Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. Trade deadline update: Price likely on the move


    UPDATE, 3:02: With one hour to go, still no details on where the Rays are sending Price, or who else might be going.

    UPDATE, 2:13: Price's camp has not heard anything yet. The Dodgers, Pirates, Mariners and Tigers are considered most likely to make the deal.

    UPDATE, 1:54: Have been told a deal is coming.  Fox Sports reports Rays and Dodgers have talked today about Price, so maybe it is them after all.

    David Price told reporters after Wednesday's game that he would be out golfing today with his phone in his bag.
  2. Rays Maddon, Price expect no trade


    Manager Joe Maddon said he does not expect ace LHP David Price to be traded before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline for non-waiver deals, suggesting the Rays have not found a team willing to meet their demands for the Cy Young award winner.

    "It takes two to dance, boys,'' Maddon said after the 5-0 loss to the Brewers.

    Price also said he does not expect to be traded.

    The market has been and is likely to continue to evolve by the deadline, with plenty of rumors expected....

  3. Rays' loss to Brewers fuels David Price trade speculation

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — One way or another, David Price will be involved in a trade today.

    Either the ace lefty will be shipped to a contender for a stack of young talent or he'll get to swap the uncertainty that has been hanging over him for the chance to continue leading the Rays' improbable charge toward a playoff spot.

    After Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Brewers that wasn't much of a potential farewell performance, Price said he expected to stay with the Rays....

    Shortstop Yunel Escobar reacts after an error on a potential double-play grounder in the third leads to a run.
  4. For starters, Rays vs. Brewers in potential Price farewell


    UPDATE, 10:37: Price is here at the Trop, dressed for action.

    Here is the Rays lineup:
    Jennings cf
    Zobrist dh
    Joyce lf
    Longoria 3b
    Loney 1b
    Forsythe 2b
    Escobar ss
    Molina c
    Kiermaier rf
    Price p

    DEVELOPING: The Rays are set to take on the Brewers at noon today with several significant storylines.

    The biggest of course is the potential that this could be ace David Price's last game before being traded, with the nonwaiver deadline at 4 p.m. Thursday....

    This could be ace David Price's last game before being traded, with the nonwaiver deadline at 4 p.m. Thursday.
  5. Rays beat Brewers again, now game shy of .500

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are playing for a lot these days, not just to continue their improbable climb back to .500 and into playoff contention but potentially to keep ace David Price and others from being traded.

    And they are playing like it, battling from behind for a second straight night to beat the NL Central-leading Brewers 5-1 Tuesday.

    "It's kind of funny; we've been playing so well, I haven't even worried about it too much," said Ben Zobrist, the subject of trade rumors himself. "Right now it's just so much fun to play with this club that I can't imagine anything being broke up at this point."...

    Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar throws up his hands in disbelief after being ejected during his eighth-inning at-bat for arguing over a strike call.
  6. Rays' David Price awaiting fate as trade deadline approaches

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It may be no consolation, but David Price goes into today's start at least knowing there soon will be resolution on his trade status with Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver deals.

    "It's here, so I guess we'll have some answers here in the next couple of days," Price said Tuesday. "And we'll see how it goes."

    As much as the Rays' march back into playoff contention has made what seemed an obvious decision more difficult, team officials remain open to dealing their ace and likely will take it to the deadline....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) after the top of the third inning of the Boston Red Sox at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 25, 2014.
  7. Rays Longoria on Intentional Talk


    Rays 3B Evan Longoria had some funny answers for the guys on MLB Network's Intentional Talk, especially about Wil Myers.

  8. Rays still open to discussing David Price trade

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As the rest of baseball awaits their decision on whether to trade ace LHP David Price, the Rays are likely to wait until close to Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline to decide.

    Though the team's hot streak has made a deal seem unlikely to those in the Rays clubhouse, team officials, working out of a conference room turned command center with shades drawn, continue discussing and remain open to the possibility, as they have been....

    David Price is scheduled to start Wednesday, with the trade deadline Thursday. The Rays are playing well, but won’t rule out a Price deal.
  9. Tampa native Tony La Russa inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame



    Tony La Russa was doing okay until Sunday afternoon, when he gathered in a room at the Otesaga Hotel with 44 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame whom he and the five other new electees were to soon join.

    "All of a sudden you start feeling a little differently," he said.

    Worse, when they boarded a bus for the short ride to the induction ceremony site, and again when they turned into the Clark Sports Center and saw nearly 50,000 fans stretched as far as you could see....

    Tony La Russa, left, Joe Torre, center, and Bobby Cox display their Baseball Hall of Fame plaques Sunday at Clark Sports Center during their induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y. La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 2,728 victories and led his teams to six pennants and three World Series titles. Torre led the New York Yankees to six American League pennants and four World Series titles. Cox won five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series with the Atlanta Braves.
  10. Joe Torre honors Don Zimmer in Hall of Fame speech

    The Heater

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Joe Torre had plenty of people to thank during his Sunday Hall of Fame induction speech. And despite going on for nearly 30 minutes, he didn't get to them all, including the very large omission of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, for which he quickly apologized afterward.

    But Torre had very kind words for Don Zimmer, his former Yankees bench coach and the Rays senior adviser who died last month....

