Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay ’

Thoughts after the World Series Hype Has Died Down




Congraulations to the Tampa Bay Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford for winning the 2008 Fielding Bible award for hsi position. Crawford also won the award in 2006. He is the only two-time winner for the Tampa Bay Rays, despite missing an entire month due to  index finger injury.


He’s baaack! And he didn’t even have to play a full season to win it. Carl Crawford missed most of the month of September but still wins the Fielding Bible Award in left field for 2008 with 87 points. It’s his second award, having won it in 2006. In 2007, he finished second to Eric Byrnes by a mere three points. Despite the missed time, Crawford held off Willie Harris’ late run for the highest Plus/Minus total in left field (+23 to +22).

One important distinction that differentiates THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position, instead of separate winners for each league. The goal of THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS is to stand up and say: “Here is the best fielder at this position in Major League Baseball last season.” Another key feature of the system is that it also recognizes the runners-up for each position, instead of just focusing on the winners.

Also in the running for a Fielding Bible Award on the Rays were Carlos Pena, who ended up 4th in the voting for first basemen.  The Rays rookie third baseman, Evan Longoria ended up second to eventual winner Adrian Beltre of the Seattle Mariners.  Dioner Navarro ended up 7th for catchers in the 2008 voting.  And former Rays’ batboy and current Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher, Jesse Litsch ended up 3rd in the pitchers’ category for the award.




There have been more than a few newspaper accounts calling into question the events that unfolded in Game 5.5 of the 2008 World Series. One of the biggest “What If’s” seems to stem from Rays third base coach Tom Foley sending Jason Bartlett to the plate to try and tie to score up at 4-all.

I personally do not have a problem with him sending Bartlett in that situation. The fact that Chase Utley pumped and faked to first made the point kind of moot. If Utley had thrown the ball to first to get the streaking Iwamura, Bartlett would have scored easily and we would not be having this conversation.

But the true fact is that the pump fake by Utley actually had nothing to do with it at all. Bartlett had his back to Utley before he even decided to throw the ball to Carlos Ruiz for the easy tag-out at the plate. I do not even think Bartlett would have stopped if Foley has thrown up the stop signal to him in time. It was a heads up move by Utley that might have changed the entire make-up of thst game and sent the momentium to the Phillies.

It is one of the reason that Utley is considers one of premier second basemen in baseball right now. He made a nano second decision to try and bait Bartlett or Foley, and decided basically in mid-air to not throw to Howard for the easy out at first base. He instead decided to try and nail the sprinting Bartlett and make a statement in the World series. I think it was a bold move by both teams that just speaks volumes to the competitive nature and agrressiveness of these World Class teams.




Another  decision by Rays Manager Joe Maddon has been played out in the media as to the pitching matchups in Game 5. did the wrong pitchers’ get chances in this game instead of the rookie phenom David Price to save the game for the Rays?

I am with Maddon on this one totally. You started Grant Balfour fresh and with a strong hand to take down the pinch-hitter and take on the top 2 spots in the batting order in the bottom of the 6th inning. It was not in the plans that a former team mate of Balfours’ in Milwaukee, Geoff Jenkins get a monster hit off him to set off the inning.



Balfour actually threw a great pitch that Jenkins had to go up and get high in the strikezone. Jenkins has been listed in the scouting report as a primary low-ball hitter, and Dioner Navarro asked for a high and tight fastball. the ball came in high, but might not have been as tight as they both wanted before Jenkins hit it for a double off the scoreboard in right-centerfield.


The real miracle in all of this is the fact that the Phillies used 5 total pitches to get Jenkins from second to the plate to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Maddon could dictate that Rollins would put down the sacrifice bunt to push Jenkins to third base, but Jayson Werth hit a good outside pitch to score Jenkins in the inning.

After that play, Maddon removed Balfour becuase he wanted a leftie to face the next two lefties in the Phillies lineup, Utley and Ryan Howard. Here is where the real drama come out people. Maddon brought in  J P Howell, one of his best relievers during the season to face the 2 Phillie power men. He got Utley on three pitches to strike him out for the second out in the inning. Then he got Howard to hit a high pop-up to Longoria at thrid to get out of the inning.

Now what happened in the top of the 7th inning might be a reason to grumble if you were a Rays fan.  Navarro came up and struck out to start the inning off for the Rays. Rocco Baldelli then came up and slapped a high Ryan Madson pitch to right to tie the score up again for the Rays. Baldelli has been a high fastball hitter his entire career, and he got a juicy one from Madson over the heart of the plate.

