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Rays tales

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 11, 2002

McRAE'S GUIDE TO KANSAS CITY: For 14-plus seasons as a player with the Royals and another four as manager, Hal McRae and family called the Kansas City area home. So the Rays manager knows the city about as well as anybody outside of Missouri. Here are a few of his recommendations if you find yourself headed to America's heartland:

-- BEST STEAKHOUSE: Plaza III -- The Steakhouse, 4749 Pennsylvania Ave. One of the original restaurants in the Country Club Plaza area, this is one of the best steakhouses in a city known for its love of beef.

-- BEST BBQ: Arthur Bryant's, 1727 Brooklyn Ave. Simple decor, but the locals love it and are more than willing to wait for a plate or two.

-- MUST-EXPERIENCE NIGHTLIFE: Kelly's Westport Inn, Westport Road at Pennsylvania Avenue. A Kansas City institution for more than 50 years, the bar has 15 different beers on tap. The building that houses the bar is named after Randal Kelly and was constructed in 1837, making it the oldest in the city.

-- THE MUST-SEE ATTRACTION: Country Club Plaza, 47th Street between Nichols Parkway and Madison Avenue. Designed in 1922 as the nation's first suburban shopping district, the Plaza boasts more than 180 exclusive stores, boutiques, restaurants and theaters as well as Spanish- and European-influenced fountains, sculptures and murals.

* * *

CLEVELAND ROCKS ... NOW: Rays pitching coach Jackie Brown was part of an answer to a trivia question last week in Cleveland: Who and what did the Indians get from the Rangers in exchange for Gaylord Perry in 1975?

The June 12 trade sent Brown, Jim Bibby, Rick Waits and $100,000 to the Indians for Perry. The deal was consummated before the series in Arlington, Texas, but not announced until the series had begun, which explains why Brown pitched in five consecutive games before the Indians came to town.

"They made the trade five days prior," Brown said. "And (Rangers manager) Billy Martin threw me every night. He told me, "The reason I did it is so you can't come in and pitch against us.'

"The second night I came in and saved Dennis Eckersley's first win and I faced my ex-roommate, Tom Grieve, and one of my buddies since 1967, Toby Harrah."

It was the first time Brown, who was born and raised about 31/2 hours north in Holdenville, Okla., had been traded.

"When we first got to Cleveland they could turn the stoplights off downtown Cleveland at 5:30 because there was no traffic," said Brown, who pitched in 57 games for the Indians during the 1975-76 seasons. "That was what we kind of came to. And then the stadium had to be one of the worst.

"Now Cleveland is nice. It's a nice area."

* * *

SEEING A SIMILARITY: Paul Wilson doesn't know how to explain it, but the Rays' right-handed starter is on a three-game winning streak after getting just two wins in his first 19 starts this season. It really shouldn't come as a surprise. Wilson pitched splendidly in the second half last season, going 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA, despite making four relief appearances before rejoining the rotation on July 25. How do his first six starts of the second half last year compare with this year? The numbers are almost identical.


"Tampa Bay is the losingest team in the big leagues, but the key phrase is big leagues. Owner Vince Naimoli paid his money and joined the club. End of story." -- Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal on Aug. 7.


Tampa Bay Devil Rays Leather Embroidered Checkbook, $3.99 on eBay: "This is an extremely sharp black leather checkbook cover with the Devil Rays logo embroidered on the front. This checkbook is new and retails for $30."


"I'm never going to hear the end of it now."

-- TRAVIS PHELPS, Rays reliever and Missouri native, learning Saturday was Dukes of Hazzard Night at Kauffman Stadium

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