Where is the ” Gambino? “
When I was younger, there were several television and picture puzzle shows that questioned the location of its characters. “Wheres Waldo? ” and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? ” were institutions for kids to want to discover geography and hopefully, develop a love for other countries cultures and it hoped to cultivate a yearning to read about other nations around the globe.
Well, in the vein of such great shows and pictorial institutions, I think that the Tampa Bay community should create its own version called,” Where Is the Gambino? “. Seriously folks, since he has let it be known that he would love to play for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, I have seen multitudes of Giambi sightings in Las Vegas and in venues beyond the neon lights. The tabloids and the Internet are full of “Gambino” photos of him posing with the rich and famous, and with the fans of the blue-eyed slugger.
Here we have a nice keepsake photo of Rays Manager, Joe Maddon in the kitchen with culinary master chef Barry Dakake at his swanky Las Vegas bistro with the “G-man” at their side. To say that Giambi is a social animal is an understatement. He truly enjoys the social side of baseball as much as the hitting and running. And he also pulls both off well. But be advised, he is great on the diamond as long as you hide his glove after Batting Practice.
So the guy with the steel-blue serial killer eyes wants to be a Ray? He is currently campaigning to be a Ray, an Athletic and even a Blue Jay. All three need a highly potent bat at Designated Hitter for 2009. So where will Giambi park his Escalade in 2009? Most people think that the next sighting of the “Giambino” might be at a contract signing at Tropicana Field some time in the next few weeks. According to local gurus, the slugger is adamate about the area and wants to play for a winner next year. That combined with the aspect of putting it to his former team might be a great motivator for Giambi.
I can give you an honest opinion here that I like the idea of him playing here. I love it more for the fact it will drive Yankees Manager Joe Girardi absolutely nuts 17 times a year, and I like that idea a whole lot. And I am fine with that proposition, since I personally think that Girardi is not the right fit for the manager of the Yankees. Even as a player he was never the “go-to” guy on his Yankee squads. I can see him as a bench coach, or even a catching coordinator in someones’ minor league system, but not the head honcho of the Yankees. He was very lucky with the Florida Marlins, they were a good team before he got there and got better with him in the dugout, in spite of his managing skills.
But I do know that Giambi loves the Tampa Bay area. You got to remember, he spent every Spring Training here with the Yankees, and his rehab assignments have all started in Tampa, at the neighboring Yankees complex on North Dale Mabry by Raymond James Stadium. He has been known to stand out in the crowd at local hangouts during the spring, or when the Yankees were in town to play the Rays. I saw him a few times at Push Lounge during the Yankees series last year. And you know he was there for the music, not the fine assets that wear skimpy outfits in Tampa Bay. The nightlife in St. Petersburg and Ybor City would appeal to him, and we all know that he is not your typical baseball hound, he is usually seen mingling and chatting up with the locals either on the main floor or by the rails at the VIP lounge area.
Can you imagine the St Peterburg Times section called “The Juice” blowing up in popularity by posting a “Giambino” photo essay weekely on the places to go, and be if you are an up and coming guy like Giambi. I can only imagine the rise in readership and webviews if such a section would be included in the publication. It would surely help the circulation woes of the paper and maybe even produce a cottage industry of people going to places to be Giambi watchers.
Might even spawn a club or two of faithful Rays fans who would be affectionately called the “Giam-Bros” who would be a outer perimeter posse for the big D H. Wow, could this area even support such a player who could transform a fan base into loving an ex-Yankee. Well, it might actually bring in a few Yankees fans to more games to just try and get Giambi’s signature. People in the Bronx had a hard time getting up close and persona with the giant, but now could get right next to him in the fan-friendy confines of the Trop.
And we already know that we will be able to find Giambi after Rays game somewhere in the community enjying life and the night life. Think of the crowds that would assemble for signing outside the stadium. And try and even imagine a Giambino sighting at a Lightning game or a USF football game. The crowd would go wild to know that he is supporting the local community.
