Results tagged ‘ Rich Hererra ’

A State of Emotional Bankruptcy

I am not sad. But I do feel a bit numb right now. Rushing through me is a huge wave of emotions that I can not fathom or even comprehend without just sitting here and letting them rush over me like a huge Monsoon wave. A swirling gambit of feelings from happiness to sadness is ebbing at me, but I am staying strong as I stand and give a last huge round of applause and gratitude to my Boys of Summer….the Tampa Bay Rays.

As I stand there clapping, I can feel the gurgling and churning of emotion beginning to rise towards my head. I feel weak, a bit disoriented, but still stand erect, providing a rhythm with my hands to show the respect, admiration and total commitment I have given this team since I was the first fan to walk into their Port Charlotte Spring Training complex when pitchers’ and catchers’ reported in late February.

Suddenly that pent up emotions I have been fighting leaks out through the cracks and crevices of my soul to spill upon the Tropicana Field seat I have cherished for the last 13 years. I am fully disheartened right now knowing that my baseball is done for the year. My eyes are watering, but not out of sadness, but out of the joy and extreme excitement I have witnessed on this patch of Field Turf that is to be replaced in the off season.

I instantly felt the extreme contentment swamp over me that I got to experience the “Perfect Season” in 2010. I attended 81 games this year, including 3 post season contests and was always inspired and at ease within this domed building. As other around me mutter disgust and admonish the end result, I am totally at peace with this ending, finally knowing that this squad had taken their entire band of brothers as far as fate would let them journey.

As I give a small salute to my oldest baseball buddy Rays Bullpen catcher Scott Cursi I have a tear of happiness trickling down my cheek. For in about a month, Scott and his wife Stephanie ( an ex-Rays employee) will celebrate the birth of a future Rays second baseman. That gives me hope for the Rays future. But I also remember that within the next few weeks Rays reliever Dan Wheeler will also have the joy of having his first daughter enter his life.

As the members of the Rays Bullpen began to walk towards the Rays dugout for the last time this season, I want to shout all their names and thank them, but it would have fallen on deaf ears right now. Collectively they are not in the celebrating mood, or pondering the immediate future than remembering the great moments of the last 7 ½ months since they first assembled. One by one I see them slowly and gracefully disappear, each stealing a last glimpse toward the sight up beyond Home Plate of the Texas Rangers still celebrating their series victory.

Just then my legs begin to tremble and I sit down in my seat emblazoned with my “Rays Renegade” black tag. I sit there for about five minutes and just take in the sights and sounds again. People want to talk to me about the game, but I tell them to “savor the moment, this is not the time to condemn or admonish, but to reflect before it is all gone”. Some understand, but most just laugh that I am too emotionally attached to this team. That I invest too much of myself into their wins and losses.

They might be right, but I also know that soon this team will be disassembled like an old jalopy not because they are rusted and mangled, but because of fiscal constrictions that will strangle the 2010 formation of this team that never seemed to quit. Suddenly it hits me like a ton of bricks that I might have seen the last days of a few of these Rays decked out in their Rays royal blue uniforms and that wave of acknowledgment rushed through my at breakneck speed.

It is over. It is done, and there is not a thing I can do about it. There is barely anyone in the stadium bowl now and a few of the Security force that know me well have left me sit there far too long. I have to go now. It is time to make that solemn walk through the bowels of the stadium and out into the regular World again. As I walk past the Tropicana Field Rotunda , there are a few people still taking their photos with the 7 foot Rays-inspired Mickey Mouse showing a few smiles and joy in an overflowing ocean of emotions right now.

I decide to sit down and listen to Rich Herrera as he does the last Rays Radio post game show of the year and he nods his head towards me as if he could see deep down into me and the pain and emotions churning like a bad dish of hot wings in my belly. He is the last Rays face I see this year. The last member of the fourth floor brigade, but I will miss them all too for their friendship, advice and just general good conversations. I sit there past the end of the Radio show and still hesitate to want to leave, but I must go. Within the next few days my normal life will return with all the stress and pressure these same players have felt this season. My refuge from reality is over for the year.

