Mourning the Rays

Carl Crawford

We’ve been duped.

No, that picture of Carl Crawford in Red Sox gear is not a work of photoshop mastery. You are seeing what you are seeing- a workhorse taking the payday created by the current Major League Baseball system.

Tampa Bay Rays fans everywhere have been straight up fooled. For the last half of a decade, we actually thought we were no longer the glorified farm system of the major leagues.

I’ve lived through the Naimoli days (who I didn’t know was a Notre Dame alum), where we tried to mesh the young and cheap with the old, glorified, but past their prime. I’ve seen the Rays try to copy the Yankee formula to an embarrassingly cheapened and quite unsuccessful degree- I’m looking at you HIT SHOW years. And I’ve seen the Rays have a team full of minor leaguers who would probably have to scrounge around for playing time in other teams’ farm systems.

And then it happened. New ownership. Stu Sternberg- a man with a plan. No more “Gruden-esque “deals like giving  up prospects for has beens. The talent was brewing in our own system, we just needed time, and a few key trades that, while a gamble, brought in youth, and ultimately loads of potential.

The rest is history. After winning 2 AL East titles and having three winning seasons in a row, it seemed like the Rays were ready to be perennial threats to the former status quo of the AL East instead of the perennial doormat. A young nucleus was in place. A starting pitching staff that could easily dominate the scene for years to come had been assembled.

There are two issues. How can any GM work contracts so that almost half a roster becomes free agents at once, and also, how can you not even try to keep the face of your franchise? Offering arbitration must have been an insult to CC. But he knows the system, and he now is a rich man thanks to it.

The Rays have thrived on scouting out unproven talent  and signing on the cheap. I know how we operate. But you can’t help but wonder if this call for payroll reduction, and blaming poor attendance, a horrendous stadium, and whatever other factors Sternberg wants to claim are hindering the Rays franchise from competing fiscally with the big boys is nothing but a sham.

We are being duped.

It’s just a cover up. Management knew this day would come. While we made some GREAT moves, again, how can you allow for all of these contracts to expire at the same time? It’s a cover up. Slashing payroll to cover up managerial mistakes. Gotta love it.

Baseball is a special game. No one really gets it like we do here in the United States. Yes, the game is played in Asia and in Latin America, but the game of baseball is by far the greatest expression of Americanism at it’s finest. Hard work yields reward. Loyalty is an afterthought. We follow the almighty dollar. But who can blame CC, Carlos Pena, Joaquin Benoit, or anyone else who is soon to find a new home with a fatter paycheck?

I’ll have to accept the fact for now that Tampa is just a MLB training ground- and if we are lucky, we may get to see something special every couple of seasons.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

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The Rant: The Game is NOT in US

The United States’ tagline for their presentation to the FIFA committee in their attempt to secure either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup was: The Game Is In US. This, of course, is a clever usage of our country’s initials to strongly demonstrate the United States’ ability to host the premier sports event in the world. It suggests that the game is part of our livelihood (though the general popularity of soccer lags). It suggests that we have the “game” in us, a nice sports euphemism for confidence to host perhaps the greatest and most profitable world cup in history.

But alas, the FIFA committee would rather have money lining their pockets now than in 12 years. They cared very little whether the game was in the US, Austrialia, Japan, or anyone else (not including Russia, who will host in 2018, congratulations to them). Rather, they cared about their pockets.

The 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar. Yes, you read that right.

Qatar.

This will be FIFA’s first venture into the Middle East, and that makes for a great story, but Qatar? A country that is a bit smaller than Connecticut? A country with a population that just eclipsed 1 million at the end of this decade?

The US said it could sell over 5 million seats if it hosted the World Cup. 5 times the population of Qatar.

And if you thought the chilly nights in South Africa were interesting, Qatar boasts an average high of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Maybe add a few to the average since the Earth is getting hotter and we’ll be getting close to 120 F in no time. And if you look at the map, you see it is next to water. It’s going to be a muggy 115 F.

Either way, this decision has convinced me that FIFA just may be the most corrupt sports organization in the world, and that’s including Italian soccer.

Are all games going to take place at like a youth league soccer complex? Are they really going to have 7 different stadiums in such a small space? Are they going to play on dirt? How could they say no to Morgan Freeman?

I just don’t understand. At least traveling to different games will be easy, right? If you don’t pass out from dehydration.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Click-It or Ticket: For Real This Time

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We have this annual campaign in Florida (Interestingly enough, in JUNE). Apparently, cops are supposed to be looking for people who aren’t buckled up to give them a ticket.

For the past few months, many of the morning talk shows on the radio have been discussing this at length. To be honest, I always thought that it was the law. Apparently, the only way to get ticketed for a seat belt in Florida is after you’ve been pulled over for another infraction. Interesting.

