he wanted in the game. Kazmir walked 4 in the game and struck out 7 Rangers’. In his previous two starts against Texas, Kazmir was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

 

Kazmir only ran into real trouble twice in this ballgame. In the 3rd inning,  after a Ian Kinsler double and a Walk to Brian Boggs, Michael Young hit a  single down the leftfield foul line that just fell in by a foot to score Kinsler and give the Rangers  their first run of the night.

In the  5th inning, Travis Metcalf took a 0-2 pitch deep to left field for a solo homer for the Rangers. That was the end of the Ranger’s scoring against Kazmir.

 

 

 

 

During the contest, viewers at home did not see the result of Carlos Pena’s broken bat in the his first inning at-bat. The baseball fan, in the red shirt, is assisted by security and medical personnel after being hit in the face with a portion of a broken bat. Rangers. Pena popped out to third during the at-bat and the fan was escorted away following his injury.

 

 

                         

 

 

The Rays got hot in the start of the 3rd inning as Gabe Gross led off with a double down the leftfield line that Gross originally thought was foul and hesitated out of the batters’ box. Considering the situation with B J Upton on that Friday night, Gross looked more embarrassed than worried about Rays Managers Joe Maddon’s comment to him later in the inning.

B J Upton then came on and doubled down the leftfield line also to score Gross and give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.  It was Upton’s 55th RBI of the year, and his 28th double of the season. Ben Zorbrist then 1-hopped a ball to the wall in rightfield and settled for a single.

 

 

 

 

With men at first and third, Carlos Pena came up to bat. Pena took the second pitch he saw from Ranger’s starter Dustin Nippert and deposited it in the rightfield stands for a 3-run homer, and an early 4-0 Rays lead. Pena now has 6 homers in his last 12 games for the Rays.

 

 

 

 

But the Rays were not finished with the scoring in the game. Eric Hinske lead off the 4th inning with a double to deep left centerfield. Jason Bartlett then came up with 2 outs and hit a single to right that scored Hinske.

Then BJ Upton, who was batting in the lead-off spot tonight, hit a 2-run homer to right for his 8th homer of the year. The homer put the Rays up 7-1.

 

 

 

 

The Rays did have some Bullpen trouble in the 9th inning as Grant Balfour came in for the Rays. Balfour  started by walking  Ramon Vasquez on 9 pitches to load the bases for the Rangers.

Balfour then got Brian Boggs to commit  a potential double play, but the Rays only got one out on the toss by Iwamura to Bartlett. The Rays Manager Joe Maddon came out to argue that Vasquez went intentionally for Bartlett’s legs, but was overruled by the second base umpire, Tim Timmons. Boggs then went to second during Michael Young’s at bat on fielders indifference and put 2 runners in scoring position for the Rangers.

 

 

                    

 

 

With Josh Hamilton up to bat next for the Rangers, Maddon decided to intentionally walk Hamilton and let  Chris Davis score from third on the walk. The play was a calculated guess by Maddon that the walk would be the least amount of damage by Hamilton, and the Rays were still leading by 3 runs at the moment.

After the walk, Balfour was replaced by Dan Wheeler, who came in and struck out Marlon Byrd to record his 5th save of the year.

 

 

Before the game, Rays Television guru, Todd Kalas talked with Cliff Floyd  about the recent B J Upton situation. Floyd did agree with the punishment and the severity of the situation and will take Upton under his wing the rest of the year and try and mentor him to be more aware of game situations in the future.

Floyd also stated that Upton has to be careful how he is percieved from this moment on. Players who have shown a tendency to be difficult or problem children have had a hard time finding a position in the majors. He commented that showing respect by running every play out, by playing hard every moment of the game will make this sitation disappear faster than words at this time.

Great comments by a veteran player who is also the barometer of the clubhouse right now for the Rays. The Rays had a chance to get Floyd a few years ago right after he became a free agent with the New York Mets, but Floyd went to the Chicago Cub instead that season. Maybe if the Rays had such a veteran leadership in the clubhouse a few years ago, this year would be more expected than as a surprise to most teams in the league.

 

 

 

Ray Finish InterLeague in Winning Fashion

 

 

Rays 4, Pirates 3

 

I was watching an old classic baseball movie last night on Starz and was wondering if the 1919 White/Black Soxs’ might have been the only club that was involved in any  odd hanky panky. 

Baseball’s Game fixing did not start with the 1919 White Sox. Although the Black Sox scandal has come to define the crime to the public . It actually began when the National League was barely one year old.  The first-place Louisville Grays made a number of uncommon errors and mis-guided plays during an East Coast roadtrip, causing them to lose seven games and only win one.

This prompted speculation that the players dumped game, and the pennant intentionally.  And it turns out, they did!

Western Union telegrams linked players with a known gambler and 4 players were banned for life from the game.

The first two decades of the century were filled with  small episodes of baseball coruption. First baseman Hal Chase served as their poster boy, having been linked to several “fixed” contests before finally earning his ban in the Black Sox scandal.

Could this have been a prelude that the Sox might have been charmed by Chase to committ the crime, or could a  greedy owner who did not pay his players a living wage,  been the prelude to the entire scandal.  You be the judge!

