Tag:Bob Seger
Posted on: March 8, 2012 7:59 pm
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Driving Florida's back roads with Maybin & Alonso

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Small world, baseball. So it's not a shocker that Yonder Alonso knew a few Padres when he was traded from Cincinnati.

He was teammates with three current Padres at the University of Miami -- catcher Yasmani Grandal, outfielder Blake Tekotte and catcher Jason Hagerty -- on a Hurricanes team that was the No. 1 seed entering the 2008 College World Series.

But the best story is his acquaintance with center fielder Cameron Maybin.

"My first impression was, 'Geez, who is this guy?'" said Maybin, who first encountered Alonso when they were playing Florida travel ball as high schoolers.

Maybin was playing for the Midland Redskins, Alonso for the Florida Bombers.

When the two met, Maybin says, Alonso went 4 for 4 with three home runs.

"I still have the tape of that game," Maybin says.

Playing alongside Alonso for the Bombers: current Blue Jays catcher J.C. Arencibia, Reds pitcher Mat Latos (whom Alonso was traded for, ironically), Athletics second baseman Jemile Weeks, Twins third baseman Danny Valencia and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay.

"They were sick," Maybin says.

The Twins drafted Alonso in the 16th round that year (2005), but he passed and went to the University of Miami instead.

"I needed it," Alonso said. "I wasn't ready for pro ball. I needed more baseball in me, and I needed to mature a little bit more."

Sunblock Day: Cool Thursday, but the wind stopped and that made all the difference. As predicted, the high was right at 60 degrees.

Likes: Chris Getz, vying for a job as Kansas City's second baseman. Good kid. He loved the fact that I was wearing a "Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band" hoodie in Royals' clubhouse (hey, it's been cold ... and he's from the Detroit area). ... Sour cream enchiladas and frozen strawberry margaritas at Los Olivos in Scottsdale. Perfect combo... Spotting a Culver's Frozen Custard in Arizona. ... Old Town Scottsdale. You can't go wrong. ... The Jacuzzi at my hotel pool, which provides some pretty solid therapy for this doggone oblique strain that has been nagging at me (yes, spring training can be tough for writers, too!).

Dislikes: Clocks changing Saturday. Ugh. I like the idea of it being light later and later. Love it. But man, I hate giving up that hour of sleep Saturday night.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We're gonna need each other
"So I'll drive while you sleep
"And when I get too tired you can take the wheel from me"

-- Steve Azar, Hard Road
Posted on: September 21, 2011 6:04 pm
 

Love Letters: Remembering 9/11, and Bush's pitch

I wrote a 9/11 rembrance column on President Bush's first pitch at the World Series, and then you wrote. And you wrote. And you were so touching, I wanted to share some of your thoughts. So if you don't mind, I'm going to roll the tape here, stand aside and skip my usual replies. ...

FROM: Coleman
Re.: Bush walked out alone -- with a whole country beside him

Scott,

The article you wrote on President Bush's first pitch after 9/11 was phenomenal. You powerfully evoked all of the emotions I felt that night watching him tell our country and our enemy that we can handle any pressure or obstacle. Thanks for that.

FROM: Robert B.

You captured the moment. I'm a 64-year-old, life-time Red Sox fan who was proud to be an American that night ... and every day since!

FROM: Brian S.

Bush walked out alone -- awesome article, simply awesome. Nice work.

FROM: Ruth L.

Magnificent!!!!!

FROM: Kevin F.

Scott,

I loved your article about President George W. Bush's first pitch before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. The perfect strike symbolism didn't escape me at the time and it resonates 10 years later. Thank you for reminding me what a moving and inspiring moment it was. And Jeter is one funny you-know-what.

FROM: Steve O.

I have tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat.

FROM: Andrew

Based on how Obama threw the pitch at the All-Star Game (in St. Louis in 2009), let's be glad he wasn't out there trying to throw the ball.

FROM: Neal J.

As we look back, we see that Bush had one singular response to the horrific attack, to start a meaningless war and to pitch a baseball. He and his pals are laughing all the way to the bank.

FROM: Joe L.

Scott,

Thanks for such a well-delivered, poignant article. It is a good brick in the wall of remembrance. Evil can take away a lot what is precious, including the lives of the innocent, but it cannot touch our freedom. Thank God for all the strong and the brave who still stand up for it.

FROM: Mark H.

