Quick Hit: On last night’s Red Sox-Rays game

By now, I think most agree that by the letter of the rulebook, the call involving last night’s ground-rule double is the correct one.

However, by the spirit of the rulebook and the game, it was the wrong one. Why? Because ultimately it rewarded the Red Sox for a bad play.

Obviously there’s nothing that can change that the call last night was wrong, and regardless of what happens it won’t help the Rays, but the rule should be changed.


The Tamtreal ExRays are a ruse

You may have seen by now reports by Jeff Passan that the Tampa Bay Rays have received permission to “explore” the possibility of splitting time between the Tampa area and Montreal. The report says that should the plan come to fruition and get the necessary permissions, the team would play some games in Tampa in a new stadium, and some in Montreal in a new stadium.

It’s not gonna happen. There are so many things wrong with this plan that it almost certainly has been made and an agreement to “explore it” has been approved as part of a greater ploy to try and speed up a final resolution on the future of the Rays in Tampa, encourage the future of baseball in Montreal, or both.

I mean, whatever reason could there be for this plan? There are, as I said, so many things wrong this plan:

  • It supposes that St. Petersburg would let it happen, which they won’t.
  • It supposes that somehow they’ll be able to have two cities build new stadiums for a team they’ll only have half of the season.
  • It supposes that this team that is split between two cities in different countries will somehow get any sort of large amount of fan support.
  • It supposes that the Player’s Union will agree to have players on the ExRays to have to maintain in-season residences in two different cities in two different countries, staying away from their families and/or moving them mid-season, while dealing with different laws, languages and tax codes. Spoiler alert: They won’t.
  • It supposes that TV deals, sponsorship deals, and other business considerations would be able to be worked out.

And the list goes on…

So why are they doing this? Well, it seems simple: this plan is meant to either A) finally get someone in the Tampa area to build a new stadium or B) grease the skids for a move to Montreal.

Will it work? Time will tell.

30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): What is Raymond?

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I reveal the truth about one of the AL East’s mascots- Raymond of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Below you can see Raymond, the mascot of the Tampa Bay Rays:

You may be thinking that, given the fact that he is the mascot for the Rays, that he would be a Ray. You would be wrong. It turns out that he is NOT a Ray.

Here’s some information about Ray from Tampa’s website:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 8.02.56 PMDo you see the relevant thing, here?

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 10.23.35 AMYes, he is, apparently, a “seadog”. However, according to Wikipedia, there is no such thing as a seadog. Oh, it’s a slang term for seals, or for people (or dogs) that spend a lot of time at sea, but there is no such thing as a sea dog. Nothing of the species Canus Manta Whatthefluffalus. In fact, there isn’t even a genis called Canus. There is, obviously, Canis, which is where dogs are, but Canus (Latin for “aging”) does not.

So, what is it, Tampa? What is Raymond? What scientists truly discovered him? Could he be… (GASP) a mere man in a suit!?!?!

Tell us the truth, Tampa. We know you are hiding something.


(Blogathon ’16!) On the Joe Maddon Head

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

In front of the TV in my bedroom, for reasons not fully known, there is a piggy-bank in the shape of Joe Maddon‘s head. It looks like this (apologies for the crappy smartphone picture):

CZ0U2kRUUAEASFa.jpg_largeI received it from a relative who found it at a Goodwill store or something like that, but where did it come from? How did it come to be?

I did some research, and found the truth: it was once a stadium giveaway in Tampa in 2011. It was given out on May 1 vs. the Angels (this game), and went to the first 10,000 kids under 14:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.54.43 AMHowever, there were, according to Retrosheet, only 16,248 people in attendance that day. Were there 10,000 or so kids and only 6,000 or so adults? Did they just give them out to everybody? We may never know.

We also may never know how this, a bank in the shape of Joe Maddon’s head, got to upstate New York. I’d like to imagine it had crazy adventures, traveling the country with it’s fellow TV-situated souvenirs, a Buck O’Neil bobblehead and an even-more-inexplicable San Diego Padres-era Adrian Gonzalez statue.

Or maybe somebody just went on a vacation to Tampa, brought it back up, and didn’t want it anymore.

