The game was tied 3-3 in the 7th inning when Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price stepped onto the mound. The Cy Young Winner has yet to win a game this year and he was determined to pitch a scoreless inning. After allowing a single to Conor Gillaspie, Tyler Flowers hit into a double play. After David Price threw a “strike 3” pitch to Dewayne Wise, he and Rays fans were surprised to see the ball was called a “ball” instead. Throughout the game, homeplate umpire Tom Hallion had a strict strike zone – the pitch had to be perfect for it to be called a strike. Though Price was able to get Wise to ground out to him and end the inning, he was not happy.
After the commercial break ended, Rays announcer Todd Kalas announced that Rays pitcher Jeremy was ejected from the game. According to Price and several other players, after the inning was over Price was upset at the umpire, but did not say anything. The umpire, seeing Price was mad at him, told him to “throw the ball over the f-in plate.” This caused the Rays players, especially the pitchers, to get upset so Hallion pointed to Hellickson and ejected him. As fans know, Hellickson is the stereotypical country boy; he’s quiet, polite, and well-behaved so for him to get ejected is really surprising.
After the game, it wasn’t the win that the Rays were talking about first, it was the ejection of Hellickson. Coach Joe Maddon was surprised that of all the players, it was Hellickson that was ejected. When Hellickson was interviewed, he looked as though he couldn’t even harm a fly, much less cuss at an umpire. Hellickson has never been ejected, but less been in any kind of trouble. Price took to Twitter to defend him and Hellickson’s actions – asking his followers “Someone give me the definition of a coward please.”
Meanwhile, Hallion told a reporter, “I’ll come right out bluntly and say he’s a liar… I’m denying what he said I said, pretty strongly…I said ‘Just throw the ball.” That’s all I said to him.” Hallion also claims he ejected Hellickson because “He was told to know if off, him and Moore were at the dugout rail and I told them to knock it off, and he thought it was okay for him to have his final comment, at which time he was ejected.”
Once David Price heard the umpire called him a liar…
Price is not the only Rays player on Twitter upset. Fellow pitchers Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson, plus infielder Sean Rodriquez expressed their disgust at the umpire.
This episode shows that umpires need to be held accountable for their actions. Instead of claiming Price is a liar even though other players and fans at the game heard the “F” word, the umpire should of acknowledge his mistake, apologized to Price, and accepted his punishment. Instead, he called Price a liar and took his anger out on Hellickson. Umpires are supposed to be anonymous, not the antagonist of the show.
- Umps Continue to make Bad Calls Against the Rays (mlblogstbchick2011.wordpress.com)
It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, a runner on first, and a 3-2 count – the Tampa Bay Rays had a nine inning rally going on. Ben Zobrist was batting and Evan Longoria was up next; the two best Rays hitters were up and could make a difference in the game. Texas Ranger closer Joe Nathan threw what appeared to be a ball; catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s glove touched the ground when he caught the ball. As Zobrist began his trot toward first base, home plate umpire Marty Foster shouted “strike!” The game was over – Rays lose 5-4.
It was obvious to me and viewers everywhere that it was a ball – it was low and nearly bounced into Pierzynski’s Sports analysts, sports journalists, baseball fans, Rangers fans, and even football players took to Twitter to comment on how that was obviously a ball. Rays fans took to Twitter to express their anger about the call; how once again, the Rays lost because of bad umpiring. Now, there are those who will say “the game shouldn’t have been that close to begin with” or “mistakes happen, you try being an umpire” and I would go to bed angry and wake up in a better mood, except I’m tired of hearing those excuses. Why do umpires continue to determine the outcome of a Rays game? This is hardly the first time an umpire made a bad call against the Rays, it is becoming way too common for Rays fans to witness umpires controlling the game. Former Rays pitcher Matt Garza was switched in the pitching rotation because one home plate umpire believed Garza’s strikes were actually balls. Another umpire had trouble with B.J. Upton’s batting – the two would argue every year they met. And if the Rays are playing the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, Rays fans expect to different strike zones – one zone favored the big market team, the other ruined the Rays’ chances to win. As a low-market team with a small fan-base Major League Baseball (MLB) probably prefers a team that will bring in television ratings in October.
There has been seven baseball games this season and already two of the games involved umpires making bad calls against the Rays when they had momentum on their side. On April 4th, the Rays had another ninth-inning rally going on when Evan Longoria was called out for passing up Ben Zobrist while they were running bases. The cameras show that all the umpires were looking toward outfield to see if the ball was a homerun, none of them were watching Longoria and Zobrist running. When coach Joe Maddon asked them to huddle together to make sure one of them saw Longoria pass Zobrist, they refused.
