For one of the first times in a long, long time, the Tampa Bay Rays look more like the visiting team when they come home to play at Tropicana Field. And maybe I am to blame for it, or at least I feel a reason brewing within me to feel I have let this team down a bit.
But could my own past game day persona that changed from “loud, proud and sometimes bordering on obnoxious” to a common spectator again be a critical part of this backwards slide? Could my silence and introverted current Rays personality be contagious and flourishing amongst the Rays seating bowl. Could I really have morphed into being the “silent clapping Rays fan” and not my usual ” Rays Renegade” style of motivation.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon used to talk personally on a nightly basis with local media reporters about the intense fan involvement during the Rays home games. But recently, it has been a mute subject out of Maddon’s mouth at best. And I am not going to climb up on the soapbox and cry “attendance” at the top of my lungs like the “fat cats” in the Press Box. I am not going to try and cause a sense of hysteria or false insistence that a dark cloud envelopes Tropicana Field. I am also not going to talk curses or even past graveyard sites that used to rest below some of our feet within the confines of this white dome.
But I am going to talk about a malady, a disease that has plagued me this season. I think I got bit by the complacency bug and did not remedy the aliment before it took my game down to a level I now do not even recognize. No longer do it seem that visiting teams fear this stadium like in the past. No longer it is referred to as a “pit” or a sensory deprivation noise explosion on your ears and other senses. The instrument of choice, the cowbell is still here, but in some sections around the Trop., it has become silent, where once it rang loud and true every game. And one of those silent sections seems to resonate directly from my seat now.
For some odd reason this season, at visit to the Rays stadium are no longer greeted with intense opposing team’s eye rolls or even a over abundance of earplugs in supply. But the Rays recent struggles in a home setting where the Rays used to dominate their opposition has now given a renewed glimmer of hope, and a possible 50/50 chance of winning in a stadium where the opposition’s winning chances used to go to die. I would rather point the blame with the decrease in the “W” column on impending stadium issues, the economy, and whatever else is considered the excuse of the day. But for me, the true reason the Rays just are not getting their energy levels up at homelike in the past might be because fans like myself somehow changed without really noticing it until now.
Could the more mellow and less vocal Rays fan base be to blame? Not completely sure on this overall prognosis yet, but I know the vibe in my seat at the Trop. has shifted a bit from noisy to a more subdued atmosphere. Gone little by little is my constant game day chatter and impulsive cowbell mania that encompassed my little domain within the stadium like a death grip in from 1998-2009. Could the rest of the Rays Republic have also mellowed out a bit this year, or is there a serious overall Rays crowd mood change sweeping the internal seats of the stadium that needs to be nipped before it festers and ruins a great home field advantage element of Tropicana Field?.
Are we reverting back into that pre-2008 “wait and see” Rays crowd like during the rollercoaster 2001-2007 Rays years when we sat on our hands until a rally developed, or the first run was scored by the Rays. Could we have just adapted or evolved into a more subtle Rays Republic and expect constant winning now without rewarding effort and substance on the field? Could we have morphed into a fan base that truly believes losing at home now is a viable option at a Rays home game, and have accepted this without fighting that the urge to purge that losing rationalization from our minds?
I know last night I looked at my Rays game day behavior and have seen a swift shift towards a more subtle game day persona. Gone from sight is my always present large Latin Percussion cowbell with the weathered drumsticks. Disappearing without warning was my annoying and streams of banter with the opposing Rightfielders during the home games that used to border on insanity.
I fully acknowledge I do not banter with the Umpires like I did before 2008, or throw facts and figure with furious voracity at opposing fans like I have in the past Rays seasons. I might be a prime example of that “Rays fan” who somehow turned it down a notch, and the team might have noticed.
In turn, by my change in my game day behavior, maybe it can filter down to the dugout and again the players will get to feed off our energy levels and increased noise to evoke a instant release of dugout endorphins that used to engulf the dugout constantly in the past. Maybe my simple change in attitude and not latitude, I can again resemble that Rays fan I embodied when I was selected for the Rays/Pepsi Fan Wall of Fame. For some reason I lost that sharp edge I used to be so darn proud of, some how I disguised it as media sensibility and basically choked that enthusiastic spirit out of myself. I had somehow become the fan I used to not understand and tried to motivate.
I regressed back into the typical Rays game day fan again. It is time to make a radical readjustment here. To reconstitute my love and passion for my home team. To again address the sins of my ignorance and open my head and heart again to loving this team like I did for so many prior years. Maybe I just need to again follow a simple baseball saying.
