Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Open Letter To Dioner Navarro

An Open Letter To Dioner Navarro

Dear Dioner Navarro,

What has gotten into your head? Did last season’s all-star appearance really mess you up mentally? I feel like your all-star appearance last year has made you feel like you are a 5-tool player who can do it all. Here’s a tip for you Navi, you can’t. I feel like your all-star appearance last season has made you feel like you can not be mentally prepared and be lazy and still be able to succeed. Here’s a tip for you Navi, you can’t. These are ideas you need to get out of your head, immediately.

You need to play within yourself. I don’t see a singles hitter swinging for the fences or a homerun hitter trying to lay down a bunt for a base hit (unless it is to beat a shift). Why are you bunting with 2 outs? Why are you trying to steal bases? I have seen you bunt a number of times this season that were not in sacrifice situations, and last night you tried to steal second base! Why? I admire aggression, but not recklessness. You are more like a sloth and less like a cheetah. Play like it. Part of being a very good ballplayer is knowing who you are and who you aren’t. You aren’t a speedster. You are giving away outs to the opponent, and that cannot continue.

You need to be aware of more situations and more active. When there is a runner on base, no matter how fast or slow, you need to be prepared for a possible steal. That involves you sitting up in your crouch and being actively aware that you may need to throw the ball. A few times I have seen you attempt to throw a runner out from your knees. If you do that, you may as well just eat the ball (figuratively) and not bother, you have no shot at getting the runner. There is a reason you are throwing out just 25% of attempted base-stealers. I have seen you not be prepared to drop to your knees to block a breaking pitch and just try to backhand the ball. There is a reason you have 4 passed balls already this season, when you had 6 each of the last 3 seasons. You are giving bases to opponents, and that cannot continue.

So Dioner, I urge you to take a good look at yourself in the mirror (but please don’t go A-Rod and kiss yourself in the mirror). I want you to realize how good you can be if you play within your means, mentally prepare, and play hard. That is what you did last season, and you were an all-star. Imagine what this team would be like if it had an all-star caliber catcher. Come on Dioner, I know you can do it. This isn’t rocket science.
The Rocket Scientist

Choose Your Own Adventure – Jeff Niemman

Last night, I came to the conclusion that Jeff Niemman has a few storylines that he always follows to a T. When watching a Jeff Niemman start, I can pretty much tell how his game will go. If Jeff Niemman were writing a “choose your own adventure” story on any of his starts, here is how it would go:

1) Did you throw your first pitch for a strike?
If yes: Go to 2
If no: Go to 3

2) So you threw your first pitch for a strike, are you getting ahead of most of your hitters?
If yes: Go to 6
If no: Go to 3

3) You are now getting into a lot of hitters counts, are you walking 3 or more batters?
If yes: Go to 4
If no: Go to 8

4) Have you given up a homerun?
If yes: Go to 5
If no: Go to 7

5) Have you made it into the 5th inning?
If yes: Go to 8
If no: Go to 7

6) You are in line for a quality start. Getting ahead of hitters is the key to your success. You will pitch into the 8th inning and get a win. This is what we expected when you were selected in the 1st round of the draft.

7) You are going to have a really bad day. You have gotten rocked early. Your command is off and your pitch count is high. You didn’t even make it into the 5th inning of this game. The fact that you didn’t give up a homerun means you have been susceptible to the big inning. The big inning really does not bode well for you because you get rattled with runners on base and give up a lot of stolen bases. You also probably left the Rays with a deficit (unless you are playing the AA version of the Mets). These are the starts that we need to avoid in the future.

8) You can do better, but you also can do much worse. So you’ve given up a homerun and your command is so-so, but you have made it through 5 innings. Surprisingly, this bodes very well for you. Only 1 of your homeruns allowed was with a runner on base, so you are doing a good job keeping the opposing teams out of the big inning. If you keep this up, you will be a very serviceable number 4 starter in the future.

There is a Jeff Niemman start in a nutshell. Watch his next start and see which path he chooses to follow. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to follow along as well.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How They Match Up

Today, the Rays will dust off their passports and head up to the great white north. A road trip to Canada to play the Blue Jays has me inspired for a third installment of “How They Match Up.” Today, we have an international tale of the tape matchup, The United States of America vs. Canada.

Relationship to America:
USA: It is America
Canada: America’s hat
Advantage: USA – The real thing is always better

Professional sports teams (in major sports, MLS doesn’t count, CFL does)
USA: 114
Canada: 16
Advantage: USA – Of the 16 Canadian teams, 14 are in the NHL and CFL

Current professional sports teams that have to this country from the other:
USA: 4, Montreal Expos, Vancouver Grizzlies, Winnipeg Jets, and Quebec Nordiques became the Washington Nationals, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Coyotes, and Colorado Avalanche
Canada: 1.25, Atlanta Flames became the Calgary Flames, and the Buffalo Bills play 1/4th of their home schedule in Toronto
Advantage: USA - if Terrell Owens does sit-ups without a shirt on while on a frozen lake in Toronto, this may become a push, but it’s more likely that he gets kicked off the team before any games are played in Toronto

National pastime:
USA: Baseball
Canada: Hockey
Advantage: USA – this is a baseball blog, not a hockey blog

Other popular sport:
USA: Football
Canada: Curling
Advantage: USA – as funny as it is to watch people with brooms yell “HARD!” football is still much better

Reason I would actually watch curling:
USA: The 2006 USA Girls curling team
Canada: If it’s watching them or poking my eyes out with an ice-pick, I’d have to flip a coin to decide
Advantage: USA – USA curl-girls, so hot.

Sports comedy the country is proud of:
USA: “Major League”
Canada: “Men with Brooms”
Advantage: USA - I still can’t believe they made a movie about curling

Nickname for Police Officers:
USA: Cops
Canada: Mounties
Advantage: Push – “Mounties” is funny to say, but cops are more intimidating and are more likely to keep me from breaking the law

Famous Celebrity:
USA: Too many to name
Canada: Celine Dionne
Advantage: USA – Take any Hollywood b-lister and he/she would beat Celine Dionne here

USA: Take your pick, you can live in the south and be hot or up north and be cold
Canada: Really freaking cold
Advantage: USA - flexibility FTW!

