The All-Star Game experience in New York was a good time. Even more so for Ben Zobrist, who got to share it — including the red-carpet parade through the city — with his parents, wife Julianna, 4-year-old son Zion and nearly 2-year-old daughter Kruse. "It was really neat," Zobrist said. "That was a special thing." Julianna agreed to share some of her behind-the-scenes photos.
All-Stars are subjected to all kinds of questions at the Monday media session, and LHP Matt Moore got a really long one about how important sabermetric stats are in his preparation for a game. He, diplomatically, made it clear it's something he's not too concerned with. "I think they take care of that stuff before 7 o'clock," Moore said. "After that, it's all us."
A Balfour reunion?
Former Rays RHP Grant Balfour, who has done an impressive job as the A's closer, will be a free agent after this season. Balfour, who still lives in the Clearwater area, said he would consider a return to the Rays, who are likely to be in the market for a closer as Fernando Rodney is also a free agent. "I don't know what they got on their plate," Balfour said. "If they want to throw the checkbook at me, I'm there. I'm open to anything."
Cabrera moving on
Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera didn't want to explain his side of the June 29-30 situation at the Trop that started with his reaction to a high-and-tight pitch from Fernando Rodney. "That's over," Cabrera said. "I have no problem with him." As for Joe Maddon's comment that he wished Cabrera "wouldn't cry so much?" Cabrera said: "That's his opinion."
Ben Zobrist didn't get in the All-Star Game, but he did get something of an explanation, and apology, from AL/Tigers manager Jim Leyland when he asked about Rick Porcello hitting him — and a bit too high, he felt — in obvious retaliation for the Miguel Cabrera/Fernando Rodney situation. In short, Leyland told him they wanted to throw in on somebody, it just happened to be Zobrist and the pitch was supposed to be at his knees. "He's like, 'I never condone anything like that, and I feel bad that it happened the way that it did,' " Zobrist said. "He said, 'I'm sorry that it happened the way that it did,' and he said he knows it wasn't intentional on Porcello's part, either, as far as going up with it. He said, 'I respect the game more than that and I don't want to put anybody in jeopardy out there.' "
In his latest attack on the Rays' poor attendance, commissioner Bud Selig said their average of about 18,000 "may have been okay in 1956, but it's not okay today." Actually, it would have been pretty darn good in 1956, as only two of the 16 teams — the Yankees and Milwaukee Braves — exceeded 18,000. … Selig did have some kind words for Rays officials, saying "they've run an extraordinary franchise, competitive every year. Every year they lose a lot of players and they just keep right on going."
Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista reflected — briefly — on his 25-day stay with the Devil Rays in 2004, when he was a Rule 5 pick and played for four teams that season. The Rays claimed him on waivers from the Orioles (who got him from Pittsburgh) then after three weeks and a .167 average sold him to the Royals for $50,000. "I had that same situation with three different teams that year," Bautista said. "It was crazy, but enjoyable. I got a lot of experience and I got paid so I wasn't complaining back then. My development kind of got halted for a while."
Still can't see how MLB can set up a competitive balance lottery to help small-market and lower-revenue teams with extra draft picks that has the Orioles and Cardinals rewarded ahead of the Rays. … RHP Taylor Guerrieri, at No. 35, is the only Ray on ESPN's Keith Law's midseason top 50 prospects list. … Commissioner Bud Selig's answers to annual questions about the Rays' attendance and stadium issues might sound the same, but several observers say he is getting impatient. … Sun Sports debuts a new Inside the Rays on relievers Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney after today's game; Kelly Nash hosts.
Got a minute? Joel Peralta
Best meal you can make? Rice and beef; it's good.
Favorite movie? That's a tough one because I watch a lot of movies. I liked Man on Fire; Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. And I liked Avengers.
Band/singer you'd to be on stage with? It's a Dominican one — Hector Acosta; merengue and bachata.
Dream vacation? Los Cabos, in Mexico. It's really freaking fun there.
Celebrity crush? I've got to go with Shakira.
Zobrist's book club
Ben Zobrist is already a baseball star, having just made the AL All-Star team for the second time in his career. He has been in the movies, with a prominent role in the feature-length film Ring the Bell and a part in a short film, Snake. He is an accomplished public speaker, appearing on stage with his wife, Julianna, during her Christian music concerts and giving faith-based talks and testimony to groups large and small. He has done numerous live TV interviews and been the subject of countless magazine and newspaper articles.
And now he's writing a book.
Ben, Julianna and author Mike Yorkey are teaming up for Double Play, a sort of co-autobiography, which will be out in April.
Zobrist said Yorkey approached them about the idea, and they originally planned to tell their fascinating story in a self-published book they would offer at Julianna's concerts and give to family and friends. But then "people that knew people" hooked them up with the B&H Publishing Group, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, which announced the project — hardcover and e-book — during the All-Star break.
"It's mostly just the story of how everything happened, but it's in our words," Zobrist said. "So there's a lot of what we thought, what was going through our hearts and minds as these things were happening."
Per B&H, the book will also offer "practical counsel for helping men and women pray together, creating spiritual conversations, reading and studying Scripture as a couple, and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide their lives and families."
Zobrist is excited about his latest unexpected media venture but said one thing they won't be doing is reality TV.
"Somebody already brought that up," Zobrist said. "And the last thing I want is a camera following me around."