Then  it gets interesting for the Rays. Jason Bartlett comes up and slaps the 2nd pitch from Madson into leftfield for a single. With the go-ahead run at first with 1-out, Maddon decided to let J P Howell put down a sacrifice bunt to move Bartlett to second base. Howell took the second pitch and put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Bartlett over to second base.

The play on paper and in action was perfect, but could he have used Fernando Perez instead and maybe gotten a baserunner out of all of this?  That is the question I have. Why not use your speed demon to maybe get you a errant throw to first, or maybe even get a base hit and put more pressure on the Philly defense. Instead you have a pitcher who will not be booking down the line too fast.

The play worked out to the Rays advantage by moving over Bartlett, but could they have gotten more out of the play? Howard had been pretty reliable at making at least one error at first during the World Series, and a ball missed by him at that juncture would have been huge to the Rays confidence.

Then with Akinora Iwamura slow bouncing ball over the pitching mound and heading for the outfield, Chase Utley makes the play of the day for the Phillies. Could this have been the big difference in the game, and not even been a factor if Fernando Perez was streaking into second base in front of Utley. We wil never know if it might have been a game turning play for either team. In stead it became a defensive gem that might have sealed the Phillies victory over the Rays and ended the series.

If Maddon had replaced Howell with a pinch-hitter, would that maybe have prevented Pat Burrell from hitting that monster off the side of the stands in left-center for a double?  We will never know that either. But considering the way Burrell was chasing the fastballs of most of the Rays pitchers’ this series, Howell’s slow rollers must have looked like a softball to him at the plate. These all are great points of interest in this suspended game that took over 51-some hours to finish.

The Phillie still might have won a game in St. Petersburg and still gotten their first title since 1980. But would it have been more fun to see them have to scramble and win one in the hostile home of the Rays. Considering that the Spring Training home of the Phillies is stationed only 20 miles north on US 19, it might have been a surprisingly more even crowd if they pulled off the series win in Florida.

Either way, it was a great learning tool for the young Rays who are built to get here again. For the Phillies, it could happen again, but alot of the media think the Phillies just pounced on Rays’ miscommings and took this one by default. I do not want to detract anything from the Philly awesome run at the title. They were a great opponent and kept the game fair and within control during the World Series.




I only have one huge problem with the World Series. I know Cole Hamels had a fantastic 2 games in the World Series, but I think the MVP was actually playing rightfield for the Philadelphia Phillies. Every year for the past 3 years, someone different has come forward and lead the Phillies to vidtory during the season.

First it was the bat of Ryan Howard pounding the National League pitching. Then last year it was the fleet feet of Jimmy Rollins and his run at a hitting streak. And this season it was Chase Utley showing power and grace as he was the early favorite to win the Home run crown in the National League.

The Phillies’ Jayson Werth hit .444 in the World Series with 8 hits and 3 doubles for the series. He also scored 4 runs and had 6 walks while posting 3 RBI’s for the eventaul series winners. I do not know what the tally sheet looked like for the final voting for the MVP of the World Series, but I hope that Hamels only got the trophy by a single vote, because without Werth, the Phillies would not have won the series at all this year.

Cardinals’ Great George Kissell Hurt in Tampa Bay Car Accident



Longtime St. Louis Cardinals official George Kissell was in critical condition Tuesday after being injured in a traffic accident.


Kissell’s daughter was driving her parents in a 2002 Chevrolet at about 7:45 p.m. Monday when she apparently ran a red light and was struck by another car, police Capt. Sanfield Forseth said.










The 88-year-old Kissell was in a Tampa hospital Tuesday with life-threatening injuries, police said. His daughter, Karolyn Kidwell, 58, was treated and released.


Kissell’s wife, Virginia, was also in the vehicle, but Forseth had no information on whether she had been hurt. The driver of the second vehicle, 27-year-old Stacy Lehart of St. Petersburg, had minor injuries.


Kissell has been with the Cardinals organization since 1940. He was a major-league coach from 1969 to 1975 and is currently a senior field coordinator for player development.


“We learned late last night of the accident and we’ve reached out to the family,” John Mozeliak, the team’s vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “And at this time our thoughts and prayers are with him during this difficult time.”


Kidwell hasn’t been charged.