National Language:
USA: English
Canada: English and French
Advantage: USA – recoger un bastón y con él, el intercambio de idiomas es molesto (Spanish for: pick one and stick with it, interchanging languages is annoying)

Keep your backyard clean with:
USA: Lawnmower
Canada: Zamboni
Advantage: Push - driving a lawnmower and driving a Zamboni are both fun

Stanley Cups won by the country since 1994:
USA: 15
Canada: 0
Advantage: USA – Even Tampa Bay has more Stanley Cups than the country of Canada since 1994, ouch

Does Vincent Lecavlier play for a hockey team in your country?
USA: Yes
Canada: No
Advantage: USA – although I am aware this is subject to change until July 1

You eat your french-fries with:
USA: Ketchup
Canada: Gravy
Advantage: USA – gravy? Ew

Fictional teen pop-star’s/teen group’s hit single:
USA: “Friends Forever” by the Zack Attack
Canada: “Let’s Go to the Mall” by Robin Sparkles
Advantage: Push – the video of “Let’s Go to the Mall” is amazing, but the message in “Friends Forever” is touching

In “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” you sing, “It’s 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re….”
USA: Out
Canada: Oot
Advantage: USA – And you know what I’m talking about (not aboot)

Final Standings:
USA – 15
Canada – 0
Push – 3

In a not so shocking result, the United States wins in a landslide. (Cue the crowd cheering USA! USA!) I honestly have nothing against Canada. I think Toronto is a great city and I have taken lots of money from Casino Windsor. However, America is just flat out better than Canada. The proof is above.

My standard last line of a post:
USA: Do you think it takes a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out?
Canada: Do you think it takes a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out, eh?
Advantage: USA! – Make that 16-0-3

Sunday, June 28, 2009



Friday, June 26, 2009

Honoring A Legend

Yesterday, the world was shocked with the news that Michael Jackson had passed away. Although controversial and erratic, Michael Jackson was a legend in the entertainment industry. He was the "King of Pop" and released the highest selling album of all time. I used to listen to an LP version of "Thriller" when I was very young. I also have a friend who was a teleprompter for Jackson's rehearsals, and worked with Jackson as recently as Wednesday night. I still think this news is surreal.

Michael Jackson was one of the greatest entertainers of all time, and I would like to honor him by using some of his work to entertain you. I will now list what Michael Jackson songs remind me of each of the Rays' players.

"ABC" - Andy Sonnanstine, because you need to work on the beginning, as in the 1st inning

"Beat it" - Jeff Niemman, by "it" I mean your opponents

"Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" - Jason Bartlett, your hitting streak

"Got to be There" - JP Howell and his 9th inning pitching

"Heal the World" - Scott Kazmir, by "the world" I mean your pitching motion

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" - Evan Longoria, for obvious reasons

"I Want You Back" - Dionner Navarro, your all-star skills

"I'll Be There" - Randy Choate is there when needed against lefties

"Man in the Mirror" - Gabe Kapler, because if I had his body I would stare at myself in the mirror

"Modern Man" - Ben Zobrist as the man who plays every position and always has a knack for clutch hitting

"PYT" - David Price, the up and coming "pretty young thing" soon to be stud

"People Make the World Go Round" - Carlos Pena, who makes himself and others go round the basepaths by jacking balls out of the park

"Remember the Time" - Grant Balfour, remember when you threw 97?

"Rock With You" - Pat Burrell, who will hopefully rock with Carlos Pena soon

"She Drives Me Wild" - BJ Upton, who drives me wild when he gets picked off on the bases, which seems like every game

"Smooth Criminal" - Carl Crawford, do I really need to explain this one?

"State of Shock" - Dan Wheeler, who has put me in a state of shock lately by tearing it up

"Take me Back" - Winston Abreu, who hopefully will be taken back to Durham when Kazmir and Chad Bradford come back, even though he is out of options and has to be DFA'd

"The Way You Make me Feel" - James Shields, who just makes me feel comfortable when he is on the mound

"They Don't Care About Us" - Joe Dillon and Michel Hernandez, who were left on the bench this past week when Andy Sonnanstine was called on to pinch hit

"Threatened" - Akinori Iwamura, who should feel threatened that even if he comes back, he will not get his position back

"Thriller" - Matt Garza, because his pitching outings kinda remind me of the first time I saw the music video "Thriller," I just didn't know what I was going to get

"We Are the World" - Gabe Gross, because you seem to be able to cover the world out in right field

"We've Had a Good Thing Going" - Joe Nelson, who really has had a good thing going, now keep it going all season please.

"Why You Wanna Trip on me?" - Willy Aybar, in honor of A.J. Pierzynski "accidentally tripping" over Willy last season

"You Are Not Alone" - Troy Percival and Jason Isringhausen, as relief pitchers whose time has passed

"You Are There" - Lance Cormier, because every time one of the Rays' starting pitchers stinks up the joint, he is there

So there you have it, there is a Michael Jackson song that reminds me of the 25 man roster and 4 of the guys on the disabled list. I want to thank Michael Jackson for all of the entertainment he provided during life which was cut way too short. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and especially his 3 children.

Michael Jackson was one of the greatest entertainers of all time, and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that.
RIP Michael Jackson, 1958-2009.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Alright Rays fans, it's time for our first ever Trop It Like It's Hot contest!

We are looking for "The Hottest Rays Girl" out there!  But you must follow the guidelines in order to be eligible to win:

1. You MUST be female.....from birth.  We like to discriminate here at TILIH.  However, there will be more contest in the future where everyone can participate
2.  To make sure pictures are not stolen off the internet, you MUST be holding something that says "Trop It Like It's Hot" on it.  This can be a sign or just written on you somewhere.  Also, you MUST be wearing at least one article of Rays gear.
3.  Pictures can not be photoshopped in any way.
4.  Voting will be done by the fans - we will wait 2 weeks for all the entrants to submit their pictures, then poll our fans to select the winner.  1 grand prize winner will win 2 tickets to a rays game of there choice during the 2nd half of the season (details discussed later).  So guys, this means you could win too (assuming you have a wife or girlfriend).  For our fans that are not able to attend a game, you will win your choice of a Rays player t-shirt.
5. Please submit all photos to tropitlikeitshot@gmail.com.  Photos will be posted periodically for the duration of the contest.
6  If you have any other questions please email us and we will be glad to answer them.  Good luck and GO RAYS!

Random Thoughts

As the series with the Phillies comes to a close and a weekend Citrus Series approaches, here are my random thoughts. Most of these will be related to the Rays, some will not.

Actions speak louder than, well, actions. Ben Zobrist is leading by example, whether he knows it or not. He hustles on every play. Last night, his hustle was the difference in a 2-1 lead and a 7-1 lead going into the 9th inning. That is the difference between a nail-biter and a blowout. Thank you, Zorilla. Other Rays’ players need to follow your lead.