It is time to again find a way to live without my baseball for a few months before I again pack my Rays goodies for a February Rays Fan Fest date. Finally I head outside the large overhead doors of Gate 6 and I am instantly hit with a gust of cool wind. It awakens me to the pure fact that this is the last glimpse, the last moment I will be here this year.

Most people just seem to detach themselves from this place and just walk out like it is just concrete and paint. But I used to work here, sweat here, and saw some of the greatest Rays feats ever accomplished just beyond the insides of these large doors. I take one last look into the Trop and wish the roof could have been orange tonight, but tonight that orange hue is vacant.

As I turn, the whole kit and kaboodle  of pent up emotions hits me all at once like a runner into the catcher. Suddenly I have to come to terms with the fact this is it. This is the end of my 2010 Rays baseball experience. But just as fast I remember something joyous and proud that will happen in April 2011. Another banner will be raised to the rafters, and that give me a bit of solace to make that long walk to the bike racks and begin to pedal home into the dark Florida night, but wearing the Rays cap with honor on my head.

I stop the bike about a block from the stadium, but still within the majesty of its beauty and take the cap off and offer a last salute to the Trop. Some say she is a slanted roofed abomination, but she is my Church of Baseball. Where I rejoice, find redemption and also attend some of the greatest game played on clay and turf.

It is the place I watch and talk with the great guys who grace the Rays logo on their heads and chests and leave a little piece of myself there forever.

I am not sad, but I do feel a little numb right now. Rushing through me is a huge wave of emotions that I can not fathom or comprehend without just standing here and letting them rush over me like a Monsoon wave. A swirling gambit of feelings from happiness to sadness is ebbing at me, but I am staying strong as I stand and give a last huge round of applause and gratitude to my Boys of Summer….the Tampa Bay Rays. 



Rays Bang Out an Opening Night Victory


Got to admit, that was the way to throw an Major League Baseball Opening Day gig last night. From Tampa Bay Rays players coming out and meeting us at the Rotunda Gate 1 location at 4 pm, to the explosions on and off the field, if this doesn’t get Rays fan excited…then this region is in for a heartache. But what better way to get a community pumped up for the first journey into the Trop. of the Evil empire than to have a Walk-off 2-run double produced by one of your marque players.

So with that in mind, and with me still emotional tired and drained from the whole episode, let’s take today as a “photo blog” day and I will throw a few photos up for the fans who were not at the Trop. to see what might have happened in their absence. I have to admit to everyone, when I moved in October 2009, I think I lost my 3.5X Telephoto lens, so you will have to squint and look at thing s a bit out of focus until my new lens arrives from Miami (hopefully by Friday).


But it was all about the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day today with several new additions to the Tropicana Field scene, and even a few new looks to the ballpark that I will show you in the next few days. But different this season is the fact I will not have my laptop with me during games at this time, but that might change in the near future if a few good things happen, like a real job (lol).


When I got to the stadium at 3 pm today, I was the first person standing in the Season Ticket holders line at Gate 1, and was quickly bombarded by Rays friends and ballpark buddies talking about the uypcoming season and just renewing friendships. I even got yelled at by a friend who sit in the Upper Deck for my April Fool’s Day joke, and another baseball buddy in the Rays front office commented on that post too later in the day. But today was all about seeing the 25 members of the Rays surge towards their goal of getting back to the playoffs in 2010.


But there were also some new sight on the field during the Rays Batting Practice as Rays outfielder Gabe Kapler was showing off his new glove that featured a Columbia Blue dyed “U-pocket” on his fielding glove, and a bit of Columbia Blue trim along the inner seams of the glove. It reminded me of the color scheme that ex-Rays infielder Akinora Iwamura did with his glove over the past few seasons. I will try and get a better shot of the glove today as Kapler was in a bit of a hurry yesterday and I did not get an “up close” look at his new mitt.

Rays RP Grant Balfour was also sporting a Columbia Blue T-shirt under his BP sweatshirt that read “Defend The Trop” with a black AK-47 situated in the middle of the shirt. It was produced by the Cowbell Kid in 2009 and given to Balfour, who is an honorary member of the Cowbell Security Force now. Another example of the right attitude can produce amazing results.