This photo was actually taken at the old St Louis Cardinals Spring Training site, which is the Tampa Bay Rays’ Spring Training site since their inception into the major leagues

ALDS Belongs to the Rays….Finally



I am one of those lucky people who got a ticket to game 1 and 2 of the ALCS games. I did not get them from the Rays, or from a corporate sponsor. I got them because I was a Season Ticketholder for the Rays. So why is it I get an email telling me I cheated to get my tickets. I got them the same way most places got them……….from  I did not have the pre-playoff ticket package, but have gotten them per series and I was online also on Monday.

The problem with the ticket system is that some of the websites pay people to pre-register for the tickets and give them either tickets or incentives for the emails. This is the form of capitalism that founded this grest country, and even if it is not to our liking, it will not go away. This is the problem with finally getting big in the world. We now see the problems with tickets and getting seats that Bosotn, New York and Chicago have felt for years.

Success breeds greed. Season Ticketholders buy the maximum two tickets when they first register in August for tickets, then in October, before the first game we get another option to buy 4 more tickets anywhere in the stadium. I saw a ticket in the Whitney Bank club going for almost $ 600 dollars today. I expect if it is not sold today, it will go up in price by 9 a.m. tomorrow.

The Rays have no say in this system. It is generated after years and years of success at the MLB level. They are just pawns in the system and have to play by MLB rules. Since Stubhub is a major sponsor of MLB, it might get a pre-arranged share of tickets in a certain region of the stadium.

But what is more annoying is the fact that even Rays’ fans are jacking up the price on Craigslist, Stubhub, or even the local papers classified section. Do not be surprised on Friday night to hear a Upper Deck seat going for $ 400 dollar or more. With need come greed……..and it will not be settled in time for all of us to enjot them game.


Rays 6, White Sox 2



Andy Sonnanstine

I will be the first person to tell you that I thought Andy Sonnanstine might be in the Bullpen and not starting during the ALDS. I had on my 25-man roster as the number 4 guy, Edwin Jackson because of his power pitching. I was wrong. Sonnanstine has been a role model on consistant pitching for the last few weeks. He might have been stuck on 13 wins, but he has thrown some great games and not gotten the decisions.

But tonight was his greatest pitching performance to date for the Rays. It might have only been his 1st post-season win ever, but he did not pitch like it on the mound. Andy might have only threw 5.2 innings tonight, but he left with a 5-2 rays score that gave him his first win. He threw only 75 pitches and got 4 strikeouts on the night, but his pitches were working most of the night and kept the White Sox batters’ puzzled at the plate.

But all was not perfect for Sonnanstine tonight. He had a few moments in the game that had both pitching coach Jim Hickey and Rays Manager Joe Maddon wondering if this game might break wide open. Sonnanstine had minor trouble with the White Sox until Paul Konerko connected on a high breaking pitch and sent it over the wall for a solo home run in the 4th inning.



Then Sonnanstine came back out in the 5th and got the White Sox down in order on 7 pitches. That is right s-e-v-e-n pitches. Amazing job to make a point to the Sox. In the 6th inning, after getting 2 quick fly ball outs, Jermaine Dye hit a ball up in the zone to right for the second solo shot of the night by the Sox. That put the score at 5-2, and Sonnanstine was done for the night.




B J Upton

I have to tell you. I am loving the power coming off his bat right now. For the ALDS Upton only batted .278, but it was his homer outburst in the last 2 games that is making people wonder what he could have done with a good shoulder this year. I think we are seeing just how good he can be if he is totally into the game and winning.




Upton went 2-4 on the night with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, but he hit 2 bombs to basically again take the White Sox out of the game. In the 1st inning on the 4th pitch he saw he hit the ball about 2 feet beyond the leftfield wall for a solo shot. But Upton was not done for the day. In the 3rd inning, he again hit a breaking ball up in the zone and deposited it beyond the centerfield fence for his second homer of the game.  In this at bat, it took him 8 pitches until he got the one he wanted and hit it a ton to put the Rays up 2-0 at that time.




Superman-type Play

Gabe Gross getting the start in right becuase of the right-handed batter made it cear early on in this game that he was going to do whatever was needed to win tonight. When A J Pierzenski hit a slow moving breaking ball out to right in the 1st inning, Gross threw himself up high and above the yellow line to bring the ball in and turn a sure homer into a fly out. It was an early indicator of the type of night the White Sox were going to have at the plate.


A J Pierzenski = Controversy

I have to tell you there were two issues in the game and before it that could have also been major turning points for both teams. Before the contest, it was rumored that the White Sox might have been stealing the Rays signals last night because all 3 stolen bases were on breaking pitches by Matt Garza.

