Rays Fan Favorite Says Goodbye
When I went to my local gas station today to get my morning paper, I had a sense that it was going to be a special day today. No, it was not the clear blue skies, or even the bird chirping above me in the old oak trees, there was a special crispness to the air. I was not sure why at the time, but something just seemed to click in the wrold today. All just seemed pleasant in Happy Valley. So I wentinto the store and bought my usual morning Moon Pie and a Dr. Pepper, then picked up my local paper for viewing back home in the outside porch swing.
And I followed my daily routine that you could set a watch by, first checking out the Sports section, then doing an always mind rousing game of “Catch my attention” with the rest of the paper. I had done this since I first went to college to get my mind used to processing lead paragraphs and getting into that “journalistic mindset” I hoped to use post-education in my life. But a funny thing happened to me this morning. As I was glancing and bouncing from headline to headline, I usually just pass over all the advertisements without a hint of thought and just check the lead-ins of each story on the page.
But today, a great big color ad on page 3-A of the St. Petersburg Times caught my eye and made me smile and reflect on an old baseball buddy who was now miles away looking at a different water scene. For in front of my eyes was a beautiful eye-catching ad done by the Times advertising department, and it definitely made my day. It was the “Goodbye” message from a player we all got to know well in his short time with the Tampa Bay Rays. But above all, it was the closure most of us needed after a fast and furious trade made during the Rays last road trip. A lot of us did not get to say our goodbyes, or even voice a single note of support or “thank you’s” to this guy.
Anyone who knows me also knows I have a special place in my Rays past memories for Scott Kazmir. He has always been one of those Rays players who always made time, even a few seconds for a fan, no matter what was going on around him. And it is that slice of kindness and humanity that will always has me thanking my lucky stars I got to meet such a great player. Kazmir was just one of those guys who when he talked to you, talked like you were friends for a long time, and that was always a treat. Always had a smile on his face, and even knew some of our names and said them out loud when greeting us.
www.yahoo.com Sure, he might have come over and chatted knowing I wrote a blog, or he might have just come over with the realization that I speak some no BS when it comes to baseball. But just the fact he came over was amazing to me. But if you ever watched him on days where he did not pitch, or “held court in the dugout”, you would get the idea. He knew the fans were important, and he cherished the loyalty that this fan base had for him. But, most of all, he made himself an open book for all of us to enjoy during his Rays career.
The advert was amazing because a lot of Tampa Bay is still on the fence with the deal, and not sure which way to support at times. But in the end, with this visual if him smiling from the page which was firmly in my hands, I knew that he was going to miss us too. Kazmir really enjoyed the attention and the admiration of the fans, both young and old. Heck, he was one of the only players I ever saw right after coming off the Bullpen mound warming-up for a game to go to the Bullpen wall and sign a few autographs. But that was Kazmir.
I have to say, after the way the trade went so quick, I am so glad I got to have a few seconds with him playing a simple game at the Rays Gameworks party jousting for rebounds and making long 3-point shots. That will be my last moments with this great pitcher, playing a NBA-style basketball game moving the joysticks at break neck speed while both of us fed our competitve spirits. I almost wished I was 20 years younger so i could hang out with him more at that time. But that is how much he put everyone at ease who met him, and that is a special gift that will be with him long into his baseball career.
On a day when the front page of the Sports section mourned the loss of an offensive giant on the Rays, it is funny that page 3-A is going to have the most impact on me today. Not lost in the moment is the visual closure we can now have knowing that when he got on that plane bound for Los Angeles, he might have thought about the fans he left behind. But with this ad, we have that clsoure, that meaning of what this guy meant to us as Rays fans. It might have been a non-verbal “Goodbye”, but I can still hear him talking, laughing and enjoying his Rays tenure……..and with that a single tear came down my cheek.