I liked the way that the Rays today incorporated the smoke and fire elements in their pre-game festivities, but it ended up producing a smoke and haze within the Trop that had to be a definite obstacle for both teams outfielders during the game. At one point, it seemed early in the game that Rays centerfielder B J Upton had to make an instant change in his path to the ball before collecting it over the shoulder that would have had Willy Mays shouting his name.


Over the past two Rays seasons they have used the propane fire pots more in a vertical display before the Opening Day festivities, but this season that had some very interesting variations on the flames paths, and also a nice addition of the Rays blue and yellow to bring out a different feel, but also a collaberation of the Rays color scheme.


And Rays injured reliever J P Howell even came out for a little bit today to sit with his Rays Bullpen mates before going into the Rays dugout and watching the rest of the game. I was talking with Howell before the game and he is feeling the shoulder getting stronger and the wrokout program developed by Rays Strength & Conditioning guru Kevin Barr and Rays Head Trainer Ron Porterfield is showing fast imporvement in Howell’s mobility, but he is still on track to be out until possibily May 15th.


So glad to see that Rays Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos is again down in the Bullpen area for the 2010 season. During most of the Rays Spring Training schedule, Ramos was either doing Third Base duty, or helping out on the Rays bench learning some more tricks of the trade. Ramos would not tell me if he is heading towards a possible Bench gig in 2011, but he is still taking out the Rays line-up cars every game, since he is riding a 12-game winning streak when he performs that pre-game duty.


Also something new at the Trop. this year is Raymond, our faithful Rays seadog has produced a new coat over the Fall and Winter and came out tonight with a shiny new coat that produced multiple sparkles and shimmering highlights. Either that or the Seadog finally began using conditioner on his coat for a healthier look in 2010.


Rays new $7.5 million closer Rafael Sorinano did have a rude awakening tonight against the Baltimore Orioles as he got into trouble early and got bailed-out on a brilliant play at the plate on a throw by Rays Third Baseman Evan Longoria. Soriano was releived as Longoria’s throw kept the Orioles from again tacking on a few runs and gave the Rays a chance to come back in the bottom of the ninth for the victory.


I had my camera going nuts last night and thought I might have caught Rays pinch-hitter Kelly Shoppach’s blast that popped off the Baltimore outfielder mitt and moved towards the yellow line on the railing in Left-Centerfield. But as you can see, it did not come out perfectly, but it did put two men on base, and if it had gone above that nice little yellow line on the fly…The game would have ened 15 minutes earlier.


Got to admit, I am getting slower in my old age becuase I did not pick up the ball in flight here on Carl Crawford’s 2-run Walk-off Double, but then again I was trying to keep moving to get around the errant Rays ballboy that did not want to stay in one place while I tried to gather in a picture that would sum up the game’s event….I will try again. Dang you Ballboy!


But really this picture says it all. And what was so amazing is the discussion I had with Rays Radio Host Rich Herrera before the game about we need to again get those “magical small moment
s” back into the Rays game plan in 2010 to get off to a great start and force someone else to hustle and keep up witrh us in 2010. And the way the Rays employed their confidence and their strive to produce those runs last night shows that maybe a few sparks fromn that 2008 spirit might still be alive and well within the hearts and souls of the Rays players.


I do not have a photo of the event, but again Rays catcher Dioner Navarro is getting pretty stealthy when it comes to the post-game shaving cream pies. Carl Crawford was doing a interview with Todd Kalas by the side of the Rays dugout when a swiftly moving Navarro came out of the tunnel and just missed planting the towel filled with shaving cream onto Crawford’s face. Navarro ended up pushing most of it onto Crawford’s uniform right shoulder, but you can not discount his effort.


But in the end what was important was the “W” last night. And in an interesting twist of fact here, Crawford’s 2-run double was the Rays 13th hit of the night to highlight a victory in the start of their 13th season, and of course, Crawford wears number 13 for the Rays. Nothing unlucky aboiut that number last night, and i have a feeling Rays fans will be looking for that 1 and 3 combination ( Sean Rodriguez (1), Evan Longoria (3), plus the always swifty number 13 to bring another win tonight as the Rays send starter Matt Garza to the mound. God I love this game!