It moved me to tears thinking back about that night. In some ways, I wish we could go back to that feeling where we were a true United States.

FROM: Eric

Damn right it was a strike. Thank you for this article. It reminded me how important it was to do what he did. We forget how he helped bring unity as a leader. No matter what anyone says, we had never been through a moment like that before Pearl Harbor, then 9/11. Nobody can talk about how it was to be in that position but him.

FROM: Ian M.

Scott,

An absolutely awesome column. That pitch for me ranks one step higher than Kirk Gibson's HR in the 1988 World Series. A single first pitch that gave the nation a sense of strength and unity. Unbelievable!

FROM: Art

The best article I've read on this, or any other, site. Beautifully written, Mr. Miller.

Likes: Where the Yankees stand on things was exhibited again when Derek Jeter said after the team clinched a playoff spot in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday that there would be no celebrating. To the Yankees, it's about the AL East title -- and the World Series. ... Oakland giving manager Bob Melvin a three-year contract. He'll help the Athletics. ... Looking forward to seeing Moneyball. I'm sure I'll have some issues with it, but my I hear its very well done and the writing is snappy -- which is no surprise, with Aaron Sorkin writing the script. ... If you're on I-94 driving between Chicago and Milwaukee, pull off the freeway for lunch at the Mars Cheese Castle. Great cheese, lots of free samples, terrific deli and, hey ... bottom line is, you can tell everyone you've been to the Mars Cheese Castle. ... Both Gino's East and Giordano's deep dish pizza in Chicago. ... Bob Seger on iTunes. ... Glad to see Hawaii Five-O back for a new season. Fun show. ... Here We Rest, the disc from Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit that was released in the spring, is fantastic. You should check it out.

Dislikes: That is one ugly new logo for the Florida Marlins. ... The massive conference re-alignment/expansion scramble. All of these colleges should be ashamed of themselves, throwing traditional rivalries away like used napkins to flee for big paydays. ... Rough start for the Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central. They're 1-2 so far, with, hopefully, a win on deck against Milan this week.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I've been stuck here in this town, if you call it that, a year or two
"I never do what I'm supposed to do. I don't even need a name anymore,
"No one calls it out, kind of vanishes away
"No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about
"The liberties that we can't do without seem to disappear like ghost in the air
"We don't even care, Until it vanishes away"

-- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Alabama Pines
Posted on: May 20, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 2:26 pm
 

Love Letters: The Killebrew (and more) Edition

A few tears (farewell, Harmon Killebrew) and a few laughs (hello again, Bronx Zoo), it's good for the soul. ...

FROM: Ed K.
Re: Killebrew was no 'Killer', except when it came to slugging

Dear Scott,

Your tribute to Harmon is terrific. My 10-year-son is starting to learn baseball history, and I will share your story with him. I once met Killebrew in Vegas. He was selling autographs, with ALL proceeds going to a children-based charity.

Cool thing is, you could read his autograph. One of my favorite things is how the Twins' Michael Cuddyer and the Angels' Torii Hunter tell stories that, when they were young, they both scribbled autographs until corrected by Mr. Killebrew. "If you're going to take the time to write your name, write it so people know who you are," Killebrew schooled them. Pure class.

FROM: Brian

"Listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds, until cancer slipped a final fastball by him Tuesday." Really? A man loses his life to cancer and you're making baseball metaphors? I typically enjoy your columns but this line is unprofessional, disrespectful and a literary stretch I'd more likely expect to find in a high school publication.

For a man who devoted his life to baseball ... you really think it's a stretch to use a baseball metaphor in tribute to him? What should be used, good metaphors?

FROM: Chris H.

Scott,

I am a 48-year-old Twins fanatic, and Harmon was and always will be my hero. You did a wonderful job capturing the essence of my hero. Thank you so much for this article. Simply put, you did Harmon justice and being who Harmon was, that is quite a feat!

Thanks, Chris. I think it's our job to educate some of the younger fans who maybe don't know much about Killebrew as to just what a humble and class act he was.

FROM: Mike F.

This story may be apocryphal, but I once heard that the scout Bluege sent to look at Harmon Killebrew as a 17-year-old reported back to Clark Griffith as follows: "He has absolutely no weaknesses as a hitter. In my opinion, he is the best first base prospect since Lou Gehrig."

I just learned that Killebrew was passed over several time in the Hall of Fame voting. How is that possible? I know there are a few HOF voters who will not vote for anyone, but how could any sane person who knows baseball not see this guy as a first ballot Hall of Fame selection?