I prefer the first possibility.

At 7 AM: Related To Somebody Famous For Something Else

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.


“30 Teams, 30 Posts”: Musings and Mysteries on Evan Longoria’s cap commercial from 2010

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, I remember Evan Longoria’s chase for a lost cap.

The year was 2010, and Evan Longoria had his hat stolen. A wild chase ensued, as he pursued the cap-napper across the Tampa Bay area (presumably), doggedly hunting to get his cap back.

It was all covered in a New Era commercial:

I’m not sure why this has stuck with me. Maybe it’s because, like almost every other commercial, it got spammed ten thousand times during the 2010 season. Or maybe it’s because of the many mysteries within it:

Like, how did the guy steal his hat to begin with?

It appears from the very beginning that the cap-napper had his cap from the very beginning. You never see him grab it. You never see it in Longoria’s possession to begin with. Clearly, we are either not seeing a few crucial seconds, or there is something very wrong with Evan Longoria and he merely was looking for an excuse to chase a guy through the city.

What’s so special about that cap?

It looks fresh out of the box, it doesn’t look like it’s been used or would have any sentimental value. And, I mean, jeez, the Rays must have like hundreds of them. And why was he wearing his cap out and about on the town, anyway? It’s his work uniform. Do you see football players walk around with their helmets on? Do you surgeons walk around in full scrubs?


Why does he abandon that bike?

I mean, jeez, just dropping it like that on the streets? Somebody could run over it or trip on it or something! And did he steal it? Because, uhm, I’m not sure if hijacking a bike is justified when chasing a cap-napper.

Where are the old people?

There are lots of elderly individuals in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. You don’t see any of them in this. What strange world does this commercial take place in?

Why would he jump out of a helicopter?

Yes, I know it was actually a stuntman, but how could any person be that reckless?!?! Yeesh. What were you thinking, Evan?

I believe that Longoria did get his hat back, but we may never truly know. Maybe he has been hunting for his cap ever since 2010, and the one we’ve seen play is merely a duplicate that he created so he can continue to pursue justice.

Or something like that.



Action and Reaction, Winter Meetings, Part 1

Throughout the Winter Meetings, I’ll react to the acts that are going on in Baseball.


Reaction: I saw Lidge pitch once when he was with Houston. It was the year after he’d had his soul eaten by Albert Pujols, who sent a go-ahead home run in the NLCS so far into the night that I believe one of the Mars rovers recently discovered it. He got the save, if memory serves, but it was during one of the down points of his career. You see, Lidge was a player who was either lights-out or a heart attack waiting to happen, great one year but not-so-great the next, and injury-prone often (he mentioned on MLB Network this morning that he’s had 9 surgeries over his career). Overall, however, he had a good career, and as he retires he goes out with 225 saves, two All-Star Games, he played a role in a combined no-hitter against the Yankees,  a World Series ring and appearances in two other World Series.


Reaction: Oh, Alex Rodriguez. It never seems to end for him. With every successive year, his contract with the Yankees becomes even more of a albatross, and as his body breaks down and production decreases, it’s also becoming clear that the one saving grace the Yankees might have had- the attention that would come when Rodriguez could break Bonds’ HR record- is highly unlikely.


Reaction: And so it begins for the Tampa Rays, who many- including me- think will be a big mover-and-shaker at the Winter Meetings.They have an excess amount of good pitchers. Everybody wants good pitchers. And the Rays aren’t the market where they are able to sign lots of guys to long-term deals once they get expensive (with the exception of Evan Longoria, of course). To flip a pitcher could be a prudent move, for the right prospects. James Shields is the most likely to be dealt, but there have been on-and-off rumblings about David Price for about a year and a half. James Loney, meanwhile, seems like the type of guy who could turn out to be a shrewd move for the Rays. He had an off-year in 2012, but a rebound could give a good new cog to the Rays’ lineup.

Non-Baseball Action:

Reaction: Others might have been more deserving, but it is hard to argue with a MVP, a league title and an Olympic Gold medal.

Keep an eye open for more Action and Reaction throughout the Winter Meetings.

