Rays Senior Prom for Senior Citizens to Become Annual Event

You’ve probably seen the Pepsi commercial where Rays third baseman Evan Longoria suggests to Detroit’s Johnny Damon a “Senior Prom for Seniors Citizens.” I never really knew what that commercial was all about, but I always thought that suggestion was as funny as the Rays new BRaysers plaid blazers. Well, the Rays took that line from the commercial and ran with it, hosting a Senior Prom for Senior Citizens last week after their afternoon game Wednesday.

The turnout was fabulous — 2,500 people showed up to participate — and as Ben Maller points out, the Rays will make the senior prom an annual event.

So what made the event special? According to WTSP, “The music and scoreboard graphics also took fans back to an older era. Boutonnieres and corsages were provided as well. Ushers dressed in tuxes and prom dresses while Elvis and Frank Sinatra impersonators entertained.” Here are a few pictures courtesy of Sharing Florida in case you missed it:

Between the Senior Prom and their weekend night club at The Trop, the Rays have to win some sort of award for creative promotions. They’re owning.

Rays Tales: Adventures in plaid [St. Petersburg Times]
TV commercial inspires huge turnout for “MLB Senior Prom” [Ben Maller]

Rays Debut the ‘BRayser’

For whatever reason, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks it’s a good idea for his team to have fashion-themed road trips.  The picture above are the Rays new “BRaysers“, which is a combination of the words “Ray” and “Blazer.”  Clever, eh?  Apparently, the fashion work was done by fashion designer Julia Alarcon with the help of Rays TV broadcaster Todd Kalas, who was also sporting a BRayser on Tuesday night.  Personally, I’d prefer to be given a rookie hazing haircut.  For whatever reason, Maddon is thrilled with the hideous jackets:

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An AL East Team Will Miss Out on a Playoff Spot

Has anyone taken a look at the MLB standings lately?  If you have, you’ve probably noticed that the power across the league is pretty concentrated.  The AL East currently has three teams — the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays — that have a better record than any other team in Major League Baseball.  The Yankees and Rays, both with records of 42-26, came into Sunday leading the division.  The Red Sox trail both teams by a game and, with a record of 42-28, would be first in any other division in baseball.

So, what’s the point?  The point is that it’s highly likely that one of the three aforementioned clubs is going to get screwed out of a postseason spot because they play in the toughest division in baseball.  When the Red Sox were swept by the Orioles in mid-April, I wrote that they were in serious danger of burying themselves before the season even really got underway.  I also sounded off on David Ortiz, who at the time was batting .158 with 0 home runs and 2 RBI.  I’m not sure if he got a hold of some of those Flintstones chewables that gave him his power before or what, but Big Papi has a pulse.  All of a sudden the Red Sox DH is 6th in the AL with 15 homers and is batting a much-improved .263 with 45 RBI.  He’s a huge reason the Red Sox, who came into the season preaching “run prevention,” are leading the AL in runs scored.

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Tampa Bay Rays Show Their Support For Chicago Blackhawks

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is known for his themed road trips. In the past, Maddon and his players had Miami Vice,  Western attire and even a Johnny Cash themed trip. But this time Maddon thought it would be appropriate to do an NHL theme because the team was headed to Toronto to play the Blue Jays while the Stanley Cup Finals were also going on.

Originally, the Rays players were just going to sport whatever hockey jersey they could find. (I can’t imagine that would be an easy task in Florida.) But luckily Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, a Chicago native, has a nephew who works in the Chicago Blackhawks ticketing department. He was able to pull a few strings and the Blackhawks offered to send jerseys to anyone who wanted one.

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Fan Jukes Four Security Guards

When a Philadelphia Phillies security guard Tasered a fan for running onto the field at Citizens Bank Park a couple of weeks ago, it apparently did little to strike fear into the hearts of prospective field-rushers.  Actually, a fan tried it again at the same ballpark the following night and was not Tasered, so maybe security guards have been told internally not to do that again.  In any event, fans continue to jump onto the field at baseball games — with less clothes on.  Perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays security team should have used a Taser to subdue a shirtless fan who ran onto the field on Saturday.  It would have at least saved them the embarrassment of making the fan look like Reggie Bush from his Heisman Trophy days.  Four security guards chased the fan and of course were able to tackle him, but not before he put a highlight-reel move on them that caused one to hit the turf.  The funny thing is the security guards don’t even appear to be in terrible shape.  Check out the video of a shirtless fan juking security guards, courtesy of SI Hot Clicks via Busted Coverage.