2 of those players who need to follow Zobrist’s lead are Carl Crawford and BJ Upton. Usually, the 2 of you are full throttle all the time, but last night, you both got caught on camera jogging (“or it might be pronounced ‘yogging,’ it might be a soft j”) to first. For CC, it was the difference between a triple and being thrown out at 3rd base. For BJ, you got into 2nd base easily, but you still were yogging. EVERY time you hit the ball, you have to run it out as hard as you can. The proof is in the random thought above.

Ben Zobrist deserves to be an All-Star.

I met Batman the other day. That’s not a joke and I wasn’t dreaming or on any drugs.

Welcome back Pat Burrell. Now, in the wise words of Hans Gruber, “Hit it, again!” By that I mean please don’t go another 2 and a half months before your next homerun.

Did anyone else that Pat Burrell shaved off the beard, and then in the next game went yard?

With Scott Kazmir coming back, I think sending David Price down would be a mistake. Price is not going to progress by pitching to inferior opponents. He needs to be pitching against players who motivate him to continually improve. Saying that, I think we are going to see Andy Sonnanstine in the bullpen and Winston Abreu will be DFA’d.

When Chad Bradford gets back, the Rays are going to have some really tough decisions, as a second pitcher needs to go. However, I won’t be surprised if Joe Dillon is the odd man out, especially with interleague play ending. The Rays have a backup infielder in Willy Aybar and a super-utility guy in Ben Zobrist. They really don’t need a Joe Dillon on the roster at this point of the season. If Joe Dillon isn’t the odd man out, I hate to say it but it may be Lance Cormier if Andy Sonnanstine goes to the pen. This would be very unfortunate because Cormier has filled the role of long reliever very well.

Speaking of Scott Kazmir coming back, I am really hoping we will see 2007 Scott Kazmir. If this happens, the Rays’ rotation improves drastically. This will be like making a midseason trade without giving anyone away. Andrew Friedman and Matt Silverman need to be praying right about now that this happens.

USA 2, Spain 0. Spain had won 15 straight (tied for world record) and hadn’t allowed a goal in over 450 minutes. In terms of how amazing and unlikely of an upset this is, this match ranks somewhat close to the upset of the 1980 USA Hockey Team beating the USSR. This probably would be a top 5 sporting event in USA international sports history, if anyone in this country cared about Soccer.

Dionner Navarro, why do you ever square up to bunt for a hit? You are the slowest position player on the team. You don’t have an angel pushing you faster. Even if you lay the ball down perfectly and the 3rd baseman is playing deep, you still probably won’t beat it out. The only time that you should ever bunt is a sacrifice situation. I want to throw something at the TV every time you shorten up on the bat. I also don’t know if Joe Maddon is giving you the green light to bunt, but if he is, Maddon needs to be tested for hallucinogens.

The good Matt Garza showed up last night. You know the good Matt Garza is in the game when his fastball has distinct movement. Someone needs to videotape Matt Garza before every game. When the good Garza shows up, show him the tape of his pregame ritual and make him repeat it. That or Garza just needs to continually rely on his fastball.

Last week, Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times listed things to eliminate in sports. One of those things was Matt Garza spitting. I didn’t notice how much Garza actually spits until last night. Forget watering the infield, I think Garza’s intentions was to provide a natural spring inside Tropicana Field to save the owner’s Monday on buying bottled water for all the fans.

I am not sure why a suspended Major League player is allowed to participate in the minors to get ready for the end of his suspension. I think this rule should change.

I love the look on the player’s faces in the commercials when they are telling you to vote for the Rays for the All-Star Game, and then they have to tell you to vote for themselves.

I urge you all to go online and vote for the Rays for the All-Star Game. I’ll make it easy on you. Here is a link to the MLB website, then click on the link that says “2009 online All-Star Ballot.”

To all of you people in Tampa who don’t drive to The Trop because “it’s too far to get there from Tampa” or you don’t like the fact that owners are raising prices for marquee games, I want to remind you that you went at the end of last season and in the playoffs. This is a very good baseball team, again. Stop making excuses.

I finally saw “The Hangover.” Todd Phillips has struck comedic gold again. In a completely related thought, who wants to go to Vegas with me this weekend?

Although Joe Maddon preaches patience, I was extremely happy when he yanked Jeff Niemman early on Sunday. Maddon went for the win in that game and he was rewarded.

I felt horrible for Aki when he went down with his knee injury. For the Rays, it may have been a blessing in disguise, and so might him getting healthy earlier than expected. Ben Zobrist has been tearing it up since taking over an every day starter’s role. Aki is a solid second basemen, but Zobrist has proven that he is better at the plate and almost as good in the field. You aren’t going to take Zobrist out of the lineup. Aki was a very nice free-agent signing and has been the epitome of a team-player, but his chances of being a Ray in 2010 have gone from slim to slimmer. If he gets healthy before the trade-deadline, he may become trade-bait and could provide a decent return.

If Antonio Bastardo strikes anyone out tonight, the scoreboard worker needs to cue up a clip of Kyle Broflovski yelling “You bastard!”

A-Rod was benched for a weekend due to fatigue, but then was also seen at a Miami nightclub at 2AM. Why does this not surprise me?

Opponents are hitting .133 off Randy Choate. They were hitting .298 off Brian Shouse. I don’t see Shouse pitching for the Rays again anytime soon.

Kevin Kennedy talked about a catcher’s balk last night during the broadcast. I can honestly say that I have heard that rule before, but I have never once seen it called. I relate it to the Fair-Catch-Kick in the NFL. I wonder how many managers who were not catchers know the rule. If you ever play scorecard-bingo and you get catcher’s balk in on your card, just throw it away.

I am not completely against the Lightning trading Vincent Lecavlier. However, if the Lightning trade Lecavlier and do not get fair value in return, I will not be the only one who no longer supports the team. If ownership dumps him just to save money, they will lose a lot of attendance and merchandise money. These new owners are getting close to being compared to Naimoli.

The bullpen was maligned early this season, but is much improved. The last time a bullpen pitcher was credited for a loss was June 7 when Grant Balfour got the loss against the Yankees. The Rays’ bullpen has only accounted for 8 out of the Rays’ 35 losses. If the starting pitching improved just a little bit, that’s a few more very necessary wins.

Speaking of Grant Balfour, thoughts and prayers go out to his family in Australia. Last night during the broadcast, he mentioned that his grandfather is ill. We wish him the best.

