April 2008

Garza Goes Down

Instead of a Trivia question during the daily recaps, I will give you a wild
fact to soak in your baseball-filled minds are evolve with your
subconscious fluids to use at any SABRE convention,or for a possible free
beverage at your local pub/wing joint.

During a double header on May 2,1954,  St. Louis Cardinal, Stan Musial became
the first player to hit five (5) Home runs in the same day.

I  have been thinking for about a week on what to use this season to
illustrate the positives, negatives and so forth that happen in every game this


I decided to use my favorite spaghetti western as a basis for my daily look
at the prior night’s contest. I have always been a huge Clint Eastwood fan. My
Dad used to take us on the Sunday night Drive-In movie experience as a kid. This
generation has no idea of the great times, and wild weather, kids and antics
that can happen at an outdoor movie.


The best was sitting on the swings underneath the huge  three story screen
and watching the actors as 100 foot action figures. Anyways, this is the
premiere of the Rays’ “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”






The good is a two-fold version today. Major
kudos  for the Rays’ backup catcher Shawn Riggans. Riggs is hitting the cover
off the ball, and connected last night for a beautiful second row left-center
shot into the seats. Shawn also called a great game behind the plate and is
showing the potential we all knew he had to be our starting catcher. Shawn might
have only 14 at bats this season, but he has a .333 batting average at this
moment and is showing power by having 4 RBI’s and two extra base hits in his 4
hits this season.  Way to go Shawn.

Second is a no-brainer to me. Carlos Pena
might not be picking up where he left off last year, but he is surely hitting
the cover off the ball. Early in the game he hit one of the longest Sacrifice
fly in the Trop in a long time to Ichiro. The ball was only a few feet from the
warning track and was hit on a frozen rope. Of course, later the game he
hit his third homer of the young season to Right field to ignite the crowd.
Carlos now has 6 RBIs to go with his 3 H Rs.



Matt Garza leaves with head trainer Ron Porterfield after a nerve injury in the third.

Matt Garza has had a situation with  a radial
nerve irritation for a long time. He has said he usually can fight the pain and
pitch, but tonight the pain hit a new threshold and he could not control the
ball correctly anymore. He had thrown 4 straight balls to Mariners’ DH Jose
Vidro, and did not seem to be able to hit the edges of the
plate. He immediately called for Rays trainer Ron
Porterfield and after a short discussion with Ron and Joe Maddon, was replaced
by Scott Dohmann. Matt has been placed on the 15 day disabled list at the time
of this posting.

This is bad, since it opens another hole in
the rotation early in the season. What was once a solid top three rotation is
now becoming more patchwork as the days roll by here. The Rays subsequently
recalled pitcher  Jae Kuk Ryu from Durham, but his job will be in t Bullpen, not
to start any of the future games.


                                                And the
Ugly….really Ugly

The Umpire crew was not having a great
night.  Rays catcher Shawn Riggans had  asked for a “timeout” after catching a
foul ball behind the plate off the bat of Adrian Beltre. But the home plate umpire did not register
or grant the timeout. So in a bizzare, but heads up play, Seattles Jose Lopez
tagged up and moved to second to put the Mariners in scoring


Riggans “thought he called timeout,” Maddon said. “That’s a good base running
play by them. You can’t call timeout if the runner’s actually moving,” Maddon said. “The
umpires did the right thing by not permitting time out. There was nothing to
argue right there, but I did want to appeal it. Once I found out specifically
what [home-plate umpire] Marvin [Hudson] thought, I wanted to appeal to see if
the other umpires saw what he saw.”