Especially because, as he was being passed over three times before being voted into Cooperstown, he ranked second all-time among right-handed home run hitters behind Hank Aaron. When he retired in 1975, he ranked second to Babe Ruth all-time among American League home run hitters. Utter nonsense he wasn't a first-ballot HOFer.

FROM: Bob D.

Thanks Scott. You understand.

Sniff.

FROM: Kevin M.

Mr. Miller,

Thank you so much for this article about Harmon Killebrew. He was such an inspiration to me while I was a boy. I loved listening to the radio and watching him play.

We've always gotta remember our inspirations, don't we?

FROM: Norman
Re: History tells us Yankees do not grow old gracefully

Great piece, Scott. A classic. History ... gracefully.

One thing you learn when writing a piece like that: How many Yankees fans lack a sense of humor.

FROM: Lee

Your column that the Yankees do not grow old gracefully is pretty interesting. Are the quotes accurate from these past managers and owners?

Uh, no. The tipoff was in the fact that I said the old Yankees diaries were grabbed by Navy SEALS at the YES Network fortress. Almost all of the historical information in the column is factual: The Yanks dumping Ruth, management leaning on Joe McCarthy to remove Lou Gehrig from the lineup sooner than he did because Gehrig's production was down, Steinbrenner forcing Reggie Jackson to take a physical ... all true. I had some fun with the "quotes" and what they were "thinking" at the time.

FROM: Eric S.

Really liked the concept, Scott. Was completely thrown off when I saw you were going make-believe, and not funny at that. The real dagger was the Gehrig stuff, though. That is just tasteless. I am hard to offend and think I have a well-developed sense of inappropriate humor, but there are some things that will never be funny. With all that Yankee material in your hands, trying to instead get laughs out of a debilitating disease is kind of pathetic. You could have done what it seemed like you set out to do -- tell the actual stories, not a corny, LOL nimrod version and had a great column. You can do far better.

Oh come on now. You can't tell me you didn't at least chuckle at the Joe Pepitone line.

FROM: Steve

You're an idiot. I want the 30 seconds of my life back that I wasted reading this drivel.

We just completed an old-fashioned baseball trade: I dealt your 30 seconds for the 30 it took to read your drivel.

FROM: Lee P.

Scott,
 
I actually know Babe Dahlgren’s grandson.  John wears Babe’s 1939 World Championship ring in honor of his grandfather. He will get a kick out of your column! I grew up in NY and finally moved to sunny, beautiful Southern California in 1995 and still love the Yankees. Yankees management and the media are always up to something. Keep up the good work!

Ah, 1939: A four-game Yanks sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, and Dahlgren contributed a homer and two RBI.

FROM: Edward
Re.: Compared to Yanks, 'immature' Rays whip-smart

You may be the worst baseball columnist on all of the major sports sites on the internet. Your bias shines through in every article you write, and is hardly EVER backed by any facts. Consider a new career. Maybe put a cool rag on your forehead, sit in a dark room, and re-evaluate your life.

Funny, I do that about twice a year. Usually with pizza, Mountain Dew and National Lampoon's Animal House playing.

FROM: Bob

Cheesy? Cheesy? America's game should not wear Red, White and Blue on the most important days of the country? While Jackie Robinson's efforts were tremendous -- big Dodger fan here -- it was only in this country could that have happened in the western world. The only country to elect an African-American and did not have colonies in Africa. But it would seem history is not your forte, Ass!

If 100 percent of the profits from the red, white and blue caps went to the troops, I'd be fully in favor of it.

FROM: Chris

Wow ... banging on the Yankees with Tampa as the new flavor of the week. What guts, Scott. But I guess who would read what you write if it didn't include knocking the Yankees? I know I wouldn't. And congrats on one thing: You didn't even mention New York's bloated payroll. Oh but I forgot, you're a pro. You will save that one for next week when the Bombers have turned it around again.

Sorry, I stopped reading when you said you wouldn't read what I write if it didn't include knocking the Yankees. Was there anything pertinent after that?

