Friday, December 28, 2007

Tinker to Evers to run, run, run

The walkway to the press box at the Florida Citrus Bowl is about five or six stories above the field and provides an excellent view into old Tinker Field, the baseball stadium last used by the Orlando Rays, an old Double A team in the Rays organization.

The ballpark, which opened in 1914, sits next to the football stadium, used Friday for the Champs Sports Bowl between Michigan State and Boston College.

I am a big fan of old baseball stadiums, something not shared by the members of the Rays pitching staff.

“I hate that place,” former Rays pitcher Rick White once told me.

Now I know why.

It is 425 feet to center field, which meant pitchers doing their normal pre-game running from the foul line to center field had farther to run at Tinker than any other park they encountered.

Understand this about pitchers: They hate to run.

White compared running wind sprints at Tinker Field to the hallway scene in the movie “Poltergeist.”

“The outfield never ends,” White said. “You just keep running and running and running.”

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You know Schilling has an opinion

For baseball to really clean up its act it is going to take more than the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs and more than Congress to get after commissioner Bud Selig. It’s going to take the players themselves.

On Wednesday, Boston pitcher Curt Schilling fired the first salvo at New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, whose use of the illegal human growth hormones was detailed in Mitchell’s report.

Wednesday, on his blog “,” Schilling fired away at Clemens as both a major league pitcher and a baseball fan. Here are some excerpts.

If Clemens can’t prove his innocence:

“If he doesn't do that then there aren't many options as a fan for me other than to believe his career 192 wins and three Cy Youngs he won prior to 1997 were the end. From that point on the numbers were attained through using (performance-enhancing drugs). Just like I stated about Jose (Canseco), if that is the case with Roger, the four Cy Youngs (won after 1996) should go to the rightful winners, and the numbers should go away if he cannot refute the accusations.”


“Can you separate what Barry (Bonds) is accused of from what Roger is accused of? If ... both of these men end up being caught, what does that say about this game, us as athletes and the future of the sport and our place in it? The greatest pitcher and greatest hitter of all time are currently both being implicated, one is being prosecuted, for events surrounding and involving the use of performance enhancing drugs. That (stinks). ... The sport needs fixing.”

It will be interesting to see if other players join Schilling’s crusade.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rays Maddon steps up to the plate

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon will never be confused with Joe Torre, at least not right now anyway, but Maddon was a Hall of Famer on Tuesday afternoon at the Salvation Army in Bradenton.

Maddon bought more than $1,900 worth of food for three days of what he called his Thanksmas. He served dinner for the homeless and less fortunate in Bradenton on Tuesday, and was scheduled to serve lunch at the St. Vincent DePaul’s soup kitchen in St. Petersburg on Wednesday afternoon and dinner at the Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa on Thursday night.

Maddon has thought about doing something like this since his days as a coach with the Anaheim Angels. His daily bike ride would take Maddon past the beach where he would see the homeless.

Maddon said he always thought if he had the chance to do something he would. Now that he is a major league manager, which gives him a platform of sorts, Maddon decided to feed as many people as he could.

He and a handful of Rays staffers served dinner to nearly 300 people Tuesday.

It’s great when professional athletes, coaches and managers take time to give something back to the community that supports them. Maddon not only purchased the food, it was his recipe that was used in making the 1,500 meatballs and the sauce.

The dinner was a hit – spaghetti, meatballs, salad and cake. One diner wanted to know if the meal was from the Olive Garden.

Another offered Maddon this praise:

“The quote of the night,” Maddon said. “He told me I’m a better cook than manager. I took that to mean I’m a really great cook.”

Well, in Maddon’s defense, he had better ingredients to work with Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

If there's room in the hall for O'Malley, why not Miller?

I have this thing about baseball owners and the hall of fame. I don’t think either should mix.

Baseball owners, as a whole, are a lot not to be trusted, holding up cities to build stadiums for their teams, raising ticket prices so their bottom-line doesn’t suffer, feigning interest in fans as long as it pads the coffers.

Former Dodger owner Walter O’Malley was just elected to the hall of fame largely because he moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles and opened the sport to the entire country.

Never mind that he ripped the soul out of a Dodger-crazy community like Brooklyn.

O’Malley quickened the arrival of the expansion era, which made millions for millionaires.