Although BJ Upton should never be gunned down by Matt Stairs, I want to give some credit to the Phillies for that play. First off, Stairs took a perfect angle to the ball and was running forward at the time of the catch. Second off, he threw a 1-hop strike to Carlos Ruiz. Finally, Ruiz did a perfect job blocking the plate. Navarro, you should take notes on what you saw from Carlos Ruiz.

I really wish the Rays were in the same division as the Marlins. The in-state rivalry would be a lot better if they played each other 19 times a year instead of 6.

I would rather Evan Longoria take 2 weeks off and be 100% for the rest of the season than have him play every day at 80% for the rest of the season. He has not been the same since he first tweaked his hamstring. I know Longoria is a competitor, but it’s better to get this corrected now than deal with it and compensate all season. If you want proof as to why, see: Scott Kazmir.

Those are my random thoughts of the day. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure them out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"You Don't Have Enough Talent To Win On Talent Alone"

One of my personal favorite coaches in any sport will always by the late Herb Brooks. His motivational methods to make the 1980 USA Hockey team believe they could beat the unstoppable USSR are legendary. Joe Maddon gets a lot of credit for his tools and saying, and I will confidently say that Herb Brooks was Joe Maddon on steroids.

Herb Brooks had one line that he used often to tell his players they need to continue to learn, continue to learn, and continue to work. Joe Maddon needs to say this to David Price and he needs to say it before his next start.

"Gentlemen, you think you can win on talent alone? You don't have enough talent to win on talent alone."

You standard reaction when hearing this is going to be, "huh?" David Price has all the talent in the world, but in the Major Leagues, you need more than talent. You also need to use your brain. I think last night's game goes to show that David Price cannot dominate the Major Leagues like he did every other league in his life with just his fastball.

David Price had a rude awakening last night. Let's be honest here, he got rocked. Giving an opponent a 6-spot in the top of the first will usually lead to a loss, or in this case a really ugly loss. Price's final line last night was 10 runs allowed, including 2 homeruns, on 7 hits in 4.1 innings. Sure, he had little help from the defense, with errors from 3 gold-glove candidates (Longoria, Pena, and Upton), but this game was over before the 2 of those errors occurred.

Price served up some pitches that may as well have been on a tee for the World Champion Cheaters, err, Phillies. His miscues started with his slider. The slider was just off. It wasn't breaking enough and the pitch was coming in to batters too high. Those meatballs must have looked like basketballs to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who both rocked doubles. Then, his confidence looked shot as 3 batters later, John Mayberry rocked a homerun into the leftfield bleachers. This is where the mental preparation comes in that David Price hasn't needed in the past. This is where he can't just get by on talent alone.

David Price needs to learn to mix up his pitch locations and to keep confidence in himself. He wasn't going inside to Chase Utley or changing the eye level of Ryan Howard. These pitches may have worked on the Isotopes, but they aren't going to work on the Phillies. Then, once he gives up a few early runs, Price needs to settle down and realize that a powerful Rays' offense can overcome a 3 run deficit.

It is time for David Price to spend more time on scouting reports and on confidence in his pitches. Once David Price learns that NO ONE in the Major Leagues has enough talent to win on talent alone, he will be the stud that everyone expects him to be. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

What they would look like as Rays fans

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Manta Rays, Stingrays, Light Rays, Rachel Rays?

Today's task is to define "Rays."

Like any good young adult a simple google search would reveal what has been mystifying to many a nonrayer, that we are that "Starburst Team."

Step 1: Google "Rays"

Step 2: Click Image search because we all know that words are hard to read and pictures are what makes words relevant.

Step 3: Proceed to click on the picture of Rachel Ray's picture and spend the rest of the night pondering why, "Conservatives See Boogeyman on Rachel Ray's Buttocks."

Step 4: Write your own caption in the comment section.

The Bat Isn’t A Failure…YET

The Rays’ 2008 Problem: A lack of power from the right side of the plate, struggles against left handed pitchers

2009 Proposed Solution: A right handed hitter who has averaged over 30 homeruns, 75 runs scored, 100 walks, and 100 RBIs for the last 4 seasons. Let’s not forget, he is a World Series Champion.

Enter: Pat “The Bat” Burrell

Results So Far: 1 homerun, 11 runs scored, 21 walks, and 18 RBIs. The only stat that he is ahead of his career pace is stolen bases; he has 2.

Anyone looking at these statistics would call this signing a complete failure and a waste of $16,000,000 over 2 seasons. Yesterday, I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a Phillies fan. After he rubbed in the fact that the Phillies won the World Series (by cheating, mind you), we talked about Burrell. I told him “I have been disappointed with Burrell’s statistics so far this season, but I refuse to call him a failure, yet.”

The ensuing conversation was quite similar to the talk that Jon Cusack and Jack Black had in the movie “High Fidelity” in which they discussed the meaning of the word “yet.” Rob Gordon’s (Cusack) ex-girlfriend tells him “I haven’t slept with him, yet,” referring to her new boyfriend. With the help of friend and coworker Barry (Black), Gordon is only left figure out the following: What did she mean? Did she want to sleep with him? Does she expect to sleep with him in the near future? Will she sleep with him if nothing changes?

"What does 'yet' mean, anyway?"

What did I mean? Did I want to call him a failure? Do I expect to call him a failure in the near future? Will I have to call him a failure if nothing changes?

I realized I meant that if Pat Burrell keeps up this pace, his failure ranking will be identical to the failure of Dewon Brazelton, the “Hit Show,” and the 2007 bullpen combined. I am not over-exaggerating this, especially when you look at his relatively high salary, the raised team expectations, and the Rays’ need for a right-handed power bat.

I do not want to call Pat Burrell a failure. No fan of the Rays’ wants to see a free-agent come in and not perform up to expectations.

In the near future, I do not expect to call Pat Burrell a failure. The key word 2 paragraphs up is “if.” Pat Burrell is too good of a baseball player to keep up this pace. A 32 year old player who hit 30 homeruns one season does not hit 3 the next. (Author’s note: I know what some of you are thinking here about steroids and stop. Until proven guilty in the matter of performance enhancing drugs, Pat Burrell is innocent.) This is the perfect time for Pat Burrell to start living up to his nickname, “the bat.” The Rays are starting a home series against the team the Rays lost to in the World Series and Burrell’s former team, the Phillies. Please keep in mind that Burrell went yard against Cole Hamels in a Spring Training game in Philadelphia. Knowing how streaky Burrell can be, playing the Phillies could be the right motivation Burrell needs to get on a hot streak. Once Burrell goes on his usual tear, then the talk of him being a failure will go away. Playing the Phillies is just what the bat doctor ordered.