Maybe it is time again for me to “Root ,root, root for the home team”, but this time keep the level of passion and my love for this team at a constant pulse and not resort to stereotypes that do not fit my character. Maybe it is just simply time for myself and the Rays to come out of our dormant tranquil home sensibilities cocoon and again make Tropicana Field a place other teams dread, and not view as a vacation stop on the MLB schedule .
Maybe it is simply time for me to be a kid again at the games. Now where did I pack that Latin Percussion cowbell again?
It might end up as one of the better business decisions of MLB in the last few years as their 2010 statutes feature the most recognized cartoon mouse in the world. Mickey Mouse was unveiled on June 2, in 36 located throughout Southern California to celebrate the All-Star game.
These 36 specially decorated Mickey statues were commissioned in conjunction with Forever Collectibles are each designed with each of the MLB’s 30 teams unique team logo characteristics and are 7.5 feet in height and weigh 989 pounds. What was even greater is the fact that MLB and Disney Consumer Products also launched a Scavenger Hunt on June 11th for So Cal MLB fans to be the first to find a Mickey Mouse statue and get photographic proof, then submit their photos .
The first person to take a photo in front of all 36 statues and tweet ( via Twitter) a link to their photo gallery would win the Grand Prize of two tickets to the All-Star game on July 13th.
So I decided to do a little Renegade search mission of my own and found the Tampa Bay Rays statue sitting nice and pretty among the foyer gallery region of the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California. Interesting that the Rays version has a distinctive multi blue hued design with the radiant Rays logo, plus a special feature hidden within the right front ear flap of Mickey Mouse.
Within that section of Mickey was a rendition of our mascot, Raymond done up in all his cartoon glory. What is amazing about our Rays Mickey Mouse is that it is not roped off and in a heavily secured area, but is right in the plain sight with no revolving security forces.
Since I have mentioned the Red Sox statue, I might as well also give you the rest of the American League East locations for fans who might be heading to So Cal next week.
The New York Yankees Mickey is located at L.A. Live within the ESPN Zone restaurant lobby in Los Angeles.
The Toronto Blue Jays statue is located at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California just within the main entrance.
And last, but not least, The Baltimore Orioles Mickey Mouse is located at the Newport Sports Museum in their main entrance.
If you need to know the location of any other All- Star Mickey Mouse,
just leave me a comment and I will post the statue’s location for you as soon as possible. See you all in the funny papers.
I do not know why, but I had the resounding feeling before today’s announcement of the 2010 All-Star rosters that someone on the Tampa Bay Rays, who deserved a roster spot for the 2010 All-Star game would get the shaft. It really shocked me that New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, who has personally seen Rays closer Rafael Soriano up close and personal this season, would leave the Rays closer off his initial list of pitchers for the All-Star nod. Considering Girardi manages in the same division as the Rays, and saw Soriano in action against his Yankees (May 20th), you would have thought he would see the solidarity and the security Soriano has brought to the back end of the Rays Bullpen.
Maybe this is one of those tongue-in-cheek All-Star snubs that was made to make an obscure point. I might be in the minority here, but how can you argue with Soriano’s in-your-face statistics as being the reason for his obvious omission. Who can argue with a pitcher who has 20 saves, and is currently only two off the league lead not being on the A L All-Star roster. Could it be Soriano’s one lone blown save opportunity as the deciding factor in his name missing from this roster?
Soriano’s 95.2 percent save percentage is tops in the Major Leagues, and should have been a nicely highlighted stat to the level of consistency that Soriano has been nothing short of spectacular for the Rays since being acquired on Dec 11. Not since former Rays closer Roberto Hernandez last put on a Rays uniform has this team had a solid reliever who can close the door and secure the game with undying confidence for the Rays. Soriano has shown his consistent nature by posting his second 20-save campaign of his career.
It has only been a short period of time since Soriano was picked as the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month (May) after not allowing a run in his 12 appearances while converting all 9 of his save situations. During May 2010, Soriano only allowed just three hits and 3 walks while posting nine strikeouts while holding opposing hitters to a .086 average. All the above statistics and information should be good enough to at least getting a secondary glance to securing an All-Star nod. But for some reason, Soriano’s name was omitted from the first list of pitchers selected for the American League squad.
How soon Girardi has forgotten that Soriano pulled off a major coup of saving both halves of the Boston doubleheader on April 17th. Soriano came into the resumed contest that afternoon and got the initial save in the duo games. Soriano then came on again in the ninth inning of the regularly scheduled game and got his second save of the day. Soriano became the first Rays pitcher to ever record two saves in one day.
