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. Rays, Lightning ranked most affordable by ESPN


    The Rays and Lightning are tops in their sports in terms of affordability of tickets, parking and concession in ESPN The Magazine's new Ultimate Rankings of the 122 teams in MLB and the NFL, NHL and NBA.

    The overall rankings, part subjective, part formulaic, include quality of coaching, ownership and players; stadium experience and fan relations; win and title possibilties. The Lighting are sixth, the Rays 35th and the Bucs 84th. To see the full chart, click here....

  2. Rays-White Sox preview

    The Heater


    vs. White Sox


    What's new: Cuban 1B Jose Abreu has been quite a smash, ranking among the AL leaders with a .319 average, 35 homers, 103 RBIs, a .975 on-base plus slugging percentage and the leading candidate for AL rookie of the year. LHP Chris Sale has a shot to win the AL ERA title. And DH Paul Konerko is expected to get some at-bats as he completes his final season before retiring. But other than that, it has been a second straight tough year for the Sox and manager Robin Ventura....

  3. Rays: Seeking runs; Konerko farewell; Yankees hit batters

    The Heater

    Rays vs. White Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $14-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Oktoberfest stein as part of Tampa Bay Times ticket tandem.

    Probable pitchers...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) pitching in the second inning of the MLB game between the Los Angeles Angels  and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 1, 2014.
  4. Rays' Wil Myers: 'Most frustrating season'

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The offseason, and next season, can't come soon enough for OF Wil Myers, whose second year in the big leagues has turned out to be nothing like he or the Rays had hoped.

    "It's been a frustrating season, the most frustrating season I've ever had," Myers said. "Just trying to adjust every single day with something, it's been tough."

    After winning the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year Award following his mid June promotion, Myers got off to a slow start, got hurt in late May, missed 70 games with a right wrist fracture and has not gotten back to form since returning in late August....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers takes to the field as the Rays take on the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Sunday afternoon (05/ 25/14).
  5. Jeter gets hit, run in Trop finale as Rays lose to Yankees

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday the Rays planned to honor retiring Yankees star Derek Jeter with praise and some parting gifts. Wednesday, he left the Trop turf for the final time with the satisfaction of snapping an 0-for-28 slump and scoring the decisive run in the Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Rays.

    "That," Rays manager Joe Maddon joked, "was totally unintended."

    For many in the crowd of 26,332 that came to see Jeter's last game at the Trop, it was a fond farewell as they stood for his at-bats, cheered his every move and chanted his name. Jeter, who will live here full time, tipped his cap as he came off the field....

    Derek Jeter, in his final game at Tropicana Field, scores in the sixth inning on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly to right, putting the Yankees ahead 3-1.
  6. Rays: Lightning goalie Ben Bishop throws first-pitch strike

    The Heater

    Number of the day


    Consecutive years the Rays have won the season series with the Yankees

    Today: Off

    Next game: vs. White Sox, 7:10 p.m. Friday

    Probable pitchers: Rays — RH Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 3.63); White Sox — LH Jose Quintana (8-10, 3.30)

    On deck

    Saturday: vs. White Sox, 7:10. Rays — RH Chris Archer (9-8, 3.54); White Sox — RH Hector Noesi (8-10, 4.77)...

    Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop throws the first pitch before the MLB game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.
  7. Yankees' Joe Girardi still upset at Rays pitchers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Yankees manager Joe Girardi stuck to his criticism of the Rays' pitchers Wednesday, complaining again that they need to learn how to better pitch inside.

    "I think we had a right to get upset, just because of what's happened in the last (five) games against them," Girardi said Wednesday, after making similar comments following Tuesday's game. "There's been a lot of balls that are awful high. That's what bothers me. … When they're up and in, up by the neck and the head, I have a problem with that."...

    New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) is restrained as it appears he was attempting to go after Rays relief pitcher Steven Geltz (54) after he hit Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) and umps warn both benches as tempers fly during the 8th inning at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening (09/16/14). Yankees manager Joe Girardi is ejected.
  8. For starters, Rays vs. Yankees, seeking a sweep in Jeter's farewell


    UPDATE, 5:56: The Rays are seeking their sixth sweep alltime of the Yankees in a three-or-more game series, second this year. They haven't dont it at the Trop since April 2012. ... The rays witrh a win tonight will also be the first team to beat them at least 12 times in a season in consecutive seasons since the Orioles and Twins did so 1967-68.

    UPDATE, 5:45: Yankees SS Derek Jeter is in the lineup for what will be his last game at the Trop. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon reiterated that rookie RHP Steve Geltz was not throwing at Jeter last night, and Maddon didn't seem too concerned about Girardi's comments that the Rays needed to learn how to throw inside, saying he assumes they were made out of frustration. ... Sean Barber replaced suspended Joe West on the umpiring crew and wiill work 3B, with Alan Porter going behind the plate and Marty Foster serving as crew chief....

    The Rays tonight will start Alex Cobb, who took a no-hitter into the eighth in his last start against the Yankees on Thursday in New York.
  9. Girardi says Rays need to learn how to pitch inside. However …


    Joe Girardi has a conveniently short memory.

