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Manny Ramirez: Tampa Bay Rays Get What They Deserve

There will not be a Chicago reunion tonight for Manny Ramirez, who played for the White Sox in the final two months of last season. He decided to retire after he reportedly tested positive for steroids.

Ramirez will face criticism for bailing out on the Rays and being busted for steroids.

That’s fair, but let’s not express sympathy for the Rays, either. They knew what they signed up for with Ramirez.

This signing did not make sense. For one thing, he tailed off last year when he did not produce for the Dodgers and the White Sox.

Second of all, he is 38 years old, so to expect him to give the team anything was short-sighted.

They were better off signing Vladimir Guerrero, who is playing well for the Orioles. They wouldn’t be in a mess on offense if he were there.

The Rays hoped he would be decent enough to get base hits, but he couldn’t even do that.

He finished his Rays career by going 1-for-17. Now, that’s ending a career with a whimper.

Something was up when Ramirez did not play yesterday afternoon. He took a personal day in the Rays’ 5-1 loss to the White Sox. That came after he was benched in Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Angels at Tropicana Field.

Maybe something should have been up when Joe Maddon benched his petulant player.

The thought was the Rays manager wanted to find someone that can provide a spark on offense, but it turned out he and the organization knew about what was going to happen with the troubled player, which is why he did not play.

The news shouldn’t affect the Rays. They won’t miss him. After all, he was doing nothing. If guys are affected about the news, shame on them. They should concentrate on how to snap out of their hitting slump.

Ramirez’s departure should help them, actually. This means the Rays don’t have to see Johnny Damon’s follies at the outfield. He would be the team’s everyday designated hitter, and that would mean Sam Fuld would play every day.

At least, Fuld would give them better offense than Ramirez would. He is one of only few hitters who is producing for the Rays.

It is a good thing this happened now, rather than later. Eventually, if Ramirez continued to be a bust, he would have been a pain in the rear end.

He would have started acting defiant, and he would not run out groundballs. He would be a bad influence on the team’s young players.

It turned out he became a problem child right out of the chute. He used steroids with the hope he would be productive.

If he was caught, he could walk away from the game, and that’s what he did. It says a lot about his character.

He could not care less what he did. He has always been himself, if one looks at his narcissistic act in Cleveland and Boston

Just because he claimed he was a new man in his introductory Rays press conference, it didn’t mean he was going to live up to his word. 

At one point, he was going to pull this act. The thought was he was going to do this in June. It turned out he did it early this year, and that wasn’t surprising.

This was not going to end well one way or another. If anyone thought it would be a fairy tale ending, that person was delusional.

Either he was going to force his departure or the team was going to release him in May after a poor performance.

His departure should be viewed as a matter of indifference. Let’s hope the national media doesn’t publicize this.

There are other athletes worth talking about than a guy who was an embarrassment to sports.

As for the Rays, they should be criticized for taking this risk. When no teams made a concerted effort to sign the guy, that should have been a sign that he was not worth it.

This move was all about the Rays front office trying to show they know more baseball than others.

Make no mistake. If Ramirez panned out, they would be the first to tell everyone how they knew he could do things.

Don’t rip on Ramirez for what he did. That’s par on the course for him.

Put the criticism where it really belongs, which is on Andrew Friedman for experimenting on Ramirez.

They reap what they sowed with this failed experiment.

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MLB: Lack Of Hitting Haunts Tampa Bay Rays

So much for the Rays being a playoff team.

After watching them in this homestand, they showed why they are 0-5. They feature no hitters that scare the other team. It’s not surprising Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Jered Weaver and Dan Weaver had their way against them.

These fives games are not an aberration. This should be expected. After losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena this offseason, their lineup was not going to better. This will be their downfall this season.

Go ahead and talk about how it’s early, but it’s not going to change the fact that these hitters are not impact players.

The Rays hoped Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon would provide the offense, but that hasn’t worked out so far.

Ramirez was benched in today’s ballgame and he won’t be playing tomorrow. One hit in 16 at-bats forced Joe Maddon to bench him and try someone else.

Maddon claimed he was giving his player a breather, but don’t buy into that claim. If Ramirez was hitting the ball well, he would be playing today’s game.

Damon has become more of a blooper reel. He can’t hit and his defense has been brutal. He had a calf injury the other day, so that won’t help matters.

The Rays knew what they were getting in Ramirez and Damon, who played like they were washed up last year by not putting good numbers at the plate. To expect them to bounce back in their late 30s was crazy.

For what those two accomplished in the majors, they deserve a chance to get it together. If they don’t by the end of May, the Rays should release both of them.

If Desmond Jennings showed he is ready to play in the majors now, Damon wouldn’t have been signed. The Rays prospect should start playing by June, so that way he can learn on the job and get it over with. It makes sense to play him with this likely being a lost year for the organization.

The Rays are relying on Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Dan Johnson and Ben Zobrist to make an impact as everyday players. That’s too much to ask. Most of their players are nothing more than utility players at best.

Since those guys had limited at-bats last year, it was easy for them to produce. Their increased playing time will increase their deficiencies and it is showing now. They are not hitting past the infielders and they tend to ground out or strike out.

Brignac and Rodriguez maybe better than they are protrayed, but it doesn’t seem like it.