Likes: Jim Leyland on interleague play. He's right. ... Very cool story, Cleveland's Orlando Cabrera missing a game the other day to become a U.S. citizen. ... Mets pitcher Dillon Gee. ... Sean Burroughs back in the majors (with Arizona) for the first time since 2007. Great story. ... Stephen Colbert the other night: "Starbucks is being sued for firing a dwarf. Or, as Starbucks calls him, a 'tall.'" ... Bridesmaids is pretty funny for a chick flick. Not great. But entertaining. Probably about as good as we're going to get in another crappy summer movie season. ... Bob Seger in Detroit for three shows this week. Wish I could be there for one of those -- and preferably for this past Tuesday's show when The Rockets opened. What a great, underrated Detroit group they were from the late 1970s-early 1980s. Turn up the radio, indeed.

Dislikes: Farewell to Harmon Killebrew, one of the great human beings the game has ever seen.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When the Senators stopped playin’ ball
"The Twin Cities got the call
"Minnesota joined the American League
"With Mele at the reins
"The Twins made instant gains
"In ’65 they had the flag and an MVP
"I’m talkin’ baseball
"Allison and Perry
"Twins baseball
"Kitty Kaat and Jerry
"Don Mincher and Mudcat comin’ through
"Jimmie Hall and Davey Boswell, too
"Just like Tony ... the Killer and Carew

-- Terry Cashman, Talkin' Baseball (Twins version)

Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Runs down, drought on out West

Major league clubs are scoring the fewest runs per game since 1992, and the drought out west is particularly to blame.

The Angels were shut out Saturday and Sunday by Boston and take a 19-inning scoreless streak into Monday night's series opener against Oakland. No wonder Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter were among those taking early batting practice in Anaheim at 3 Monday afternoon.

The Athletics were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Mariners and rank 10th in the American League in runs scored.

The Mariners rank 12th after, in 2010, scoring the fewest runs during a season (513) of any team in the designated-hitter era (since 1972).

Over in the NL, the Padres were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Phillies and have scored the fewest runs in the league. If you want to know how feeble to Padres' sticks are, just check in with tonight's starter, Dustin Moseley: The Padres have not scored one single run during the 25 2/3 innings Moseley has been on the mound this season. He's 0-3 with a 1.40 ERA.

The Padres hitters' 186 strikeouts is the most in the majors. Already in games in 2011, the Phillies' Roy Halladay has fanned 14 Padres and the Giants' Tim Lincecum 13. Brad Hawpe has whiffed 22 times in 51 at-bats.

As for the Angels and Athletics, who are set to open a three-game series in Anaheim tonight, the Angels, having been shut out in each of their past two games, have only been blanked three times in a row once in club history. That happened in June, 1978. They've never been shut out three in a row at home.

"Right now, particularly guys we've been counting on to hit in the middle of the lineup, guys are struggling," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says. "We have a  few 3 for 30s -- Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick ... we've got a pretty strong grouping in the middle that has been struggling for probably the last 10 games collectively.

"If it's just one or two guys, you can rotate them around and get better groupings. But that's not really an option for us right now. We just have to let guys who have hit their whole career hit."

As for the A's, they were blanked for 20 consecutive innings before breaking through against Seattle on Saturday and Sunday with 9-1 and 5-2 victories.

Manager Bob Geren pretty much describes the same scenario Scioscia describes with his Angels.

"Collectively, we had nine guys struggling at once," Geren says. "We have three or four guys really coming out of it now, and some others are feeling better.

"There's definitely a lot better feeling each inning now."

The Athletics were 15th in the AL in runs scored on Saturday morning and still have scored the fifth-fewest total in the AL (80). Their 10 homers are the second-fewest in the majors.

Likes: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's current deal taking him through the age of 69. After that? "We'll see," Manuel says. ... The Mets' new custom of periodically having players make phone calls to fans, as explained here by our Evan Brunell in Morning Pepper. ... The return of Treme to HBO on Easter evening. ... Great job, Toyota, bringing back the J.Geils Band -- or, at least their music, in the ad featuring the song Just Can't Wait. ... The new disc due from Emmylou Harris, whose voice is one of this country's great natural resources.

Dislikes: Jose Contreras to the DL. Just when he was in the process of reinventing himself yet again. What a job he's done as a closer. Though for you pitch count aficionados, there's this: Contreras was DL'd after throwing 81 pitches over a five-day span. And the Phils allowed Cole Hamels to throw 126 pitches on Friday and Roy Halladay to throw 130 on Sunday. It was, though, only against the Padres. So it wasn't like every pitch was taxing.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"To workers I'm just another drone
"To Ma Bell I'm just another phone
"I'm just another statistic on a sheet
"To teachers I'm just another child
"To IRS I'm just another file
"I'm just another consensus on the street
"Gonna cruise out of this city
"Head down to the sea
"Gonna shout out at the ocean
"Hey it's me"

-- Bob Seger, Feel Like a Number

 

Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:10 am
 

Newly patient Kemp keys Dodgers hot start

LOS ANGELES -- For the Dodgers, the most important thing to kick off their season was so subtle you might have missed it if you don't know your history.