What a pioneer.

Here’s another pioneer who should have a plaque in the same hall: Marvin Miller.
The executive director of the players’ union during the advent of free agency changed the game just as much as O’Malley.

OK, we could have done without the strikes, but the player movement Miller fought for helped spread the wealth of players around both leagues.

That Miller’s work came at the expense of the owners means he will never have his name enshrined in Cooperstown, and that’s a shame, because if there’s a spot for Charles Comiskey, whose penny-pinching ways ultimately led to the Black Sox scandal, then there has to be room for Miller, whose actions led to the players receiving a bigger piece of the pie and ensured they wouldn’t have to throw games to make a buck.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A step back for Tampa Bay's Dukes

Is there a chance Elijah Dukes could replace Delmon Young in right field for the Tampa Bay Rays?

A logical question based on Young’s trade to the Minnesota Twins and the fact the Washington Nationals don’t need a young outfielder after trading for Palmetto’s Lastings Milledge on Friday.

But Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman has been non-committal on that, and here’s why: Dukes went off again.

His angry outburst with a home plate umpire and subsequent ejection during a game with Licey in the Dominican Republic on Thursday may be viewed as a step back for the talented but troubled outfielder with a history of angry outbursts. It’s possible he could face a suspension from that league to go with the ones he served while in Triple-A.

Friedman said Dukes has made a lot of progress since being taken off the team’s active roster in June but still has a ways to go.

Now, arguing with the umpire is hardly grounds for banishment unless you are Elijah Dukes, who has been placed on notice by the Rays to clean up his act, both on and off the field.

You would think Dukes would realize this; that the privilege of playing major league baseball and being paid well to do so would be enough of a carrot. But, apparently, you would be wrong.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A good move for Milledge

Sometimes a change in scenery is all a player needs for his career to take off, and Lastings Milledge received that Friday when the Mets traded the outfielder from Palmetto to the Nationals.

Stuck behind Carlos Beltran in New York, Milledge will have the opportunity play center field in Washington.

Plus, Milledge will be playing for a couple of key members of the Washington organization who really want him. They are general manager Jim Bowden and manager Manny Acta.

Acta and Milledge developed a relationship when Acta was with the Mets.

Bowden, the former Cincinnati GM, was impressed with Milledge ever since he saw him play for Lakewood Ranch High during Milledge’s senior season.

Bowden went as far as to call Milledge “a building block,” which is never a bad thing.

Milledge played in 115 games for the Mets over the past two years.

He’ll play a lot more that 115 games this season with the Nationals, and nothing helps a young player develop like regular work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Young trade a good sign

Maybe the Tampa Bay Rays are getting serious about this winning thing.

It’s one thing to trade Aubrey Huff, the most productive hitter in team history, at the end of a contract. That’s a salary dump. Same with Julio Lugo and Toby Hall.

But Delmon Young?

The guy was supposed to be the future. The guy you could run out to right field every day and expect all-star level play.

Never have the Rays made a trade as ambitious as the one that sent Young to Minnesota on Wednesday.

But give Rays GM Andrew Friedman credit. The team needs starting pitching, and an everyday shortstop with major league experience is never a bad thing, especially when the alternative is role players like Josh Wilson and Brendan Harris.

At some point, the Rays had to trade one of their talented young players to help speed the development at another pitcher.

Matt Garza, the right-hander they picked up from Minnesota as part of Wednesday’s six-player trade, is further along than any pitcher the Rays currently have.

Jason Bartlett is an upgrade at shortstop, despite his 26 errors last season.

It’s always a risk when you trade a young talent like Young, but taking risks is how you build a winner.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Strong showing at AFL bodes well for Longoria

For those hoping Rays’ top prospect Evan Longoria reaches the big club this season, consider these numbers: 318 and 4.

They were Longoria’s batting average and the number of home runs he hit during his two-week stint in the Arizona Fall League.

The AFL has almost been a launching pad for top prospects. Boston’s Jacob Ellsbury, Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun were some of the players who played in Arizona in 2006 and the majors last season.

That those three shined once they reached the big leagues is a good sign for Longoria, the Rays' top prospect, who should see the bulk of the action at third base this spring and could begin the 2008 season as the Rays' starting third baseman while Akinori Iwamura makes the transition to second base.

