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Taking my Midseason Break Early

Like a Casey Fossum "fastball" thrown over the plate, I'm going far far away for a little while. But I had to get a few selected comments in before I board that big old jet airliner.

I'm heading up to New England and New York to see some family and to go to a place that is currently three degrees cooler than Tampa. That's the only drawback to visiting the north in late June and early July. While I'm there, my wife and I will take in a Yankees game from the right field bleachers. We both hate the Yankees, and Yankees fans annoy us, but we want to see the old ballpark before the wrecking ball takes it down in a couple of years.

So I'll be out of town until the week of July 9th, and here's a few things I've been chewing on the past few days:

  • Joe Maddon is at it again, giving players days off so they're rested in September. With the Rays currently in last place in the east, and a full 14 1/2 games behind Boston, I just have a hunch the games in September may not mean a whole lot. Skip still hasn't figured out if you don't win the games you play in April, May, and June, you're not playing too many meaningful ones in September and October. I had to bring this point up again following Maddon's comments Tuesday night. Maddon claims playing Brendan Harris seven nights a week will "absolutely devastate" him by September. If Harris needs a break every now and then, then so be it. But when you look at the numbers, Josh Wilson has gone 3-for-13 in his last four games. Harris has the fourth-highest batting average for AL shortstops at .318. Defensively Harris has made seven errors in 61 games, on a pace for about 19 at the end of the season. You win the games in April, May, and June by playing your best players as often as possible. For crying out loud Joe, put the computer stats away and put Harris back in.
  • Same as it ever was: In case you're wondering, the Rays were 33-43 after 76 games last season too.
  • Does this sound familiar? The few remaining die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fans are staging a fan walkout Saturday night at PNC Park when the Bucs host the Nats. Problem is the Pirates already have the word of FSN Pittsburgh to not show the walkout, and the Nationals' TV network MASN also likely won't show anything. While the word of the walkout will still resonate through newspapers and the internet, apparently it won't get much national coverage. And again, I have to wonder why choose a fan walkout? If you're SOOOOOOO upset at the Pirates' ownership (as Pirates fans should be), why would you PUT MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS BY BUYING A TICKET AND THEN LEAVING? To me it's like buying every Big Mac from a local McDonalds in an attempt to tell people fast food is bad for them.
  • Speaking of the Pirates, who are currently working on year 15 of "rebuilding", they aren't exactly in a rush to do so. Despite not sniffing the playoffs since their 1992 National League East division title, according to Tuesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Pirates are not interested in acquiring any players at the trade deadline. "Our team is basically the team we have," said Pirates' GM and general knucklehead Dave Littlefield. "We're always looking to improve, obviously, but we also have to keep improving with the group we have, keep building from it. It's not like you can just sprinkle some magic dust to make it better." It's true you can't just sprinkle magic dust on a team like the Pirates to make things better, but the fact that this franchise has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING right in 15 years is astounding and an absolute point of shame for Major League Baseball.
  • If you were counting on White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle to be available in the free agent market, the Newark Star-Ledger says don't count on it. Today's edition of the Ledger claims a source says the White Sox are taking Buehrle off the trade block because he is close to signing a four-year deal worth between $50 and $60 million.
  • Speaking of the Sox, Ozzie Guillen joked several nights ago that his team's All-Star representative should be Southpaw, the team mascot. Guillen then seriously said Buehrle should be the representative while everyone else just gets a three-day vacation.
  • Here's a scary All-Star thought: according to the Dallas News, once maligned and hated slugger Sammy Sosa may be the team's lone representative in San Francisco. I don't know if that says more about Sosa's amazing comeback, or how much the Rangers really suck.
  • The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports today the Brewers recently pulled in crowds of over 30,000 during 15 home games in June, including six games of more than 40,000 attendees. The Brewers went 11-4 during those games, improving their National League-best record to 46-32. It just goes to show my point made earlier this season in the article "Brew Crew Number II?"-- if you spend the money and time to build a winner, the people will come. Even in Milwaukee, a city treated with horrible baseball teams for the past 15 years.
  • Fox Sports' Randy Hill recently penned a column on cutting back on temper tantrums in baseball, such as Paul LoDuca's and Phillip Wellman's. Yet don't you find it odd that networks such as Fox Sports and ESPN show these blow ups over and over again during highlight shows?
  • Finally, I don't know if Barry Bonds will hit number 755 while I'm out of town but I will pay attention. As much of a dark cloud lingers over Bonds, it's still the passing of a once "unbreakable" record. Until he admits to using steroids, or until someone sees him with a needle in his ass, this one's going in the record books.
*DISCLAIMER: As of this summer, Matt Sammon is now a part-time, paid employee of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' ownership, management, players, coaches, or other employees.