This organization has not done much to develop hitters or draft hitters. They are paying for it now with what is going on.

Last year, they struggle to hit as it is with these guys. How are they going to get better? They had enough at-bats to prove themselves, and it hasn’t panned out.

The Rays hoped their starting pitching would help them win these 2-1 or 3-2 games. It hasn’t happened. The starters have done a good job with nothing to show for it.

It’s a flawed thinking to expect starters to win games by themselves. It never happens. Pitching and defense wins championships, but that becomes meaningless if the team can’t hit.

The Twins starters pitched well in 2005, but they lost games because they couldn’t hit. At least they had an excuse, with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau learning on the job as major league players.

The Rays don’t have that type of player right now. Brignac and Rodriguez are relatively new at their jobs, but those two will not be confused with Mauer and Morneau.

At some point, this is going to wear on the starters. It’s not fair to expect them to pitch perfect. It won’t be long until the pitchers start calling the hitters out. It’s human nature to be frustrated.

There are going to be people blaming Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton for this problem, but he is only as good as hitters make him it out to be. People can talk about Joe Maddon tinkering with the lineup, but that’s what happens when he has nothing to work with.

Everyone thought the bullpen would be the problem. That hasn’t been the case. If anything, the relievers have done a good job.

It’s the hitting that’s been the team’s achillies heel. It’s hard to think it’s going to get better. Facing the AL East teams, the hitters will be exposed and that means more losses on the horizon.

It was easy to see why people pick the Rays to win 84 games when the season started. They thought the hitting would be decent. It turned out they may have overestimated the hitters.

The lack of hitting not only will not make the Rays a playoff team, but it could mean 84 losses.

They are on pace to do just that.

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New York Yankees: Mark Teixeira Dumps Scott Boras, Shows He Is All About Himself

Typical Mark Teixeira.

He wants everyone to congratulate him for dumping Scott Boras. He approached as a newsworthy moment. He acted like this was a noble thing to do.

It never ends with Teixeira. He acts like he invented the game of baseball and he wants people to marvel every move he makes.

It gets annoying.

There is nothing worse than a guy acting self-important, and Teixeira does this all the time.

He claimed he dumped Boras because he was tired of people knowing him as Boras’ client rather than be a baseball player.

If that is not being self-centered, then what is?

First of all, no one is interested in his reasoning. No one cares.

Second of all, it’s funny he talks about it now. Where was he when Boras helped him land lucrative contracts throughout his career? He’s being disingenuous by citing his association with the super agent as his cause him to move on. He didn’t complain when the money was coming to him.

This is about his being protective of his image. Obviously, he cares about what people think of him. That type of stuff belong to high schoolers. Professional players should just do their job and keep quiet.

There’s no need to go promote themselves for something they do.

It’s funny, Tex found religion about his image. He is the one that brings all of this on himself and now, he’s blaming Boras for bad association.

This sounds like he wants to pass the buck rather than looking at the mirror. He should try that. This is a guy who likes to educate people about the game.

He treats the local media as if they are dumb. He gets defensive when he deals with the tough questions.

He whines about getting hit by pitch often. This is a guy who loses his temper when that happens. He intentionally injured Angels catcher Bobby Wilson by ramming through him after getting a hit by pitch last year.

Remarkably, Teixeira sounded indifferent about the whole thing when asked about it. He did not even bother calling him.

Actions define what a person is about, and too many times, Teixeira comes off looking bad. For him to blame all of this on Boras, it’s absurd. It’s up to the individual to conduct himself in a proper manner.

This is not the first time he had those problems. He’s been like that with the Texas Rangers. He was sensitive to criticism over there.

When Ron Washington had the courage to call him out, he was pouting to the point it affected his play.

The Rangers had no choice to trade the moody player. He became a bad influence to the young players, and he took the life out of that team with his complaining.

The Rangers have done well without him. They hired players with character and it was good enough for them to go to the World Series last year.

Yes, Teixeira won a championship two years ago, but it’s easy to go play for a team that buys a championship every year. Besides it’s not like he was doing anything in the postseason two years ago.

The fact the Rangers won without him was not lost on him. Maybe that inspired him to change his agent and reinvent himself.

If he was serious about changing his image, he shouldn’t have gone out and made a news conference out of it.

If he is going to be serious about this, he should be stoic to the media from now on. He’s better off anyway because he adds no insight to his quotes.

We’ll see how Teixeira conducts himself from now on. It’s hard to think he’s going to change. No one ever changes. It’s one thing from a kid to grow up at some point, but when a man is set in his ways, there’s no reason to think he will change.

This is why it’s odd he would dump Boras. What good does it do?

He means well by citing his reasoning to dump Boras, but that’s not going to do much. It’s up to him change his ways.

Also, fans worry about him hitting a baseball. They want him to get over his April slump that haunted his career. If he does that, no one will care if he is a jerk. It seems Teixeira is too worried about what people think of him. If that’s the case, he does not mean well at all.

He has to do this based on his heart. If he is really serious about this, he has to show it.

We are going to see how he does this year. He can’t keep coming up with excuses to justify his actions.

By firing Boras, he put the attention on himself and that’s the way he likes it.

