Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays, Durham Bulls make for an ideal partnership

DURHAM, N.C. — Saturday was special, as North Carolina Triangle fans (and a handful from Tampa Bay on Southwest's morning flight) packed the festive Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the Rays' first visit since 2002.

But it's not that different during the regular season, as the Rays and Bulls mutually enjoy a relationship that ties two well-run organizations together and will through at least 2014.

The Rays benefit from the positive atmosphere and historical setting of having their top farm team in Durham, and the Bulls benefit from getting to field some of the game's top young players as well as the Rays' dedication to player development.

Just ask the players who came through, such as B.J. Upton, who spent the better part of three years in Durham. "It's hot, it's humid, it's sweaty in the middle of the summer," Upton said. "And it's a great place. There's a great crowd, and they support you as well as anywhere. They made it fun."

Or ask Bulls GM Mike Birling: "All these fans here watched these guys grow up, and now they're seeing such a huge part of that AL championship roster come through here. Even though the Orioles are right there (300 miles away), they're really becoming Rays fans, which is great to see the transformation over the last 10 years. It's been a great ride.

"We all have the same common goal, we understand what they're trying to accomplish, they understand stuff like this, how important it is to us. That's why the relationship is so strong."

Or ask Rays manager Joe Maddon: "The people of Durham absolutely treated us great, first class. I can understand why our guys like coming up here; it's a great atmosphere, a great facility."

UNION MIKE: Principal owner Stuart Sternberg's announced plans to cut the payroll after this season certainly caught the attention of some Rays players. Also the players union. "Do we like hearing somebody on a competitive team say they are going to cut major-league payroll? No," union chief Michael Wiener said. "We're going to wait and see what actually happens."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: There has been talk, though no official announcement, of showing up to 30 games on TV in Spanish, with word that Orestes Destrade will be one of the announcers. … Somehow, Tuesday's home opener is still not sold out. … Evan Longoria's New Era cap TV commercial, which is about to start airing, is pretty good. … Longoria shot another national spot last week at the Trop for Pepsi's Refresh Project, which encourages fans to vote for different charitable causes to get grants; his was tied in with Moffitt cancer center. … In Sports Illustrated's prediction, the Rays win 95 games and the wild card, then beat the Angels and Yankees in the playoffs before losing to the Phillies. … Peter Gammons, now of mlb.com, picks B.J. Upton to win the AL MVP award and Sean Rodriguez to be AL rookie of the year, though he's actually not eligible. … The Cuban Ball Players blog says LHP Sergio Espinosa, who reportedly signed with the Rays, was a closer who throws over 90 mph with a sharp breaking ball and averaged seven-plus strikeouts per nine innings.

Tampa Bay Rays, Durham Bulls make for an ideal partnership 04/03/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 3, 2010 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Red state: Yes, Bill O'Reilly is a Bucs fan

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- The question was simple enough for Bucs fans: Why is former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly wearing a red Bucs polo?

    O'Reilly was wearing the polo during a few video clips from his "No Spin News" podcast posted on his website Monday, which was exciting news for some Bucs fans and not-so-exciting …

    Former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was sporting a red Bucs polo during his "No Spin News" video podcast Monday. An assistant said the shirt was given to him by former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.
  2. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP

    Blogs

    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  3. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst

    Blogs

    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  4. Rank the top 10 Bucs players? Here's what fans said

    Blogs

    We mentioned this morning that is was a fun challenge, in response to Sports Illustrated's ranking of the NFL's top 400 players, to ask fans to rank their top 10 Bucs players.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston during last year's Bucs win against the Seahawks. Evans and Winston finished 1-2 in an informal Twitter poll of fans ranking their top Bucs players.
  5. Brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.

    Storm

    Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99 percent of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease, according to a new study published Tuesday.

    This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on the brains of 202 former football players has confirmed what many feared in life -- evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating disease in nearly all the samples, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school. [Dr. Ann McKee | BU via AP]