So Pat, please, give Jobu rum, touch your bat with anti-jinx beads, or put on a gold thong. Most of all, do whatever you have to do in order to be mentally and physically prepared. There are no more injuries and no more place for excuses. This is your week to get out of your slump and onto one of your patented hot streak. This is Phillies’ week.

If nothing changes and this pace keeps up, I will have to call Pat Burrell a failure at the end of the season. Do I expect things to change? Yes, I do. Will things change? That is for Pat Burrell to show us. If Pat Burrell can get on a hot streak, that will go a long way towards pushing the Rays back to the top of the AL East. For now, I won't call the signing of Pat Burrell a failure, yet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Who would you rather....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ranking The Pitchers, Because I Have “A Case Of The Mondays”

As we near the halfway point of the season, the Rays are right now 37-34, in 4th place in the AL East, and 6 games out of first place. The starting pitchers are a good part of the reason that the Rays are playing slightly above .500 baseball. So far this season they have been good, but not great. There have been gems and there have been duds. Watching some of the games has made me want to celebrate like I just set up a computer program to give me lots of fractions of pennies, while other games make me want to punch a printer with my bare fists. Some days I am watching the Rays’ starting pitching and would be less frustrated sitting in traffic, seeing the lane to your left move, changing lanes, and then having that lane stop and the lane you were in move.

In case you couldn’t see where this is going, today, I am going to rank the pitching staff based on quotes from the cult classic “Office Space.” (Author’s notes: If you couldn’t see where I was going, please go buy, rent, Netflix, or illegally download the movie now and you need to work on your movie seeing skills. Just to cover our butts, we don’t advocate illegal downloads but we know you will do it anyway, just like you will sneak down to expensive, open seats at baseball games even though you paid for upper deck.) So, here is the ranking system for the Rays’ pitchers who have started a game so far this season and who might start a game sometime before September 1st.

1: “This is a f&%(” – You have just been God awful. You couldn’t get anyone out and you walked people like it was your job. You also probably had high expectations which made your terrible pitching look even worse.

2: “You don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, look at my cousin: he’s broke, don’t do s$%@” – You get paid that much money to suck?

3: “Did you get the memo? Yea, you see we are putting the new cover sheets on all the TPS reports.” - On a regular basis, it looks like you forgot it was your turn to pitch.

4: “Oh yeah, we’re gonna bring in some entry level graduates, farm some work out to Singapore, that’s the usual deal. Standard operating procedure” – You are a minor leaguer and are just about ready to graduate to the Major Leagues. You might rank higher if you pitch well in the show, but you need your chance first.

5: “What if we’re doing this when we’re 50? It would be nice to have that kind of job security.” – You are an aging pitcher who somehow is still pitching even though you are pushing 50. How has your arm not fallen off?

6: “You can just go ahead and move a little to the left. That’s it. Great” – If you could just make an adjustment or two to your delivery, that would be greaaaaaaaat.

7: “I'd like to move us right along to a Peter Gibbons. Now we had a chance to meet this young man, and boy that's just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.” - You are a solid pitcher who has potential to be even better when you put your mind to it.

8: “You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don't you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?” – You are a consistent pitcher who shows up day in and day out, but you don’t need flair like a 95mph fastball to strike people out or to go 7 solid innings.

9: “If they take my stapler I’ll set the building on fire.” – When you are at your best, you set the building on fire, and you pitch at that level on a regular basis.

10: “Things go well I might be showing her my o-face. Oh…oh…oh!” – Against you, the batters are getting used to looking at pitches fly by and just say “oh” as they are walking back to the dugout after striking out.

And on to the pitching staff

Wade Davis and Carlos Hernandez: 4 - “Oh yeah, we’re gonna bring in some entry level graduates, farm some work out to Singapore, that’s the usual deal. Standard operating procedure” – Depending on injuries and how much some pitchers struggle, your time to play for the Rays could be approaching. I think Wade Davis is ready, and just needs an opening in the rotation for his chance.

Matt Garza fits into 3 categories. They are as follows:

The Bad Matt Garza: 6 - “You can just go ahead and move a little to the left. That’s it. Great.” – The bad Matt Garza isn’t as bad as it was last season, only having 1 appearance in which he gave up more than 4 runs. However, the potential for a blowup is still there with the “Garza Complex.” It is this form of Garza that keeps his sports psychologist on speed-dial.

The Normal Matt Garza: 7 - “I'd like to move us right along to a Peter Gibbons. Now we had a chance to meet this young man, and boy that's just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.” – Matt Garza has ace potential; he just has to get rid of the bad Matt Garza and have more the good Matt Garza. The normal Matt Garza will definitely give you a quality start, 6 innings and 3 runs.

The Good Matt Garza: 9 - “If they take my stapler I’ll set the building on fire.” – When this Matt Garza shows up, the opposing team can forget about it. This Garza might be the first Rays’ pitcher to throw a no-hitter. His stuff is electric, when this Matt Garza is on the mound.

Scott Kazmir: 1 - “This is a f&%(!” – I am not sure what happened to once-potential-ace Scott Kazmir. Maybe it was an injury, or maybe it was pitching in last year’s All-Star Game on short rest, or maybe he let that contract extension get to his head. He sucked so much that the Rays put him on the “Chien-Ming Wang honorary mentally disabled list.” No matter what the answer is, Kazmir better find his game (and the strike zone) and find it fast. He is currently on a rehab assignment and hopefully he can turn his season and his career around. When he comes back to pitch for the Rays, we are all hoping for the best. He needs it. The Rays need it.

Jeff Niemman: 6 - “You can just go ahead and move a little to the left. That’s it. Great” – Since starting the season slowly, Niemman seems to be continually taking 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards. Yesterday he couldn’t find the strike zone to save his life and got yanked after 4, but still only gave up 2 runs. 2 starts ago he held the Rockies to 3 runs in 5, and 2 starts before that Niemman had the 2-hit shutout. Niemman needs to just make small adjustments to keep throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters. If he is able to do this consistently, he will be a solid starting pitcher for a long time in this league.

David Price: 4 - “Oh yeah, we’re gonna bring in some entry level graduates, farm some work out to Singapore, that’s the usual deal. Standard operating procedure” – I was debating whether I wanted to rank Price a little higher, but I think the jury is still out. We all know how much potential Price has and how good he will be. However, he still has a lot to work on, such as keeping his pitch count down and avoiding the one big inning. I wouldn’t be surprised if I revisit these rankings in a month and he is a 7.