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Rays Baseball: Ownership Change Will Happen Not Contraction

New York Daily News scribe Bill Madden mentioned the Rays being a candidate for contraction in the last couple of weeks.

It’s hard to believe that’s going to happen. For one thing, the Rays have a long lease and St. Petersburg could sue the organization and baseball for breaching the contract. Second of all, the players union will not allow that.

That puts a kibosh to that theory. Still, there are questions to be raised to what’s going on.

It’s not a secret Rays owner Stu Sternberg hasn’t been happy about his stadium situation. He has been talking about his proposals for a new stadium, but the politicians have not bothered looking through it.

With unemployment at a ridiculous rate, politicians feel they got other things to worry about. It’s hard not to respect that, even though it’s hard to believe they can do anything about it.

This does not sit well with Sternberg. He knows the team does not draw well because fans don’t want to make that long drive from Tampa to St. Petersburg. He feels his team will benefit by playing in Tampa.

Sports owners are in this to make money and Sternberg is no different. If he is not making money, he must be asking himself what’s the point of owning a baseball team. It’s bad enough that the Rays are losing money, but when no one goes to see a good team, that’s just discouraging.

The Rays owner isn’t happy about letting his players go to big-market teams. It had to hurt him to watch Carl Crawford sign with the Red Sox. He knew it was hopeless to even sign Crawford to an extension.

He doesn’t want to have that feeling after awhile. He can only take so much of his best players leaving for greener pastures.

At some point, one can’t help but think he wants out. It could happen. With the Mets having ownership problems, he could convince Bud Selig about selling the Rays and buying the other New York baseball team.

Sternberg is a New Yorker. He lives there and he grew up as a Mets fan. It would be a perfect marriage.

He would embrace being the hero that saved the Mets.  Don’t think that hasn’t escaped his mind.

Why else would he be planting the seed to a New York baseball writer? He may not even directly say it, but he has his guys telling the New York media about his intentions for the Mets.

He hasn’t exactly given an endorsement about his commitment to the Rays. He has said nothing, so that should tell folks something.

It will be interesting to see how all of this works out in the end.

If Sternberg is really interested in the Mets, he should pursuit that opportunity. There’s no point being around if he is not interested in being the Rays owner.

Either he should be committed to the Rays or just orchestrate the sale. He can’t have one mind on the Rays and another mind on the Mets.  That doesn’t work.

It’s hard to fault what Sternberg wants to do. If his heart isn’t in it, that’s fine. There’s just no point in having an owner around if he is tired of doing business here.

He will give it a try to get this straightened out. The politicians will try to make something work out, but if this continues to be a problem, he’s moving on.

He is not going to keep losing money forever. He is not going to want to market a team that draws no one.

He did all he could to market the team, but it hasn’t worked out so far.

The Rays at least drew well so far in spring training. That’s a positive, but the problem is no one wants to go to Tropicana Field on a hot and muggy day. Baseball has been meant to play outdoors and it’s not going to happen soon in Tampa.

There’s no right solution to this. Sternberg is not going to care. He either wants his new palace or he will exercise his option.

The business of sports can be so cruel when blackmailing is part of this.

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Tampa Bay Rays Hope Castoffs Can Help Them Contend

The Rays are finding a unique way to go to the playoffs this year.

They are relying on castoffs from their offseason moves. They feel those guys can help them contend for a wildcard spot with their core players.

It’s an interesting move. It could work out, but it may not work out.

Either way, give them credit for trying to make something out of nothing this offseason.

The Rays signed Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez few weeks ago. They were introduced to the Tampa-St. Petersburg media today.

Watching them talk, they talked about proving to others they can still play. That’s what happens when guys are trying to salvage their careers.

Those two are proud men. They don’t want to leave on a bad note, so that attribute can serve them and the Rays well.

They have fine intentions, but there’s no guarantee it will work.

Signing Ramirez was a questionable move. He wasn’t great last year and he did not give the White Sox any boost on offense last year. He was an automatic out and he seemed disinterested about playing for them when they acquired him in the summer.

He was striking out often and he couldn’t hit the ball past the outfielders in his time with Chicago.

The Rays were better off signing Vladimir Guerrero as their designated hitter. Now, they can still sign him and play Ramirez at left field. The problem with that thinking is Ramirez can’t play on the field anymore. His knees can’t keep up anymore, as anyone who saw him run last year knows.

Plus, if things don’t go well for Ramirez, he could brood and take plays off. When a guy ages, it’s tough to be the player he used to be. If he can drive in runs and take good at-bats, consider this an accomplishment.

As for Damon, he struggled at the plate last year. Despite having a good on-base percentage, he couldn’t be a difference-maker on the base paths. He wasn’t hitting either. His defense left a lot to be desired, especially when he throws to the cutoff guy.

Maybe playing in his hometown will rejuvenate him. He always talked about how he wanted to be with his family and how he is in a good frame of mind being around them.

Again, the Rays have to hope this works out.

If nothing else, this move gives the Rays an insurance in case Desmond Jennings struggles in spring training. Maybe it pushes the prospect to work hard so that he can make the team.

The Rays did it right by not giving the job to him outright without earning it.

The Rays also signed Joel Peralta, Casey Kotchman, Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Delaney and Matt Bush.