But that was only the start of the wild and
weird on this opening night. Later in the night, B J Upton laced a beauty
down the rightfield line into the corner where it hit the wall and bounced out
in a wild angle. Upton, who lost his right shoe after leaving the batter’s box,
did not stop at second, but proceeded to slide into third
base. Post game photos and video showed after the
game that B J was safe and did not hit Beltre’s foot blocking the base. He had
snuck in the backdoor on him and was coming up safe when  the third base umpire
called B J out. After a short animated  look at the umpire, BJ headed to the
dugout as manager Joe Maddon was heading to third to debate the

After that, there was a close play at first
that went against the Rays. Throughout the rest of the night, the umpire crew
took a huge vocal response from the home crowd that made me proud. The crowd had
gotten into the game and were very vocal on the Upton play and on any close play
the rest of the night. After the game, as the umpiring crew was
leaving the field, they were met by another chorus of the “boo-birds” until
finally disappearing into the tunnel.


O's 'fun' continues vs. Texas

Ex Ray,and current Baltimore Oriole, Aubrey Huff went 4-4
last night with 4 RBI’s.  Huff’s night did not totally go without controversy.
In the sixth inning, he hit a  long fly ball that hit the yellow line on the top
of the Right field  outfield fence. The play was initially called a three-run
homer, but was overturned by the on field umpiring crew and changed to a two-run
double off the wall. “I initially thought it hit the red part behind the yellow line,” said Huff.
“That’s the way I saw it. I was giving [second-base umpire Sam Holbrook] the
business out there at second. After I came in and looked at the tape and saw
they were right, I was fortunate to get back on second and I said, ‘Sam, I’m
sorry.’ He said, ‘I know, I got it right.’ He knew.”

Huff was blasted by the Orioles fans during the Rays opening series for
comments he made about the town on the nationally syndicated “Bubba the Love
Sponge Show” in the off season. Huff , who is also batting .333 this season,
 might be finally back in the good graces of the Baltimore faithful since his 11
RBI’s is leading the M L B at this posting. By the Way, Aubrey brings his karaoke Krew into the Trop this weekend for a
three game series. Maybe we can have “Huffapaloosa II this weekend at a local
watering hole?

Repost of Joe Kennedy Blog from November 2007

Recently, Buster Onley of ESPN wrote a very touching story about the passing
of Rays/A’s/Bluejays pitcher Joe Kennedy. I originally wrote this blog the day
after his passing.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Trivia Question:

1.) Abner Doubleday, credited (erroneously) with the invention of baseball
was also credit with what feat in the Civil War?

2.) What city is the only city in MLB to produce two Triple Crown winners in
the same season?


I had just gotten home from work and  decided to pop on Yahoo sports to see
what was going on Today. It being a day after the stuffed mushroom and pecan
pie debauchery, I was looking for the lighter side of sports for some
comfort. Was hoping to find out that A-rod was crying poverty over the Yanks’ latest
contract offer to Mario Riviera.

What I found sunk me in my chair and put a huge knot in my stomach.  It also
 made me rethink  my personal life for the ump-teenth time this year since a
similar tragedy in Oct 2006 took another of my favorite players in Devilrays
history to an untimely death.


I hate it when a young ball player dies when he is about to hit the prime,
or redefine himself in their career. Some hit that  invisible wall of physical and
mental parts not able to endure  the rigors and challenges of Professional
sports. Sometimes  their body just can’t take anymore, even at a young age. Some have had past abuses either with steroids or muscle enhancements rob
them of their  current and post career lives. Some just hit a mental roadblock
that can not be corrected by human means. The ones that really hit home and destroy me inside is the way that life
ended  the life of ex-Ray Joe Darley Kennedy.  Media thoughts are running  that
Joe might have suffered an aneurysm or heart attack during the night. We will
have to wait for the final results.

Joe had announced his free agency after this years’ World Series, and all
indications were that the Toronto Blue Jays’ and their team president  Paul
Godfrey wanted  Joe Kennedy for their 2008 staff.  Joe Kennedy was in town for the holidays at his wife’s parents home, and was
to be the best man at a wedding sometime during his stay here in the Tampa
area. He had gotten up in the middle of the night and had collasped to the floor. 
An ambulance rushed to Brandon Medical Center, but Kennedy was pronounced  dead
at the E R. This is the second Oakland Athletic  to suffer a tragic and unexpected death
since October 2006. Ex-Rays and A’s teammate Cory Lidle, had tragically perished
in a plane accident after the Yankees exit from the playoffs in 2006

One of my first blogs on here was a tribute to Cory Lidle. He was another
player who  befriended me during his tenure with the Rays, and I looked for him
every year when his team would make a visit to the Trop. I did the same for Joe
Kennedy every time he came here for a series. Joe was only 28 years old, but had already been a front end starting pitcher
with our Rays.  He had  thrown for over 908 innings in the Majors, and had 558 
career K’s.

