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Interview with Lucy Morales of The Snorting Bull

The Durham Bulls are probably the nation's most famous minor league team, mainly due to the Kevin Costner movie Bull Durham. The team is the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and plays at Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP). However, this is not the ball park you saw in the movie. The DBAP first opened in 1995,  but was enhanced to Triple-A seating standards for the 1998 season.  That year the  Durham Bulls became the International League affiliate for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, after being associated with the Atlanta Braves in the Carolina league since the 1980's. Since 1998, the Bulls have been to six playoff appearances in seven seasons, including winning the Governor's Cup Championships in 2002 and 2003.

THE SNORTING BULL is a web site with extensive coverage on the Durham Bulls. The site provides game day articles, recaps, standings, and commentary on the team. Last week I had a chance to talk with Lucy Morales from The Snorting Bull.

DRAYS BAY: What can you tell me about your web site The Snorting Bull?

The Snorting Bull has a staff of six people: Gen. Lee Regarded, F. Cole Medina, Constance Ubervesion, Vanna Sistence, and Lucy Morales. We provide daily recaps of all home games, and a few road games (Richmond, Charlotte, Norfolk primarily). The Durham Bulls Athletic Park(DBAP) has wireless access so we can even provide live updates, similar to the one we provided for the final game of last season, a devastating loss to Buffalo in the semi-finals of the Governor's Cup race. We take all of our own photographs and take notes in a reporter's book during the game.


DRAYS BAY: Tell me about the Durham Bulls and how you got started with The Snorting Bull?

For the championship game against Pawtucket in 2003, two of us drove up to Pawtucket for the game. After it was over and the Bulls had won, my travel companion, and future editor, Lee decided to recap the night's events with a little article to share with some people back in Durham. And as they say, the rest is history. The site went live last season. The goal of the site is to be entertaining and informative at the same time. We like to give readers a sense of the atmosphere in addition to what happens on the field. We do accept guest contributions and welcome any comments or submissions.

DRAYS BAY: Any good stories or memories about any of players?

One of the best parts about our season tickets is their location -- we are in the first row directly behind first base. In other words, all of the Bulls players must eventually come out in front of us. Our row is the usual location of autograph seekers before the game. But, this helps us to get more information on all of the players and share a little of the pregame rituals.

* One highlight of the 2003 season was undoubtedly getting to see Jorge Fabregas' World Series ring. He had been part of the 2002 Anaheim Angels and was presented with his ring prior to the start of a game one night. Shortly after receiving it, he brought it down to show us. It was quite impressive.

* Jorge Cantu - Undoubtedly you have noticed his recent increase in power and skyrocketing success. When questioned what he attributed it to, he told us it was the Mongolian Beef. Apparently, Jorge (and as we later confirmed most of the rest of the Bulls), loved to eat at P.F. Chang's. Jorge would always order the Mongolian Beef and before you know it, many other Bulls players were eating the Mongolian Beef to help with their game too.

* Bobby Seay - Last year the Bulls sponsored Education Day with the game starting at 11:00am and most of the fans in attendance were school children. Around the 7th or 8th inning, the theme song to SpongeBob SquarePants was played over the speakers and the children went crazy and started singing loudly along with it. Bobby was protecting the warm-up pitcher and catcher in the bullpen and seemed to be getting into the song. We started calling him SpongeBobby Seay. The next day, Bobby actually requested that the SpongeBob theme song be played as his intro music. The crowds always loved it! For Bobby's birthday, we even brought him a SpongeBob balloon!

* Jim Morris - I did get a chance to meet Jim Morris in his time in Durham. You could tell that he was so happy to be getting a chance and the rest of his team admired him for it. It was interesting to see the portrayal of Durham and the Bulls in The Rookie. I have to say I was a little upset that they didn't actually use the ballpark in Durham for those scenes.

* Aubrey Huff, Jason Standridge, and Ryan Jackson - All three are amazingly good singers. Sunday night's in the summertime is karaoke night at one of the local bars. Many of the Bulls were regulars and it was a common sight to see at least one of them take the mic for their rendition of some class song (Aubrey tended to like to sing country, while Jason and Ryan were more along the lines of Pearl Jam or Creed).