Bush will be in the minors. Kotchman and Delaney will get a shot to make the team. The Rays hope to get something out of Peralta and Farnsworth.

Kotchman has showed he is no better than Dan Johnson.

Farnsworth gives up hits like giving out free candy. It will be surprising if he takes Balfour’s spot or Benoit’s spot. He could do what Randy Choate did last year, which is being a situational reliever.

Peralta has the stuff, but can he be consistent? Delaney is a project.

These moves are the best the Rays can do. For a small-market team, it’s hard to expect them to retain all of their stars and get a premier free agent. Still, the Rays should have kept Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler, but they apparently thought those two did as well as they could.

It’s hard to understand the trade of Matt Garza. He is the type of starter that can win 12 games with his stuff. He can be inconsistent, but in big games, he delivers. To lose that type of starter, it’s unfathomable, especially when he has several years to go on his contract.

It could be easy for them to do nothing and throw this year off. Most small-market teams tend to do nothing when the window of opportunity is closed.

Now, these moves will not lead them to a championship, but at least they get their customers interested of what could be.

With Ramirez, anything goes. He will either do something stupid or he will get folks talking with his bat. He became a folk hero in Boston with his bat, despite his odd behavior.

With Damon, his all-out play will get fans interested.

With the relievers, they are either going to work out or they are not. The Rays fans will be interested to see if the new relievers can be as good as last year. They will certainly be interested to know who will the closer and if that guy can do what Soriano does. Either it’s going to be J.P. Howell or Jake McGee.

The Rays have become relevant to the public and to the AL East with these moves. Players have something to play for. That’s something at least.

Whether the moves works, that’s another story.

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Sternberg’s Cult Followers Need To Deal With Reality

Stu Sternberg developed a cult following. Certain people think his management team can do no wrong.

This is not to suggest Sternberg ordered his followers to write a fluff piece on the Rays. People don’t hold him accountable for his blunders such as breaking up the team or calling out fans indirectly for not going to games.

Despite the fire sale, the Rays owner has them believing the Rays can be a wild-card team. When the Rays signed Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon over the weekend, the cults were in propaganda mode. They mentioned the signings will make the Rays as good as last year.

Let’s get real here. The Rays will do okay, but expecting them to win 87 games is crazy.  When a team dumps this many valuable players in the offseason, it’s hard to expect replacements to get it done.

Signing couple of washed-up players is not going to improve the offense. If Damon and Ramirez were any good, they wouldn’t be playing for the Rays. The Rays hope to get something out of those two, but its unrealistic. Now, if they signed Vladimir Guerrero, then it’s okay to get excited.

The starting rotation will do a fine job, but they are going to have to be perfect to win games. That’s too much to ask. They are going to be involved in 2-1 or 3-1 games often, and if the offense can’t provide run support, they are just not going to win them.

If the Rays want to be taken seriously as playoff contenders, why did they trade Matt Garza? That’s all anyone needs to know.

People argue Jeremy Hellickson can replace Garza, but that’s wishful thinking at best. First of all, Hellickson is going to go through growing pains in his first full season. Even if he does a good job, it would have made sense to keep Hellickson and Garza together. It gives the Rays a better chance of winning games.

Garza also provided insurance in case Jeff Niemann got hurt again or James Shields stunk for the third straight year.

If the Rays had their way, James Shields would have been traded, but he has no value right now. They needed to get some prospects to build around in the future, so Garza offered more value.

It would have made sense to trade Garza this summer in case other teams wanted him. With teams desperate to add pitching, they might have been prone to give up a lot more to get Garza.

The Rays have several questions to answer about their bullpen. Most of the relievers are gone. It will be a group of new people filling in. The pen was the team’s strength last year, but that can be a weakness next year.

For one thing, who is their closer? Replacing Rafael Soriano’s 45 saves will not be easy. The Rays knew he would get the save when he was out there in the ninth inning. He never had a bad game. He was confident enough to get it done.

Being a closer is not easy. They have to handle nerves, especially on the road. This is a challenge the next closer has to face.

J.P. Howell could close, but there’s no guarantee he can be healthy. The Rays have to wonder if his arm is effective enough to pitch after the surgery.

Jake McGee has the stuff to be a closer. He throws strikes and his velocity is in the nineties. Still, could he handle the role in the ninth inning? There’s no guarantee.

That’s just part of the issue. The Rays also need to build a bridge to the closer. It was easy when Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and Joaquin Benoit did it last year. Those four won’t be replaced early.

The Rays are going to rely on Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth in relief, signing the two in the offseason.

Signing Farnsworth was a bad idea. He’s proved he can not be reliable over the years. He will blow games, and he will get hit hard. Joe Maddon would be wise to use him as a situational reliever.

Peralta has to be consistent if he is deemed reliable.  It’s hard to gauge what he can do until he shows it. At this point, he might be a guy that pitches in the seventh with McGee and Howell handling the eighth and ninth innings respectively.

The Red Sox are the team to beat in the AL East, but the Rays will have to contend with the Yankees, Blue Jays and the Orioles. That’s a tough task.

The Jays are good enough to contend for the wild-card this year. They have the pitching and their hitting will continue to improve.

The Orioles boast their infusion of young players, and they finally have a manager that knows what he is doing in Buck Showalter. They have the pitching and the offense to do damage. They are on the upswing.