So now, the police can pull you over if they suspect you are not using your seat belt. The State’s sophisticated research has indicated that the new law will save over 100 lives in the course of a year, not to mention many more serious injuries. This, therefore, reduces healthcare costs that state and local governments have to fork over in serious and fatal accidents.

I’m sure that the fine at 30 dollars a pop goes to a good cause… or perhaps just to Uncle Sam.

In the first day of enforcement, there were over 200 reported citations in the Bay Area. 200!

TAMPA – Buckle up or pay the consequences.

More than 200 motorists found that out the hard way today.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies, out on patrol to enforce Florida’s new enhanced seat belt law, wrote 203 tickets by the end of Operation Belts or El$e,” Deputy Larry McKinnon said.

Some who received tickets were angry; others were blasé or thankful, Cpl. Ed Raburn said.

Deputies have been working for about a month to alert people of the new primary seat belt law. But many haven’t paid attention, Raburn said.

“I hope at least these people that we touch this morning will get the message,” he said during the law enforcement operation. “As it hits you in the pocketbook, it tends to make more of an impact.”

The new law lets law enforcement officers pull over vehicles if they see a driver or front-seat passenger not wearing a seat belt. Before today, authorities could hand out a seat belt citation only if motorists were stopped for another moving violation.

The law says people have to wear seat belts the way they are intended to be worn. If a person has a belt that goes over the lap and shoulder but isn’t wearing it properly, he can get a ticket, too, Raburn said.

Passengers younger than 18 also must wear seat belts.

Those exempt from getting citations include people certified by doctors as having medical conditions that cause the use of seat belts to be inappropriate or dangerous.

The cost for a seat belt violation is $30, but court fees could push that total to between $93 and $119, depending on the county. The fines are $101 in Hillsborough County.

One beltless driver ticketed today, Bob Clarke, called it an intrusion into his personal life and ability to make a decision.

But another man ticketed, Bilal Bell, said he understands why investigators are stopping people for not wearing seat belts.

“If it’s the law, it’s the law,” he said. “No deviation from it.”

During today’s operation at the intersection, deputies made one arrest. After pulling 27-year-old Norma Garza over for driving without a seat belt, they charged her with giving a false name to law enforcement and driving with a suspended license.

Deputies during the operation also issued tickets for improper window tinting and failing to show proof of insurance.

In Hillsborough County, more than 160 people didn’t wear a seat belt and died in crashes since 2004, deputies say.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law last month. It is named for two teenage girls killed in accidents while not wearing seat belts.

Marchetti, a Durant High School junior, died after being ejected from a car in a crash near Tampa three years ago.

Slosberg died in a South Florida crash 13 years ago.

Florida joins 26 states that have laws for primary enforcement of safety belts.

Wisconsin recently became the 30th state to enact a primary seat belt law, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The law is expected to bring Florida millions of dollars in federal funds for statewide transportation projects and save millions more in health costs.

Similar legislation failed for nearly two decades in Florida, in part because of concerns by some minority lawmakers who feared the tougher legislation could lead to increased racial profiling by police.

(TBO.COM – Josh Poltilove)

Let the arguments begin. Is this law another swipe at civil liberties as many are claiming? Others have understood it to be a government conspiracy to raise more money. Also, is this possibly setting up the State for lawsuits? Some of the objectors to the new law state that a seat belt can actually be hazardous in certain situations. I’ve read about cases where restraints caused a more serious injury, not to mention pretty much assuring a drowning death if a vehicle becomes submerged.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Like I said before, I thought it was the law in the first place. I don’t like the arguments where people say it infringes upon our free will as motorists. The action of not using the seat belt endangers one’s self. Do we really need to have a law dictating what we can or cannot do to ourselves? The counter argument is that driving is a privilege, not a right, and therefore subject to the overall supervision of higher authorities. Yada Yada Yada.

But really, only 30 dollars? That’s not much of a deterrent at all! Thus the conspiracy that it’s just a government ploy for more of our money! Just enough to be a slight annoyance… but not enough to deter the restraint REBEL! Take your chances wisely.

So, just as a friendly warning/reminder from The Heap to all in the state of Florida, and to those planning on coming down for summer vacation- use your seat belts!

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From The Desk Of… “Bad Day in the Forecast”

Have you ever waken up and just knew it was going to be a bad day? Well, that was me this morning. I’ve known this since last night. Only when my body couldn’t stay up anymore did it surrender itself to the coming day.

Then it became “Today.”

