Rays Diary 9/3/13


As I watch the Rays suffer through another quite incompetent performance, I cannot fault their effort which always seems to be there.  I Can fault a few other small details, however.  I continue to see the power triumvirate of Longoria, Myers and Joyce, all pulling off the ball, resulting in harmless fly balls, strikeouts and double plays.  I see blatantly uncoached leadoff hitters ignoring open holes in the infield and instead opting for totally useless long fly balls to the warning track.  I see Longoria and Myers, as well as almost everyone else, who earlier were trying to stroke outside pitches to the opposite field, now trying futilely to pull the same pitches for homers, but instead hitting into one double play after another. 

Apparently there is no coach on the Rays who can tell a player “to keep your eye on the ball” or” hit the outside strike to the opposite field,” or “it might not be a bad idea to hit the ball to the right side with men on first and third and one out in a one run ballgame.”  It is, of course, more desirable than the walk that the Rays players are apparently taught to aim for, usually followed by a double play and, by the way, seldom followed by a run.  No one, of course, can deny that the Rays are the most masterful team in achieving the pro forma double play.  Afterall it is their manager’s and batting coach’s trademark, is it not?

And then there is “The Philosophy,” you know, the one that doesn’t work: “Don’t give up an out for a base,” the one Joe and Andrew developed in college in the “philosophy” electives they took while majoring in “computer baseball science” with a minor in “use of the Ouija board for the creation of baseball lineups.”  You see, the problem with the use of the computer instead of baseball scouts and ones own mind, is that the poor schmendricks entering the information into the computers seem to have little clue as to what information is really pertinent.  While Brian Anderson knew, immediately, that Escobar had to charge Trout’s ground ball, nobody had informed Escobar of this esoteric fact, something Joe and his lazy coaches should have had in their heads.  The ensuing run is Joe’s fault, not Escobar’s!  It’s what happens when one substitutes a mostly irrelevant computer for a potentially top notch baseball mind (which Joe obviously has under the burden of all that computer trash).

The Rays don’t bunt, they don’t hit behind the runner, they don’t usually hit the ball where it is pitched, they don’t try to hit the ball to the right side of the infield to drive in a run.  Apparently their “sluggers,” like Longoria, Myers, Joyce, Zobrist, Scott, Escobar, Loney, Johnson, Dejesus, Jennings, Rodriguez, and Lobaton are not allowed to bunt, lest they miss the homerun that Maddon and Shelton are so diligently praying for on each at bat.  I guess that leaves only Jose Molina and Sam Fuld who are allowed to bunt. You see, praying for extra base hits is so much easier than managing or coaching!  It’s difficult to teach players about hitting when one knows nothing about either hitting or teaching!  It might be time, Joe, to start looking for someone else besides your buddies to help you coach some of these players.  Then, maybe they can actually learn how to bunt, to hit behind the runner, hit to the opposite field, etc.... all those things a team has to do to win when they’re not hitting the ball as well as expected.  Apparently it’s been so long since this team has been allowed played any “smallball” that neither they nor you can remember how it is actually done.

In my “Diary,” for the past three years, I have carefully documented dozens of games lost by the Rays’ stubborn refusal to let a quite mediocre hitter advance a fairly speedy baserunner by bunting.  More often than not either a force out at second, a double play or a strikeout ensues, of course, because it’s simply a “matter of odds.”  With a man on first and no outs, given the Rays batting average, a bunt gives the team a greater than fifty percent chance of a base hit scoring a run.  “Praying” for two base hits or an extra base hit to score the same run is approximately an eighteen percent gamble!  Mazel Tov!  The players miraculously bailed out management in 2011 in the last regular season game.  They tried last year, but even the end of season winning streak couldn’t save the Rays from poor managing and ineffective prayers.  The best pitching that I have seen in more than sixty years of watching baseball was squandered on a manager that would pray for even Eleanor Roosevelt to hit a homerun, rather than manage and call for a bunt!  It’s hard to argue with math, just as it’s hard to accuse a computer or a ouija board of “incompetence.”


Al Finkelstein, Disappointed Rays Fan,  9/3/13