And, judging by the praise from those who scouted Triple A last season, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Longoria have as much success as a rookie as Braun, Tulowitzki and Ellsbury.

Monday, November 19, 2007

MVP Props for Pena

How good was Carlos Pena this season? He garnered enough attention to finish ninth in the American League MVP voting, announced Monday.

Pena hit 46 home runs and drove in 121 runs — both career-highs and team records. Not bad for a guy who was the final cut of spring training, then brought back at the last minute to fill an injury void.

He was named on 24 ballots and was voted as high as third by two writers.

I think voting him third is a little too much, since he didn’t lift the Rays out of last place or prevent them from finishing with the worst record in baseball. But ninth?

Pena was one of the more pleasant surprises in baseball in 2006, let alone on the Rays, and there were more than a few GMs who wished they had his left-handed bat in their lineup down the stretch.

But if a tree hits 46 home runs and drives in 121 runs and has a has a .627 slugging percentage in a forrest and that tree is Carlos Pena and that forrest is Tropicana field, will anyone hear him? The answer, judging from the MVP voting, is no.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Young was good, Pedroia was better

Delmon Young had the stats, but Dustin Pedroia had the better rookie year in the American League.

Young, the Tampa Bay Rays right fielder, hit .288 with 13 home runs and 93 RBI. He was first among American League rookies in RBIs, multi-hit games, hits, and outfield assists. He was second in doubles and extra base hits, third in home runs, fourth in batting average and runs, sixth in stolen bases and eighth in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

And yet, the Baseball Writers Association of America voters, of which I am one, felt that was not enough, and here’s why. At least, here is what I thought:

Boston’s Pedroia played second base for a team fighting to win its first division title since 1995 in a city that demands nothing less. He batted leadoff for a stretch because shortstop Julio Lugo was awful at the top of the order.

Yes, Pedroia was surrounded by a hitters, but he still had to produce, and he did.
Think its easy batting leadoff for the Red Sox? I don’t.

Think it’s easy coming up as a rookie and walking into the pressure-cooker of a pennant race with the New York Yankees? I don’t.

Think its easy being a rookie for the Red Sox, period? I don’t.

Young had better numbers, but played in the relaxed atmosphere of a last-place team that is building for tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow. He goes 3-for-4 with a double, hurray. If not, no big deal.

Pedroia’s production counted today. TODAY! There are some seasoned-vets who can’t handle that pressure.

And that’s why I voted him first and Young second and Kansas City pitcher Brian Bannister third, which, as it turned out, was exactly how the voting fell.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An idea I like

I could get used to an open-air stadium and baseballs splashing in the bay just beyond the right field fence.

I could get use to a quaint ballpark on the water, shoehorned into a city street.
I could do without rain storms and the delays they bring, but a funky retractable roof-like system would do the trick.

It will be interesting to see how the Tampa Bay Rays’ plans for a 35,000-seat stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront will play out, but if everything goes as owner Stuart Sternberg plans, the Rays could be playing in their new stadium by the 2012 season.

I could get used to that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Let's see that again

Occasionally, actually, more than occasionally, you see a meeting of the umpires to sort out a call.

Was it a long foul ball or did the baseball hook around the foul pole?
Would the ball have cleared the fence had the fan not reached over and the touched the ball?

What to do?

Go to the replay.

They do in football, hockey and basketball, but baseball, as always, is lagging in the proactive department.

That might change as soon as 2009 after the general managers voted 25-5 earlier this week to recommend instant replay as a means of settling disputes on whether home runs are fair or foul, fan interference and whether the ball hit the top of the outfield wall and bounced back or bounced back because it hit something on the other side of the wall.

It’s about time. Baseball has always maintained the umpire is always right, but replays have proven they are wrong from time to time.

Replay won’t be used to clarify out or safe calls or with balls and strikes, so the game still belongs to the men in blue, but it will assist on those occasions when none of the four had a clear view of the baseball.

It’s about time baseball gets on board with the video age.

Now if they can just find a way to end those World Series games before midnight …

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pass the branding iron

Barry Bonds said he won’t go to Cooperstown for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame if the ball he struck for his record-breaking 756th home run is marked with an asterisk. I say, pass me a branding iron.

“I won’t go. I won’t be a part of it,” Bonds said in an interview aired Thursday on MSNBC.