Rays Are In First Place Dude !!!!!

Rays 2, Yankees 1


Let me start by humbly Thanking the Rays for letting  me enjoy my birthday,which is the 14th in a  very regal style fitting for a true fan of a FIRST PLACE team.


 I was sitting in my little seat behind the Bullpen area when Gabe Gross hit that shot into Rightcenter, I have never seen Jonny  Gomes run so fast in my entire life. And his batting helmet is in orbit over the Trop right now. The mood was electric, and the Yankee fans were in total disbelief at the loss.


Thank you Stu Sternberg for building us this dream team. Thank you Joe Maddon for believing in your vision for the last two years.


And to the Rays players’, you have undying respect, admiration, and total committment to my team( like there was any doubt about that here).


Enjoy tonight, I know I am a ball of fire inside and I can’t wait for 5:30 tomorrow to do it all over again!!!!!



Trivia Fact of the Night:

11-consecutive Home victories, tops in the major so far this year. Houston and Minnesota each  had 8 straight wins earlier in the season.




The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters


                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly


                                            The Good


Sometimes it seems that you can do anything wrong on the field. Rays reliever J P Howell must be feeling pretty blessed right now.  Howell has been on the winning end three time this season for his clutch pitching in the late innings. Howell tonight worked 2 innings tonight and his only blemish was a base on balls to Bobby Abreu in the top of the 11th inning. There is an old saying, “It is better to be lucky than good sometimes .” This Rays squad is both lucky…….and good.


Honorable Mention “Good guys”:



*** Jonny Gomes came on as a pinch runner for Cliff Floyd after Cliff singled into rightcenter in the bottom of the 11th inning. Jonny then proceeded to steal second on Mariano Riveria and get into scoring position. Because a righty(Wang) was starting tonight, Gomes had the night off until the 11th inning. Jonny was already past thrid when Melky Cabrera was throwing the ball into catcher Jose Molina.


** Rays starter Edwin Jackson held the Yankees scoreless during his 7 innings of work tonight. Jackson allowed 5 hits and struck out 5 yankee batters before leaving the game.  Jackson threw 111 pitches tonight.


* Gabe Gross is another guy who is sitting under a magical star right now. When he first got here from the Brewers’, he was having a hard time adjusting at the plate. But in recent games, he has been getting better contact and more aggressive at the plate. Tonight he was a late inning defensive replacement and only got 2 at-bats. We all know that he made his second at-bat count in the “win” column.


                                               The Bad


To be a closer in the MLB, you have to have a heart of stone sometimes, and a bit of an absent mind. Things happen that would destroy most people. But it is your job to secure  a victory for your team.


Tonight is a night Troy Percival will hope to forget when he goes to sleep. His offspeed pitch to Hideki Matsui was wrapped around the righfield foul pole to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the 9th innig tonight.


 It was Percival’s second blown save of the week.


Carlos Pena is looking like he is starting to try to hard to make something happen at the plate. He did not look relaxed or at ease at all in his at bats tonight.


Carlos has been hovering at the low 200’s now since about April 14th, and has shown positive signs of coming back to his power stroke. But, tonight was not one of those night.


                                               The Ugly


Rich Herrera is the Rays radio pre and post game announcer for the Rays. He has stressed that the Rays fans need to “act like we have been there before.”


What he is referring to, is winning.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but a small segment of our fans have been taunting and acting like peacocks the last few games.  I know there have been years of hearing the same from Boston and New York fans alike, but a Southern man and woman should have more class than to pull their shorts down and tell a rival to kiss a big hairy wet spot on your &@.


Come on people, I am the first to be more than proud, but I also know we need to gain respect before we are treated with it in return. We have not been to the playoffs, like our rivals, we have not entertained a World Series event at the Trop.


We have to be humble and know that this roller coaster could come crashing down on us, or we could enjoy the ride and know that better things are in store for us in the future.


So, here is my plight, We, the fans of the Rays need to use self control and watch our mouths and antics. The world is watching us, and we can either be viewed as a “redneck franchise”, or as a class of fans who know what sportsmanship is all about……………..the choice is yours……choose wisely.