Maybe it was a miscalculation by Girardi. Maybe there is a viable excuse for Soriano’s omission like having to place one member (Joakim Soria, Matt Thorton) of each of the American League teams on the All-Star roster. The Rays Republic knows there has to be some great excuse, some insurmountable tale of the stats that pushed Girardi’s eyes away from Soriano glaring statistics. I do not see it for the life of me what averted his eyes from seriously considering Soriano.
From his Rays game introduction complete with a raging flurry of flames and hard bass beats, you get the feeling the Rays truly got a value when they acquired the $ 9.5 million dollar man. I honestly expected Girardi to include his own closer, Yankee Mariano Rivera, and his secondary selection of Detroit closer Jose Valverde is a solid pick. My only question is why there are only two closer type candidates when past rosters have been stacked with them?
Could there be a darker reason why Soriano is not on this year’s A L roster? Could Girardi be pushing his own pinstripe pride a little too far. The very visual and apparent deletion by Girardi of Soriano could be fixed in the coming days because of pitching injuries. The idea of not including Soriano came as a complete shock to me I can understand Girardi’s confidence in his own closer Rivera, but when a closer dominates his league ,shows the ability to get the job done day in and day out, he should be on the short list for an opportunity like the All-Star game.
I am not sure why I am listening to the Major League Baseball rumors and innuendo that is starting to gain steam and filtering out of the 30 MLB front offices and being propelled out at every angle with the MLB Trade Deadline coming quickly. Many of the MLB’s Clubs have already made their July Christmas Lists and are searching to pull off a deal that might make a few heads snap to the side, or defy the odds and gad a sure thing.
This time of the year seems to work deals fast and furious, but unlike the MLB First Year Player Draft, this time of the year has more safeguards, more security, and even more intrigue. And the Tampa Bay Rays are not exception to this looking forward to this time of the year. With the Rays win-loss record in June portraying more of an inverted triangle with their hitting and pitching finally coming down from the heavens to show some sense of normalcy. It is their job now to again separate themselves from the rest of the MLB mortals with a deal out of nowhere.
You can be sure Rays whiz kid Andrew Friedman has a few hidden face cards up his long sleeves and might make a popular trade, or an unexpected one by the end of this month. But this year the Rays could find themselves looking more towards their immediate needs, where in the past, they have tried to stock the Rays farm system with names like minor league pitcher Alexander Torres or slugging third baseman Matt Sweeney. A recent spread MLB rumor that has hit my ears is that the Rays might be willing to part with someone in their outfield mix for a “Fall rental” pitcher who could be that missing piece of the Rays puzzle in 2010.
At no other time in their short existence have the Rays “rented “a player to make a sure handed push towards a Playoff berth, but with the way 2010 is shaking out, maybe the Rays need a tweak or two to legitimize their chances. And the two names being thrown around do have me a bit lusting after the “player to be received” in this rumored trade. But it is not the fact that the rumored player and I share the same first name, but more the fact I have salivated about this guy pitching in the confines of the Trop and in the Rays Carolina blue ever since his old Cleveland squad put him in the pet shop window.
By now you might have guessed that I am talking about Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee, who is currently the guy pushing in Rays pitcher David Price’s back to gain the American League lead in ERA. But what really excited me about his name mentioned is the fact he is an innings eater and a suitable pitcher that would fir the Rays clubhouse persona, plus bring the pitching back up a notch or two instantly.
Most would think Carl Crawford’s name would get pushed into this trade by the Rays, but if the Rays are in contention for the A L East title, then why get rid of a guy who will provide adequate and ample scoring chances and pressure on other team’s defenses. I can be happy with a possible MLB Draft double dose of picks if he walks as a type-A Free Agent
The name to be slotted into the other spot is also not Gabe Kapler, who has shown the heart of a lion in the field, but has the bat of a pitcher so far in 2010. He would have been a great addition to this deal three years ago, but the twilight of Kapler’s career is close. That leaves only a few names…Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist or B J Upton. The first name might be a good choice, but he has not shown any consistent action in the field or at the plate since leaving Detroit in 2008. Zobrist could have been a addition to this deal if it was for a pitcher that still had a few years of team control, but Lee will be a Free Agent at the end of the World Series.