I guess the cause of my feelings is a crushing load of uncertainty and annoyance. I faced a mighty inquisition this morning from my boss regarding refill requests and what not. I took it as, “So… what exactly would you say you DO around here?” to which I wanted to reply, “I HAVE PEOPLE SKILLS!” in true Office Space Fashion. I could only nod, answer the questions, and move on. But it irks me to no end that I would get singled out like that. I guess if you are reading this, the irony of this post would speak for itself… I should be working, but I had to let this out.

This all goes back to yesterday when our boss implimented “WAR” reports (Weekly Activity Report… how clever!). Our boss suggests that this is to better track olume and see where future staff could be hired to streamline the process. My coworker and I have a conspiracy theory that this is being done to monitor us, since we feel that we have been being spied on. So that in itself is a bit stressful. I feel I do a damn good job at what I do. I think I’m just overreacting. He’s a good guy. He just wants the business to work. Ugh.

The area of most uncertainty is in my “relationship”. I usually don’t write about these things because I don’t know who could read it, but I have to now. This is my forum for self reflection, identification and expression, and it would be wrong to hold thigs back. 

Writing heals me, and it makes me calm down and evaluate the situation. It sucks going to bed upset, and it sucks even more not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

Heh. I don’t even know what to say about it. There doesn’t seem to be any use in talking about things anyway. I don’t know what to say about anything. I guess it’s back to work then.

I just want to be at peace, and I want to be satisfied with how things are going, just in general, with life as a whole. I don’t know if drastic measures are needed at this time, but it wears a person down, and this is on both sides of the fence.

I want to feel in love again. I want to feel butterflies, I want to feel like I did at Notre Dame. I don’t want to be annoying anymore, just like I don’t want to be annoyed. Perhaps our differences are starting to surface, something we’ve never seen before, and we don’t like it. I don’t know. I want to feel how my sister feels now. I don’t want to worry about saying the wrong thing that apparently completely ruins conversations. I want to be appreciated for who I am. I don’t want to keep pushing away.

I’m tired of me. And it seems that she is too.

That time has come then. Just like she predicted it would.

 

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Rant III

shirt

Ohhhh it’s been a long time since we had a nice, long, explosion all over our beloved blog (that’s what she said). But today really, REALLY frustrated me to no end. One of my most disliked words in the English language is

oq

OVERQUALIFIED.

“Being overqualified means one is skilled or educated beyond what is necessary for a job. There can often be high costs for companies associated with training employees. This could be a problem for professionals applying for a job where they significantly exceed the job requirements because potential employers may feel they are using the position as a stepping stone.”

So they tell me.

Well, today was just your normal day in paradise. I woke up to some dog barking, and a phone call or two in the morning. Did some chores, went to the bank to dump out my change cup (27 dollars wooo!), and came home. My dad came by and we talked about some stuff and what not. So i decided to go check out the job fair at Raymond James Stadium in hopes of perhaps finding something that can hold me off until next year, or if I got lucky, maybe something I liked and could develop as a career. So I got dressed up in my nice dark blue dress shirt and black pants with a SHARP tie and went.

And again another miss.

All of the companies were hiring like entry level type positions! It was absurd, I’d go talk to some people and the dreaded O word was used. I tried to convince them, but to no avail. Sales, and management positions, but I had too much education… I believe they told me it would be a waste of my education if I worked for them. Wow. I’m a grown up, I can handle my education on my own thank you very much. And I’ll do what I want with it.

But at least there was a funny and ironic sighting. Get ready for this. Remember from TTMC II, the Wal-Mart guy who was trying to get me to join Primerica? Hahaha. Well, HE was at the job fair. It seemed like he was looking for jobs too! Seems like that “scheme” isn’t working quite like they advertised it would. Or could it be that he was preying on the desperate and vulnerable. Jerk.

Well, that’s all for the latest edition of The Rant. I’ll just keep on trucking, and mainly, keep on trashing.

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The Rant II

mariotti

Yes, that is a picture of Chicago Sun Times sports writer and ESPN’s Around the Horn’s Jay Mariotti. In short, he’s a clown, and I can’t stand him, and any of his opinions whenever I happen to watch the show or stumble upon his articles online. And apparently, I am not alone. My ranting against Mariotti isn’t fueled by some personal vendetta or anything… no, the reemergence of my dislike was a result of a friendly reminder by world renowned Roger Ebert.

Thanks to Peter Van (PV), a fellow domer, who referred me to the best written rant I have ever seen. It’s basically Ebert going to town on Mariotti’s lack of professionalism as well as his disrespect for the written word (since Mariotti has since chosen TV versus working for the newspaper). I know most of you are probably just used to hearing any reference to Ebert during trailers to any of your favorite movies. He is a fantastic writer, and would definitely recommend his columns in the Chicago Sun Times, as well as his critiques. Of course, he satirically approaches the topic of Mariotti quite similarly. It can be understood that he gives Mariotti “two thumbs way down…” perhaps he even recommends a place for Mariotti to place his own thumbs… Anyway, here’s the open letter by Roger Ebert. It’s pretty hilarious!