I say, pass me a branding iron.

Marc Ecko, the guy who bought the baseball, put it to the fans to decide the ball’s fate. In an online poll, fans voted for an asterisk.

I say, well you know what I say.

Oh Bonds will show up for his induction ceremony, which will take place five years after he retires. Let’s not be silly here.

Bonds hasn’t let what fans think stop him yet, he’s not going to let them keep him out of the hall.

And the ball shouldn’t be marked in any way. His home run record is tainted only in the hearts of fans since baseball’s performance-enhancing policy has enough holes to allow someone like Bonds to keep swinging.

Still, it’s a nice idea by Ecko.

A tainted ball for a tainted record.

Boston's Ballgate

What is it with these Boston Red Sox and the whereabouts of baseballs?

They can rally from the brink of elimination in the ALCS, win a series they had no business winning and go on to win the World Series. But keep track of the ball used for the final out? Nope, that’s when they turn into the Keystone Cops.

Another World Series title, another search for a missing baseball.

Just like in 2004, the Red Sox are wondering what happened to the game ball used to record the final out in Game 4 at Coors Field.

Catcher Jason Varitek was seen tucking it into his back pocket as he ran to the mound, but he said he gave it to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Papelbon’s agent said Papelbon has no idea where the ball is.

Unlike in 2004, this ball isn’t earmarked for the Hall of Fame, though Red Sox officials would love to keep it in the family.

“I guess we’ll have another story line as we head into November,” team vice president Charles Steinberg told the Boston Globe. “I don’t know where the ball is. I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Now, if you told me Manny Ramirez lost it I would believe you. Manny has lost many baseballs, usually on the other side of the outfield fence.

Maybe the ball just disappeared into Denver’s thin air.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Can you say that again?

Did you see Boston Red Sox owner John Henry with his fingers in his ears during the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series? Apparently the Fenway Park faithful were making too much noise for J.H.

What FOX didn’t show was Colorado’s CEO Charlie Monfort. He must have been in another luxury suit with his hands over his eyes.

After his team was swept by the Red Sox in a series they were in for all of about two innings, maybe three, Monfort told reporters in Denver that the Rockies were still the better team.

“You give us 10 games against them, we’ll beat them in six,” he said.
Give the Rockies this: they might have proved Monfort right – if the series were a best-of-11.

Unfortunately, Charlie, after someone loses four times the series is over, and your crew seemed to be in a hurry to go home.

I don’t see how the Rockies would have won the next six if there were a next six, but, hey, you are the owner.

Friday, October 26, 2007

BC, "The Office" and Game 2

Some musings on Game 2 while wondering if the Taco Bell exec who came up with the idea of giving away free tacos across America on Tuesday will have his job on Wednesday …

- Nice promo by Taco Bell, giving away free tacos if a player stole a base during either of the first two games. Think we can get Chevy to get on board with that idea?

- The box FOX uses to track pitches in or out of the strike zone is confusion because there are two boxes. The smaller one, I assume, is the actual strike zone. If so, then why the second box?
Also, is it me or do the real pitch and the ball in the tracker appear to take different paths?

- Can they please have Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca miked for the rest of the series? I want to hear more from him and less from Joe and Tim.
He didn’t say this Thursday night, but during an interview with the Denver Post before Game 1 Apodaca summed up the Red Sox lineup this way: “Big, hairy-chested guys, one right after another.”

- Is there anyone who follows baseball and doesn’t know Boston reliever Hideki Okajima doesn’t look at home plate at the end of this delivery? I don’t think so, not with the amount of times the Red Sox have been on national TV.
Time for Tim McCarver to drone on about something else.

-I would rather have Mike Lowell playing third base for my team than Alex Rodriguez, especially in October.

- Where exactly did Matt Holliday think he was going before being picked off first base to end the top of the eighth inning?

- Think the Mets wish they still had second baseman Kaz Matsui? I do.

- What should Boston manager Terry Francona do during Games 3 and 4 with no designated hitters allowed in the National League park?
Easy. Sit David Ortiz.
I would rather put the best defensive team on the field at the sacrifice of some offense.
If the Red Sox start teeing off on Colorado pitching they won’t need Ortiz, and if it's another low-scoring game, they will need Kevin Youkilis’ defense at first base.

