© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2002
Thanks for John Romano's column (NHL ducks its most public playoff fight, Tuesday). Finally somebody said it. Many fans have wanted to say it for years: Hockey is more spectacle than sport. Fans say fighting is part of the game. They should keep their gloves on then. For some reason (likely to sell tickets to CFL fans during winter months in Canada), hockey officials decided long ago that minimal punishment be imposed for fighting. Now cheap, intentional and flagrant hits and high-sticking happen more often than not.
A couple of summers ago, didn't one player have to fight criminal charges after hitting another in the head with his stick? With declining attendance, promoting fighting is commissioner Gary Bettman's only successful marketing strategy. Lightning commercials show great passing, goals, and, yes, fighting. The NHL has screwed up a great sport.
-- Daryl Schuette, Brandon
We have the designated spark plug for the Rays (Jason Tyner) hitting .212 with a .250 on-base percentage. This equates to a handful of bunt singles. We have the future star catcher (Toby Hall) hitting .189. We have a third baseman (Russ Johnson) batting .207, who replaced another third baseman (Jared Sandberg) because he could not hit, and now Sandberg is back as the starter. And the guy making $8-million a year is batting .106.
As if that isn't bad enough, the bullpen closing committee has a 7.00 ERA.
But the real insult is you have to pay a premium to see the Rays because the owners don't want you to sit in the upper deck at a lesser cost. I love baseball, but this is hard to swallow.
-- Mark Hurst, Largo
How about getting Joe Magrane out of the booth and into the dugout as a real pitching coach? Why can't we get a young pitching coach who young players can respect and relate to, not some relic they have never heard of and was nothing but a journeyman at best (if he ever pitched in the majors), or a guy who was owed a favor when his old Class A roommate got a managerial position?
Where is Larry Dierker? We need a manager with guts who doesn't worry about answering to anyone but the GM because he didn't go by the modern day book on removing a pitcher just because it's the eighth or ninth inning. What if your boss said to you, "Work six hours today and then I'll get someone else to finish the job"? I have paid to see my last Rays game until they get a real manager and coaching staff.
-- Tony Greco, New Port Richey
Hal McRae continues to prove he is an inferior manager and has no concept of how to handle a pitching staff. McRae played under Sparky Anderson but obviously learned little about how to handle pitchers. If a pitcher is doing well, he removes him for a reliever after six or seven innings because the pitch count is too high.
These men are supposed to be in top physical condition, only pitch every five days, and he has a team he knows has no chance of making the playoffs. What would be the harm in allowing the starters to go eight innings or nine? Sparky had a quick hook, but he pulled them when they were failing, not based on a pitch count, and he always had someone warmed up and ready. This idea seems to evade McRae.
When he does put in a reliever, he leaves him in until he blows the lead and the game. There is some talent on this staff, maybe enough to win 75-80 games with the proper manager. Mr. LaMar, now is the time to cut McRae loose before he costs you your job, attendance and possibly the franchise.
-- Kevin Welch, Largo
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