This year is not going to be easy for the Rays. It’s not going to be bad, but there are too many questions to think this team is going be a playoff team.

If the Rays fare well the first two months, they can change people’s perceptions.

Sternberg and his management team can brainwash others all they want, but it does not change the fact this team has questions to answer.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Let’s Commend Cliff Lee For Doing What’s Right

Cliff Lee decided the Phillies were the best fit for him and his family.

Didn’t see this one coming. Everyone thought Lee would be a Yankee. After all, players never reject money from the Yankees. This would not suit the Players’ Association well if they did.

The Yankees were led to believe Lee wanted the money and lifestyle. They assumed he would take a page from CC Sabathia and go for the money.

When Lee signed that extension, it was shocking, awesome, and hilarious. It was a great day in baseball when the ace rejected their overtures.

One can only envision what Goon was thinking. He beamed with joy. He praised Lee’s character. There’s no question that pitcher is his favorite player for doing the right thing.

Good for him. There’s no reason to be mad at him. He did what was right for himself and his family. His wife did not like anything about New York, especially with the way she was treated in the playoffs.

There’s no point in having him if he does not want to be there. The Yankees experienced this with Carl Pavano, and it did not go well after his first start with the team. Plus, he did them a favor. No team should be overpaying a starter for seven years, especially when the guy is hitting his thirties.

It was clear he wanted to stay in Philadelphia all this time. He wasn’t happy about being traded in the first place last year. The Phillies traded him because they didn’t believe he would sign with them.

Apparently, that team was on his mind all year. He pitched well for the Mariners and the Rangers, but that wasn’t enough for him to be happy. He was hoping he would be traded to the Phillies during the trade deadline. The Phillies tried to get him but it never happened, so they settled with acquiring Roy Oswalt.

It was interesting Lee took his time to make a decision. This writer thought he would stay with the Rangers. He had every reason to stay. They were going to pay him well. That’s a team that is going to be a powerhouse for the next seven years. There was no pressure to win. Plus, Arkansas is an hour away from Texas.

Those were good selling points, but it came back to wanting to go back to Philadelphia. He enjoyed it over there. He loved the fans and he loved his teammates. He enjoyed being around Charlie Manuel, who is a player’s manager.

He hoped the Phillies somehow were in the race. If they were, he’d sign on their dotted line.

No matter how much money Brian Cashman offered, it wasn’t going to be enough. In life, money doesn’t mean happiness. Lee applied that theory well.

It was clear he didn’t want the grind of playing in New York. He didn’t want to be in a situation where winning was a relief. For him, he needed fun. He has it in Philadelphia.

Good for him. It’s about time a baseball player did something different. Lee did something others won’t dare to do. They were tempted by the almighty dollar or the lure of the Yankees.

He sacrificed all that money just to be on a great team. He showed he wasn’t about himself. He didn’t need to be the man or deal with the attention of being a Yankee.

The Yankees got what they deserved here. They had no backup plan. They did not do their homework on Lee. They should have focused on other players while they were focusing on their prized recruit. No one should feel sorry for them.

It’s amusing ESPN wasted their segment focusing on what the Yankees can do. It’s doubtful baseball fans care one way or another. Even Yankees fans are not worked up on that.

Now, the Yankees have to do it the hard way. That is developing pitchers. What a novel concept, right?

This should be a good thing. It’s time they learned getting a pitcher to sign with them is not easy as they thought. It’s never a guarantee they can trade or hope to get that guy. After the Lee experience, they should know better.

They shouldn’t be so sure that Lee is an aberration. In baseball, players are competitors. Most of them either stay or go to a team where they can make a difference. They don’t join a team where they take the easy way out.

Lee’s decision could be a trend. Players can realize they don’t have to be a Yankee to be a winner. They can join other teams. They can win while being comfortable.

Baseball should be proud of what Lee did. Now, small-market teams don’t have to fret about their core players going to the Yankees. He set an example that being a Yankee doesn’t have to validate a career. He also set an example where guys can be content without much money.

It’s rare the Yankees get shut out in this type of situation. We always hear how players want the money, and how they love the lifestyle of New York. Yankees fans have been smug and arrogant forever.

This also means the Yankees are not going to win a championship this year. The Red Sox and the Rangers are the two best teams in the American League.

The Yankees don’t have the pitching. Their hitting has gotten older. It’s hard to believe Cashman will make moves that will make them better. Their prized prospects are overrated too, so don’t expect them to make a difference.

Now, there’s no guarantee Lee will have success in Philadelphia. The Phillies look like an aging team over the last two years. Most of their players are hitting at the wrong side of 30. Lee was better off staying in Texas.

Lee is going to try to win a championship and be happy at the same time. If he falls short, don’t expect him to lose sleep over it. He’s content in being happy, and making sure his family is happy.

This is what sports should be about. Too many times, there is too much talk about how it’s important to be a champion to validate a career. Lee doesn’t need that. He pitched in the World Series in the last two years. He will try to get one more next year, but he’s not going to think of himself as a failure.

He doesn’t need to be a champion like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Sabathia need to be. He’s not going to apologize for it either.

It would be a nice story though if he won a championship in Philly. It would show the Yankees he didn’t need them to be a champion. Here’s hoping that happens.

