Humor is Helping to Heal the Rays



Some times turning a frown upside down when you are in the middle of the weird string of games can not only relieve some of the game day pressure, it can also bring a team closer together by bonding them through laughter and pranks. The Tampa Bay Rays have had their assortment of great pranksters and laughter motivators in the past, but this 2010 team is all about the Sonny.

That’s right, Rays long reliever Andy Sonnanstine has again proven that Bud Abbott and Oliver Hardy, two of comedies most famous straight men have nothing on the antics and comedic pulse of the young reliever. If something mysteriously ended up somewhere, out of the blue outside the Rays realm of reality, then usually no ones eyes would focus or train on the quiet and confident Sonnanstine as the creator of that magical moment. But within the Rays culture, if even the smallest thing goes a bit off kilter, people are looking for Sonnanstine’s whereabouts, and his alibis.

This was the same guy who made up moustache’s for 24 members of the Rays roster in 2009 to celebrate the awesome and profound imagery that was then Rays reliever Dale Thayer’s 1270’s style porno moustache. But if you have ever known anything about Sonnanstine, you would definitely notice the dry, but intelligent sense of humor that comes out of his ideas and his antics both in and out of the Rays clubhouse. The stories I have heard are not raunchy or misguided, but carefully thought out methods of attack, and sometimes the execution of the acts are completely as flawless.

So when it came to cracking the case of the mysteriously changing David Price bobblehead fathead sticker on the Rightfield wall just under Section 140, my eyes quickly trained to see where Senior Sonnanstine was at that very moment. And it all started to innocently this Tuesday as I walked into Tropicana Field and noticed the new location of the promotional sticker to celebrate the Rays Sundays kid’s giveaways. There was the Evan Longoria bobblehead that will be given out this Sunday, then right next to him was a 6 foot Price rendition clean as a whistle and shining against the green outfield wall background.

But just after game time on Tuesday, a mysterious black piece of regular black electrical tape ended up taking out one of Price’s incisors, and immediately, I looked for Sonnanstine. But he was no where to be found, for he had sneaked out of the Rays Bullpen bench area, shook hands with the Rays security guards, then popped the element onto Price and quickly vanished into the Rays secondary Bullpen Clubhouse (That’s my name for the small enclave). About five minutes later he was coming out of the secondary home without a hint of what had transpired, and not an ounce of acknowledging anything unusual had happened that night.


Then on Wednesday night, I arrived at my seat at the Trop. and Price again was sparkling on the wall, this time without his black tape imperfection. But that lasted until just after then end of the first inning and Sonnanstine again began his usual routine of greeting the Rays security force, then put up his latest creation for Price’s bobblehead that evening. Tonight Sonny decided to go a bit South of the border and presented the image with a classic “Frito Bandito” pencil-thin moustache that gave Price a hint of Antonio Banderas meets Denzel Washington that evening.


But this time I was ready with camera in hand and caught the mysterious Sonny in mid-application, and before he could glide into the confines of the enclosed Bullpen Clubhouse without detection. What was more amazing is that Sonnanstine had a microphone on him that evening for FSN Florida’s Television broadcast and hopefully the rest of the Rays Republic also got a chance to see this side of the Rays reliever’s personality. It was classic Sonny, and again he came back out into the air of the Trop. Without a hint of deception, premeditated collusion and without cracking a grin or giggle towards the outfield wall.


I thought maybe that night would be the end of the Sonny surprise parade, but I never thought with a days game starting at 12:10 pm, Sonny would attempt a third act of funny on Price’s bobblehead image. But I was wrong. Oh so wrong. After the end of the first inning again on Thursday afternoon, this time Sonnanstine flashing a bit of a grin this time, walked right towards the wall and applied two nice distinctive eye black patches under each of the Price fat head image. For we were playing a day game, and the sunlight might deflect off Price’s cheeks into his eyes today.


I can only imagine what might be in store for all of us come Friday night when the Rays take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. We had already seen the eye back application, the Latin moustache treatment, and the Cotton-Eyed Joe missing tooth gag. Could the next one his sherry on top, or could he have at least a trio of other facial applications to conclude with the end of this current Rays home stand on Sunday. Teams like the Rays needs guys like Sonnanstine on their team for a variety of athletic reasons and talents. But what this Rays team has needed lately off the field is a bit of that comedic humor and visual brashness that Sonnanstine has shown for the past three games.


The actions will not change the Rays fortunes on the Jumbotron, or even in the box score, but things like this can release some of that pent-up emotional stress and let each player on this squad release the tightness by laughing and seeing his humor. I remember reading a Reader’s Digest as a child in my doctors office and in there was a headline, “Laughter is the Best Medicine”. Right now, that medicine might be doing some great internal healing and also bringing about a change to the overall cloud that has built up over this team for the last 25 games. Maybe I should start calling him Dr. Sonny, practitioner of the Funny Bone. See, even that well earned title brings a smile.


Dr. Sonny is doing a good thing by trying to keep everybody loose and laughing. Some people think clubhouse chemistry is overrated, but I would think every team needs someone to lighten the load every now and then.

I think Price needs a little goatee.
Beautiful pictures and good detective work detective Cliff.
We’ll try to beat the Yankees for you.

The thing I like about Sonny’s brand of humor is that it is not out of spite, jealousy or even meant to provoke an emotion besides laughter.
I always think it is not chemistry, but character that sets a team aprt from their rivals…..And the Rays are 25-men strong in the character column.

Rays Renegade

I was thinking the same thing last night, or maybe a long Fu Manchu model….or possibly a set of handlebars numbers like Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers.
The facial aspects are unlimited, but it is great to see the guys having a bit of fun to go along with (finally) a win.
Dodgers and Yankees….just like old time. Would love to see you sweep them…under the carpet.

Rays Renegade

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