Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

A history lesson for Rays fans

So, it's a week later, and it would appear that Rays fans are no closer to getting over the David Price trade. On July 31, the Rays shipped the All-Star pitcher — and perhaps the best player in team history — to the Tigers for (as of now) a middle-of-the-rotation lefty, Drew Smyly; middle infielder Nick Franklin, and 18-year-old prospect Willy Adames. What's surprising isn't so much the disappointment or frustration of the fans but the outright anger, not just at major-league baseball and the economics of the game but seemingly toward Rays ownership and management. Certainly not all fans feel this way, but over the past week I've been flooded with emails and phone calls that not only have criticized the trade but have questioned the way the organization is being run. One email said the trade is just the latest example of how Rays ownership shows no respect for the fans. No respect? Are you serious?

Have we forgotten just how rotten this organization was before Stuart Sternberg took over? Has everyone suddenly forgotten what things were like under Vince Naimoli?

A team that once ranked as one of the sorriest in pro sports has put together six consecutive winning seasons. It has five 90-win seasons out of the past six. The Rays have made the playoffs four times in six years. And they've done it even though they are, at least in attendance, the least-supported team in baseball.

That is being disrespectful?

Yet, a good number of fans now want executive VP Andrew Friedman fired and manager Joe Maddon to go with him. Many have sworn that they are walking away from the team, never to root for it again.

It's stunning, really.

Maybe Rays fans are too spoiled from recent success. Maybe they are having just an emotional reaction to an unpopular trade.

Certainly fans have the right to do whatever they want, whether it's criticizing the trade or no longer calling the Rays their favorite team.

But it seems like one trade and a rare losing season aren't enough to cause this type of stir.

So if you're inclined to toss your Rays hat in the trash, just remember, things could always be worse. The Rays could go back to the bad old days.

Best line

Paul Finebaum, whose ESPN radio show is about as good as it gets when it comes to college football, has released a book, co-written with Gene Wojciechowski, titled My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football.

The best line in the book?

"If God made the world in seven days, He spent the eighth day in his two-car garage, sipping on a cold one, listening to Merle Haggard and dreaming up the Southeastern Conference."

Best shot

Actor Mickey Rourke was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, and Kimmel asked Rourke, 61, how he manages to stay in such incredible shape.

Rourke said, "A lot of steroids. … I'll never play third base for the Yankees, let's put it that way."

Changing roles

Former Lightning coach Terry Crisp has been the only television analyst in the Nashville Predators' history, which dates to 1998. But that will change next season.

Now 71 years old (isn't that hard to believe?) and wishing to spend more time with his wife, Sheila, Crisp is giving up his analyst duties. Instead, he will work as a studio analyst for Predators home games. Former NHL tough guy Stu Grimson will replace Crisp in the booth.

Football lineup

Fox has announced its broadcast lineup for NFL games this season, with Joe Buck (top right) and Troy Aikman returning as the No. 1 team for the 13th consecutive season. The rising star at Fox is former Bucs safety John Lynch. He is part of what is considered the No. 2 team with play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt.

Meantime, former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber returns with Chris Myers. Kenny Albert is back with "Moose" and "Goose," analysts Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa. The rest of the lineup: Thom Brennaman with newcomer David Diehl, and Dick Stockton with a rotating trio of analysts: Brady Quinn, Donovan McNabb and Kirk Morrison. Quinn was hired by Fox last week.

Media tidbits

ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard, who is based in Miami, rented a billboard in Akron, Ohio, to poke fun at LeBron James. The billboard read, "You're Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami" with a picture of two Heat championship rings. The billboard came after Le Batard tried unsuccessfully to take out a full-page ad in the Akron Beacon Journal. Le Batard said it was all in good fun, but apparently ESPN didn't find anything funny about it. It suspended him for two days from the radio and his TV show, Highly Questionable. ESPN said his stunt did not "reflect ESPN's standards and brand.''

Nicole Briscoe, host of ESPN's NASCAR Countdown, has signed a new contract to stay with the network. She will become an anchor on SportsCenter after NASCAR season.

Entertainment Tonight is reporting that ESPN's Sage Steele and Jemele Hill are in the running to join the cast of The View, ABC's daytime talk show. Steele and Hill are two of several women testing for the show. And how about this? The View also is testing October Gonzalez, wife of former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez, and Lauren Sanchez, the former girlfriend of Gonzalez. You know, I think I'd like to see the show with those two.

Three things that popped into my head

1.NBA star Kevin Durant withdrew from playing for the U.S. team last week, citing fatigue. He should have cited the real reason: "I just saw Paul George snap his leg in half, and I don't want the same thing to happen to me.'' And you know, no one would have blamed him.

2. Ravens running back Ray Rice knocks out a woman, gets suspended a measly two games, and not only did Rice get a standing ovation at the Ravens' preseason opener at home, but women and children were wearing his jersey. What's wrong with you people?

3. ESPN is showing a lot of the Little League World Series these days. That means I'm watching very little of ESPN these days.

tom jones' two cents

     
   
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