    In the aftermath of Tuesday's benches-and-bullpen clearing standoff, the Yankees manager, upset and frustrated as his team's slim playoff hopes are all but extinguished, accused the Rays of not knowing how to pitch inside properly and suggesting they learn.

    He pointed to how the Rays had hit five of his batters during the last five games between the teams and pontificated on their actions.

    "Five times in four games (over the span of five) we've been hit,'' Girardi said. "Twice in the elbow, once in the leg, once in the chin. Ball at Gardy's head (Monday) night. Another ball at Chase's ribs last night. I'm all for pitching inside, but you've got to know how to pitch inside because it's extremely dangerous. ... I don't know what they expect. They hit five of our guys in four games. You don't think we're going to be pissed? ... We're not pincushions."

    Also, Girardi said, "I'm tired of my guys getting hit and where they're getting hit. I'm tired of it. If you're going to pitch inside, learn to pitch inside. You pitch down in the zone; you don't pitch up. This is not practice; this is guys' livelihood."

    But what he conveniently didn't acknowledge was that in the first 12 games the teams played this season, his Yankees pitchers - who surely must know how to pitch inside - hit eight Rays batters (while Rays pitchers hit only two Yankees).

    And that for the season series, which concludes tonight, his Yankees pitchers have hit more batters than the Rays, 8-7. Over the last five years of play, the Yankees have "out-hit" the Rays 41-24.

    Also, for this season overall, the Yankees pitchers have hit 62 batters, the Rays 53....

    Yankees manager Joe Girardi is restrained while complaining about Rays relief pitcher Steven Geltz hitting Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  10. Rays beat Yankees in hot-tempered game

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — What started as a night of good vibes with a ceremony for retiring Yankees star Derek Jeter ended with hot tempers and bruised feelings in the Rays' 6-1 Tuesday win.

    Both benches and bullpens emptied in the bottom of the eighth after New York reliever David Phelps threw too close to Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier in obvious retaliation for Rays rookie Steve Geltz hitting Jeter in the top of the inning....

    Sean Rodriguez is restrained as benches clear after David Phelps threw inside to Kevin Kiermaier.
  11. Rays: Monday's game longest 1-0 nine-inning game ever

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Yankees

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $24-300, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (9-7, 2.75)

    YANKEES: RH Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 2.54)...

    NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06: Brandon McCarthy #38 of the New York Yankees exits the game during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium on September 6, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
  12. Rays' Longoria hoping to pick Derek Jeter's brain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Given that retiring Yankees star SS Derek Jeter is going to have some free time soon and will be in the Tampa Bay area, Rays 3B Evan Longoria would like to sit down with him and talk about leadership.

    The only problem? He wasn't sure how to approach Jeter about getting together, so he decided to go public with it Tuesday.

    "I've thought a lot about it the past two-three weeks," Longoria said. "Since he's going to be here, I kind of wanted to reach out to him and see if I could get his phone number. I didn't know how to address it really, so I guess maybe through the media — the power of the media — is the best way."...

    Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria walks back to the dug out after striking out during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young) CHY120
  13. Rays present Derek Jeter with framed Don Zimmer jersey

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Like most of the other teams bidding farewell to retiring Yankees superstar Derek Jeter, the Rays made a donation to his Turn 2 Foundation, presenting a check for $16,000. And they gave him a customized gift reflective of the area, delivering a 16-foot sea kayak painted with pinstripes and his No. 2.

    But the most special, and most touching, gift during Tuesday's brief pregame ceremony was one of the last No. 66 Rays jerseys worn by senior adviser Don Zimmer, long one of Jeter's favorites....

    Soot Zimmer, widow of Don Zimmer, gives Derek Jeter a hug as she presents him with a framed Zimmer jersey. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  14. For starters, Rays vs. Yankees, on Derek Jeter Day


    UPDATE, 5:18: Jeter is in the Yankees lineup, playing SS. ... Maddon said it's not official but "very unlikely" CF Desmond Jennings will play again this season. ... Alex Colome will be used out of the bullpen over the weekend and likely won't make his next start until the final weekend in Cleveland. Nathan Karns will get another start.

    UPDATE, 5:15: The Rays are starting Nick Franklin, acquired in the David Price trade, at 2B tonight....

    Derek Jeter, left, is in the Yankees lineup, playing shortstop.
  15. Zobrist walkoff hit gives Rays win over Yankees

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It took the Rays nearly 3½ hours to score a run Monday, but it was worth it, Ben Zobrist's bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth inning giving them a 1-0 win over the Yankees.

    "Walkoffs are still fun," manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought our guys celebrated well."

    Though it was only the Rays' 73rd win of a disappointing season, Maddon is pushing them for a .500 finish, noting they would be the first team to do so after being 18 games under. They need to win eight of their last 11 to do so....

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 15:  Manager Joe Girardi #28 of the New York Yankees looks on as Chase Headley #12 of the New York Yankees argues with home plate umpire Marty Foster #60 after Foster ejected Headley during the seventh inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 15, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 477589977