All fingers will then point to the man that has been a constant Rays scapegoat for the woes and sub sequential bad happenings of the Rays over the last two years. I think the world of Upton, but I am thinking that he would benefit tremendously with a change of scenery. Unlike the Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes trades, this trade would not be made due to attitude or a sense that Upton has already peaked as a hitter. It is being done to provide Upton with a chance to let him reinvent and recharge his confidence in a place that will want him, need him, can embrace his challenges and help him collegian in the Major Leagues.
Sure, this trade might never materialize. It could possible never even see the light of day after this post, but a Upton for Lee trade would help two squads heading in seemingly opposite directions find another firm foundation to step above their current levels of play. The Rays need to stop their ship from sinking right now. Rays fifth starter Wade Davis has been hammered in June ( 0-5). With the consistent pitching of Price and Jeff Niemann, it makes Davis the easy choice for either long relief or a one month stint in the minors before the rosters expand on September 1st.
I like Upton as a player and as a person, but from a business point of view where winning is everything….It is a simple choice. And the addition of pitcher of Lee’s caliber should provide those 3-5 extra wins that might be the deciding factor to a possible Playoff berth or a chance to secure another A L East title. Sometimes hard decision have to be made. Worst thing to happen, Upton comes back and hits multiple Home Runs when the Mariners and Rays meet again in 2010. Best case scenario, Lee helps the Rays win a few more games and secure another Playoff berth. Then we all get to drink some Mumm’s champagne again. Sounds mighty sweet to me.
Really? You want extra incentive. You want something else for your attendance, then I got just the thing for you. On Monday, the Rays will also be giving out to the first 10,000 fans in Rays gear a Special Limited Edition Evan Longoria Gold Glove figurine. You heard me right, the Rays will award you for you attendance this Monday by giving you and your Rays gear a figurine commemorating Longo’s 2009 Gold Glove Award.
And with an expected announcement on Sunday that Longoria will also have a starting spot at Third Base for the American League All-Stars, this is just extra sugary icing on the cake for Rays fans. It is like one of those special 2-for1 deals we see at the supermarket. We get a great baseball game that could decide a spot in the standings, plus get a chance to help celebrate Longoria’s 2009 Gold Glove Award at the same time. Can you say a double dose of cowbell for this one!
I sometimes still get the odd merchandising mailings and a package containing some of the promotional items from Pepsico, even though I left their employment over three years ago. I have been told, I still have a friend within the company’s headquarters in Purchase, New York, and sometimes still get some interesting trinkets and tidbits from the “home office”. But I opened a box sitting by my mailbox last night and might have gotten one of the best gifts from my former employer.
There sitting amongst a bushel of Styrofoam peanuts was a treasure I would surely keep close to me. Nestled in that soft carpet of Mr. Peanut head -shaped packing material was a gift only a true baseball love could enjoy. For someone in that office up in New York remembered I was a active and enthusiastic baseball fan, and I got a great thrill after seeing the collectible item stuffed within that box.
Every year Pepsi Cola does some kind of remarkable collectible bottles to celebrate professional sporting events throughout this great Nation, and today…I got a small piece of history stuffed within that box.
I had gotten both 16 ounce aluminum Pepsi bottles of the collectible set that had been distributed within the California market to celebrate the upcoming All-Star Game to be held at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California on July 13th. Glistening among those white peanuts was two different styled bottles to immortalize this great event. And each bottle have their own unique patterns and interesting points.
The first bottle I picked up and pulled out of the box was a full bottle that had six different past All-Stars listed on the round bottle.
All had action shots that were etched and printed on the bottles with their past All-Star appearances. It was kind of odd to me that Pepsi did not include Ken Griffey Jur. In this promotion since he has been a focal point of past MLB promotions along with Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriquez and shortstop Derek Jeter. But the pinstripes did get a nod with the big man Sabathia, so they did not get shut out.
The second bottle had a basic great California background with palm trees and the mountains on it, and is printed in the Pepsi trademark blue and had a distinctive centerpiece of the 2010 MLB All-Star Game logo. On the bottle within the sweet spot regions on the baseballs were street signs designating “Hollywood” “Interstate 5″ , ” OC”, and “Santa Monica” . These items again are only being sold in the Southern California Pepsi marketplace, and should be going fast off the shelves as collectors and Pepsi fans alike begin to notice this great item to celebrate the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Still it was great to get something special from Pepsi, and it will (hopefully) be in my collection for a long, long time. By the way, they are filled with bubbly Pepsi, and will remain full until……
There has been more than one mention in a local circle that a local Morning Show from a Tampa-based radio station first posted and provided these photos, are probably the culprits in this whole sham episode.How many Rays fans remember a few years back when M J and a show cohort pulled off a possible marriage photo in the local fish wrap, The St. Petersburg Times weekly Wedding section. No one was any the wiser before the Morning Show came out and confessed that it was a staged stunt and that it was done to attract listeners.