He was selected in the 1998 Amateur player draft in the 8th round, out of
Grossmont (Calif.) J C and went immediately to the minor leagues for the
Devilrays. He quickly rose through the Rays’ minor league organization. Joe was a combined 6-0, with a .099 ERA with Orlando and Durham before
getting called up to the big club (Devilrays) on June 2, 2001. He made his Major League debut on June 6th against the Blue Jays in Toronto
and won 6-2 . He appeared in 20 games that season. During that Rookie season,
Joe had 12 quality starts, only CC Sabathia of the Indians had a better stats(
13). Joe was also 3rd in Rookies with a 4.44 ERA.

He was also the first  Major League player since Kip Wells of the Pirates to
win both his first two  career starts. Joe was also the first Devilrays in
franchise history to perform this feat. In 2001, Joe pitched in 196 innings and struck out 109 opponents.  These
numbers would be his Devilrays best, but only his second best career totals  of
his brief  Major League career.


n 2003,  Joe progressed to the point of being announced as the Opening Day
starter. I found Kennedy to be the kind of pitcher who would not be  afraid to
go inside on a batter or ” buzz the tower” if needed.  Every good pro has a mean
streak in them. I can attest to personally knowing that the guy was a true professional and
enjoyed his time here with the Rays. I spoke to Joe on occasions during BP and
always found him to be funny and very intelligent.I guess I was one of those people who knew that Joe would be traded at some
point in his career, but had hope it was after he had garnished that 10-win
plateau with the Devilrays


Joe might have seemed soft spoken and reserved to the crowds at the Trop.,
but he was a fierce competitor and was always going to the mound  with the
belief he could to win every game.  That was a quality that I greatly admired in
him. Going out with the idea you are going to win every time you take the
rubber. I know you are going to say that every pitcher does that, but in truth, they
might in their words, but in their minds there might not be that total
commitment. Joe always felt he could win, that that is the basic mindset of a
great pitcher.

After Joe left the Rays and pitched for the Colorado Rockies, he got close to
that  10-win plateau. Joe only got 9 wins in 2004, but produced 117 strikeouts
for the year. He was traded to the Oakland A’s  during the All Star break where
he was again considered a valuable member of the pitching rotation. He garnered
a 2.31 ERA in 2006, a career best for Joe.  In 2006, he was rewarded with the
number five slot in the starting rotation. In 2007, Joe found himself as  number 5 man in the rotation, and fell upon
bad times and was  put in the A’s bullpen and working only late inning and
situational opportunites.   He got another opportunity with the Arizona
Diamondbacks (3 games), and the Toronto Blue Jays (9 games) during the past
2007 season.

Joe  produced 43 victories in his short career, but his last one was fitting.
He received his 43rd win versus his old Rays team on September 29, 2007. Joe had the  fantastic pleasure of becoming a Dad this past year and was
looking forward to time with Kaige and his wife before the February mandatory
reporting date for pitchers’ and catchers. I will miss seeing Joe Kennedy pitch. More for the fact that he was a ture
professional and was always in the game both mentally and physically. I know he
was just hitting the stride in his career and could have produced some great
numbers as a member of that Blue Jays staff in 2008.

Joe is survived by his wife and new son Kaige and currently lived in the
Denver area.

I hope that there is an afterlife. I can then again see people like Cory and

Joe pitch and have that  pure vision of seeing their ear to ear smile or
grin knowing they were doing something they truly loved to do in life.

God Bless you Joe Kennedy, ………………I will be in Right Field
watching you play in that league someday myself….. And I will always cheer
for you as a truly great person and pitcher

Play Ball!