FACE TIME: Al Martin has one of those faces. Early in his career, he had people tell him he looked like White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. Later in life, he has had people ask him if he's actor Cuba Gooding Jr., who starred in Jerry Maguire and other movies.
Now he tends to laugh at both comparisons. "I'm the best looking of the three," Martin said. "And the poorest one of them all."
FIRST IN SOMETHING: The Rays don't finish on top often, but the Tropicana Field visiting clubhouse was voted best in the game in a Sports Illustrated survey of 550 big-league players. The Trop, an overwhelming choice (63.2 percent) of AL players, was noted for its extensive candy selection and the special attention paid by clubhouse manager Guy Gallagher and his staff.
In the same survey, the Trop was fourth in voting for least-favorite ballpark (Montreal's Olympic Stadium was first), Tampa Bay fans were voted fifth worst (New York edged Montreal), Lou Piniella was voted sixth-best manager (Dusty Baker was first), Lee Elia was voted sixth-best hitting coach (Texas' Rudy Jaramillo was first), and Chuck LaMar was voted second-worst GM behind Steve Phillips, who was fired by the Mets.
SOME BAD PRESS: ESPN.com wasn't kind in its review of the Trop, part of a tour of all parks, deeming it "one of the worst ballparks in the majors."
Writer Jeff Merron, in a thorough review, found the food choices decent and liked the highway access but complained (among other things) about the interior and exterior architecture, the in-game music and entertainment, the lack of player-specific merchandise, the price of beer, and the stark absence of local flavor.
On the other hand, Merron misspelled the name of the city (ST. PETERSBERG), technically had the name of the spring training stadium wrong (Progress Energy Park, not Al Lang Field) and incorrectly said the Class-A St. Petersburg Devil Rays play there (not since 2000).
The Rays have won 11 games in their history on walkoff home runs, and Carl Crawford has done it twice:
Date Hitter Score (Inn) Opp
4/13/98 Bobby Smith 13-12 (14) Minnesota
5/12/98 Kevin Stocker 6-5 (14) Cleveland
4/22/00 Bubba Trammell 11-9 (10) Anaheim
5/4/00 Greg Vaughn 8-7 (11) Texas
6/14/00 Fred McGriff 3-2 (9) Anaheim
8/13/00 John Flaherty 5-3 (9) ChiSox
8/12/01 John Flaherty 4-3 (12) Minnesota
5/11/02 Randy Winn 6-4 (9) Baltimore
8/15/02 Andy Sheets 4-3 (9) Cleveland
3/31/03 Carl Crawford 6-4 (9) Boston
7/4/03 Carl Crawford 4-3 (9) ChiSox
YOU DON'T SAY
"Now (Jason) Tyner can't talk to me."
_ AL MARTIN, who left Tyner in the ranks of the homerless on Thursday
47: Days between consecutive victories by the Rays.
_ MARC TOPKIN
Better play by team, more smiles from manager.
Al Martin, center, shrugs off the comparisons to Frank Thomas, left, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Carl Crawford makes his homers count, ending games on opening day and Friday.