Let’s See Three

I can remember the day I did this, only because I heard someone threw a no-hitter (Matt Young) and lost: April 12, 1992. On that day, I went to see three Florida State League games in one day.

Before we had the Devil Rays, and later the Rays, if you wanted to see baseball in the Tampa Bay area, you went to see minor league games. Several cities in my area had teams back then: Clearwater, Dunedin, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Lakeland, and Sarasota. St. Petersburg would lose their team when the Devil Rays came to be, but all of the other teams are still around, hoping you can catch some FSL ball.

I drove from my home in Largo to catch a 2pm Clearwater Phillies game, as they played the Osceola Astros. From there, I drove down US 19 (long before it became the highway without traffic lights it is now down to Pinellas Park), hung a left on Central Avenue and entered Al Lang Field to watch a St. Pete Cardinals doubleheader with the Charlotte Rangers that began at 5pm, making it there about 5:30pm.

In minor league baseball, doubleheader games only go seven innings. The first Rangers-Cards game goes the distance, but the second game would go on and on into the night, tied after inning after inning, but I stayed and watch the game to it’s finish.

In the FSL, they used the designated hitter the American League uses, so pitchers don’t usually hit. But, the DH can go into the field and play a position, but in doing so, a team loses the “privilege” of having a designated hitter and the pitcher has to bat. This would happen to the Cardinals as the attrition of an extra-inning game takes its toll around the 14th or 15th inning or so.

The game would go 16 innings before the Cards finally won it. For hanging in there and watching the game conclude, the Cardinals handed me tickets to an upcoming game. Work would keep me from going to that game, so I gave the tickets to my mother who worked at Largo Medical Center. I’d figure she’d give the tickets to someone deserving of them.

By the time I made it home, it was almost 1am in the morning. Needless to say, I never tried to go see three games again.

Changes In Raysville

As the 2014 World Series plays its seventh and final game this evening to determine whether or not Kansas City’s Royals or San Francisco’s Giants become the best team in baseball this year, changes amongst Tampa Bay’s franchise are worth looking at.

Last week, it was announced that Joe Maddon would not return as the team’s manager, and it presently appears he is headed to Chicagoland to become the new skipper of the Cubs.

I cannot nor will not blame Maddon for wanting fair value for his services. When Andrew Freidman left his general manager post with the Rays to join the Dodgers, it gave Maddon the loophole to opt out of managing the Rays in 2015. Did the Rays ownership screw up? I don’t think so.

As was the case with the David Price decision, I think this was all about money, and how with a 10% drop in attendance, that money is not coming in. I went to a Rays game in September, and I saw what they were charging for photos, concessions, and what not. The Rays attempts to squeeze the almighty dollar ought of the pockets of the fans means one thing: THEIR pocketbooks are hurting.

Rumors are circulating once again that the Rays might move to Montreal. If so, they have every right to do it, but if that does happens, the fate of Tampa Bay’s franchise was sealed the minute they were awarded it by not moving all the minor league teams out of the Tampa Bay area, as I mentioned on this blog beforehand. When Major League Baseball moved into Miami in 1993, the minor league teams all fled to the north and west of their area. In 1998, all the minor leagues teams in the Florida State League stayed put in the local area.

The Rays still have players that can compete in 2015, but Joe Maddon brought a little edge with him as manager that will be hard to replace, whether that replacement is David Martinez or somebody else. I hope for the best in the coming seasons for the Rays, but I prepare for the worst.