Now, umpires will make mistakes because they are human, so why does MLB continue to believe technology will hurt the game? Maddon could have “challenged” a call and had it reviewed – it would take a minute and all fans would be satisfied with the call. Other sports like football, basketball, and hockey use video-replay and the games have not gone on for half-a-day. As long as MLB continues to favor umpires, the umpires will continue to be the bad guys. MLB made a rule that coaches and players cannot argue balls and strikes, meaning umpires can get away with an unique zone. If a player complains about an umpire, he is fined but some umpires were allowed to complain about certain teams making the games last more than 3 hours. Now there is a possibility that certain umpires may try to hurry games along by using the strike zone to their advantage. But as baseball fans know, baseball is played in all 9 innings – the Cincinnati Reds scored 9 runs in the 9th to beat the St. Louis Cardinals just the other day. And if an umpire is ever in trouble for making a bad call, it is not made public like coaches and players. If MLB continues to let umpires take the blame, fans will continue to believe that baseball favors certain teams over others. Its time for MLB to stop letting umpires get away with bad calls but removing some of the human element and replacing it with technology – it is 2013, not 1913.
- Chris Davis leads Orioles past Rays (mlblogstbchick2011.wordpress.com)
Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney returned to the Rays’ clubhouse on Thursday, with a smile and a World Baseball Classic Championship Medal. Rodney helped lead the Dominican Republic to the Championship, appearing in 8 games and pitching 7 1/3 scoreless innings, only giving up one hit. And when the game was over, he shot an imaginary arrow, a sign of victory that Rays fans are used to seeing. Besides being a dependable player to the team, Rodney brought the Dominican Republic team plenty of laughs. He told them about a magical plantain flown in from the Dominican Republic (actually given to him from a fan in exchange for signing a baseball) that brought the team luck. Rodney’s magical plantain worked, as the Dominican Republic won 3-0 against Puerto Rico on Tuesday, March 19th.
Though it is great seeing Rodney’s early 2013 success, Rays’ coaches are worried that Rodney may suffer from a residual impact later in the season. Coach Joe Maddon is talking about using Rodney in 2 straight games, instead of 3 straight games. But Rodney isn’t worried, “I’m ready to go right now for the season. I feel good. .. I feel ready to go. My arm feels good, body, mentally, physically, everything’s good. … I don’t feel any problems, I feel great.” Rodney will pitch March 27th and March 30 before the season starts in April.
Evan Longoria returned to the Rays after Wednesday’s birth of his daughter, Elle Leona. Elle was supposed to be born on April 2nd, but due to girlfriend Jamie Edmonson’s high blood pressure, Elle was born six weeks early. Elle entered the world at 4.1 pounds and 18 inches. This means that Elle will be at a hospital in Boca Raton for several weeks. Elle is named after Longoria’s mother Mary Ellen, and Leona for Edmondson’s grandmother. Longoria expects to return on Monday against Boston, though Joe Maddon says it will be Tuesday against the Houston Astros.
- Five Tampa Bay Players are competing in the World Baseball Classic: Alex Torres (Venezuela), Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic), Cesar Ramos (Mexico), Jose Molina (Puerto Rico), and Ben Zobrist (United States).
- There is now a boar’s head mounted on Luke Scott’s locker. Scott is known as being a hunter, but he has now taken up spear hunting instead of shooting . Only in Florida…
- New Rays pitcher Juan Sandoval is making a name for himself in Tampa Bay after fans found out that he is blind in one eye. Sandoval is a 32 years-old, right-handed pitcher competing for a spot in the Rays’ organization. In 2006, a shooting incident between a security guard and a customer at a restaurant in the Dominican Republic resulted in Sandoval loosing his eyesight in one eye. When this shooting incident happened, Sandoval was in the Seattle Mariners organization. After bouncing from the Mariners to the Brewers and to the Phillies, Sandoval landed in the Mexico League. In 2011, he made 67 appearances in 103 games last year, had a 7-3 record and a 2.97 ERA. During winter 2012, he went to the Dominican Winter League where he met Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta. Peralta recommended him to the Rays and now Sandoval is back in the United States. “I’ve worked hard but it’s not about the eye,” he says. “I don’t think about that. I have three kids now. I support my mom and dad. These are key things that are at the center of my life, the ones that make me work harder. These kids are maybe why I got better. I have to support them. Not because I want to prove to the world.”
- MLB has named “Astro bobblehead” as the best give away this year in baseball season. Astro is David Price’s dog.
- Joe Maddon says Alex Cobb will have a spot in the starting rotation, along with David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson. That means only one spot is left in the starting rotation.
- Desmond Jennings is ready to become center-fielder. Though he knows that B.J. Upton has a better arm, he is ready to take over since center-field feels more natural to him.
- First game of Spring Training: Saturday 23, Split Squad against the Pirates at 1:05 pm.