In closing, to all Rays fans, enjoy tonight. We will have the same results and more first place standings in our future. Relish the night we started to turn our franchise and our town into winners the entire country could love too.



Rays Wrestle One from the White Sox

Oh my god, Jonny Gomes is now the team practical joker too. Winning Rays pitcher,Andy Sonnanstine was doing a radio interview with Rich Hererra and Jonny gave him a swirly shaving cream facejob. Not your usual, hit and run variety, but a “let me rub that in a little” major swirly. 

Kudos Jonny, you ARE the man tonight.


White Sox 0, Rays 5



Trivia Fact of the Night:

The first major leaguer to hit a home run with the lights on was Babe Herman of the Cincinnati Reds in July 1935.




The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Prints               The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Prints              The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Prints


                                  The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly



                                              The Really Good.


There are a lot of great moments in this game. Both the offense and the defense came together as one tonight to show everyone what this team is willing, able and can do on a regular basis.  I get chills just thinking about it here.


But my first star of the game has to be Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine. This is the guy who two short years ago was our Minor League pitcher of the year for the organization. Now he has risen to the starting rotation, and got himself only the 12th complete game shutout of the Rays short history.


Only three Sox players got hits off Sonnanstine tonight. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera got a bunt single in the first inning off  third baseman Evan Longoria.  Fellow third baseman Joe Crede  singled to deep  left centerfield, and former Rays Toby Hall got the last hit on a single up the middle in the 6th inning.  Andy threw 106 pitches and struck out 4 tonight.


Honorable Mention “Good ” guys:



*** The threesome of Carl Crawford, B J Upton and Carlos Pena finally got their bats moving tonight and hit a combined 7-11.  B J Upton led the charge going 3-4 to improve his average to .343. Carl Crawford went 2-4 to improve to .266, and Carlos Pena, was back in action as the DH tonight is up to .203 and looking better and more relaxed at the plate.


** Jonny Gomes played rightfield tonight and set the tone for the Rays. He went 1-2, but scored two critical runs for the Rays and  hit a ball 403 feet to the top yellow mark on the centerfield wall tonight.  The ball hit the yellow tape and came back into the playing field to become a live ball.


 Sox’s outfielder Alexi Ramirez thought the ball had gone over for a homerun until leftfirlder Carlos Quentin alertrd Ramirez to the ball sitting 7 feet in front of  him. Jonny ended  with a triple in classic Gome style. sliding headfirst into third.


* I am listing Jonny twice tonight on “good” guys because this play set the tone for the first runs of the night. White Sox pitcher Mark Buerle hit Jonny with a pitch. With gomes at first, Buerle, who  has an incredible pickoff move for a lefty, caught Jonny leaning to far to second base. 


 Jonny was caught in “no-mans’ land,” and scuffled and scattered to somehow wiggle under the tag at second to safely set up a man in scoring position for Eric Hinske’s single that scored Gomes from second and start the scoring for the Rays. In credible moves and a sure fire Top 10 ESPN moment tonight.


                                                   The Bad


The only bad from tonight’s pitching gem came courtesy of  the only two Rays not to get a hit tonight. I will give a waiver to Nathan Haynes, who came on in the top of the 8th inning for Gomes. The other Rays to go hitless tonight was Evan Longoria. Longoria, who is hitting .259,  went 0-4 tonight and grounded into two double plays.


                                              The Ugly


The biggest ugly is the fact that Carl Crawford got caught in a rundown again trying to steal second base. I do not know if Carl had a mental lapse, or Buerle has the best pick off move in the universe.  Also B J Upton got caught off third base by Joe Crede after advancing there on Carlos Pena’s infield hit to the shortstop. Upton was caught a few feet off the bag and try to produce a run down, but was tagged out almost immediately.



Former Rays Player of the Night:

I have to go with former Ray outfielder Jose Guillen of the Kansas City Royals. Jose has been in a bit of a hitting funk this year, but he broke out today with a 2-4 night with 3 RBI’s. Guillen hit a 2-out 3 run homer in the first inning.



Rubber match is tomorrow with the Rays sending Edwin Jackson to the mound to oppose the White Soxs’ John Danks. Gametime is 12:40 PM