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Tampa Bay Rays: Don’t Discount Stuart Sternberg Bailing Out

Don’t Discount Sternberg Bailing Out     For all the anger Carl Crawford received for going to the Red Sox, fans should wonder about Stuart Sternberg’s intentions as the Rays owner.

Sternberg talked about having a fire sale in spring training, and he let everyone know he wasn’t kidding. The Rays are having their fire sale by letting all of their free agents walk, and Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and James Shields are going to be traded most likely.

It’s not a secret the Rays owner is not happy about the sparse attendance at Tropicana Field. He complained about how he needs a new stadium for the franchise to be successful. He talked about losing money in the last few years.

After letting his players leave the team as free agents, one wonders if he is going to want to do this again in a few years. This couldn’t be fun for him. He did not buy the Rays for the sake of selling off his prized players.

When he bought the team in 2005, his intent was to make them a first-class organization. He brought in baseball people. He spent money in refurbishing the Trop. He did all he could to make the organization as fan friendly as possible.

The Rays had success on the field, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t translated well in attendance. The franchise only draws well when the Yankees and the Red Sox are in town. That’s it. Other than that, it’s empty for other games.

This writer befriended a gentleman named Joe Dobrowski on Facebook this summer. At the time, he was trying to get Rays fans from Facebook and Twitter to read his Rays columns on Baseball

Dobrowski suggested Sternberg is out to punish the fans and the public. At first, it was a crazy suggestion, but after this, it’s rational thinking. The Rays owner spent all summer talking about how he was not getting what he wants. Now, Rays fans are paying for it in that fire sale.

By letting everyone go, there’s no reason for fans to go to the games anytime soon. It’s hard to get everyone excited when a franchise can’t keep up with the Yankees and the Red Sox long-term. Fans are not going to throw their hard-earned money to an organization that conducts a fire sale every few years.

The Marlins fans have never forgiven the team for having a fire sale in 1997.  The Marlins had an opportunity to build a fanbase after they won a championship. They could have created a dynasty, and fans would fill up the place. Unfortunately, Wayne Huizenga was not happy about losing money, so he dumped his well-paid stars to other teams. The franchise suffered at the box office.

That’s something for Sternberg to think about it. There’s no question he has to run a budget, but when he failed to make an effort to sign Crawford to a long-term extension, there has to be sinister reasons to it. Is he trying to destroy baseball in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area altogether?

It’s remarkable fans and the Tampa-St. Petersburg media are not angry at Sternberg. He deserves to be called out for his actions. It was despicable when he complained all year about new stadium and having a fire sale. He never talked about how great the team played.

One wonders if he wants to move the team to Connecticut. After all, he is a New Yorker. He lives in New York. He would like New Yorkers to root for a third team in that area. 

By citing the lack of attendance,Sternberg can complain to Bud Selig about wanting to move the team. Don’t think that has not crossed his mind.

He can forget getting a new stadium in Tampa or anywhere else. For one thing, he has that long lease at St. Petersburg. It’s going to hard to break that up. He would deal with lawsuits if he ever thinks about getting a new stadium in Tampa. If he gets a new stadium, it will have to be in St. Petersburg. But that’s wishful thinking now. 

There’s no reason for politicians to fund him a new stadium. Not when people are out of work. Not when there is no team to field. Not when more players are departing in another few years.

Sternberg knows this. He’s not stupid. He did not become a wealthy owner on Wall Street for nothing.

This may sound like a conspiracy theory, but it’s interesting how he never made an effort to sign Crawford all year. He did sign David Price and Evan Longoria to extensions few years ago, but that’s when he thought he would build momentum for a new stadium.

Don’t think Longoria and Price do not know what’s going on here. There’s no reason for either of them to sign extensions after this. They are not going to want to play for an owner who lost interst.

It’s a lost cause. Sternberg knows it. Why else he is not making an effort to reach out to the Rays fanbase? By going after the public, he is not doing himself any favors. He may not do it directly, but his actions are doing it for him.

At some point, people need to take a hint here. Sternberg is not having a fire sale because it’s the business of baseball. He’s making a profit by collecting revenue sharing from the Yankees and the Red Sox.

He does not feel he should use the profit to keep the players. That’s wrong. That’s not how an owner should treat his fanbase. Those folks may not go to the games, but at least, they watch the team on television. They travel to places when the Rays are on the road.

The Rays are going to be fine. They have a great management team. They will be competing for the AL East in two or three years, but again, the cycle will continue. Sternberg will continue to moan about attendance and the stadium.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the New Yorker has his eyes on owning the Dodgers. After all, that team is having an ownership issues with the McCourts going through a divorce. Neither seems interested in owning the team.

This could get Sternberg in play for that team. Of course, he has to sell the Rays first, but Selig can take care of that. After all, the commissioner arranged Jeffrey Loria to buy the Marlins from John Henry, who bought the Red Sox. It can be done where MLB can own the Rays.

If MLB owns the Rays, say good-bye to baseball in the Tampa-St.Petersburg area. Just ask the fine folks in Montreal. The sport bided its time with the Montreal Expos until they found a city that can support Major League Baseball. The Expos bid adieu to Montreal when they discovered Washington D.C. was the place for that franchise.