James Shields: 8 - “You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don't you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?” – Shields has proven he is the number 1 pitcher in this rotation, but needs to get rid of that 1 big inning. His changeup and curveball remain nasty, even if those are pitches that lack the “flair” of a heater.

Andy Sonnanstine: 3 - “Did you get the memo? Yea, you see we are putting the new cover sheets on all the TPS reports.” Andy has graduated from a 2 to a 3 when his ERA dropped below 7 on June 13, but he still needs to be better. He needs to be much better. I think the one batter that tells the 2009 Andy Sonnanstine story is Brian Schneider, who crushed his first homerun of the season in pitcher-friendly Citi Field. Sonnanstine needs to watch his back when Scott Kazmir comes off the DL.

Honorary future opponent section:

Jamie Moyer: 5 - “What if we’re doing this when we’re 50? It would be nice to have that kind of job security.” – Seriously, how is your left arm still attached at the shoulder? Maybe it’s because you throw the ball as fast as a little leaguer?

There you have it. The Rays have some solid pitchers, but no one is pitching well enough to deserve a consistent ranking of 9 or 10. The Rays lead the MLB in runs scored with 401, and if they could shave 1-2 runs off a game from their opponents, results will be seen in the standings. Holding opponents to fewer runs all starts with the starting pitchers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

And yes, I have a serious case of the Mondays.

Rewind / Fast Forward

Looking backwards and looking forwards

  • The Rays finished 3-3 on their road trip to Denver and New York
  • They scored 22 runs and had 34 hits combined in the first and last game of the road trip. In the other 4 games: 17 runs and 29 hits. 3 of those 4 games were losses.
  • On Saturday, the Mets went 3 hours and 2 minutes without having a runner on base. Carlos Beltran ended that streak with a 2 out single in the bottom of the 9th. This included the rain delay.
  • 3 of the Mets 4 hits Saturday were doubles.
  • Ben Zobrist hit his 15th home run of the season. He had 15 total in the first 3 years of his career.
  • Shields gave up just 3 hits Saturday, in 7 innings pitched. He retired the final 14 batters he faced
  • Carl Crawford was hitless in the first 2 games at New York before collecting 3 hits in the rubber game Sunday. Still, he was just 6-27 (.222) on the road trip.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Bossman Jr went 12-28 (.429) on the trip. BJ finished 4-6 Sunday, missing out on the cycle by a triple. He said after the game that his home run off Bobby Parnell in the 7th was the hardest he has hit a ball all season. The 4 RBIs were also a career high for him.
  • Joe Nelson pitched 0.1 innings on Sunday, giving up a 3 run home run to Brian Schneider (his 2nd of the series and of the season). Nelson got the win. What is wrong with this?
  • Upton, Crawford, and Longoria combined to go 11-16 and 7 RBI on Sunday.
  • The Rays are now 3-7 in rubber games this year.

Tampa Bay return to The Trop for a World Series rematch against the Phillies.
Philly has been swept in it's past 2 series, against Toronto and Baltimore.....yes, that Baltimore. They have lost 8 of the last 10 games.
Let's take a look at how the Rays match up against Philadelphia.

Rays - 37-34, 4th in AL East
Phillies - 36-31, 1st in NL East -
Advantage - Push - Phillies play in the NL, Rays play in the hardest division in baseball.

Runs Scored:
Rays - 401
Phillies - 356
Advantage: Rays, 401>356. Runs win games.

Home Runs Hit:
Rays - 95
Phillies - 98
Advantage: Phillies - Tough to out homer a team that has Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez

On Base plus Slugging:
Rays - .819
Phillies - .791
Advantage: Rays - Thank you Ben Zobrist.

Championships won by cheating:
Rays - 0
Phillies - 1
Advantage: Phillies - J.C. Romero single handedly carries Philly to the win in this category.
Illegitimate Children on the Team:
Rays - 0
Phillies - 1
Advantage: Phillies - Congrats Antonio BASTARDo. (too easy?)

Players that may have Swine Flu:
Rays - 0 again
Phillies: 1
Advantage: Ryan Howard FTW

Big Off-Season Acquisition:
Rays: Pat "where's the bat?" Burrell
Phillies: Raul Ibanez
Advantage: Rays - Ibanez is on the DL and won't play in this series. By default the win goes to the Rays. But we wont even get started on the season comparison between the two.

Hit by Pitch:
Rays - 24 times
Phillies - 33 times
Advantage: Rays - Opposing pitchers hate the Phillies.

Stolen Bases:
Rays - 110
Phillies - 49
Advantage: Rays - Stolen bases gets you closer to home plate. The closer you are to home, the more likely you are to score. The more times you score, the better chance you have to win. winning is good.

Let's hope we can keep up the tradition of AL East teams sweeping the Phillies.

Who would you rather....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What A Father's Day Card To Elijah Dukes Probably Looks Like

Dear Daddy,

I wanted to wish you a very happy Father's Day! I know you probably don't know my name, remember my mom's name, or can't even remember the night I was conceived, but that's ok. You have been an inspiration to me. The way you keep reproducing makes me so proud as you keep working God's wish by populating the Earth. The fact that you have gone a few years without being arrested makes me want to stay out of trouble for a few years at a time. And most of all, I have learned from you how to respect women. I want you to know that when I grow up, I want to be just like you. I hope you have the best Father's Day ever!


One of your illegitimate children

PS: We all hope you beat the Blue Jays today!
PSS: If you could please send child support, I need a new pair of shoes for summer. Thanks!

In all seriousness though, we here at Trop it Like it's Hot would like to wish a Happy Father's day to all of our dads and all of the fathers reading this. For all of the hard work you have put in for us and your families, we appreciate it more than you know. Happy Father's day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009





Also, Did you know the Mets have never had a no-hitter or perfect game in franchise history? Yes, it's true. However, Topps did not get that memo:

Yeeaaahhh.......That never happened. oops. Hopefully this will help get the Rays a hit today.

Your Guide To Jumping On The Rays Bandwagon

I have a startling confession to make. Please make sure you are seated (which you probably are because honestly, who uses a computer standing up?) Are you ready for this? Are you sure? Ok, here it goes...

I grew up a Mets fan.

