The Escalating Thefts of Evan Longoria
During the last 12 months, Tampa Bay Rays Third Baseman Evan Longoria has tried to mold his image a bit with his 2011 Spring Training Kirk Cameron clone curly-Q hairstyle, a more GQ-inspired wardrobe and the toys that “big boys” buy when they cash a substantial MLB paycheck. As Mel Brooks said in History of the World Part One, sometimes “it is good to be the King.”
Added to all of Longoria’s career accolades is the increased pressure of being marketed not only by the Rays, but by Major League Baseball into one of the most popular players in Major League Baseball. With increased demands both online and in auctions of Longoria jerseys and game-used collectibles increasing immensely in the last year. Suddenly Longo is one of the most sought after autographs of collectors and fans.
For all of the success Longoria has had on the diamond, and with his off-the-field transitions, there have been unseen cloaked figures watching his every moves, tendency and personal mannerisms. They are not MLB opponent’s Coaches or even pitchers’ watching Longoria, they are the unsavory and often criminal element looking to cash in via a 5-finger discount on the new found fame of the 24-year old 3 time AL All Star.
Longoria has quickly been schooled that top tier MLB popularity sometimes comes with a high and costly price tag. Not only do baseball fans want a collective piece of the young star, but stealthy thieves have claimed more than just his signature, or a game used item in the last 12 months.
Suddenly, Longoria’s off-the-field life and adventures has played out more like a high budget Hollywood adventure movie than the real life adventures and escapades of a budding MLB icon.
First there was that epic New Era 2010 commerical where someone stole Longoria’s New Era game cap while he was casually lounging at a Tampa Channelside cafe possibly within a long Longoria throw from his downtown condo. In the commercial, Longo does his best “action hero” imitation as he scampers via a bike, Tampa cable car and also using his charm to commandeer a scooter operated by a cute new Longo fan.
In one of the last scenes of the commercial we see Longo attach himself to the riggers of a rising helicopter from the nearby Davis Island Airport still on the hunt for his prized cap. Inset incredibly ironic moment as Longoria unfortunately finds out the cap on the guy Longo has been chasing is too large for his mullet.
Then we suddenly see Longo transfixed on a guy in a speedboat wearing a Rays cap and he instantly thrusts himself from the helicopter which has by the magic of Hollywood transformed from Florida to the California coastline, complete with a jutting mountain range in the background. Jason Bourne would have definitely been impressed.
Then in the last month Longoria got a second more personal jolt of the criminal element as a prized possession bought this off season, a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was snatched from a Tucson, Arizona lot where it had been stored while undergoing cosmetic alterations. This time because it happened after the beginning of the Rays Spring Training schedule, Longo could not be personally ” on-the-scene” to coordinate the recovery efforts. Sometimes even a budding MLB Superman can not be in two places at once.
The car theft investigation is taking a wild “Gone in 60 Seconds” vibe as former Long Beach
State teammate Troy Tulowizki had a ironclad alibi, he was in camp with about 60 other members of the Colorado Rockies. Nicholas Cage/ Randal “Memphis” Raines was on a out of country movie location.
Tucson police have no solid leads, but are investigating every channel, even alerting the Desert Valley Auto Parts crew of the classic car heist since they specialize in older model classic auto parts. You might remember their name from their reality television show, “Desert Car Kings“.
The latest brush with loss has been the recent break-in of his Port Charlotte rental home just a few miles from the Charlotte Sports Park where Longoria and Rays team/roommates Reid Brignac and David Price were in uniform for a Sunday matinée contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Price walked in on the aftermath of burglars coming into an unlocked window to steal personal effects of all three athletes.
But one item taken stood out from the rest. An AK-47 assault rifle registered and owned by Longoria. It was not bought out of paranoia or even as a personal defense decision after the prior two losses, but as a personal weapon of choice for his own home protection. I could easily envision Longo and his crew in the backyard of his Port Charlotte abode or in the deep woods hoisting this weapon above his head screaming the words “Wolverines”.
This one “weapon” choice of Longoria’s however comes with underlying and revolving consequences. Sure the rifle was reconfigured to be legal for purchase and use as a security item. Everyone in the house had items taken from electronics, watches and a few personal items by the brave daytime theft.
In the wake of all this, Longoria’s image and his weapon choice might have possibly stolen something more valuable from him. Gone forever is his professional squeaky clean commercial image instantly tarnished by this one possibly impulsive purchase option.
The worst thing about this ” choice” is that the weapon is still out there somewhere in Southwest Florida. The fallout is just beginning to hit Longo as both Rays and other baseball fans recoil and voice their opinions on the young player’s actions. Best case scenario is that the weapon was discarded or dismantled and nothing happens with it. Worst case……..I’m not going there.
Listed here are three different and distinctive thefts. One for commercial value, another might have been more a case of wrong place, wrong time for Longo’s Camaro. The third will have repercussions for some time. Will MLB backpedal a bit and not promote Longoria as much in 2011 hoping the media firestorm doesn’t burn Longoria’s popularity or credibility to ashes.
Hopefully this will have a Hollywood ending. The thieves will return the weapon by putting it on the doorstep of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department, or provide a covert lead to have local officials re-acquire the lethal weapon before something bad happens.
Hopefully this is the last episode of someone taking a piece of Longo’s personal property for a long time….if not, we might have another Hollywood classic bubbling to the surface. A recent St. Petersburg Times article on the AK-47 left us wondering just how low this will take Longoria’s trust and respectability ratings. “Longoria’s legal assault rifle is now somebody else’s illegal assault rifle“.