As soon as Sternberg gets the Dodgers, look for Andrew Friedman, Matt Silverman and Joe Maddon to join him. Not only they are chums, but they wouldn’t want to be part of this mess.

This fire sale should raise questions about the Rays future. It wasn’t an accident.

Go ahead and get mad at Crawford, but Sternberg deserves more of the outrage than a player who was in the organization for 10 years.

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Carl Crawford’s Decision To Sign With Boston Has Tampa Bay Rays Fans Seeing Red

In Game 2 and Game 4 of the ALDS in October, Carl Crawford received cheers from the Rays faithful. It was an appreciation for his service as a Ray. They knew he had played his last game at Tropicana Field. The Rays never made an effort to re-sign him, so they understood if Crawford left.

Crawford should soak all of that in. It’s hard to believe he will get a standing ovation when he returns to the Trop in June. After he made his decision to sign with the Red Sox, he will be booed.

The Red Sox are the last team the Rays fans wanted him to sign with.They were okay with him being an Angel or a Ranger. Anyone but the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Crawford thinks he did the Rays fans a favor by not signing with the Yankees. He doesn’t understand they hate both the Red Sox and the Yankees. They don’t like it when Red Sox fans and Yankees fans invade the Trop. 

Judging by the reaction of Rays fans on Twitter and blogs today, it wasn’t pretty. Most of them think of him as a traitor and a bad guy. People wish him failure as a member of the Red Sox. They choose to forget what he did in his tenure as a Ray.

From this perspective, Crawford should be called out for being a mercenary and for taking an easy way out. Rather than play for the Angels, he is playing for a team that will buy a championship every year. It’s getting old seeing homegrown players bail out on their teams and move on to the Yankees or the Red Sox. That’s not right.

Yes, those players want to win a championship. No one is begrudging them, but they should try to be the solutions for their own team rather than jump ship. That’s the problem with professional athletes. They want to have it easy.

No fan likes seeing players leave for greener pastures. It’s one of their pet peeves in sports. This happens too often. Is it any wonder why there is no bond with fans and players? There are too many defections in baseball. It goes back to the days when Curt Flood won his rights to be a free agent.

It’s no wonder why small-market towns have low attendance in baseball. There’s no point going to games when homegrown players come and go.

It wasn’t just the fans that expressed outrage. Several members of the Rays were disappointed that Crawford decided to go to Boston. They did not like the thought of him beating the Rays often. They thought he would do the right thing and play for the Angels. 

That’s fantasy, and in sports, that never happens. Elite players want to get paid and play for a championship. Going to Boston presents the best of both worlds for Crawford.

As good as the Angels are, they may have a tough time to win the division. The Rangers are still the team to beat in the AL West. Most of their players will be returning, and they have a great core of young players that can play together for the next seven years. Crawford did not want to take that risk.

It’s hard to blame him, but it would have been nice if he decided to be a difference maker for the Angels. Sports should feature great competitors not joining the other team if they can’t beat them.

Rays fans were led to believe Crawford would be a Ray. After all, he is soft-spoken. He is not the type of guy that likes to to deal with scrutiny. He never talked about what’s it like to be a big stage.

That’s the problem with assuming. Folks deal with five stages of grief. They deal with denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

For the Rays, they probably are in the acceptance stage. They knew the gang would be gone in the offseason . Rays owner Stu Sternberg mentioned that many times this season. That’s why their one-and-out postseason was hard to accept

For the fans, they have reached the anger stage now. They were in denial when rumors broke out Crawford made his decision. It won’t be long until depression comes. Acceptance should come when exhibition games start.

Fans will be into baseball, and they will worry about how the 2010 team will work out. When Crawford makes his return, then the anger will break out.

This is the same fanbase that booed several Rays this year. B.J. Upton heard it a lot whenever he struck out. The fans let Dan Wheeler have it after bad outings. Even James Shields was not immune to it.

Winning has brought people to teh games. There is interest now. Those fans watched Crawford enough to know what he meant to the team. They are not going to be happy seeing him beat their team too often.

It’s easy to rip fans, but they are emotionally attached to the team. When a player leaves to their team’s rival, it’s like a player spitting on someone’s face. There is a reason why Clevelanders are angry at James. They felt he disrespected them by making his decision on national television. They thought he took their loyalty for granted.

Now, fans should not get caught up in sports. They should view it as entertainment, but that’s easier said than done. When fans are paying money and investing their time in the team, they want players and management to appreciate them.

It’s understandable for fans to act that way, but that’s not reality. Players are out for themselves. They have their own goals, and that’s making money, winning championships and taking care of their family. Management is all about the bottom line. If fans understand that part of it, they would be better off.

It’s surprising to see Crawford receive that vitriol. Hopefully, everything settles down. The best response would be not giving him any reaction.

There’s no point booing him. It’s crazy to be mad at him. It’s one thing for Clevelanders to boo LeBron James, who had the audacity to tell them on national television he was talking his talent to South Beach. The former Ray played for the organization for 10 years. That’s a long time.

Booing the guy would be showing love. He would get the attention that he doesn’t deserve. It’s okay to root for him to fail. After all, he is playing for a rival, but there’s no reason to go this far.

