The wait is finally over, and after all the talk the only thing I have to say is thank you all.
Okay, that's not really the only thing I have to say, in fact there's a wall of text after the jump, but for those who don't care about that stuff click here for the download.
It's LaMar-itis time folks!
Let me begin by saying I don't blame LaMar for the team's lack of success, simply put the title was catchy - I thought at least. I don't have bad feelings for LaMar or Naimoli, I hope Chuck gets another chance at being a general manager, and with the gained experience and maturity I bet he'll succeed. I few weeks ago I wrote about the Dodgers situation, and Logan White, LaMar fits that bill perfectly. Naimoli had his rough patches, but he brought the team here and sure it was rough while he was the owner, but at least he was willing to pay on draft day and tried to make Tampa into a winning team. I know people dislike him for being cheap, egotistical, a hard ass, whatever else, but Patrick shared with me his experiences with Naimoli at the stadium press conference and I'm encouraged with his role with the team. If you think he doesn't care about this organization you're nuts.
I didn't write this to insult or attempt and embarrass anyone from the organization; I apologize in advance for any harsh feelings. I tried not to call anyone out but you know how things go.
Moving on here are some common questions with answers:
Why did I write it?
There's a ton of new Rays fans joining the crowd everyday, many of them don't have the astute knowledge of the old regime, I wanted to give folks a resource tool that had no bias.
Did you interview any players?
Nope, it didn't fit what I wanted and I began writing this before having the means to do so.
Did you cut anything from the book?
Yes, but it wasn't an important part, simply an opinions section, I also held back on going into too much statistical analysis, I'm hoping the casual fan reads this just as much as you diehards.
Why so much detail on the meaningless players?
Because part of the enjoyment of baseball is the love of largely irrelevant players and a huge part of Rays' history is full with poor players with interesting backgrounds.
Is a sequel planned?
I've heard a few make a gesture about writing one pertaining to the new regime, and sure it's a possibility, but at this point their story isn't over, in fact the first chapter just ended.
Well, a project due out in February and On Baseball is in the preliminary stages, I might go back and tweak Prevent a Crime, Dawg, but otherwise DRaysBay and Beyond the Boxscore are my only planned writing assignments, naturally that can change quickly.
Are you going to write for a living?
I had intended to, but honestly I can't put forth the time like the Topkins, Lancasters, Encinas, and Gaddises of the world do. It's highly unlikely you'll ever see me in newspaper or magazines, although I'd consider nearly any offer.
A few of my favorite excerpts:
Andy Sheets IF Seattle Mariners Pick: 24
Sheets became what he was drafted to be, a utility infielder with no bat, at all, that was, until 2000 at least, with the San Diego Padres as Sheets and later draftee Brian Boehringer were dealt for the starting catcher John Flaherty. Sheets would return in 2001 and 2002, putting together a .196 and .248 BA in each respectively.
In 2003 Sheets would head to Japan, and in 2005 would sign with the Hanshin Tigers, the Boston Red Sox of the Nippon Professional League, literally. They have their `Yankees' in the Youmiuri Giants, and their version of Fenway Park, Hanshin Koshien Stadium, which is considered a baseball holy land, Babe Ruth has even visited the stadium. They also have their version of `the curse', although none of their own management's doing.
The legend goes that after winning the 1985 Japan Series title, Tigers' player look-a-likes jumped into the Dotombori Canal, one of the American players, Randy Bass, had no fans who resembled him, and someone apparently grabbed a life-sized statue of Colonel Sanders, yes the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and threw him, it, into the river, the statue was lost forever and hence the belief that the Tigers were cursed by of all things, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Nearly 20 years later the Tigers returned to the Japan series, and interestingly enough the local KFC restaurants hid their statues. If nothing else it's a showing sign that the spreading of American culture to foreign lands is more disruptive than we could've ever imagined.
Oh and the Tiger fans are obsessive, releasing balloons during the 7th inning stretch, and have a willingness to fight with other teams fans, whom they often outnumber even during road games, they even go so far as to attacking their own team's bus after losses, no word on whether or not they act better than every other team, or overvalue their own players quite as much as their American counterparts however.
Sheets would become the team's starting first baseman, and surprisingly has shown a good bat, putting up a career line of .299/.353/.480 along with more than 86 homeruns, compare that to his .216/.271/.321, 19 homerun totals from America and it's quite shocking. Former Ryan Vogelsong, and ironically, and because there's always a Rays' connection, Esteban Yan are members of the Tigers' rotation.
Easily the biggest free agent signing, and that's not to take anything away from Tom Wilson or Aaron Holbert, was made on December 11th, when the Rays signed Jose Canseco, fresh off of his 46 homeruns, 107 RBI year, albeit with a .237 batting average.
The average is so low that it's quite peculiar since you'd think a guy with 46 homeruns and 107 RBIs would make a load more contact, but yet of his 583 at-bats, he only recorded 138 hits; meaning that one third of his hits for the seasons were homeruns, and 26 of those 92 were doubles, without any triples. So he had all of 66 singles, and 65 walks on the season, add in his 29 stolen bases, and 17 failed attempts, and you can tell Canseco didn't like first base all that much.
Canseco would put up a very good numbers in 1999 hitting 34 homers with 95 RBIs and a .932 OPS, along with a 3.9 WARP, although he'd hurt his back while playing in the outfield. In 2000 his batting average, homeruns, RBIs, stolen bases, and SLG%, all dropped, somehow he increased his OBP by .014 points, later on he'd move on to the Yankees before basically ending his career. He'd go on to play for the White Sox and try out for the Expos as well as the Dodgers, later on he'd play for an Independent League team as a pitcher and outfielder, he'd also become a reality television star and a best selling author, along with his own drink, and even a potential movie.
Canseco has gone from amongst the first admitted cheaters to potentially a white knight amongst the steroid era for his tell all book. He's even went as far to claim that steroids have made him feel like he was in his 20's while being over 40, a fountain of youth of sorts.
Finally acknowledgments: BP, BA, Bradbury, Law, Olney, Lewis, ect. for the writing inspiration from your works, all of the DRB readers, Will Leitch for giving me a larger platform to announce it, Marc Topkin for his insight, Patrick Kennedy, Tim Dierkes - his rumor archive made sure I didn't forget anything, J.D. Downie, Jim Wisinski, Tyler Marsh, Sam Kilay - stay safe, Tommy Vercetti, Joe Dobrowski, Matt Bishoff, Jason Collette, Matt Sammon, Bobby Fenton for giving the project radio time, David Bloom, and Jake Larsen, who has taught me more about baseball than anything or anyone else around and saw some potential in me to begin with.
If you have any questions, concerns, or found anything that needs to be corrected please either email me or post it in the comments section.
Click here for the download.