In an interview with Fox Sports, Cy Young Award winner David Price discussed the possibility of being with a new team in the next few years and how much he will miss his current team, the Tampa Bay Rays. O, he also talked about how he wouldn’t play for certain teams due to their strict rules. “It’s a joke to me, that I had less rules in college than I would on some major league teams. That’s not my style, man. I couldn’t do it on some of these teams I hear about. I couldn’t do it. I’m a grown man” says Price. When told that he would have to shave his beard if the Yankees traded for him, Price stated “I wouldn’t stay there very long then. I wouldn’t sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that’s old-school baseball. I was born in ’85. That’s not for me. That’s not something I want to be a part of.” Price went on to praise Rays coach Joe Maddon’s care-free environment in the club house, where players can play any type of music in the locker room and wear any type of hair (or beard) style.
Yankees fans (and probably the Yankee Organization) did not like what Price said about the strict rules over at New York. On Thursday February 21, Price began doing damage control with the Yankees by calling them the best organization in sports, saying anything could happen by 2016, “My hair might fall out by then.” But Price stuck to his principles, saying that he “never aspired to be a New York Yankee” while growing up. Price says though money is a factor, he wants to be comfortable where he plays, “The last thing I want to think is that I’m signing a long-term deal — regardless of the money — and not having the feeling I have here.” Though money is always important in signing a contract, Price makes an excellent point on feeling comfortable spending years with one team. Former Ray Carl Crawford signed an expensive contract with the Boston Red Sox and ended up hating his time there, admitting he regretted his decision to play there several times. Luckily for Crawford, the Los Angeles Dodgers could afford to cover Crawford’s contract. If Price becomes the most expensive pitcher in baseball history, that means he can’t count on another team to bail him out but will have to remain with the team. The chance that a team would not like Price is slim though since he brings laughter to the Tampa Bay area.
According to Price, the Rays’ club house is a special place in all of major league baseball. It isn’t just recently traded pitcher James Shields that will miss the Rays, “It’s everybody that’s been traded or hit free agency from here and left and got their millions of dollars. They all miss it. We do things differently over here. We have freedom. We’re treated like grown men. Other places, it’s a penitentiary.” The Rays fans know that while the players love playing in Tampa, it is common to see players leave due to money issues. Center-fielder B.J. Upton signed with the Atlantic Braves this past off-season since the Rays could not afford him, and Price knows he probably will not be a Ray forever. Price’s contract with a new team could be worst almost $200 million, a price that the Rays cannot compete with. Though Price is a Ray for the next two years, there is a possibility that he will be traded before then; some even speculate that as soon as the All-Star break 2013. Price refuses to think about it and to spend the rest of his time here having fun while playing baseball. As with Upton, Crawford, and several other former Rays, the fans will continue to speculate how long Price will remain a Ray.
I mainly use Twitter for the latest sports news, especially Tampa Bay Rays baseball news. Here are the players/coaches to follow on Twitter.
@RaysBaseball Official Twitter of the Tampa Bay Rays
@SunSportsFOXFL Fox Sports Florida Television Station: Covers Florida Teams
@RaysJoeMaddon Rays Coach Joe Maddon
@jamesloney_7 First Baseman James Loney
@TheZobrists Second baseman Ben Zobrist (shares account with his wife)
@Evan3Longoria Third baseman Evan Longoria
@d_jennings8 Center Fielder Desmond Jennings
@sweetswingin20 Right Fielder Matt Joyce
@DAVIDprice14 Cy Young Pitcher David Price
@JHell58 Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson
@mattymoe55 Pitcher Matt Moore
@Acobb53 Pitcher Alex Cobb
@Joeycatch8 Catcher Jose Molina
@SamFuld5 Outfielder Sam Fuld
@Alex21Torres Pitcher Alex Torres
@ChrisArcher42 Pitcher Chris Archer
@wilmyers Outfielder Wil Myers
@SVogt1229 Utility Player Stephen Vogt
@SeanJRodriguez1 Utility Player Sean Rodriguez
@robinson28ch Catcher Robinson Chirinos
@rroberts19 Ryan Roberts Utility Player
@ChrisGimenez5 Catcher Chris Gimenez
@JLobaton21 Catcher Jose Lobaton
@BrandonGuyer Outfielder Brandon Guyer
@Josh_Lueke Pitcher Josh Lueke
Twitter of Past Rays:
@BJUPTON2 Centerfielder BJ Upton
@reidbrignac Shortstop Reid Brignac
@ElliotJohnson9 Utility Player Elliot Johnson
@Gdeuceswild Pitcher Matt Garza
@JKeppinger Third Baseman Jeff Keppinger
@AdamRussell36 Pitcher Adam Russell
@ShopHouse10 Kelly Shoppach