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A few tidbits today from the Sunday column of St. Petersburg Times writer Eduardo Encina....

PA Announcer Fired

An issue earlier this week that I lapsed on covering was the firing of Rays PA announcer Bill Couch, who has announced every home game in Rays history. Couch wasn't happy.

Couch said he received a phone call around 7 p.m. with the news but not much of an explanation.

"You've been there 10 years, you think you'd get a better deal. I carried a lot of water for this franchise when they've had very bad baseball teams. And all of a sudden, you're not good enough. I don't understand it," Couch said.

That is pretty peculiar timing. You'd think that this is a decision the team would have made closer to the beginning of the offseason, and to spring it right now seems very odd. Couch continued....

"I have no idea what's going on over there," he said. "You thought things were crazy with (former owner Vince) Naimoli. This makes that look stable."

Well that is certainly interesting. It could be just him talking out of spite, and most likely is, but this isn't the first I've heard of statements like that, albeit ones from former employees. I personally liked Couch, his voice was synonymous with Tropicana Field and to walk into the ballpark and hear someone different next April will be very weird, to say the least. Another part of it is depression at yet another original member of the franchise going away. But I really don't see why this was necessary.

The tidbit in today's paper said of Couch's replacement "The Rays will announce soon how they'll replace fired PA announcer Bill Couch; expect the unconventional." What that means, I have no clue, and only then can we truly evaluate this move. But it will sure be a disappointment to lose a voice so familiar to me.

More 'Nuggets' Follow the Jump

You Too Can Enjoy Rays Baseball in the Sweltering Heat!

Rays President Matt Silverman of the Rays moving a May series to Orlando: "It allows fans to enjoy Rays baseball at home in an open-air environment." Please, please stop referring to Orlando as "home". They aren't. Moving an undesirable, low-attended, midweek series to a ballpark at Disney World doesn't make Orlando "home". There is a reason that St. Pete had to beat out Orlando to get an expansion franchise, and that is because it isn't the same market. If you want to court fans from Central Florida, that's fine. Good idea, even though I may disagree with the method. But for the love of all things properly termed, do not call Orlando "home".

The second part of that statement is the "open air environment part". You know where else you can enjoy Rays baseball in an open air environment? Al Lang Stadium, and I'd rather enjoy baseball in the open air next to St. Pete harbor than in the middle of some cow pasture 80 miles to the south. But now that I got that out of the way, the obvious question arises. Does this mean that when Tropicana Field is replaced the team will be looking to build an open air stadium? I don't know if you can connect the dots to that point based on one statement, but I implore Mr. Silverman to sit out in the bleachers of Al Lang for 81 days a year during the summer, for three hours at a time if he wants to see an open air stadium built in the future. It is easy for the purist in you to say that "baseball should be played outdoors". All climates equally temperate, I agree. However Florida is a tropical climate. It is humid. It is rainy. It is full of mosquitos. It is not comfortable. We invented air conditioning for a reason. If you want to build a retractable dome, that is a good idea. However you can't build an outdoor stadium and play baseball in it day after day in the sweltering heat and expect fans to show up, especially considering the team isn't stellar. Look at the Marlins for proof of this. It isn't practical. For every 75 degree, sunny day there is a 90 degree day with sun showers occurring every 30 minutes, or essentially every day in July and August.

Again, I don't think Silverman has actually come to that conclusion already, and considering the business backgrounds of these people, I guarantee they'd do their homework before doing something major like go after a new stadium. But I hope they approach this in time with the right angle.

Drugs are Baaaaaaaad

Look at this gem from new Red Sox SS Julio Lugo, who compared his time in Tampa Bay to how things will be in Boston.

Julio Lugo says he'll play better in Boston because there will be less pressure: "Here I can concentrate more on my game and do the little things I need to do. (In Tampa Bay) I wanted to do everything."

Oh I know, he wanted to do everything. And with the pressure of playing in jam-packed Tropicana Field in front of fanatical crowds, following him everywhere he goes and keeping up with every small detail of his life, I can see why he'd feel relief at leaving this pressure-cooker and going to Boston. I mean, how much scrutiny does the Red Sox leadoff batter really face anyway? Good luck with that, Julio.

Miscellaneous

A little off-topic, but it is Tampa Bay baseball.

Only the Yankees could add a premium seating area with tickets (and amenities) costing $190 a seat - for spring training at Legends Field.

Well, this actually makes a ton of sense. Legends Field tickets are already primarily sold to corporate interests, the Tampa business community loves them some Yankees, so this is only the next step. It isn't like they are stripping the sanctity of spring training from Legends Field, because that never existed, so you might as well go the whole nine yards.

Also....

There is talk of a Catch 47 baseball show co-hosted by Fred McGriff.

You know, I wish there were a Saturday morning radio show at 620 AM co-hosted by Fred McGriff and Matt Sammons. Maybe that's just me though.

Joe Maddon bought $600 worth of food and cooked meals for 300 people last week at the St. Vincent De Paul Society.

Food? Cooked meals? Yeah right. Maddon probably didn't go all out and give them Dom Perignon, but who wants to bet that St. Vincent De Paul Society now has a nice red wine from Joe's personal collection?