Rays Diary 4/15/13


After painfully reviewing The Rays’ first dozen or so games of the season, I have found that precious little has really changed.  The pitching is still extremely talented and well coached.  The defense, except for an occasional lapse, is back to its usual high standards and the offense is, without a doubt, the most incompetently coached that I have ever seen.  It doesn’t really matter who Mr. Friedman brings on board.  Under the totally inept instructions of Joe and brother Peter Principle, the ersatz “hitting” coach, even Babe Ruth would be reduced to a blithering ping pong player, futilely swinging his hands and wrists at pitched balls as if they were tidley winks.

Sadly, the only player whose swing Derek Shelton has not been able to destroy is that of Sean Rodriguez.  Sean, whose stance, in imitation of a wounded chicken, already forces him to swing with his arms and hands, didn’t have to be taught not to use his legs, hips and shoulders in a vain attempt to avoid hitting the baseball.  Heaven forbid, Sean, who just might be the best natural athlete on the team, should assume a balanced “athletic” stance instead of trying to hit a baseball while standing on one leg.  Certainly, Mr. Maddon and Mr. Shelton will not get him to change his stance.  Instead, they will try to make every Rays batter try to hit a “Derek Shelton” home run during every at-bat, foolishly leading with their hands instead of their legs, hips and shoulders in the proper sequence.

The results are so predictable and so different than the last fourteen or so games of last year when Luke Scott came off of the disabled list and started to hit the ball up the middle instead of trying to hit homeruns.  Soon everybody except leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings was getting base hits and even home runs by simply “putting the barrel of the bat on the ball,” as Joyce, Longoria and Zobrist always seem to explain after one of their homers.  In fact, in the films that Coach Shelton and his players don’t seem to watch often enough, almost every home run seems to be the result of a fairly easy, smooth swing.  There does seem to be some sort of lesson in there, wouldn’t you say, guys?  As for Desmond, a leadoff hitter, remember, of considerable talent, left to his own devices or with the “invaluable” help of Manager Maddon and Coach Shelton, he will make a career of hitting ball after ball to warning tracks across the country.  At any rate, that way he can finish his career hitting about .240 or so, not bad for a Maddon/Shelton batting average, I suppose.

Al Finkelstein,  4/15/13