It would not make the fanbase look good by booing him. Rays fans receive flack for not going to games. Why make it even worse by behaving badly towards a guy that did so much for the community?

It’s time to move on, and support the new group of guys. Let Crawford be a distant memory.

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Forget Hall of Fame for Steinbrenner and Martin

The late George Steinbrenner and the late Billy Martin did not receive much votes by the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee. This sounds just right. They didn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame at their first try.

In fact, they shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame period. Neither did anything special to earn that honor. It’s hard to believe either of them will be there.

Steinbrenner did nothing to merit being in the Hall. He caused damage to the sport by escalating salaries, and he basically destroyed the chances of small-market teams to win championships. He created the divide between small-market teams and big-market teams when it comes to revenue.

If that wasn’t enough, he was suspended by baseball couple of times. He made illegal contributions to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign, and he hired gambler Howard Spira to find out about Dave Winfield’s charities.

He tarnished Spira’s legacy by not paying him and turning him in to the authorities. Who needs friends like that?

For all the money he spent on the Yankees, he made that team a laughingstock for most of the ’80s. That should negate his chances of going to Cooperstown.

This guy had too many baggage. He wasn’t beloved by his fellow owners. He treated employees like slaves. He reneged on his promises to his employees. He tried to prevent assistants from running another team’s franchise. He never took accountability for the team’s failures.

Talk about Steinbrenner giving Steve Howe, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden second chances. He wanted to rejuvenate their careers, but he wasn’t doing it to be a savior. He wanted to take credit if those guys succeeded, and he wasn’t afraid to let people know it was him that played a role of their success.

When looking at his incidents, it was an easy decision to not vote him in. Besides owners have no business being in the Hall. They don’t play the game, so there’s no reason for them to be in. Yes, they run a business, but the Hall should be about players and managers, and that’s it. Now, it seems the Hall is hiring different sorts of people for being in, and that is oversaturation right there.

Go ahead and talk about his success. People should remember something. The Yankees went on a great run after Steinbrenner’s suspension, and when he came back, he rode on their coattails.

Steinbrenner achieved success when then-Yankees general manager Gene Michael built that farm system and brought quality guys. That happened only when the the Yankees owner was suspended.

This is the same owner who wanted to trade all these prospects. He wanted guys who can win now. He did not want to wait another five or six years. Once he came back from suspension, he started his nonsense. The prospects flourished, and it resulted to the Core 4 in Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Imagine if Steinbrenner traded them.

Basically, the Yankees won in spite of him. He contributed spending money by getting best players. It’s easy to do when he has many resources to work with in the biggest media market in the world.

What Steinbrenner did wasn’t impressive. His bobos will say so many good things about him, but people shouldn’t be fooled. The Johnny-come-lately Yankees fans will say great things about him, but those folks weren’t around during the dark days of Yankees baseball.

If he wasn’t winning, he wouldn’t be beloved here. He would be treated as bad as M. Donald Grant. There would not be any adulation he received after his death.

Honestly, there was nothing to like about the guy. He gave great quotes, and that was it. Most of the time it was for comic relief.

As for Martin, he was an overrated manager. He was fired everywhere he has been, and he won championships in spite of his work with the Yankees. Earl Weaver outmanaged him at every opportunity.

There was nothing special about Martin. He was always controversial in every stop. Teams fired him because he could not control his temper. He drank often.

If he did not like a player, he would do everything possible to make his player miserable. Ask Reggie Jackson for details.

Martin burned out pitchers often. He never knew how to work with stars. He fell in love with role players, which is amusing since they did nothing.

This guy was also a bigot. He never worked well with African-Americans, and he wasn’t any better with Jewish players. He wanted guys that would kiss his fanny rather than listen to their input.

There was nothing to like about him. Martin was all about himself. He was a sideshow at home and at the ballpark. He was a fixture at nightclubs and bars.

If Martin would not do any of those things, he may have been in the Hall of Fame long time ago. Writers may have voted him in even though he doesn’t deserve it based on his work.

He was his own enemy. He felt everything had to be his way. He thought the game was about him not the players. He never respected anyone.

ESPN featured The Bronx Is Burning in 2007. This drama revealed everything about Martin, and this writer took notes of every moment of those scenes. The impression was the Yankees manager was not the guy to root for.

There’s no question the committee showed their vendetta on Steinbrenner and Martin. They wanted to make both of them pay for their actions. It’s easy to complain, but those two guys have no one to blame but themselves for their situation.

If they did not get in the first time, it’s hard to think they will ever get in. The committee made their minds up, and there’s no reason to think they are going to change their mind on both of them.

Those guys are proud men, and they take their vote seriously. They know who made an impact on baseball and who did not. They value integrity in the Hall, and that’s the way it should be.

The Hall is not a place for cheaters, criminals and jerks. This is a sacred place for guys who made the game a better one. It’s for guys who made the job a better place.

This does not fit Steinbrenner and Martin. Those two caused more harm than good. If anything, they were an embarrassment to the game.

It’s a joke that there is a debate about this. It’s funny to see people get worked up by all this. Yankees like to think everyone is out to get them. That’s not the case.

This is about the body of work. As good as it looks for both men, it really wasn’t that special.

The committee got this one right, and they would get it wrong if they ever vote for either Martin or Steinbrenner.

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