The lasting story to come out of last night's 5-1 loss to Boston was the eighth inning slide by Red Sox OF Coco Crisp into 2B Akinori Iwamura, and Rays Manager Joe Maddon's resulting shouting match with Crisp. The Tribune's Marc Lancaster sets up the situation, and covers the aftermath:
Crisp told reporters he was upset because of an earlier play, a sixth-inning stolen base on which he jammed his left thumb when shortstop Jason Bartlett's knee blocked the bag. Crisp said he thought Bartlett's maneuver was "shady," and he warned the Rays shortstop that he would see him again.
Instead, Crisp saw Iwamura covering second two innings later. Crisp was thrown out by catcher Dioner Navarro, but the slide came late and Crisp's elbow connected with Iwamura's midsection as the two collided.
Crisp was unrepentant. His only regret seemed to be that Bartlett wasn't the one covering the bag the second time around.
"If you're going to do something like that, cover the bag and take your own licking," Crisp said. "I'll take mine."
The slide provoked Maddon to yell at Crisp from the mound as he was making a pitching change in that same inning. Maddon used choice words in explaining that he felt there was intent to injure Iwamura, and that it was unacceptable. It will be interesting to see how this matter manifests itself in the rubber game of the series this evening.
Couple of tidbits on the Rays' proposal to build a $450 million waterfront stadium on the site of Al Lang Field. The St. Petersburg City Council is to cast the first of three votes today on whether to schedule the Rays' referendum for the November ballot. The vote will take place in the Council chambers, and ballpark discussion is scheduled to begin precisely at 1:15pm. Public comment will not take place unless so solicited by the Council, and that is unlikely given the six months of vitriol that has been tossed around already.
As for the vote, the only Council members to explicitly state how they will vote are Jamie Bennett and Bill Dudley, both of whom say they will vote 'yes'. Herb Polson, having already indicated his opposition to the proposal, is expected to vote no. The St. Petersburg City Council has eight members, five of which must vote in the affirmative to keep the process alive. If in any one of the three votes council members in favor fail to number five, the process is dead and the proposal will not make the November ballot. Aaron Sharockman of the St. Petersburg Times prognosticates that the proposal will advance by a 6-2 majority tomorrow afternoon.
Meanwhile, another council member intends upon introducing a counter-referendum to the Rays' proposal today. Karl Nurse's proposal, initiated by former Council member and POWW member Virginia Littrell, would limit development on the site of Al Lang Field to present levels, thus preventing projects the size of the Rays' proposed waterfront stadium from going up. In the event that both proposals were to make the ballot and receive majority votes, Nurse indicated the one with the greater percentage of the vote in favor would go into effect.
The 2008 MLB Draft is this afternoon, with coverage starting at 2pm on ESPN2. The Rays, with the No. 1 overall selection, will make their pick at that time. Don't forget that DRaysBay's Draft Thread opens up tomorrow at noon, and will be continuously updated throughout the day to reflect the maneuverings of the team.
To get ready for the draft, Rays Index looked back yesterday at the performances thus far of the first ten Rays selections, as well as the best alternative the Rays passed up. Also, the Tampa Tribune solicited Scouting Director R.J. Harrison's evaluation of the two players the Rays are considering selecting with the No. 1 overall pick, C Buster Posey of Florida State and Georgia High School SS Tim Beckham.
OF Rocco Baldelli again played as the Designated Hitter in the Rays' Extended Spring Training game on Wednesday, going 2 for 3 with a walk. The game was Baldelli's third in Extended ST. Baldelli will be the Designated Hitter in three more Extended ST games, on Friday, Sunday, and Wednesday. After that, the team will decide whether he should be dispatched on a minor league rehab assignment.
Also, RHP Troy Percival threw 26 pitches in his first bullpen session since being placed on the Disabled List last Wednesday following a left hamstring strain.