Dear Jay,

What an ugly way to leave the Sun-Times. It does not speak well for you. Your timing was exquisite. You signed a new contract, waited until days after the newspaper had paid for your trip to Beijing at great cost, and then resigned with a two-word e-mail: “I quit.” You saved your explanation for a local television station.

As someone who was working here for 24 years before you arrived, I think you owed us more than that. You owed us decency. The fact that you saved your attack for TV only completes our portrait of you as a rat.

Newspapers are not dead, Jay, and this paper will not die because you have left. Times are hard in the newspaper business, and for the economy as a whole. Did you only sign on for the luxury cruise?

There’s an old saying that you might have come across once or twice on the sports beat: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Newspapers are not dead, Jay, because there are still readers who want the whole story, not a sound bite. If you go to work for television, viewers may get a little weary of you shouting at them. You were a great shouter in print, that’s for sure, stomping your feet when owners, coaches and players didn’t agree with you. It was an entertaining show. Good luck getting one of your 1,000-word rants on the air.

The rest of us are still at work, still putting out the best paper we can. We believe in our profession, and in the future. And we believe in our internet site, which you also whacked as you slithered out the door. I don’t know how your column was doing, but we have the most popular sports section in Chicago. The reports and blog entries by our Washington editor Lynn Sweet have become a must-stop for millions of Americans in this election year. After a recent blog entry I wrote about the Beijing Olympics, I woke up at 5 a.m. one morning, when North America was asleep, and found that 40 percent of my 100 most recent visitors had been from China. I don’t have any complaints about our web site. So far this month my web page has been visited from almost every country on earth, including one visit from the Vatican City. The Pope, no doubt. Hope you were doing as well.

You have left us, Jay, at a time when the newspaper is once again in the hands of people who love newspapers and love producing them. You managed to stay here through the dark days of the thieves Conrad Black and David Radler. The paper lost millions. Incredibly, we are still paying Black’s legal fees.

I started here when Marshall Field and Jim Hoge were running the paper. I stayed through the Rupert Murdoch regime. I was asked, “How can you work for a Murdoch paper?”

My reply was: “It’s not his paper. It’s my paper. He only owns it.”

That’s the way I’ve always felt about the Sun-Times, and I still do. On your way out, don’t let the door bang you on the ass.

Your former colleague,

Roger Ebert

If you want to check out my source, click the link: Ebert goes to town on Mariotti

The Rant I

potter

Welcome to The Rant. Some of you are going to enjoy this little segment of the blog, where I find something and pretty much just go off about it. To the faint of heart, or those who just don’t like complaining, please feel free to read the rest of the blog! (It’s much more positively toned!). Anyways, the current rant: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP6) being delayed by more than half a year till summer of 2009.

I read about this last night, and was pretty disappointed to hear this. Then again, I am not a die hard Harry Potter fan, (or a “potter head” as we like to call them here at the heap.). No, leave it to my sister to have a Tourrettes-like outburst, not to mention the launching of projectiles my way for delivering the bad news. Then of course, I was also talking to Angel, who does a lot of “potter” herself, and there was another outburst there. So I dedicate this rant to both of them, my two favorite “potter heads.”

What I am upset about is the rationale behind the decision. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Harry Potter, but this news wouldn’t be enough to motivate me to write in protest. No, rather, I am very much against Hollywood Business. If you want to read the finer details, you can read about them here.

So the facts are these: HP6 was slated for a November 21st release, but is now scheduled to open July 17, 2009. Here is the quote by Alan Horn, Warner Brothers president and COO: The move was made to take advantage of an open weekend in Hollywood’s busy summer season. The film had been on schedule, and the change was not due to any production snags… He goes on to say that the movie is even completely done and that it is “fabulous.”

So essentially, it was done in an effort to make more money. I guess being around Thanksgiving isn’t advantageous enough. You know what? Let’s go through HP release history and statistics.

HP1: Opened Nov. 16, 2001, 90 mil opening weekend
HP2: Opened Nov. 15, 2002 88 mil
HP3: Opened Jun. 4, 2004 93 mil
HP4: Opened Nov. 18, 2005 102 mil
HP5: Opened Jul. 11, 2007 77 mil

Any way you look at it, its a lot of money. I’m not sure that pushing the movie back to the summer will make too much of a difference. Harry Potter already has a cult-like following and people will go see it. Well what can you do. My favorite headline I found after glancing at the IMDB website? 16 year old explodes due to delay of Harry Potter 6

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