Considering that Garza was throwing mostly heat last night, it is a wild bit of timing that every runner guessed right all three times in the game. So the Rays went to a body, hand and motion signal set to make it a little more difficult to try and  steal the signals tonight.

But the Rays also got a little piece of controversy for themselves during an at bat by Carlos Pena. In the 7th inning. During the at bat, there was questionable call with the count 0-2 and Pena let a high pitch come in without trying to foul it off.

When the TBS crew pulled up the strikezone indicator on their screens it showed it was a ball plain and simple, but White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen did not see it the same way. He shouted out to his pitcher Gavin Floyd who did not nod to him when he asked if it was high.  So with the count now 1-2, Pena fouled pff the next 2 pitches before singling to rightfield to score Jason Bartlett and give the Rays a 6-2 score.



This caused Guillen to come out and  and chat a bit with Floyd, but when home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg came out to see what is going on, Guillen made sure to give him an earful before going back into the dugout. If Pena had struck out in that at bat, it would have given the Rays 1 outs in the inning.




1-2-3 Hitters’

The Rays first 3 batters went a combined  7-13 on the night with  3 runs scored and 4 RBI’s. Akinora Iwamura went 2-5 on the night, with a single to right in the 3rd inning, and scoring on Pena’s single to right to put the Rays up 5-1 at the time. Aki then hit a 1-hop double to the wall in leftfield down the line to get in scoring position for the Rays.

Upton , of course went 2-4 with his 2 homers, and also had a great night in the field saving several balls from falling to the turf or going over his head in the game. In the 5th inning, Alexi Ramirez hit a hard liner to center that Upton took like a wide reciever over his shoulder for an easy out.

Carlos Pena had a great series going .500 for the series and getting 2 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases for the Rays. In the game, Pena singled to right on the first pitch he saw tonight. he then stole second base to get into scoring position. In the 5th inning, he again hit a ball to right, he trie again to steal second base, but Pierzenski threw a bullet to nail him at second before the slide. Pena again got another  RBI single to right in the 7th inning. In the 9th inning, he was Intentionally walked so they could get to Evan Longoria who went 0-5 on the night.




Carl Crawford

Alot of people were questioning if Carl Crawford was healthy enough to play in this tough series. I think after tonight’s game you do not have to question that again this season. Crawford went  0-2 on the night, but when  he got on base via 2 walks, he made the White Sox pitchers pay for it.  In the 4th inning Floyd walked Crawford on 5 pitches.

Then when Cliff Floyd hit a double to deep leftfield, Crawford sprinted around the bases and got into home before the wild throw went pass Pierzenski and Floyd advanced to third on the throwing error. Then Crawford walked to lead-off the 6th inning and was a constant pest to White Sox reliever Clayton Richard who threw numerous times over to first to keep Crawford close to the bag.

After 2 quick out, Gabe Gross came to the plate for the Rays. Crawford stole second easily on the 1st pitch to Gross and then stole third 4 pitches later. It ia actually pretty amazing that Crawford even played in the game. During Batting Practice, team mate Dioner Navarro actually hit Crawford in the midsection with a full swing by accident while stretching before hitting in the cage. Crawford was okay but a bit winded during B.P. after that episode.




Rays Set-up Duo

You know that the White Sox are happy to not have to go up and hit again this year against either Grant Balfour or  J P Howell. Both have combined to pitch 7.2 innings of  scoreless ball this series. Combine that with the statistics of Chad Bradford, and all three have held the White Sox  scoreless in 10.2 innings and have given up only 8 hits in their appearances.

Howell came on to relieve Sonnanstine after the homer to Dye and pitched 1.1 innings and threw 24 pitches. Only Ramirez got a single off him in the 7th inning as his only hit allowed in the appearance tonight.

He left in the bottom of the 8th and Balfour took over for the rest of the game.  Balfour gave up a walk to Pierzenski to give the White Sox hope in the 8th inning before striking out Dye looking to end the inning.  In the 9th inning, Balfour got 2 quick outs on a grounder to short and a fly ball to Gross in right. With one out left in the game, Balfour hunkered down and got behind to Ken Griffey Junior 0-2 before rattling off 2 straight strikes to end the game for the Rays.



Ken Griffey Jr.

With this maybe being the last game in Chicago for Griffey Jr., he made sure the Chicago fans would remember that even tho he has lost a step or two in the outfield, positioning can save you every time. In the 4th inning, he took a sure extra base hit away from Jason Bartlett on a dying quail to shallow centerfield. It is just another eason why this guy is worth the price of admission to watch work his magic at the plate and in the field.