There you have it. I can admit it. My first regular season Major League Baseball game was at Shea Stadium. My favorite player when I was a kid was Howard Johnson. I learned how to read a baseball box-score by reading the Mets box-score every morning in the St. Petersburg Times. I even have a copy of the New York Times from the day after the Mets won the 1986 World Series. The day that Vision Cable stop giving us the channel WWOR was a sad day in my youth, as I would no longer be able to see Mets games on a daily basis in my Clearwater home (unless they were playing the Braves or the Cubs, the 2 teams that dominated the airwaves with TBS and WGN respectively).

Then came March 9, 1995, the day that Major League Baseball announced an exapnsion franchise would be awarded to Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays were born. My allegiences were immediately switched. My mom bought me a Devil Rays hat and tee shirt that week (and yes, that hat had a purple brim).

It is now 2009, and there are still some who live in the Tampa Bay area and still show up to Tropicana Field in pinstripes or red. You all make me want to kill you in the nuts, especially those of you who wear bright green Yankees/Sox hats. But, the Rays' bandwagon is growing around the nation.

Here is your guide for what groups of people should jump on the Rays' bandwagon, how quickly you should do it, and the approximate success rate:

The Owner: You have been a lifelong fan of a team in major market, say for example, the New York Mets. You have done very well on Wall Street and decided to buy a the Tampa Bay Rays. You own the new team, your money pays the players. The better your team does, the higher the attendance will be and you will make even more money for yourself. You should set the example for others in the area by becoming a Rays' fan immediately. Success rate: 100%, and we all thank you Mr. Sternberg.

The Transplant: You grew up in New York, Boston, or anywhere else in the country that has a Major League Baseball team. When you graduated college and got a little older, you realized how nice the Tampa Bay area is and so you moved there permanently. You still can't get over growing up watching Micky Mantle or Carl Yastrzemski, and now you wear the jersey of Derrick Jeter, David Ortiz, or whatever high priced free agent that won't pan out that your team just signed. Well, to all of you, it's time to get out with the old and get in with the new. You live in the Tampa Bay area, and you should have pride in your community and your team. The Rays are now a good baseball team and they are a lot of fun to cheer for. If you like your hometown weather in February, you should like your hometown baseball team in September. Bury, shred, or burn your old jersey and go buy yourself a nice new Rays' jersey to wear to Tropicana Field. Success rate: Not good enough yet, but drastically improving.

The Kid of a Transplant: Your parents moved to Florida before you were born or when you were very young. Because the Tampa Bay Rays did not exist in your youth, you were a fan of whatever team your dad is a fan of. Quite frankly, you have no real allegience to that franchise. You weren't around for "the glory days," and you didn't grow up spending Sunday afternoons at the house that Ruth built. It's now a cool thing to be a Rays' fan. Success rate: Very good. Kids are loving the Rays.

The Wanderer: You lived in Tampa Bay for a long period of time, but you recently moved. If you went to Rays' games and rooted for them before you left town, so why stop cheering for the team now that the team is good? And if you weren't a fan before you left because the team wasn't good enough, times have changed. This is a team you can get behind that is growing in popularity all over America. In fact, you can wear a Rays' shirt anywhere in this country and not get laughed at. It is time for you to hop on the bandwagon as well. Success Rate: Quite solid, I see lots of Rays hats everywhere that I travel, and that includes New York 2 weeks ago.

The Person Who Lives in a City with a Crappy Team: If you live in Kansas City, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh, and you are tired of your ballclub putting a crappy team on the field, we have room on our bandwagon for you. We understand how you feel, as the team formerly known as the Devil Rays once won 70 games before the World Series run in 2008. Our bandwagon has plenty of room for you. Success Rate: TBD, but if you are reading this and you are in any of those mentioned cities, please comment.

The Casual Baseball Fan: You sometimes like watching baseball, but you don't live in a city with a Major League team. You have no real ties to any team whatsoever. Why would you NOT want to get behind a team that has some of the best young players in the game? Why would you NOT want to get behind a team that won the American League in 2008? You have no excuses. Success Rate: Average, these fans are always a tough sell.

The Female Fan: The pink Yankees/Red Sox hat trend is over, so get rid of those. Unless you are Madonna, you have no shot at A-Rod. And remember, Evan Longoria > Derrick Jeter. Success Rate: High, you should have seen the table of hot girls I saw in New York after a Rays-Yankees game, all of which were wearing Rays gear. Giggity.

If you are reading this, you probably don't fit into any of these categories. However, you probably know a few people who do. As much as they will fight, they really have no excuse to not hop on the Rays' bandwagon. We welcome all guests from all areas. If you have any ties to the Tampa Bay area whatsoever, I have proven here that you are required by science to be a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, it's not rocket science.

Rays at Metropolitans - 6/19/09

Stuff you should know about last night's game

  • We lost.
  • Rays pitching failed to keep the baseball in the field of play again. This time, It was Sonnenstine giving up a 3-run HR to Brian Schneider in the 3rd inning. It was also a bomb. Schneider now has a grand total of 1 HR on the year.
  • By the 4th inning the Rays trailed 4-0. They were able to stage a late rally and get within one, but couldn't finish the job. Wait, I just had déjà vu, Where have we seen that before? (see: Thursday game vs. Colorado)
  • B.J. Upton continued to swing that bat better than he had the beginning of the season, as if that would be hard to do. His 2 run double in the 8th got the Rays within a run but Crawford was unable to get Upton home, grounding out to the pitcher to end the rally.
  • Upton also stole his 26th base of the year. With all the attention being given to Carl Crawford, Upton has quietly stolen 26 of 31 bases and is 3rd in the American League.
  • The Mets were able to steal 3 bags in 3 attempts against Navarro. It was the 32nd, 33rd, and 34th basses stolen off Navi this year. His percentage of base runners thrown out is .227. For those not great at math, this is not a very large number. We would like to see Navi throw out at least 30% or higher.
  • Andy Sonnenstine collected another hit and is batting .300 on the year.
  • Pat Burrell came in as a pinch hitter for Sonnenstine in the 7th. With runners on the corners, he represented the tying run. I'm sure I am not the only person who thought to themselves "Burrell is due for another long ball". He struck out. FML
  • The 2 through 5 hitters (C.C., Longo, Pena, and Zorilla) went a combined 0-13. If we want to win, that cannot happen.
  • I'm pretty sure not many people know anyone in the Mets rotation after Johan Santana, especially Fernando Nieve. But somehow, he held the Rays to just 3 hits in 6 innings pitched while striking out 4. He is 2-0 in his first 2 starts with a 1.84 ERA.
  • After a 6 game winning streak, the Rays have now lost 3 in a row. However, thanks to the all-mighty Nationals beating the Yankees 2 out of 3 in New York, The Rays have only lost 1 game in the standing to the Yanks and trail the Wild Card by 4 games. It could be worse. A LOT worse.
  • Today's game will be the Fox national broadcast. Johan Santana will be starting for the Mets against Big Game James Shields. Santana is coming off his worst start in his entire career, going just 3 innings and giving up 9 earned runs. There are 2 ways to look at this: 1) He is struggling in his last few games and messing with his mechanics due to a blister on his finger. Or 2) He had a bad game, is pissed as hell, and wants to take it out on the Rays hitters. Let us pray it is numero uno.
  • Mets players are very affectionate.....