Matt Kemp was 1 for 1 on Thursday -- with three walks.

Now. That's not exactly as dramatic as Ramon Hernandez's game-ending homer for Cincinnati on Thursday. Or John Mayberry's game-winning single Friday as Philadelphia crushed Houston in its last at-bat.

But for Kemp, coming off of a season in which he batted .249 and his on-base percentage fell 42 points, the plate discipline during those walks was all the action the Dodgers needed to see.

"We know what he's capable of," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We've talked about just be focused, you know? ...

"We know the upside with Matt. Matt knows the upside with Matt."

But in 2010, Kemp's concentration was in and out, like the reception on an AM radio.

Now, there is no guarantee that he can or will repeat his opening-day focus 160 more times.

But in the Dodgers' 4-3 win Friday in their second game of the season, Kemp keyed a three-run rally in the sixth with a beautiful, heads-up base-running play, streaking from first to third on a grounder to third. Of the Dodgers' first four runs this season, Kemp scored three and knocked in the other.

As Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti often says (along with many others), the Great Wall of China wasn't built in a day. It was built by laying one brick, and then another, and then another. ...

As for Thursday's season-opening 2-1 win, Kemp had never walked three times in any of the previous 626 games in his career.

He did, though, set a franchise record with 170 strikeouts last season ... after previously setting a franchise record of 153 whiffs in 2008.

Kemp scored both runs in Thursday's 2-1 win after reaching base via a walk. Two of his three walks were drawn against ace Tim Lincecum.

"Definitely he was more patient," Lincecum said. "I think he's trying to be more aggressive on the pitches he wants than on the pitches the pitchers want."

Exhibit A came in the sixth inning of Thursday's game when Kemp managed to lay off of a full-count Lincecum slider that broke just outside of the strike zone.

"He threw me some really good pitches," Kemp said. "That 3-2 pitch was a really good slider. I almost bit, but I laid off of it.

"The key for me to be good is to be consistent."

Right now, the sample size is way too small to draw final conclusions. But early evidence in 2011 is that, perhaps as he enters what will be his fourth full season, Kemp, at 26, might have the experience now not only to formulate a plan with each plate appearance, but to stick with it. In his first two games, he's now 3 for 5 with three walks, three runs scored and an RBI.

"You've got to have a plan up there every time," he said. "When I don't get my pitch, don't swing."

As Mattingly said, everybody -- Kemp included -- knows his upside.

"But sometimes that's the curse we talk about," the manager said. "It can be a curse, too: 'If you do all of this, you can do that. And if you do all of that, what else can you do?'

"We expect more and more. But it's day to day. That game's over. Worry about today."

Kemp does that, the Dodgers will have much less to worry about themselves.

Likes: Final Four Saturday. Go Butler! ... Vin Scully in the Dodger Stadium press box. Still. ... Day baseball in April. When you've been starved for baseball all winter, nothing like being able to watch baseball during the day before the night games. Highly entertaining Astros-Phillies game Friday. ... I have a whole bunch of favorite places to run while on the road, and right there among them is the route through the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, along the Rose Bowl and then next to the golf course. A beautiful run, with mountains surrounding, and so peaceful through there. Great run midday Friday before Giants-Dodgers game. ... Bob Seger back on tour and breaking out Shinin' Brightly from the Against the Wind album. One of his most underrated songs from one of his greatest albums.

Dislikes: Aside from the legendary organist Nancy Bea Hefley, most of the in-game production stuff in Dodger Stadium is brutal, and has been for the past three or four years. Pounding music, awful mash-ups of songs, too much noise for the short-attention span crowd and Thursday they brought the fan who acts out the lyrics to Journey's Don't Stop Believin' onto the roof of the Dodgers dugout to do it. Total amateur hour. Entertainment capital of the world, my eye.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Roll down the window, put down the top
"Crank up the Beach Boys, baby
"Don't let the music stop
"We're gonna ride it till we just can't ride it no more
"From the South Bay to the Valley
"From the West Side to the East Side
"Everybody's very happy
"'Cause the sun is shining all the time
"Looks like another perfect day"

-- Randy Newman, I Love LA

Posted on: March 23, 2011 11:06 am
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

PHOENIX -- It seems like, at 27, Oakland lefty Dallas Braden is just coming into his own. But on this talented and young -- emphasis on young -- staff, Braden is the graybeard.