- For those who stayed with the game at 9 p.m., you missed a good episode of “The Office.”

- For those who stayed with the baseball game and didn’t see the end of BC-VaTech, you missed a heck of a comeback.

- For those who stayed with the baseball game until the last out, you need to get some sleep.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thoughts on Game 1

Some thoughts Wednesday while waiting for the Rockies show up for the World Series …

- How do you make a team wait eight days to play Game 1 of the World Series? So that was Colorado’s reward for sweeping the NLCS. Sit at home for a week and cool off before playing the biggest baseball game in franchise history. Bud Selig, you’re doing a heck of a job.

- How tough is Josh Beckett? It think Travis Haffner struck out three more times Wednesday.

- The Red Sox are only dangerous when they have two outs. Until then, if you’re a Rockies pitcher, you’re fine. They scored an incredible 11 of their 13 runs with two outs.

- The Devil Rays must love the fact the AL East standings are listed on the bottom of the Green Monster. Every time a ball hits off the wall or FOX shows a play at second base from the first base camera you see this: Tampa Bay 66-96 30 games out of first place. Great season, boys.

- Why, FOX analyst Tim McCarver wondered, was Beckett still pitching in the seventh inning? Here’s why: Because he was still playing catch with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

Beckett is the best postseason pitcher in baseball right now. He’s 4-0 this October and his ERA actually rose to 1.20 after allowing one run Wednesday.

For his career, Beckett has three postseason shutouts and is 2-0 with a shutout when pitching in Game 5s and his team trailing 3-1.

-Would it have been too much to ask the Rockies to wear their traditional road jerseys? I mean, it was only Game 1 of the World Series. They may have felt lucky wearing their purple tops, but come on, how about a little respect for the event.

- I think Manny Ramirez is the best player in baseball, and I think he always knows what he is doing, and I wish to heck he played left field for my team.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Heard a rumor today that the Colorado Rockies are going to the World Series.
“Can’t be,” I said. “When did that happen?”

While we were sleeping.

Got to hand it to Major League Baseball, no one can bury the best baseball story in years like Bud Selig and his crew.

You think this would happen in the NFL? No, because every playoff game is on TV — either in the afternoon or in primetime.

But in baseball, they bow to the networks, farm the National League out to TBS and set first pitch sometime between Leno and the time your newspaper hits the doorstep.

So, unless you are a transplanted Rockies fan, are a fan of late-night TV, work the 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift or wanted to stay up to the wee hours of the morning to see Yorvit Torrealba and the lads become the first team since the 1976 Reds to win seven straight postseason games, then you were out of luck.

It wasn’t enough that they denied a generation of kids from watching postseason baseball. Now they’re coming after us.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A dip into the past

Dave Martinez made enough of an impression during his two months as a coach in spring training and the first three weeks of the season when he filled in for injured first base coach George Hendrick that Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon hired him Thursday to be the next bench coach.

Martinez spent 13 years in the game as an above-average right fielder who hit .276.
His major league resume will be a plus with the current Rays players, as will Martinez’s approachable manner.

But don’t overlook Martinez’s roots with the organization.

He was the right fielder in the Rays very first game and delivered the very first hit in team history to start a three-year stint with the organization.

Maddon asked Martinez and Fred McGriff to work with the team last spring, hoping that having a couple of former Rays around would influence the current crop of Rays.

Don’t laugh. Martinez was never part of the problem during the early years.

In fact, he was one of the few players you could point to an actually say, ‘This guy is legit.”
Playing hard every night for a last-place team is no easy trick, but Martinez was one of the few who actually did just that.

That type of attitude can only help the 2008 Rays, who will be young and inexperienced and who will struggle to negotiate their way through a 162-game schedule.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blame Joe? Don't think so.

And so we say goodbye to Joe Torre, a good man who deserved better.

At least that’s if you believe George Steinbrenner’s latest edict: Beat the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series or Torre goes.

The New York Yankees lost.


That’s three straight first-round flameouts for those counting.

In 12 seasons, Torre went from being thought of as one of the greatest managers in baseball history — four World Series titles in five years — to the next Bobby Cox, a manager good enough to get his team to the postseason but no farther.

Maybe the Yankees need a change at the top. Maybe Torre’s message has grown stale in the clubhouse.

