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Take Me Out to the Ballgame-Renegade Style


I really love it when Mark Newman, our MLBlogs Professor gives us a ” homework assignment” when most of Major League Baseball has an “off day”. I have used this same JibJab system before to do videos during the season.

So when the Professor asked the community to make up their own MLB-based  collage of personalities, you knew right off the cuff mine had to include the Rays Players Du Jour. I really love doing this kind of creative assembly, and hope to one day have enough skill and creative juices to mesh it into the perfect storm of stapled together videos.

Heck, I was a little disappointed when I first completed this video that I arranged the facial features where Rays ace David Price actually had a bat in his hand. But considering the video out there in YouTube-ville of him rounding the bases and doing cartwheels and somersaults, maybe it was the right decision in the end.  

But there were a few dead on moments in this video. Watch carefully and you will see Ben Zobrist/Zorilla smash into the side walls and land with his body into the stands. Who can forget in 2009 when Zorilla actually came on over to the Renegade’s section and paid an impromptu visit on a foul ball. It was like Deja Vu all over again.

Who in their right mind will forget the the 2010 Christmas card sent by those adorable Starting five of the Tampa Bay Rays by the clubhouse band The Pitch-Outs. I mean the video even included a happy Matt Garza before his trade to Chi-town. Always felt I should have included “Hellboy” (2011 5th starter Jeremy Hellickson) in it, but the Rookie had to earn some stripes first.

Little by little I am gathering more expertise and a bit more flair with my cut, paste and assembly, but we always know it can be better.Had to include my new found Fantasy pick Matt Joyce who is slugging the ball with authority, with confidence, and with increasing distance every night.

Seriously expecting Joyce to either put one in the Rays Tank, or bounce it off the Everglades BBQ Smokehouse roof before the 2011 season is completed. With Joyce presently leading the Majors in batting average (.377) which saw him advance his overall league lead by 27 points.

Cruising behind Joyce right now is a pair of Cardinals, Lance Berkman ( .350) and Matt Holliday (.349). With the Cardinals coming into Tropicana Field from July 1-3, that series could shape up into a showdown for Batting Average bragging rights before the All Star break.  

And if you had to include an outfielder, how could I have omitted the man, the “Legend”, Sam Fuld. Made sure he was the guy holding the glove at the beginning of the video since his catch of a screamer by Juan Pierre of the Chicago White Sox is going to be a discussion point for “best play” throughout the 2011 season. Only thing can could have made that video untouchable, if it resulted in a triple play.

What video featuring the ever unfolding cosmos of Rays rising stars would be complete with out a Longo (Evan Longoria) sighting. Ever since his Gillette video produced about 20 miles South of Tropicana Field at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, YouTube and blogger throughout the word want to debate, relate and investigate the video’s truth, flaws and eventual controversy. Not since that guy in the Channelside District in Tampa, Florida stole his hat has Longo been such a media darling. Maybe that is why he had the AK-47…to protect from another cap theft.

Seriously, I had a blast popping this short video together that embodies even a slight slice of Americana of  our beloved baseball classic “Take Me Out to the Ballgame“. Truly loved how Jibjab used so many funny and interesting configurations to pull of a pleasant visual presentation, and the addition of the 2011 Rays Fab Five of  Joyce, Longo, Fuld, Zorilla and last, but not least the heat-seeker Price.

Hope we can do this again some time this season, possibly around the All Star break when we can again all compile our favorite photos, maybe even a few of ourselves and put all of our great talents to work in a unison project. Do not know about you, but I got to hit replay and watch this video again….and again…..I think I am addicted to it now……Cool Beans!

Blast from My Past


On this day off of all things Tampa Bay Rays Baseball, I decided to do some scavenging of some of my older boxes filled with books on baseball or artifacts from the early years of the Rays. The first thing I come upon is a 1999 D-Rays Opening Day Program ( actually 5 of them) and a signed copy of the manuscript to my all time favorite comedy movie “Bull Durham“.

It was like I was opening my own time capsule hidden within this dank storage unit and finding treasure after treasure that I had long forgotten I even had. Piled into these red storage crates were years of bobblehead experiences both with names from now, and yesterday, including a unusual Drew Carey figurine I traded a Slider (The Indians mascot) bobblehead I gathered entering the stadium, while the young lad got a Carey bobble and seemed unimpressed by it. So to make someone besides myself smile that day, I anxiously traded with the young boy with both of us getting the deal of a lifetime in our own minds.

Pondering and squeezing into the tiny space of this unit I gazed upon a crate marked “books and paper memorabilia” that housed it own secrets and pleasant surprises. With this pile of dusty book covers and worn page ends I found something I had forgotten a long time ago existed in my collection. It was a copied article I wrote for way back in September 17,2002 as a “Fan on Base” entitled “Thank you right back, MLB“.