There's All-Star Trevor Cahill (23), who was 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA over 30 starts last year.

There's Brett Anderson (23), who was 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA over 19 starts last year.

There's Gio Gonzalez (25), who was 15-9 with a 3.23 ERA over 33 starts last year.

"I love watching these dudes," Braden says. "I'm excited to be a part of this staff.

"I'm the first guy Cahill ran into in his professional career. I've been taping his shoes together and putting baby powder in his pants [for years], and now look at him."

Braden and Cahill first bumped into each other in 2006, when Braden was rehabbing following shoulder surgery and Cahill had just signed after the Athletics had picked him second in the '06 draft.

"He was all of 18," Braden says.

So of course Braden messed with him.

"Tied his shoes together, baby powder in his pants, eyeblack in his hat, Icy Hot in his sliding pants and shoes," Braden says. "You name it, he wore it.

"Now look at him. He's an All Star, and damn near a Cy Young winner. You talk about people high ceilings ... you tune in three out of every five days to watch the A's playing because when those three guys take the mound [Cahill, Anderson, Gonzalez], they may do something special."

Sunblock Day? The rain has moved on, but temps early Tuesday were in the low 50s. You'll need the sunblock by Wednesday, though, when we're supposed to climb back into the 70s in the Phoenix area.

Likes: Go Butler. ... Old Town Scottsdale. ... The predicted return of the sun to the desert valley. ... Home in a couple of days. ... Home in time for my daughter's play this weekend. ... NCAA tourney games back on Thursday for four more days. ... Opening day next week. ... Final roster decisions starting to arrive. ... www.Segerfile.com for all your Bob Seger news as his new tour lifts off Saturday.

Dislikes: I've loved Bob Seger forever, and I'm thrilled he and the Silver Bullet Band are going back on tour (opening March 26 in Toledo, Ohio). But I'm sorry, I'm not thrilled with the first song I've heard from a new disc coming out this summer. Look, Tom Waits' Downtown Train is a great song, but Rod Stewart did it 20 years ago. Seger always has had an affinity for a well-chosen cover, but he could have been far more creative here. Plus, that's the second song he's covered off of Waits' Rain Dogs, following New Coat of Paint. Bob, at least choose from a different Waits album. ... Aw, my Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central boys' hoops team was bounced in the quarterfinals of the Michigan tournament Tuesday night, 48-45 by Schoolcraft. But the Falcons still made it further in the state tourney than they ever have. Well done, fellas.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Working all day for a mean little guy
"With a bad toupee and a soup-stained tie
"He's got me running 'round the office
"Like a gerbil on a wheel
"He can tell me what to do
"But he can't tell me what to feel"

-- Fountains of Wayne, Hey Julie

Posted on: February 22, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays always have been dependent on B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria. But after taking massive losses this winter, especially in Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay is going to be need those two more than ever.

Upton is coming off of a highly disappointing year in which he batted a career-low .237 with 164 strikeouts. Only Detroit's Austin Jackson (170) had more in the AL.

The Rays are bullish on him bouncing back strongly this year, partly because his talent is so rich and partly because they know his character.

"B.J. does a lot of things really well," general manager Andrew Friedman says. "The fact that he had such an incredible year in 2007 (.300, 24 homers, 82 RBI, 22 steals), the expectation bar is extremely high.

"At times, we all get caught up in the 'He's not matching or exceeding that.' But when you just step back and watch what he does do, he brings a lot to a team in terms of what he does defensively, what he does on the bases."

As Friedman notes, Upton is one of only two players last year who had 40 or more stolen bases and 60 or more extra-base hits.

"The other one got $142 million from the Red Sox," the GM says.

Yep, Crawford.

Longoria, a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, quietly has grown into a leader in just three seasons. That said, he is not looking to force things in that department in this post-Crawford and Pena spring.

"I'm not going to look at myself as the veteran," Longoria said. "I'm going to look at myself as I have every year, come here and work hard and maybe continue to set that precedent or be a leader but not vocally. Mainly based just off of my actions and what I do both on and off the field to prepare myself."