I suspect this is another dysfunctional adventure in the ever-changing escapades of M J and his bunch of co-hosts. There are too many holes and inconsistent actions by the photographer (Gabriels wife) who took these photos to be anything but either a staged event, or one where the cooperation and participation of the two subjects (one a minor, the other an adult) might have netted them a bit of notoriety, but not Internet stardom…sorry.
First, it was stated that Gabriel (if that is your real name) saw the young Rays fan during last Saturday night’s game with a golden-colored beverage in his hand after the adult in attendance with him at the game came back with two beverages. The first thing that puzzles me is the positioning of “Gabriel” to the two subjects in question ( 1 row behind them). If you are that close, wouldn’t you as an adult question the other adult for making such a blatant mistake in judgment as to giving a child a beverage he can not have for possibly another 11 years?
According to “Gabriel”, the adult told the child “Here is yours”. That in itself doesn’t bring a huge amount of credibility to it being an alcoholic beverage at all. And gold-colored drinks are not always what you might expect. If you really take a sharp look at the photos, there is not presence of beer bubbles lining the sides or bottom of the cup at all, which as all adults know, is the fun additive of CO2 to perk up our favorite concoctions.
The St. Petersburg Timesarticle states that “Gabriel” did not confront the adult in question even though the action itself is considered a crime called “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor”. But another neighboring Rays concerned fan contacted a member of Rays Security, probably after some prodding and chatter from “Gabriel”.
Secondly, Rays Security did look into the situation and probably found that the beverage was not what it appeared to be, and left it at that. If it had been a alcoholic beverage, you can be sure there are Rays game day procedures in place for a Rays Security Supervisor to investigate the situation, then make his recommendation to either discard the issue, or consult with the multitudes of St. Petersburg Police Department personnel at every Rays game.
Deadspin/M J Morning Show
If the beverage in question was (allegedly) beer, the proper authorities, like the St. Petersburg Police and Rays Fan Host personnel would have escorted both the adult and child to another location to conclude their evaluation of the event.
Third, as a former Pepsi Special Events Coordinator who had Tropicana Field as one of my major accounts for many years, I know that the bar areas of Tropicana Field do not put Ginger Ale, Club Soda or Tonic Water in regular Pepsi paper cups that are used primarily for Pepsi carbonated soda beverages. The Trop. does however use a clear plastic 16 oz cup for beverages purchased in the bar locations in conjunction with a fountain gun system connected to either to a 5-gallon post-mix Bag-in-the-Box, or a 5-gallon pre-mix tank located somewhere in that bar area.
I sometimes personally buy a cranberry and pineapple juice from one of the bar locations in Tropicana Field. It doesn’t have a lick of alcohol, but does have a indication of being a mixed drink. But if I was to let me daughter or a small child drink from that beverage, I can see it being misidentified as an adult beverage and the level of concern would rise accordingly.
Centerplate also used to buy from my Pepsi location Ginger Ale, Tonic and Club Soda by the case in 10 oz glass bottles for use mainly in their party areas as mixers for adult beverages. But they have also been put into cups and given to children who might have upset stomach or ate too much cotton candy. This could be a secondary origin of the (alleged) adult beverage in question.
Deadspin/ M J Morning Show
Glass bottles are not permitted in the seating bowl of Tropicana Field, so it could have been poured into that size cup by a stadium concession stand worker or a Rays bartender. In stadium beer vendor in the stands do not carry that size cups with them, or have access to that size cups for beverages. Either way, it is highly unlikely that with more than one adult near this child that a (alleged(beer) would have been given and consumed within plain sight at a Rays game.
Also, we are forgetting that it might have been a beverage, like apple juice brought in by the adult since sealed juice items can be brought into Tropicana Field for consumption by the Rays young fans. The adult could have gotten the cup from a bar stand vendor after purchasing his own adult beverage. My personal opinion, it is another promotional sham/scam by M J and his cronies, and this one is not funny at all.
Under age drinking is a crime, and carries some heavy penalties and future restrictions for adults violating such restrictions. No one in their right mind would give a full cup, or even a sip of their beer to a minor in a controlled environment like A Rays game unless they either wanted to be caught, or were trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. Sorry M J, the sober Rays fans see right through you……clearly.