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.

Rain Postpones Game 5, Forces Rays to Switch Hotels and Move to Delaware

There are a lot of people whose shoes I would not like to be occupying at this time. The list pretty much starts and ends with the big wigs making the decisions behind the scheduling of the MLB playoffs, e.g. the executives at FOX and the executives of MLB. They already started one World Series game at 10pm Eastern Time over the weekend, all but eliminating the young fan base, and now they’re being jammed up by the weather in Philadelphia. There might be some things I would have done differently, but there’s no question that they have tough decisions to make and no clear solutions. Additionally, two people whose jobs are less than enviable at this moment are the travel directors for both the Phillies and the Rays.

As ESPN was going into its 3rd hour of “live from the dugout weather report” following Monday Night Football, several contributors mentioned that the Rays had to switch hotels and move to Wilmington, Delaware. The team had anticipated that Game 5 would be played Monday night and that the Rays would be returning to Tampa win or lose, so they had checked out of their Philadelphia-area hotel. Having the game postponed by rain meant the team would have to spend at least an extra night in the city. The hotel they had been staying at already sold out the rooms they had been occupying, so according to several ESPN commentators, the Rays had to move hotels to one in Wilmington. Unfortunately after phone calls to several Wilmington-area hotels, I was unable to confirm these reports. Either that, or the woman at the Marriott who said she couldn’t tell me if an entire group was there but could tell me if individuals were checked in was trying to hint at something. Too bad I didn’t have the Rays’ hotel aliases handy.

New Rays T-Shirt Proclaims Dominance Over Boston Red Sox

Not to get ahead of themselves or anything … but …

It takes a lotta balls — or mohawks — to put together a t-shirt proclaiming something so bold. And you know, the Rays made me look bad for making them my W.S. pick after the Divisional round was completed. Everything they did well against the White Sox they failed to do against Boston — play solid defense and get clutch hits. They had Dice-K on the ropes and couldn’t come through, and Crawford misplayed that ball in left field. I have a feeling they have a ways to go before they can go around making such claims. Thanks to Home Run Derby who discovered the shirts at the Rays online shop, and Ballhype as well.

Female Rays Fans Now Getting Bikini Waxes to Show Their Mohawk Support

I’ve never been much of a mohawk fan, going back to the 90s when it was making a bit of a run. That aside, I’m a fan of team-building activities. I was on a squad where we all bleached our hair for camaraderie — it’s part of the fun — so I understand the Rays getting mohawks to build team spirit. Even the fans of the team started getting into it, showing up to games with new haircuts. While the mohawk is easy for the male fans to show their support, it’s tougher for the female fans. Until now. Via Deadspin and Tampa Bay 10:

It’s the second most popular style to sweep the Rays craze.

A bikini wax. Mohawk-style.

Michelle Foster of Skin Deep Spatique in St. Petersburg says she was inspired by her son’s Mohawk, “I stopped and thought about it a minute, and thought, well now everyone can have one!”

For $30, women are walking in to Skin Deep Spatique and requesting this popular style. They call it, “the special”.

When all is said and done, women are left with a female Rayhawk.

Not so sure TBS will have any crowd shots of these puppies. Judging by some of the talent at the Trop, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. Either way, that’s gotta be one heck of an ice breaker between fans at the game.