Or maybe he’s been saddled with old pitchers who break down in October and talented players who are lousy when it counts.

The Yankees won in the late 1990s not because they had the best players but because they had the right players.

They didn’t start falling short in the postseason until they started fielding a team full of All-Stars.

Now, whose fault is that?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

September rest equals October blasts

For those of you who think wins in April have very little meaning I offer you these two words: Manny Ramirez.

The Boston Red Sox’s strong start to the season built enough of a lead that manager Terry Francona was able to rest his star left fielder for 24 games in September while Ramirez recovered from a strained left oblique.

Even with the division lead dwindling by the day and the New York Yankees coming on strong, Francona was able to resist the temptation of playing a less-than-100 percent Ramirez.

Yes, the play of rookie Jacoby Ellsbury allowed Francona the luxury of resting Ramirez. Still, you had to wonder what would have happened the Yankees actually caught the Red Sox. Would Francona have continued to keep Ramirez out of the lineup or would the pressure to win outweighed common sense?

Didn’t matter, because the Red Sox lead never dipped below 1.5 games, thanks to all those early season wins.

And look at how well Ramirez played against the Angels in the ALDS.

Looks healthy.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Curses, Chicago style

Cub fans must be comforted in knowing Carlos Zambrano is well rested for Game 4. Now, the trick is getting to a Game 4.

If the Cubs don’t beat Arizona Saturday, Zambrano will be well rested for the spring training opener in March.

Such is the downside to manager Lou Piniella’s decision to pull Zambrano after six innings in a 1-1 game Tuesday after his workhorse of an ace threw only 85 pitches. Zambrano averages 109 pitches per start, so you figure he had plenty left in the tank.

Piniella’s reasoning: He wanted Zambrano fresh for Game 4. Sound thinking, maybe, if the Cubs had a big league Tuesday or if they won Wednesday to split the first two with Arizona.

They didn’t.

Carlos Marmol replaced Zambrano and allowed a home run to the first batter he faced for the winning hit in Arizona’s 3-1 victory. The Diamondbacks then pounded the Cubs 8-4 on Wednesday.

Now the Cubs' season is on the line Saturday, and Zambrano has yet to be a factor.
Cub fans expected something absurd would derail their dreams of ending a 99-year World Series championship drought. They just didn’t expect it to happen seven innings into the postseason.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Farewell to a foot soldier

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays unceremoniously said goodbye to one of the best guys in all of baseball Monday when manager Joe Maddon informed bench coach Bill Evers that his services weren’t needed next season.

Evers had been with the team since October 1995, serving the first 10 years as a minor league manager then the last two as Maddon’s bench coach.

The white-haired grandfatherly Evers had as much respect among the players as a coach could get, especially from those who played for him at Triple-A Durham.

Former Ray Aubrey Huff always called Evers “Skip,” and Huff was deeply moved when his walk-off home run to beat the Marlins in 2006 came with Evers as the acting manager that night. The win went on Maddon’s record, but the players knew it belonged to Evers.

He is a baseball lifer, a foot soldier in the game.

You would see him in spring training after a game talking to some player destined for another year in the minor leagues. Their conversation would end with Evers asking the player if he learned something that day, and when the player nodded yes, Evers would say, “See? You’re a better ballplayer today than you were yesterday. Let’s see if we can make you a better ballplayer tomorrow than you are today.”

Then he’d give the player a wink, pat him on the back and move on, leaving the kid feeling better about himself.

Baseball thrives on coaches like that.

It’s hard to think the Rays can possibly be better off without Evers in their organization.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Long live the green

Last home game of the season Thursday night. Last time to see the Devil Rays in those green uniforms.

Too bad, too, because that’s one of the few things the organization has done right in the first 10 years.

The greenies have a couple of things going for them: They are professional, look cool when the Rays wear the sleeveless jerseys and are unique to the major leagues.

The Oakland Athletics are the only other team to wear green and they play on the West Coast, so who ever sees them?

Sadly, the Rays will switch uniforms to blue next season, a shade somewhere between navy and royal.


Add the Rays to the blue crew and that will make 16 major league teams that wear some shade of blue.

Way to stand out.

The change in colors and logo is another attempt to distance this ownership from the Naimoli reign.

Here’s another: Win.