Friday, June 19, 2009

How They Match Up

Earlier in the week, I looked at how Tropicana and Coors, the beverages, the businesses, and the ballparks, match up against each other in the first installment of this segment.

Today, in honor of the Tampa Bay Rays starting a series against the New York Mets, we will look at how one of the most hated men in the Tampa Bay area matches up against one of the most hated men in New York. In fact, these guys could be some of the most evil men since Ivan the Terrible, Adolf Hitler, or George W. Bush (too soon?). Today, we have a satanic edition of the tale of the tape, Vince Naimoli vs. Bernie Madoff.

Used to own:
Naimoli –Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Madoff – Madoff Securities
Advantage: Madoff – The Devil Rays won 70 games…once. Madoff Securities made almost 70 billion.

Why he is evil:
Naimoli – Stole the hearts of thousands by taking their millions of dollars in ticket money and putting it in his bank account instead of investing in baseball players
Madoff – Stole the hearts of thousands by taking their billions of dollars in stock money and putting it in his bank account instead of investing for them
Advantage: Madoff – Billions > Millions

Lame attempt to reinvest money:
Naimoli – The “Hit Show” – Fred McGriff, Jose Canseco, Greg Vaughn, and Vinny Castilla, a complete and utter failure
Madoff – Million dollar bonuses, given too early which caused the start to an investigation which got him caught
Advantage: Naimoli – At least he tried

First to:
Naimoli – Bring an MLB team to the Tampa Bay area
Madoff – Provide “legal kickbacks”
Advantage: Naimoli – We wouldn’t have this blog if it weren’t for him

Would have been better if he ran his company more like:
Naimoli – George Steinbrenner, actually investing in his team
Madoff – George Steinbrenner, actually investing in his clients
Advantage: Push – Authors note: I despise the Yankees, but Steinbrenner did anything he could for his team to win under the MLB rules and you have to respect that.

Attempted to hide from the public for years:
Naimoli – That he was the 2nd most profitable owner in Major League Baseball
Madoff – Ponzi Scheme
Advantage: Madoff – What Vince? You couldn’t find a way to beat out Steinbrenner? (Author’s note: this is the last time I mention Steinbrenner in this post, I promise).

Baseball stadium he owns a suite at:
Naimoli – Tropicana Field
Madoff – Citi Field
Advantage: Madoff – Both are empty, but Citi Field is newer and the suites are a lot more expensive, thus wasting even more of his fraudulent money

Has to hide in his suite at:
Naimoli – Tropicana Field
Madoff – Metropolitan Correctional Center
Advantage: Naimoli – A rabid group of season ticket holders would have nothing against a rabid group of former Madoff investors

Father was a:
Naimoli – New York Subway System worker who became an engineer
Madoff – A plumber who became a stock broker
Advantage: Push – Both started in the sewers and made something of themselves

Better college football team of the school he attended:
Naimoli – Notre Dame
Madoff – Hofstra
Advantage: Madoff – Notre Dame sucks

Donated money to:
Naimoli – Notre Dame athletic facilities
Madoff – Lymphoma research
Advantage: Madoff – His donations were actually useful for the good of humanity, and Notre Dame sucks

Strange Donations:
Naimoli – Jewish National Fund, Naimoli is Catholic
Madoff – Political Parties, donations split between Republican and Democratic Parties
Advantage: Naimoli – We thank you for your generous donations, sir

Named after a family member:
Naimoli – The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, named for his father Raymond
Madoff – The Madoff Family Foundation charity, named for himself
Advantage: Naimoli – At least he tried to sneak this past us and didn’t try to gloss himself.

Personal financial risk that made him all of his money:
Naimoli – Buying drowning company Anchor Glass
Madoff – Penny stock trading with $5000 made lifeguarding
Advantage: Naimoli – Provided jobs for others while saving a company which was in shambles, which is much more honorable than investing in yourself

The day the downfall started:
Naimoli – March 31, 1998. Tigers 11, Devil Rays 6
Madoff – December 11, 2008. The day he heard helicopters, sirens, and the music of “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” outside one of his multi-million dollar homes.
Advantage: Madoff. Would have made for the best episode of “Cops” ever

Quote while pulled over/arrested:
Naimoli – “Don’t you know who I am?” (Author’s note: true story, he really said this when pulled over a few years back)
Madoff – Nothing, he knew he was done.
Advantage: Naimoli – Just because I would have loved to have been one of the police officers to laugh at him when he pulled out this gem

Destroyed their respective baseball team by:
Naimoli – Owning the Devil Rays
Madoff – Having the Wilpon family (owners of the New York Mets), as a client
Advantage: Naimoli – At one point he had good intentions

Terrible Colors Worn:
Naimoli – In the original Devil Rays logo
Madoff – Orange prison jumpsuit
Advantage: Push – Nobody wins with a rainbow baseball logo or bright orange

Hall of Famer you attempted to destroy:
Naimoli – Lou Piniella, this is one team even he couldn’t turn around
Madoff – Sandy Koufax, one of his clients
Advantage: Madoff – Koufax lost lots of money, but Piniella lost his reputation as a manager with the ability to win in any situation with any team.

You are the punch line of many jokes in:
Naimoli – The Tampa Bay area
Madoff – The world
Advantage: Madoff - Go to any comedy show or watch any late night talk show, I guarantee Madoff’s name gets mentioned

Sentenced to:
Naimoli – A life of shame as one of the worst owners in baseball history
Madoff – A life in prison
Advantage: Naimoli – They can take your dignity, but they can never take (or at least haven’t found a way to take) your freedom!

Final Standings:
Vince Naimoli - 9
Bernie Madoff – 9
Push – 3

Naimoli’s team, The Devil Rays, couldn’t win games. Madoff’s clients, investors of billions, couldn’t win any money. So it is fitting that when it comes to Vince Naimoli vs. Bernie Madoff, 2 of the most hated men in their respective communities, nobody wins. This is just the way I see it, it’s not like it’s rocket science.