Rays of hope?

For years, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been called dogs.

As a Bolognese (the breed, not the sauce), this offends me
greatly.

I know, I know, more than 750 losses since they were born in
1998, 49 years ago by my calculations.

Hardly the pick of the litter.

These guys would have no chance in obedience school, where
winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Like waiting at home for my mommy and daddy to come home
(they tell us we don’t have any sense of time. How do they know?), Tampa Bay might actually be emerging from
their eternally long and dark tunnel which I, personally, would find very, very
scary.

But, quietly, the Rays may have begun to turn it around.
Just 6-31 at Yankees Stadium before this season, they have dominated the Yankees,
winning 10 of 15 games with four more remaining. And they’ve been well over the
.500 mark for almost the past two months.

If the poodles of baseball don’t make it into the
post-season, they can look at that as one of the reasons.

Gaithright, Crawford, Cantu, Gomes and the recovering
Baldelli, as well as Upton and Young in the pipeline, give Tampa Bay athletic bodies with a high
upside.

Like me at 12 weeks old.

Makes me wanna lick ’em.

(Which reminds me of this story. Hey, I got all day, ya
know?

When the NFL expanded to Tampa in the late ’70s, they put the Buccaneers in the NFC Central Division, the old
"Black and Blue."

When the Bucs went up to Green Bay for the first time in their history, the scoreboard read ‘Tampa’
and ‘Green Bay.’

This apparently gave the visiting team a case of distemper.
When Green Bay played them again in Florida, the scoreboard read ‘Tampa Bay’ and ‘Green.’)

But who will manage them?

Lou Pinella was sold a bill of goods to go home and manage
three years ago. Instead, what he got to deal with was the three lowest
payrolls in club history and not a team whose payroll would be raised
incrementally each year to the mid-40s through the duration of his contract.

This reminds me of my first words recently as a newborn in
Delta, Colorado: "Liar,
liar, pants on fire!"

He has one more year left on his contract at $4M. That’s
against the backdrop of Vincent Naimoli stepping aside as Managing General
Partner for Stuart Sternberg, who bought controlling interest in the club last
year.

The transfer ahs been accelerated to the end of this season.
This will make happy the kids operating dumpnaimoli.com.

The new guy is said to be not to be a member of the Lou
Piniella Fan Club and might have trouble dealing with the prospect of paying a
manager that much money to skipper a club with such a puny payroll. Even though
he says he will increase it from its current $29M to the mid-30s in ’06.

Yesterday at Yankee Stadium, Lou told me that’s he’s 62
years old and if he’s gonna continue in the dugout, he wants a good situation.
He doesn’t have any more time for losing.

He was scratching me behind the ears while talking. I LOVE
him for that!

Sounds to this pair of furry ears like he’s outta there. In
fact, I’m dog hearing that his agent, Alan Nero, who, himself, owns four dogs
and the new guy are negotiating a buyout.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Lou’s is the only name
mentioned as Yankee manager if the $205M poodles don’t make it to the
post-season for the first time since 1993 and Mr. Bluster undoes the leash on
Joe Torre.

I axed Lou about this. He’s heard it but said he wouldn’t
"deal in speculation." Which means if there’s a change, he’ll be the
new Yankees manager this winter.

One of his coaches told me, "Who the **** would wanna
follow Torre?"

The new management should keep Lou. He has instilled a
winning spirit in what before his arrival was a drab franchise.

One good thing I’m dog hearing about the new management.
They say everything is up for review, from the presentation of the game (if
it’s not too much trouble, can you win just a little, OK?), to the uniforms to
the ridiculous nickname.

 

MEANDERINGS, MINUTIAE & MISCELLANY: Tampa coach John McLaren has been suspended for three games for an altercation with
umpire Ed Montague on August 30th. McLaren said he simply asked Montague a
question and was tossed. Then, he says, Montague cursed at him. Poopie on his
shoes for that… More than one person in the know told me that Mike Mussina is
done for the year… What is Shingo Takatsu doing on the mound for the Mets in
games that, if not won, puts them to sleep for 2005? Watching them in another
of their Atlanta meltdowns, it’s
not that they lose, it’s how they lose. Excruciating for their fans. But
considering where they’ve been the past four years (doesn’t the 2000 World
Series seem like a dog’s age ago?), they’ve had a good season. Watch them
battle the Cubs, among others, for free agent Billy Wagner this winter…That shakeup
in the Mets’ scouting department was three years overdue. They’ve gotten a pass
in New York for their inability
to produce impact players because the Yankees have been worse. The Bronx
Bombers haven’t brought a pitcher of substance to the majors since Andy
Pettitte and an everyday player since Derek Jeter. But he’s pretty good…And
while we’e dumping poopie on the Mets, a scout from another club told me he
scouted Jae Seo in Triple-A as far back as May and couldn’t understand why he
was in Triple-A. He told his organization that if he ever became available to
get him. Now, he’s back up and virtually unhittable…Jim Leyland wants to
manage again…Dan Duquette wants back in in the executive suite and was one of
four finalists for the Arizona GM job. Brian Cashman, currently employed, was
one of the others…

 

QUESTION FOR YOU ON A NEED TO KNOW BASIS: Who wins the
National League Cy Young Award, Carpenter, Willis or Clemens?… Michael
Jackson is building a new house in Ireland.
He wants to spend more time with the wee people… And why do they call that
long metal walkway in Tropicana Field a catwalk anyway?

People I’d like to bite for various reasons if I could bite:
Michael Brown, Michael Chertoff, Martha Stewart, Mike Piazza

My dish is empty.

Good dog.

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