SI Hot Clicks
Weekend MLB Streaker Report: Shirtless Rays Fan Jukes Jacked Up Tampa Security Forces [Busted Coverage]

David Price Victim of Rays’ Goals for Long-Term Success

David Price is such a baller that I made the case for him as ESPN The Magazine’s “NEXT” athlete over Matt Ryan, Joey Logano, and Ricky Rubio. Hard to go from calling him the next greatest pitcher in baseball to seeing the Rays option him down to Triple-A to start off the season. So if this guy already proved he’s the goods by nutting up huge in October, and if the Rays are serious about repeating as AL East champs, then why would they send potentially their best pitcher down to the minors to start the year? The Rays argue that they want to see Price develop more command of his fastball and better pitch efficiency. Whatever that means. I’ll tell you what they really mean.

The Rays are doing something the Yankees never would have the discipline to do — they’re taking it slowly with a player. For the Rays, most of the decision has to do with the economics of the game. Sure, in there eyes it probably can’t hurt Price to work on a few more things at a lower level but I imagine they all know he’s ready for the big time. The bottom line is that Tampa is trying to build a team that can achieve long-term success, not just be a one year wonder. And you don’t achieve long-term success by bringing guys up earlier than you should nor by starting their league service time clock earlier than needed (because it brings players that much closer to free agency). Lastly, and this is probably the part most people don’t realize, the Rays are handcuffed by Jeff Niemann and that’s why Price is suffering. Niemann was the team’s first-round pick, 4th overall in ’04. Since the 6’9″ right-hander is out of options, they have to give him a crack at the final spot in the rotation before they just let him go. Niemman’s a guy who went 17-0 his second year at Rice. They know he could be a gem. They’re not just going to let him walk for nothing, so might as well see what he can do because they could end up with some excellent trade bait that will only make the team stronger in the long run.

In the meantime, poor David Price, though he seems as ready as a pitcher can be, must grit through another April in Durham. He’ll be up with the club in no time and hopefully it won’t be too late for Tampa by then. Think long-term, Rays fans (however few you may be), and have faith in your team’s front office.

Why Wasn’t David Price in Earlier?

Look, I’m not saying that the Rays would have won the game otherwise, and I’m certainly not saying that the Phillies didn’t earn the World Series title — they did. But if there’s one issue I have with the way Game 5 finished out, it was that David Price didn’t enter the ballgame until it was too late. I know there were some complexities because the pitcher spot was due up 4th in the top of the 7th for the Rays, so you had to realize that whichever pitcher started the 6th would probably be lifted for a pinch hitter afterward. Funny thing though: J.P. Howell relieved Grant Balfour in the 6th and wound up batting in the 7th (he put down a sacrifice bunt) anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: whenever possible, I always want to lose with my best available pitcher on the mound. Plain and simple.

People in Boston get upset about Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in too long against the Yankees back in ’03. I still say I’d rather lose with Pedro on the hill than some chump like Mike Timlin, you feel me? Even though David Price is extremely young, he has the best stuff of anyone that was available in the Rays pen in Game 5. To me it’s a no-brainer who you trot out there — you go with your best pitcher — David Price. What’s the worst thing that could happen? A veteran like Pat Burrell touches him up for a home run and they lose 3-2? How is that any worse than Geoff Jenkins beating Grant Balfour, Pat Burrell beating J.P. Howell, and Pedro Feliz beating Chad Bradford, in that order? Even after the double to Burrell, how don’t you put Price in there to try and get the critical strikeout so that the runner isn’t moved to third base with less than two outs?

I hate to nitpick here, but it’s no secret I was pulling for the Rays so it just bothered me seeing Joe Maddon handle his staff differently from the way I would have. And just so you know I’m not a results-oriented Monday Morning Quarterback, I thought Maddon mismanaged the 8th inning of Game 7 against the Red Sox pulling Garza too early and bringing Price in too late there too, it just happened to work out that time.