It was my first published writing of any type on the Internet, and was the secondary seed to why I write even today. So, on this day of rest for the Rays lads while they await their Friday night contest in Toronto, I am going to reproduce this posting that was submitted way before the creation of, and you can judge for yourself just how far my writing has either advanced or is evolving every post.

Funny, I sit in my usual chair in the Rightfield section and it feels like the first game of the season.

Fans around me were whispering about the impending strike and about missing any or all of the games. I just sat there and watched a team maturing on the field. I am of the opinion that a true fan does not make posters, throw objects or harass the players or other teams’ fans. We are all lifetime members of a unique fraternity/sorority. We are baseball fans.

Baseball games are a creative and fun release for me from stress and the pressures of life. I know the players consider it a “job”, but I would consider it an honor and an extended childhood dream to play on that turf. Funny, I still get a thrill from fielding Batting Practice from the (Checkers) “café” at Tropicana Field.

The impending strike has no evil thoughts or effect on me. I would have missed the games, but I know that each side was trying to
protect the future generations. I knew whatever became of the meetings, the “kid” in all of the players’ and owners would emerge in the end.

Baseball is a business today, but you also saw the faces and comments with hidden meanings to suggest a positive end to the talks. As a true fan, I planned to be there for the first game after the settlement, cheering as loud as the first game in franchise history. I was thinking of walking down and shaking the hands of all of the (Rays) Bullpen guys. I would have missed them all. I waited 20 years for (MLB) baseball in my hometown, and if the strike would have had any negative turn, then I still would have been there on the “first day” after any stoppage.

I admit that I am a kid at the ballpark. I enjoy the banter with the players, and the photos, autographs and other things during, after and between the games. I am a former pro player, but of another “ball” sport, and I enjoy the present day ballplayer in Tampa Bay. They might be modern warriors, but they are also a prototype of the old-school players. Most do not play for millions, but for pride and team.

I have heard such recent comments as “Just glad to be here” and ” What is better than getting paid to play a game we used to play for free Pepsi from the coaches?” I really enjoy throwing jeers at the visiting players. Like the time the Yankees Paul O’Neil heard “cup check” from most of the people in Section 138 in Rightfield at the Trop. But the most memorable moment was at a recent game. The Indians’ Right fielder , Michael Tucker, was laughing and smirking under that serious veneer. We love the game, and are not afraid to yell at times.

Forget the notion that these guys are spoiled millionaires. The best baseball to me is played at the Trop. Not because of talent, money or even hustle. It is because these (Rays) players still have the hunger, the intense desire to play as they did when they were 10-year olds in the dust bowls of America. I have to end this story now–got a few neighborhood kids who need me to throw some pitches to them.

Unlike (former Ray) Jimmy Morris, I only throw 80-ish on a windy day. But I also sit on that mound dreaming and loving the thought that baseball is safe for these kids to watch for years to come.

It was good to see baseball go on. I would have missed the kid-like fans and friends I have met during America’s greatest game.

Got to admit, reading that brought back a flood of emotion and memories of the time with the Rays since Mar 31,1998, to last night’s contest. I still fancy it to any other sport out there, and finally have come to peace with the idea that even if baseball is a business, it is also a pure form of the stride of all of us to compete daily at a high level no matter what our skills are, or our opinions.


To me, baseball has become the great equalizer where a millionaire can sit next to a guy who dig ditches for the City and both will cheer, clap and high-five after a great play. No social nuances or speculations, just great kid-like fascination and wonder of seeing the game played at its highest level with more than few smiles beckoning from ear-to-ear.

Not My Usual Christmas Eve Greeting

I have been known to be a holiday Grinch to some people because they try and force the holiday on me like a  certain religious sect located here in Clearwater, Florida. I have always been, and will always be a true believer in the spirit of the holidays and of everything involved with them. 

As a kid , I was the house decorator, both inside and out. It was my job to put up the lights and also do the tree setup after we brought it home. The family as a whole did the final Christmas tree trimmings, but I put the lights in the branches and made sure the tree was very secure and would not fall on us when we began decorating it. I took great pride in doing this, because I had the Christmas spirit, not because it was a job to me.

And even though the last several days, some people might give me a mulligan for thinking like this during this holiday season. But I am not built like that, if I make a commitment, I am there by any means possible, but this year it took a bit more than just desire and will power. I do not show weakness very often, and when I do my friends know it is real and not put on for their enjoyment or my own self amusement.

As some of you might know, I was at a friend’s house last weekend and was playing football on the soft white sands of Clearwater Beach, when I went in for a open field tackle on a friend’s son and got him in stride, but on the way down got plucked in the right ear with a thud. I got right up with no blood or even any small aches, but of course, being a Christmas party, I did have a few medicating rum concoctions running through my veins.

Well, as a old football guy, I did not show any weakness the rest of the night and went home and slept until maybe 8 pm the following day. Since I did not anticipate any job interview requests on that day, I put my cellphone to silent. About 9 pm, I had three people at the door while I was watching  reruns of a “Real Chance at Love” on VH-1. Well they saw me do a little wobble at the door and they stayed a bit to be sure the old guy was okay.