Kazmir Sends Yankees Out of Town With a Frown


Rays 5, Yankees 2


You know what is so weird about an afternoon game, you are not hungry when you get there. But when you leave, you are screaming for the nearest drive-thru window.

I did the next best thing today and did the $5 Subway Sub to honor the “dive” the Yankees have done so far this year. I am sorry we beat you three times and sent you to the AL East cellar. Check out the dunegeon bar and grill, they have fine chicken wings, but are hot as hell.



Trivia Fact of the Night:

On July 4th 1939,
Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees, was the first man to have his number(4) retired.




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


Rays starter Scott Kazmir(2-1), who just inked a serious contract extention pitched a gem to show not onl,y good faith in the signing, but a sign of things to come for the power lefty. Scott pitched 6 innings of 3-hit shutout ball before leaving after throwing 100 pitches exactly today. At the time he left the game,  the Rays had a 5-0 lead for Kazmir.  Scott also struck out only three today, while walking three. It seemed he was in control of his primary pitches, but was having a bit of trouble with his slider today.


Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:


*** Aki Iwamura, who just finished a 11-game hitting streak got the scoring started with a  solo blast to right in the first innig to get the scoring started for the Rays. Aki also went 2-3 and scored two runs today. Aki has lifted his average to .265. That is 55 point better than a week ago, and he is getting better at bats and pitches right now.


** Rays closer extrodinare Troy Percival put hid own personal stamp on tonight’s win. Troy entered the game in the top of the 9th and retired the first two batters with strikeouts before Johnny Damon hit a fly ball to Carl crawford to end the game, and give Percival his 10th save of the year. Percival is slowly gaining on Rollie Fingers, who is next in line on the All-Time saves list for Percival.


* I call this guy the “Brad Pitt” of the minors. He is so devil-may-care, and totally likeable you wanrt him to succeed. With the success of Dioner Navarro lately, Shawn Riggans has seen his playing time go to a crawl. But after today, 2-3 performance, Rays manager Joe Maddon might have two options at catcher in the coming weeks. Riggans helped his cause with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 4th, that also scored Eric Hinske. Riggans is now hitting .250, but also scored two runs to go along with his two RBI’s.


                                                 The Bad


Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett was a late scratch today  to take care of a family matter. Rays super sub, Ben Zobrist saw his first action of the year since coming off the DL this week. Zobrist looked a bit aprehensive at the plate and went 0-2 today. Ben is a great defensive shortstop, and  made several key plays today.

Carlos Pena is still having trouble getting the men in scoring position home today. Carlos had two opportunites today and struck out twice today. Pena is leading the AL in strikeouts with 50.


                                             The Ugly


I know the flight from Tampa to New York is usually about 3 hours long, but I can feel the tension that this one will feel like an allnighter for the Yankee team. Yankee honco Hank Steinbrenner the other day called out the players by saying “They should play like the Rays”.

I do not know where he is getting that, but I hope he means that the Rays are playing hustle, no-quit baseball with a agressive batting style.

I know that several key Yankees are hurt or rehabbing and will be aback soon, but the lack of adequate replacemtns shows the team’s farm system woes right now. The Yankees promoted two minor relievers this week from their lower  minor league squads to hasten their learning curve and hope to be a help come Summer time.

 It is going to be a long couple of months in NY until all players are healthy and their pitching situation is stabilized to suit the owner’s box.

I expect to see a few heads roll in the mean time, and I would not be putting my neck out to say, Jose Molina might not be the back-up catcher for long.  Before todays game, the Yankees sent reliever Kei Igawa to the minors to bring Ian Kennedy in for today’s game.


Former Rays Players’ of the Night:

Being that this is a early blog post, since it was a day game today, I have not gotten the finishing totals of all players in the MLB tonight.

So, with that in mind, I was thinking of just listing 10 former Rays’ players tonight and their respective teams for 2008:


Marlon Anderson                                                New York Mets

Chad Gaudin                                                     Oakland A’s starter

Doug Waechter                                                  Florida Marlins reliever

Mark Hendrickson                                            Florida Marlins  starter

Geoff Blum                                                       Houston Astros utility guy

Ty Wiggington                                            Houston Astros third baseman

Brandon Backe                                                Houston Astros starter

Damion Easley                                                New York Mets infielder

Shawn Camp                                                   Toronto Blue Jays reliever

Seth McClung                                                 Milwaukee Brewers reliever