DRAYS BAY: Anything you tell me about Matt Diaz in his time as a Durham Bull?

Matt Diaz was the greatest! Growing up a Seminole fan, I had no choice but to initially start rooting for Matt to do well. But then after getting to know him a little bit from his treatment of his fans at the ballpark, it was even easier. Matt would do anything for the fans, and his fans in Durham loved him for it. - look at the picture halfway down.

A little tidbit on Matt: Matt was very protective of his bats, so much so that he named them. Last season alone he went through Bonnie Maple, Bernice, POC, Bambi, Christina, and Ebony.

DRAYS BAY: Do you and the staff at The Snorting Bull follow the players careers after they leave Durham? 

We definitely keep tabs on some of our favorites, although most of our favorites aren't really the superstars. For example, we became big fans of Talley Haines in 2003. He was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule V draft and played for Syracuse last season. He has since been picked up the Boston Red Sox organization and will likely play for Pawtucket with some other former recent Bulls players (Jeremi Gonzalez, George Lombard). We will follow Jared Sandberg pretty closely in his attempt to make the Washington Nationals. Jared was easily our favorite from last season and we plan to stop in on him during our annual Spring Training trip near the end of March.

We do keep a close eye on the guys in Tampa though. We joke that we hope the Devil Rays have a good deal on airplane flights because there are so many players who go back and forth on the Tampa-Durham shuttle. But, our main focus is really on the current Bulls and the daily happenings at the DBAP. Although, we have been known to go to a few AA games when the Montgomery Biscuits take on the Carolina Mudcats outside of Raleigh.

We are all somewhat Rays fans, me more than most since I'm originially from Florida. But, we also have Red Sox, Mariners, Angels, and Twins fans on staff.

DRAYS BAY: What was the championship atmosphere of the AAA like for Bulls players?

There's nothing better! I've been lucky enough to witness two championships in the past three years, and five out of six playoff runs. The Bulls players thrive in that atmosphere and I think a huge part of that is attributed to their manager, Bill Evers. Bill knows how to take any group of players, regardless of their skill or attitude, and turn them into a team that functions as one and makes them very difficult to beat come playoff time. Watching them celebrate the title first in 2002 at home and then in 2003 in Pawtuckett was great. You could see the excitement and shere joy from each player. To them, it was like winning the World Series, even though it was just the AAA International League Championship.

DRAYS BAY: Any Carl Crawford Durham Bull memory?

Unfortunately, I don't have that many Carl Crawford memories outside of thinking how fast he was. I must have become a fan though, because he has been a staple on my fantasy baseball team ever since he got the call-up to Tampa. The Bulls gave away Carl Crawford bobbleheads one night (mine is actually sitting on my desk at work) and this family behind me didn't know who he was. After I explained he was an All-Star they perked up and assumed he must've been someone good. They have no idea.... It will be exciting to see the Tampa Bay outfield when Joey Gathright, Jonny Gomes, C.C., Rocco, and Aubrey all have some time out there. The Devil Rays easily have one of the top outfields in the majors!

DRAYS BAY: How long has The Snorting Bull been covering the Durham Bulls?

I moved to Durham, NC from Florida in August of 1998. I started going to a lot of games during the 1999 season because my boyfriend at the time worked for the Bulls. They were already AAA when I became a fan, but I was happy they were affiliated with the Devil Rays since that would be my hometown team in FL. I continued to attend a lot of games until becoming a season ticket holder in 2003 and have only missed 9 games in the past two seasons.

DRAYS BAY: Anything else I should know about the Durham Bulls?

There's just something about AAA baseball. It's nice to be able to go out to a game and for a reasonable amount of money get great seats (ours are just $7/night), decent food, and good 3 hours of quality entertainment. The players interact with the fans in ways that would never happen in the majors. And the entire staff at the DBAP are top notch and are willing to do whatever it takes to make your night at the ballpark the best it can be, even if that means bringing you the "special Kool-Aid" from the Bulls' locker room.

If anyone is ever in Durham for a Bulls game, please come by section 114 Row A and say hi. Odds are, you'll at least get a mention on the website!!!

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