    New Hall of Famer Joe Torre says that the late Don Zimmer “made me the manager that I turned into.”
  11. Tampa upbringing crucial to La Russa's Hall of Fame career

    The Heater

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — It was the night before second-grade photo day at V.M. Ybor Elementary and Oliva La Russa had picked out a nice shirt and dressy pants for her son.

    But Tony wouldn't have any of it. He was going to wear his gray flannel baseball uniform and cap, and that was going to be it. They went back and forth for a few minutes, but Oliva realized then what the rest of the world would find out:...

    Tony La Russa signs with the Kansas City Athletics at age 17, getting $100,000 and a white Bonneville. His big-league career consists of 132 games and is most notable for his persistence.
  12. La Russa admits to being overwhelmed by Hall of Fame

    The Heater

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Riding across Cooperstown on Saturday with good buddy Jim Leyland, Tampa's Tony La Russa realized just how significant his Hall of Fame induction is.

    "Once you see what's going on, it overwhelms you," La Russa said. "You try not to get overwhelmed. But I think it's okay to be overwhelmed. It's really a big deal."

    La Russa's primary remaining task — the one still "looming there" — was refining the speech he will give at today's ceremony, fighting what sounded like a losing battle to cut it down to the requested 10 minutes....

  13. Rays rarely go for fireworks at trade deadline

    The Heater

    Andrew Friedman has never really been a big deal in July.

    The Rays executive vice president has done most of his major trades in the offseason, and he has made a few key pickups during the August waiver period. But his moves leading up to the annual July 31 trade deadline have been minimal, dumping a few veterans, picking up some future complementary pieces, filling an injury-created need in 2010 by picking up RHP Chad Qualls....

    EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times (2012)
  14. Hall of Fame changes voting policy


    Here is the release from the Hall of Fame on changes to the voting procedure:

    (COOPERSTOWN, NY) - The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Board of Directors today announced changes to the rules for election for recently retired players, reducing the length of stay on the ballot for players from a maximum of 15 to 10 years, while installing a new balloting and registration process for Baseball Writers' Association of America voting members.

     The changes, effective immediately and to be reflected in 2015 Hall of Fame voting, are the first made by the Hall of Fame to the voting process since 1991 and just the second time the Baseball Hall of Fame has amended the rules for election since 1985.

     "The Board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "We believe the BBWAA has done an excellent job of honoring the criteria advanced by the Hall of Fame - player's record, contributions to the teams on which the player played, character, sportsmanship and integrity - to determine individuals who belong in the Hall of Fame by the highest threshold, a 75 percent majority. The Board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward."

     Candidates for Hall of Fame election who receive votes on at least five percent of ballots cast had previously been eligible to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration by the BBWAA. Going forward, the maximum years of consideration for a player who meets that criteria is now 10 years. Candidates would then move to the Era Committee system for review in perpetuity. Three candidates presently on the BBWAA ballot in years 10-15 will be grandfathered into this system and remain under consideration by the BBWAA for up to the full 15 years. Don Mattingly (15th year in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th year in 2015) and Lee Smith (13th year in 2015) will be eligible to remain on the BBWAA ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration.

     BBWAA members earn a Hall of Fame vote from its organization, which is independent of the Hall of Fame, by maintaining 10 consecutive years on a baseball beat. Those Hall of Fame eligible voters will now be required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct. The names of those BBWAA members casting Hall of Fame ballots will now be made public with the election results; however, an individual's ballot will not be revealed by the Hall of Fame.

     Ernst and Young will continue to verify the count, with added responsibilities in verifying the process. The 2015 ballot will be announced by the BBWAA in late-November and those who have completed the registration process will receive their ballot around that time. Ballots are to be postmarked by December 31. The 2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame results will be announced at a yet to be determined date in early January.

     Of the 211 players in the Hall of Fame, 115 have been elected by the BBWAA, 96 by Veterans Committees. Of the 115 BBWAA electees, 102 (89%) have been elected in years 1-10 and 13 (11%) have been elected in years 11-15.

     The BBWAA has held the exclusive voting privilege to consider recently retired players for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 1936. Since that time, the BBWAA has presided over 70 elections in 79 election years, with no elections being held in 1940, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963 and 1965.

     In the nascent stages of Hall of Fame voting, election rules were not codified. By World War II, they began to take shape, with evolution over ensuing years featuring changes to the eligibility criteria and qualifications for earning election. The rules for election are maintained and governed by the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors.

     The last rule change implemented by the Hall of Fame came in 1991, formalizing a long-standing unwritten rule that anyone on baseball's ineligible list cannot be an eligible candidate for Hall of Fame election. Prior to that, in 1985, the Board made candidates eligible for future elections if they were named on five percent or more of ballots cast in preceding elections....

  15. Ortiz vs. Price, round 2? Not likely (video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Whether it was going to be a war as David Ortiz suggested or just another intense battle, tonight's anticipated rematch between still-Rays ace David Price and the Red Sox DH might not happen.

    Ortiz left Boston's Thursday loss in Toronto with what he said was a back spasm and is questionable for tonight's game, pending an afternoon exam.

    "Hopefully it's nothing serious," Ortiz said. "They want to make sure (today) I don't have the same feeling."...

    David Ortiz is questionable for tonight’s series opener at the Trop.