Long-Term Deals: The Way to the Future

Two things caught my eye this morning, and while on first glance you would think they aren’t related, in fact they may be tied together.

The first is an article by Jeff Passan on how the money involved with regional sports network deals, such as the one the Dodgers are expected to take that will be between $6 and $7 billion dollars, are going to widen the gap between the rich and poor in baseball.

The second is the news that Evan Longoria has signed a $100 million dollar extension with Tampa that will keep him with the team until as late as 2023, depending on options.
How are these connected? Well, in a word, the events of the first article will probably lead to us seeing more deals like the Longoria deal of the second article.

Consider: the bubble of money that Regional Sports Networks will bring the big market teams- amounts of money that not even revenue sharing will dent all of that much- will make it extremely hard for teams to keep top free agents from leaving. A team like Tampa will just simply be unable to outbid, even on a good day, one of the top markets. While of course there will be some exceptions such as “hometown discounts” and big markets botching negotiations, the fact is that the best way for a smaller market to keep talent will be to make sure that they never leave in the first place. The way to do that? Sign them up early, and sign them up often.

Longoria, for example, had already been signed to a contract extension early in his career, before he became his MVP self. That was a deal extremely kind to the Rays. This second deal is more in line with Longoria’s value, but is also good for the Rays (at least in the short-term), since it means that he won’t be leaving.

Longoria’s deal is just the latest in what has become a trend… but expect it to become the norm as time goes on.

An Eyewitness account of Evan Longoria’s setback

So, I was at the ballpark last night. Evan Longoria was in town with Durham on a rehab assignment- having injured his hamstring earlier in the year. I’ve seen him before in the big leagues, but the chance to see a ballplayer on a rehab assignment in the minors is something you should never pass up: you can see them far closer for far cheaper. Why, you can get close enough to realize they have begun growing more facial hair.

Good thing I went last night, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen him at all.


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Red Sox vs. Rays: Saturday Nights Aren’t Right for Fighting

A lot of people read my take on Friday night’s yelling match between the Rays and Red Sox coaching staffs, and how I (along with ESPN’s Buster Olney and Mike Greenberg) thought it wasn’t over. It still might not be. But thankfully, last night was not one for fighting, but rather a fine pitching duel between David Price and Josh Beckett, that ended with a unexpected walk-off home run by Jarrod Saltalamacchia that sent the Red Sox from being a 2-under-.500 afterthought in the AL East to another one of the AL East’s five (out of five) teams at or above the .500 mark. Will it change the Red Sox season and send them barreling into the mad fracas that is the main hunt of the AL East? I don’t know. One game usually doesn’t make that much a difference, but it felt like the Red Sox got off the mat last night.

Watching the game on FOX’s “Baseball Night in America” (one of the few weeks of the year where FOX’s Saturday game is in primetime), it felt like it was the Rays’ game. The Red Sox kept messing up: missing cut-off throws, leaving runners in scoring position and making it seem like the Rays were winning by several more runs than they actually were. Which may explain why Dick Stockton took a second to actually say the words that the Red Sox had just won the game after the homer, like he couldn’t believe it himself until he had a few seconds to let it sink in.

They will be playing again today, as Jeremy Hellickson meets up with Clay Buchholz. It will be interesting to see what kind of game will be if. It’s close, it will be more like the Saturday game, unlikely to be too heated in any way but the play on the field. But if one team gets a big lead, I worry that it will end up more like Friday, and we could see some ugliness rear it’s head.

Red Sox, Rays, and a Friday Night Fight

So, during the 9th inning of Friday’s game, the Red Sox and Rays had basically the most heated bench-clearing in the history of baseball that did not feature a single ejection.

It all started when longtime Boston enemy Luke Scott, noted by many for his good career splits against the Red Sox (he’d been with the Orioles before this season) and calling Fenway a dump a month or so ago, was clearly targeted during the 9th inning Friday night. The first pitch from Franklin Morales was 97 MPH and behind his back, the next two were inside, and the final pitch finally hit him. This was, as an ESPN article points out, the third time in three games that Scott was hit by a Boston pitcher.

(more after jump)

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