And we do not have to worry about a posse or entourage for him. He is a personal friend of any celebrity that wants to meet him. Seriously, just becuase he took a photo with ?Rays crazy man Brian Knobs, doesn’t mean they do not have each others number on speed dial. Think of the entourage he could obtain of just the current Rays fans. He could have Hulk Hogan, Bill Goldberg, Knobs and John Cena in his corner as muscle while other locals celebs would flock to chat and mingle with the new Rays.
I have a personal “Giambino: story I know about that is quite halarious and think you might find it funny too. Back in the days when Jason and his brother, Jeremy played for the Oaklans A’s, they used to love to mingle in the crowds at Fergs’. This is true story, one time I was there with a friend and the two brothers were there with team mate Jason Isringhausen having a few brews and enjoying the sights. Well, come time to leave, a friend of mine decided to give them a ride back to the Vinoy, which is on the waterfront here in St. Petersburg. Well, somehow she got the Mercedes Benz pointed in the wrong direction and after driving for a spell, found them selves in Tampa, a good 20 miles norht of the hotel. True story, and one that Giambi might still remember.
But beyond that, think of the crowds and the publicity this guy can bring to charity events and community outreach programs. While he was with the Yankees he was a vaulable pitch man and a community magnet for anything to do with the kids. That is the part of this guy that I admire greatly, and wish we had more of on the team. We do have the guys who give their all for the community, but sometimes the lack of name recognition right now gets the better of the Rays.
After this past post season, I truly feel that is a thing of the past, but we shall see on that front. Anyways, the guy would be an instant hit and a instant attraction at events. Tell me you would not stand in line for his autograph or a chance of a photo with Giambi. I can tell you I enjoy meeting these guys and taking a photo more for the sake of talking about it when I am old and gray.
Baseball players can make a huge impact on younger kids since the baseball seasons in Florida can run 12 months a year of the weather is good. With that kind of potential for new fans and interest in the team, a guy like Giambi might be a perfect fit. A local newspaper also has listed the odds of getting the big slugger at 3-1, and I will take those odds.
Heck, I have forgotten all about the Mitchell Report and everything else before 3 years ago with this guy. If you saw a photo of him in the minors, you know that he either took a huge responsibility to get bigger, or had some help. Since I played a bit of football at every level we have in the US, I know what he did and how he got that big.
But I also know it is the culture of sports and not the athlete that sometimes condones and expects such actions. For that reason, I will never shout the “Steroid” word at him, or even riddicule him for something he did to make him better suited for his craft. It is a fact of life that people love the long ball, and some players have to adjudt their body mass to get the same result as natural hitters like Ken Griffey Jr.
But what has endeared me to the guy is what he did during the Spring Opener at Yankee Stadium in 2007. Jason Giambi has known Cory Lidle during his days both as an Athletic and as a Yankee. You have to assume and know that the guys were friends. And when Lidle has that fatal airplane collision in 2006, you know Giambi was one of the first Yankees to break down and cry.
But the action he took with Cory’s widow Melanie and her son, Christopher that day truly touched me alot. Here is guy as big as a horse who was there foir the family of a fallen team mate, kneeling with his son before the ceremonial first pitch of the 2007 season. I was a touching sight and one I have had signed by him on a 8 X 10. I know what I saw in his eyes when he signed it, and I let him know he was a baseball friend of mine form his short time with the Rays.
Giambi just patted me on the shoulder and asked how close were we, I told him not as close as team mate, but as close as you can get with a guy without violating that fan-player trust. He just smiled and told me to catch him anothe time when we could chat more…………That is why I like this guy as more thna ball player. His personality and charm is just what the Rays need to convey that next level of greatness. I hope we sign the guy, but even if we do not, I am a “Giambino” fan for life now.
So what do you thinki, can we get a localized version of “Where’s the Giambino?” going if we sign this gentle giant, or will the polarized fan base of the Rays again make a great baseball player think twice about signing with a small market club. One of the huge advantages of playing here that is missed by so many players is tha fact you are no longer in that fishbowl, you can live your life with a bit more freedom and enjoy your time with the team. And Jason, if you need an inside source for your entourage, call me..I am in the book.