That is when you know you have a true friend, when they see through the BS and call you on it like a ref with that little yellow hankie. Well, they saw my ear was blossoming up like a nice floret of cauliflower and tried to talk me into going to the ER to be cautious. Well, the last time I hit that ER near me, I did not see the light of day, and missed the entire home series against the New York Yankees in April 2007.

All I had then  was three small brown recluse spider bites that bloomed up into huge bulbs the minute I took some antibiotics I had around the house. Well, after sitting there that night on my stomach for three hours while they cut the dying skin off my back of the knee, waistline spot, and my right index finger, I was set alone in a ER extra room and they tried to let me sleep off the medications while I was waiting for a bed upstairs.

Long story short…………5 days per-longed hospital visit…………$ 2,000 dollar headache after wards. I was not discharged on time because the doctor forgot to come see me on a Monday, and almost missed another home series because of him. Poor guy is not a Rays fan because of me.

Well, here we are that night sitting here still in the ER at 5 am and I have been seen by 4 different physician assistants that all concur, I have a blown eardrum. And so I sit until and attending can come in and give the final heave ho to launch my happy butt upstairs for a consultation with a ear, nose and throat guy in 5 hours.  So my friends finally leave because they have real jobs, and I am, unemployed, but happily blogger happy on 

I am sitting up there with my computer and finally finish my part 2 of my MLB Network blog and hit the button to send it via WiFi. Well, if I wanted to use that service in the hospital, it would cost me $ 25 dollars for the connection password. I wonder if that is how the nurses’ party funds get stocked?  Just kidding, that was a rule instituted because too many people brought computers in the hospitals and their servers were getting overloaded by just hospital work.

So I just sat there and put things in notepads and typed away until the battery life left the laptop. Well, about an hour after that, the doctor finally got there and prodded me for about 2 minutes before noticing he was in the wrong ear…….got to love our medical system some days. Well he began to try and stretch out my ear, but the pain maxed to 12.5 and he decided to give me a local to knock out my ear area.

That went fine, and after about 30 minutes of staring and thinking and writing in his little report form, he told me lay back and they wanted to give me a full X-ray head scan. I told him the mouse in my head left a month ago, but the rubber bands are working fine. He did not see the humor in that, but the nurse was snickering. So I was pushed and left to be claimed the hallway for an orderly to take me to the Radiology section for naked pictures without my skin.

Well, I came to find out the local was not a local, but was an IV hit of morphine and I was seeing flashbacks of “Apocalypse Now” scenes in my head. And that damn song “Flight of the Valkyries” kept rewinding in my head.  Thank goodness the nurse was of Swedish decent, I might of had to frag  because of the effects of the drug, I was smelling napalm in the morning. So there I am having naked pictures of my hollow head, while a Swedish nurse props me up like a rag doll on crack. Even though she was 5 foot and 250 pounds, the Don Juan in me went wild.

After I came to an few hours later, the doctor told me he wanted to be sure I did not suffer a concussion since I stated I had 10 previous concussions from football from 1976-1985. He told me that the ear membrane was torn a bit, but would recover in 5-10 days. I would not need to downgrade all my stereo equipment to monotone, and could watch 5.1 surround sound when the hearing came back in a few days. He told me if the sound did not come back by Sunday, come in Monday morning and he will drill a hole in my head and stick a cup with some string to my eardrum.

After he said that, I wondered how long it took him to come up with those one-liners. My flow off the tongue, but his delivery needed work. I did compliment him on his new found humor and he told me I could leave after 2 prescriptions got up there. He did tell me I needed to put ear drops in my ear, but the first few batches would be difficult until the swelling went down. He also sent me home with some antibiotics. 

So I flopped on the couch and did not wake up until today about 7 am. I discovered that I left the laptop at the hospital, but they dropped it by a neighbors’ since I did not answer the door. I hope it was not that Swedish nurse looking for a massage buddy, and forgot to write my Christmas Eve blog. I usually like to put my 5 favorite Christmas videos on there, but could not muster the time and effort until tonight/ last night.

So here I am now, asking for everyone at, from Mark on down to the newest arrivals to the site to have a safe and glorious Christmas. And since I do not want to be considered religiously biased, Happy Kwanza, which starts today, and Happy Hanukah. I really hope that your day was filled with magic, warmth and the noise of friends and family. I had a house full of people because my roommates 4 kids stooped by to pester me to death and flick my ear a few million times.

So, hopefully starting today I can get caught up and get back into my swing of writing my daily blogs for you all.  So without further ado, I am heading back to bed to have visions of sugarplum dance through my head again tonight/today. And since it is Black Friday, I am not going out of the house for fear of Wal-mart and K-Mart shoppers a few blocks away running into each other in the parking lots.

Now where did I put that eggnog and sugar cookies?