The Rays decided to make us sweat just a bit yesterday, saving all their runs for the eighth and ninth inning en route to taking the series from the Texas Rangers. Yandy Diaz’s first home run of 2021 was surely among yesterday’s highlights:
First of the year for Yandy!— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) June 6, 2021
The @RaysBaseball build on their lead in the ninth! #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/fDzKoU0Qi9
The team will no doubt enjoy a pleasant plane ride home, and a well-deserved off day today.
Joe Ryan, a starting pitcher with the Durham Bulls, was part of the US national team that has qualified for the Olympics:
Congrats to @USABaseball for punching their ticket to @Tokyo2020 last night with a win vs. Venezuela!— Rays Player Development (@RaysPlayerDev) June 6, 2021
Proud of our very own Joe Ryan, who struck out 10 batters over 4.2 IP earlier this week in the U.S. Olympic team’s 8-6 victory over the Dominican Republic. pic.twitter.com/LtPY08PsjV
From the Washington Post: How the Rays are like the industrial revolution. Good overview of Rays as innovators, especially with pitcher roles ($).
Ji-Man Choi is back on the IL. At least for now, his replacement is reliever Ryan Sherriff, who pitched in Friday’s loss. Sherriff had stepped away from baseball; read here about his decision to come back and how he’s doing.
Interesting look at how minor league players and coaches spent the “lost year” of 2020.
Tyler Zombro update: As of Sunday morning, reports continue to sound cautiously optimistic; Zombro was expected to be moved out of the ICU ($).
Ooh, some Joey Wendle love, from Fangraphs! What Wendle does best: put the ball in play.
Stadium saga redux:
The Tampa Bay Times editors think that Kriseman should be talking to the Rays ($)
If you want to get caught up on the latest permutations of the stadium, the law suit, and who is speaking to whom, I recommend Danny Russell’s timeline, or the Tampa Bay Times explainer ($).
Around the League
MLB has decided to study (and start enforcing rules against) the often tolerated practice of pitchers using various substances to improve their grip on the ball. While there is some argument that the use of resin or some other substances to improve grip is good for everyone — no one wants to see 98 mph fastballs routinely getting away from pitchers— there is also evidence that pitchers have gotten very creative in the sorts of substances they use.
It’s possible that the growing dominance of pitching is in part thanks to pitchers taking advantage of the lack of enforcement of existing rules. This Sports Illustrated analysis does a great job of explaining what is at stake. An LA Times story from a few months ago suggests that there could be even more troubling revelations about doctored baseballs.
From The Atlantic, a plea for baseball to embrace “fun.” The author believes that baseball has a “fun” crises every generation or so and needs to figure out how to solve it.
Old friend alert: I think most Rays fans would like to see Snell do well, and it’s been difficult watching him struggle. So it was good to see him pitch a very effective game on Friday. However, from Pitcher List, an analysis suggesting that Snell has lost his most effective weapon, his curve ball. If he can’t get that pitch back his best days may be behind him.
We are used to seeing teams sell stadium naming rights to corporations. But an Esports team has sold the rights to the actual team name. Could this practice start to impact other sports?($)
Many teams, including the Rays, have Pride night, but the SF Giants are the first to have a Pride uniform patch ($).
Interesting history from the Washington Post: the response to the assassination of Robert Kennedy was one of the first instances of MLB player political activism. President Johnson had declared the day of Kennedy’s funeral to be a day of national mourning, and a number of players felt that games should be cancelled, or at least postponed until after Kennedy had been buried. Some owners felt differently.