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

An embarrassing situation happened when Ebbett’s Field opened on April 15,1913, in Brooklyn. No one could locate the keys to the gates, leaving thousands of fans roaming outside the stadium waiting to be seated.

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The Rays are 6-0 now when Andy Sonnanstine pitches after a Tampa Bay loss.

With that fact in mind, you can summize that the Rays, who now own the BEST record in baseball won against the Pirates 4-3 on Sunday. This win comes on the eve of the Rays playing a 3-game series against their AL East foe, the Boston Red Sox. 

 Missing from this series will be the mani aggressor of the  on-field actions in Boston. Coco Crisp will be serving his suspension during this trip into the Trop, and this might take alot of tension from the series for both squads.

Sonnanstine pitched an effective game going 7 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball for the Rays. Before this start, Sonnanstine had averaged 5.2 innings in his 17 starts.  Andy threw 98 pitches today and used his off speed pitches to confuse the Pirate batters. Sonnanstine is gaining more confidience in his slider and is usung it more as an out pitch against opponents this year.

 

B J Upton again started this game with a bang.

This is the second day in a row that Upton has lined the first pitch into centerfield to start on base for the Rays. B J  is hitting in the lead-off spot until Akinora Iwamura is back on Wed.

B J  also reached base on a single to left before getting caught leaning off of first base. Upton currently leads the majors in being caught stealing with 10 for the year.

In the bottom of the same inning, the Pirate’s Freddy Sanchez sent a  long fly ball into the gap in left center. Upton closing on the play could not get the ball before it hit the turf.

But instead of picking the ball up and throwing it in, Upton kicked the ball into left and Carl Crawford had to retrive the ball for the Rays.  Upton recived his 7th error on the play. The play also put Sanchez on third with no outs. Jason Bay hit a Sacrifice Fly to score Sanchez from third and tie the score at 1-1.

 

                                 

 

Willy Aybar, filling in for Aki at second, again proved to have the offensive stuff today.

Aybar hit his 3rd homer of the year to left in the 6th to put the Ray up 2-1. It is the 2nd homer of the year from the right side for the switch-hitting Aybar. Aybar went 2-4 today with 2 runs scored and is hitting 257 for the year in his limited role.

 

 

In the 8th inning, Aybar  also hit a single to right, but reached third on a throwing error by Xavier Nady.  Carlos Pena scored on the play to put the Rays up 3-2.

 

       

 

Speaking of limited role players coming up big for the Rays, you have to put back-up catcher Shawn Riggans on the top of that list. 

 Riggans has seen very limited duty with the emergance of Dioner Navarro, and his playing time has diminished considerably this season. Shawn has played in 18 of the Rays’ last 48 games this year.

But in the time he has played this roadtrip, Riggans has almost orchestrated a no-hit bid for the Rays, and come through with clutch hits and moves behind the plate.  Riggans hit a single to center in the 8th inning to score Aybar and put the Rays up  for good, 4-2.

In the 4th inning, Riggans, who also caught Jonny Gome’s pinch-hit homer to the Rays Bullpen on Sat. night, hit a  monster shot over the Rays’ Bullpen in center. It was Riggan’s 4th homer of the season. He also went 3-4 at the plate upping his average to .274 for the year

 

  

 

The Rays Bullpen again came in and got the victory for the Rays. Troy Percival got his 19th save of the year in 22 pitches for the Rays. Troy is curently 2nd in the the majors this season in opponent’s batting average at .140. The only reliever above him is  the Chicago  Cub’s set-up man Marmol, who has blanked the oppostion to a .138 average.

All of Percival’s 332 saves have come in the AL, second only to Mariano Riveria of the Yankees, who has 461 saves.

The Rays have now allowed 4.05 runs a game, this would match the 1931 Philadelphia Phillies for the 4th greatest decrease in opponents’ from one season to the next in the majors since 1900. The Rays are on pace to give up 288 less runs than they did in 2007.

Andy Sonnanstine is also chasing the Rays record for wins before the All-Star break. He currently has 9 wins and trails only Rolando Arrojo( 10 in 1998) and Scott Kazmir ( 10 in 2006).  Wit his win today, Sonnanstine has tied Victor Zambrano also with 9 wins ( 2004) before the break.

 

The Rays will be holding a braodcast auction on Monday with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) to benefit the Rays Foundation and the FRLA Foundation. The auction will be conducted via ION television network and will feature many awesome and one-of-a-kind dining and travel experiences. Here is a short list of some of the items:

The live auction items include four travel and game packages to California’s Wine Country, Boston, Chicago and Toronto.

The auction will also feature a  Celebrity Chef Private Dinner at Tropicana Field  with special guest Dan Wheelerand Dewayne Staats

 A Latin-flavored VIP Dinner with Ybor City’s favorite family, the Columbia Restaurant’s Gonzmart family.

Another great outdoor’s adventure is a golfing four-some, which will include  Rays broadcasters,Joe Magrane and Todd Kalas at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida 

Each of the travel packages includes airfare, accommodations, VIP tour of the city, meals at high end restaurants, and tickets to watch the Rays play other MLB teams in the respective cities.

Bid often, and bid high for these great adventures with the Rays

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