Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays credit loose atmosphere for success

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG

When Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia discusses the Rays' strengths, he first points to their stellar starting pitching and style of play.

But Arencibia believes one key aspect goes beyond the numbers.

"You watch Tampa, those guys look like they're having the best time of their life every game out there," Arencibia said. "That's what it's about."

The fact that Charles P. Pierce from Grantland.com labeled the Rays the most fun team in baseball in a story last week comes as little surprise to many. Ever since Jonny Gomes donned his custom-made white robe and Rayhawk hairstyle in 2008, the Rays have set the trend in taking the wild — and sometimes weird — side to the World Series. Just this year, they've worn Gladiator helmets, sported bow ties for a nerd-themed road trip, and greeted Hideki Matsui with a music-filled, strobe-light celebration before his first game.

And to hear the players tell it, the loose — sometimes partylike — atmosphere is one reason for their success in recent years.

"I think it's everything," reliever J.P. Howell said. "They allow us to have this kind of environment, you can be yourself, and you're never limited on how you can think 'outside the box' — and you're not a weirdo. You learn more about yourself, and eventually, it makes you a better ballplayer."

Pitcher James Shields said the fun helps them forget about losses, get through the grind of a 162-game season and get the most out of themselves.

"I really feel like if guys are too tense or too intense out there, they're not going to play to their capabilities," Shields said.

The environment has enabled reliever Fernando Rodney to thrive, converting his first 15 save chances while starting his tradition of shooting a pretend arrow from a pretend bow into the sky afterward. And it has made it easier for new Rays to feel welcome and contribute quickly. Injured outfielder Brandon Allen, who hit a walkoff homer in his eighth at-bat with the club, joked that "if you're not having fun, you're an outcast."

Matsui, a 10-year veteran who homered in each of his first two starts with the Rays, said he has never experienced anything like his wild welcome Tuesday afternoon; players mobbed him in the clubhouse as if he had won them a game.

"He went right with it," Howell said. "He was shocked, but he acted like he just hit the walkoff hit. I thought he might be thrown off, but he fit right in."

When Matsui was asked if he ever had that type of moment in his seven seasons with the Yankees, he smiled, saying through interpreter Roger Kahlon: "They're not quite the team like that."

Not many are.

Comments
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made clear Thursday that identification of a site for a new Rays stadium is merely the first step for area leaders to show they want to keep the team long-term and that there needs to "consistent forward movement" on the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that the team is "genuinely excited" about the proposed Ybor City site for a new stadium and more than "cautiously optimistic" the project can be completed. But ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Rays journal: No big deals at GM meetings, but possible groundwork laid

By MARC TOPKINLAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities. "Expectations were to utilize these few...
Published: 11/15/17
Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

For his wife, Brandy, Roy Halladay was so much more than a standout pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.During a a celebration of life ceremony Tuesday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Brandy remembered Halladay — who died Nov...
Published: 11/15/17