-- Tampa Bay has won two of the past three AL East titles, but this is a completely different challenge this year. Which suits this eclectic bunch just fine. Maddon already has chosen his theme for the season: "Another Way."

"One, you've got to look at our manager," Longoria says. He's a player's manager, a real easy manager to play for. A lot of guys who haven't been here in the past have come in here and feel very comfortable playing for him. In turn, it makes it comfortable for them to play, it's an easy environment.

"In turn, I think that's going to play a big part in how we come together as a team. Everybody understanding that we're all here for a reason and Joe's going to make it easy playing for him. The challenge is there, but the challenge is there every year. We understand that."

Sunblock Day: Starting to sound like a broken record, but simply exquisite. Sun, 80s, no humidity.

Likes: The three signs Maddon has posted on the wall in the clubhouse for the players to soak in. One is from legendary coach John Wooden: "Discipline yourself so no one else has to." Another is from Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve: "Rules cannot take the place of character." And the third is from philosopher Albert Camus: "Integrity has no need of rules." ... Bill Chastain, Rays beat writer for MLB.com, has just had a new paperback novel published, Peachtree Corvette Club. It's available on Amazon. ... Can't wait to see the Hank Steinbrenner-Derek Jeter Visa commercial. Tweeted that the other day and few seemed to get the joke. Remember, Hank's dad one year accused Jeter of staying out too late and next thing you knew, Jeter and George Steinbrenner were doing the conga line through a club in the classic Visa ad?

Dislikes: In a development more rare than an appearance from Halley's Comet, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band are firing up for a tour beginning next month. But they've only announced it a couple of shows at a time. We're up to a month's worth, the first 11 shows. Come on, man. Some of us have schedules to keep and summers to plan! Announce the whole tour already.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter"

-- Taylor Swift, Mine

 

Posted on: January 28, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 8:36 pm
 

Jim Joyce's road from October

It's been a process for umpire Jim Joyce, moving from the mental exhaustion of the 2010 season and the Armando Galarraga Game last June to the point where now he's anticipating this spring training more than any recent camp.

What Kay Joyce most has noticed about her husband of 28 years is that he was very quiet for the first month or so after he returned home last October.

"Very, very quiet," Kay says. "I got him to go to Home Depot once, and four different people came up to him.

"I thought, 'Oh, now I know why.' It's all good, but. ..."

But the guy she noticed following her husband around a grocery store one day, up and down multiple aisles, she wasn't sure that would be good.

Turned out, though, it was simply the store manager.

"He just wanted to shake Jim's hand," she says.

Yes, it's been strange the way a man working in a profession in which the perfect day is to go unnoticed has been, well, regularly noticed.

"It has turned into a phenomenon," Jim Joyce says. "We're not perfect. We're not perfect people. I just happened to be imperfect at the wrong time."

Though he's intent on moving past 2010, two of the items he's kept from last summer are way cool: Baggage tags that were on his luggage when he traveled from Detroit to Philadelphia after the Galarraga game on which unidentified handlers scribbled personal notes.

One one tag was written, "You gave your best. God bless. (signed) DTW baggage"

On the other: "We are all human. Good luck. (signed) DTW."

"That was a shock to me," Joyce says. "So many people have been supportive. I couldn't be more happy that it still is a positive."

Likes: Not surprising, the notes on those baggage tags. As someone who hails from that area -- about 30 minutes north of Joyce's hometown of Toledo, Ohio -- the spirit of the good Midwestern people remains with me to this day. Joyce and I discussed that Friday. "They talk about Southern hospitality," he says. "It's definitely a Midwest thing, too, supporting a Midwesterner." ... Speaking of which, great news that Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band will tour beginning in March. Rock and roll never forgets, baby. ... Keith Richards' autobiography "Life" is a great read. Loved it. ... Tyler Kepner's New York Times piece on Gil Meche retiring and leaving $12 million on the table the other day. ... If you're looking for a good movie this weekend, check out The King's Speech. Outstanding. Great story, and what acting from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

Dislikes:
Get well soon, Jimmy Buffett. Here's the tale from the doc who tended to him.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I've got fevered dreams
"Mighty plans
"Need a black top road
"I need a wheel in my hands
"So long Arizona
"So long desert sands
"I need to face the promise
"Of the promised land"

-- Bob Seger, Face the Promise

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com