Carl Crawford: Young Rays had Party Atmosphere, Red Sox More Conservative

Carl Crawford was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 1999 and played nine seasons for them. He signed a seven-year $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason and has struggled with his new club, posting his poorest numbers since his first season in 2002. When he returned to play his former team at Tropicana Field for the first time Tuesday night, he heard plenty of boos and heckles. He also explained a difference between the two organizations when asked to give one.

“It’s all baseball. But it’s a little different,’’ he said. “It’s more a younger team [in Tampa], so it was more like party central all the time. [In Boston] it’s a little more calmer, a little more conservative. That’s probably the biggest difference.’’

The natural reaction is to say that maybe Crawford needs to party a bit more to loosen up so he can perform the way he used to, and that could be the case. But what he said is to be expected for two reasons. First, in a city where the media and fans care about the team as much as they do in Boston, it’s difficult for players to fool around frequently; that attitude wouldn’t sit well in the community. Secondly, like he said, younger players tend to party more than older ones. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a player say a former team partied too much, and it’s implied that these athletes like the business atmosphere more. For Crawford, it would be interesting to know what suits him more.

Forearm bash to Hardball Talk

Rays Rock Pajamas for Latest Road Trip (Picture)

That Joe Maddon must be quite the character to have come up with the idea of dressing up for road trips.  While it’s nothing new for the Tampa Bay Rays, they still manage to come up with some funny themes for playing dress-up before they hit the road.  To this point, some of our personal favorites have been the funky golf outfits, the hockey jerseys, and of course the infamous BRayser.  Because of the wonder of the onesie, we may have found a new winner.  Check out the Rays pajama picture, courtesy of Mark Topkin’s Tampa Tribune blog:

The fact that the team was able to get its hands on multiple adult onesies is fantastic, but it also exposes the players who went with sweatpants and a t-shirt. You call those pajamas?  I call that something I sit around in and watch football on Sundays, not something I wear to bed.  A onesie, on the other hand, falls under the pajama category.  If the Rays had some sort of onesie source, there’s no excuse for anyone on the team to not be wearing one.

Rays Make Fan Take Off His ‘Yankees Suck’ Shirt

Truth be told, I have kind of forgotten that “Yankees Suck” is a somewhat inappropriate phrase. Seeing “Yankees Suck” written on a t-shirt or hearing 30,000-plus people chant it at a ballgame, parade, or even football game barely even captures my attention. What probably would cause me to do a double take is if I didn’t see half a dozen vendors outside Fenway Park selling “Yankees Suck” apparel and memorabilia. The Tampa Bay Rays, on the other hand, take the phrase a bit more seriously.

According to the Tampa Tribune, via Hardball Talk, a stadium official made a Rays season ticket holder remove his “Yankees Suck” t-shirt last week because they felt it constituted profanity.  I guess the phrase is profane depending on your standards, but really?  The fan, who happened to be a lawyer, objected and asked to talk to a team official but had no success. What’s scary is that this is not the first stadium where a fan was forced to remove a Yankees Suck shirt.

First of all, the shirt isn’t a big deal.  They tried banning them at Fenway once and realized it would be impossible so they have since let it go.  Secondly, this is Tampa Bay we’re talking about.  They don’t exactly have an easy time selling tickets down in St. Pete, so if a fan walked in with a shirt that said “F*** you” on it I’d probably turn my cheek if I worked there.  Do you want to have a G-rated environment or do you want butts in the seats?  Most often in professional sports, you can’t have both.

Rays Support Navy SEAL Team 6 with Shirts on Road Trip to Baltimore

Since Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday, several baseball teams have taken steps to honor the military. The San Diego Padres wore their camouflage uniforms and gave free tickets to service men and women, the Dodgers offered tickets to the military for the month of May, and the Mets donated 4,000 tickets to military personnel. Those were all awesome actions, but the coolest show of support may have come from the Tampa Bay Rays, no surprise.

The Rays, who have themed road trips thanks to manager Joe Maddon, got specially made shirts that support Navy SEAL Team 6 — the same group that carried out the bin Laden mission. Check em out:

Those were pretty awesome, but I still say nothing compares to their sweet BRayzers plaid blazers. Here are pictures of their other themed road trips and custom made shirts for comparison:

Thanks to JB Long and Dawn Klemish for the pics and NESN for the story

Super Sam Fuld Super Hero Cape Replaces Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Day

The way Manny Ramirez left the game of baseball is a disgrace. How someone could be stupid enough to fail a drug test twice — especially when it’s well-known that the league has cracked down on testing — is beyond me. Then again, we’re talking about Manny Ramirez.  Manny retired from baseball as a cheat and a quitter, but that’s not the real tragedy.

The most devastating aspect of Ramirez’s abrupt departure from the Rays is that he took Manny Ramirez bobblehead night away from the fans in Tampa.  Naturally, the team has to give something away on a scheduled giveaway night, so they made a move to the bullpen.  The image to the right is what the Rays will be giving away on May 29 — a Super Sam Fuld Super Hero Cape.  Wow.

Fuld looks like he could have a good year with the Rays.  He’s off to a hot start, batting .313, and is exciting to watch on the base paths with six steals already.  That being said, he’s 29 years old so I doubt he’s the next Ted Williams.  In fact, even if it were Ted Williams super hero cape giveaway night the idea would still be lame.

I hope there aren’t any fans out there who bought a ticket for May 29 solely to get their hands on a Manny bobblehead.  If so, they’ll likely demand their money back when they catch wind of the replacement.

Tampa Bay Rays New Body Suit Mascot Sunny Just an April Fool’s Joke

The Tampa Bay Rays played an April Fool’s joke on their fans for the season opener at the Trop on Friday, announcing that mascot Raymond had retired. The Rays then announced that a new mascot named “Sunny” was taking over, and they let loose the body-suited man who freaked out the fans:

No surprise for anyone whose April Fool’s radar was on high alert that this turned out to be a hoax. Body suit Sunny was funny for a night, but I think far too many people would have missed the antics of Raymond, which include fun stuff like this and this. However, no one can argue that Sunny didn’t do his job of getting the fans going:

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Tampa Bay Rays 2011 MLB Preview: Back to Square One

Previewing the 2011 MLB season, we’ve already named the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox the top World Series favorites. We’ve already looked at the NL Central and NL East and this week we will analyze the AL East teams not based in New York or Boston, starting with the Tampa Bay Rays; Tuesday: Toronto Blue Jays.

The Rebuilders: Tampa Bay Rays

Off-Season Moves: This off-season was one that dramatically changed the makeup of this team. The Rays lost left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Carlos Pena, and closer Rafael Soriano to free agency. Those three were “replaced” by outfielders Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (both pictured at left), first baseman Casey Kotchman and rightie Kyle Farnsworth, none of whom represents anything other than a downgrade. The Rays also traded away shortstop Jason Bartlett and right-hander Matt Garza, each for a number of players who likely won’t factor much into this season.

Strengths: Despite losing Garza (15-10, 3.91), the rotation looks to be the strongest aspect of this year’s Rays. Leftie David Price (19-6, 2.72, pictured below) is the staff ace and a bona fide superstar. Price will likely be followed by righties James Shields (13-15, 5.18), Jeff Niemann (12-8, 4.39), Wade Davis (12-10, 4.07) and Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 3.47). That rotation doesn’t have a single player over the age of 30 and an average age of 25.6. Those five had a combined 3.96 ERA last season, which would have been good for 12th in the majors and first in the division.

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