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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002


AND THE NO. 1 REASON TO GO TO A RAYS GAME ... : At this point of the season, the tendency is to reflect on how bad a season it has been for the owners, front office officials and players, then try to look ahead with optimism and reason for hope.

And then we think of the marketing department.

Because as tough as it is to own or operate or manage this team, imagine what it's like to try to sell it to the public. To have to try, presumably with a straight face, to get businesses interested in becoming sponsors and fans to buy tickets when attendance is down and there is no immediate hope of significant improvement after consecutive 100-loss seasons.

In the spirit of goodwill (and good fun), we offer these potential marketing themes for next season:

5. Rays Baseball: It's Cool -- And There's Plenty of Room to Stretch Out.

4. 100 Percent Wilson Alvarez-free.

3. Come See What David Letterman Keeps Making Fun Of.

2. At Least We'll Be Playing -- through 2006!

1. A Devil Rays Tradition -- Wait 'til Next Year.

* * *

GOING DEEP: The Bucs like the way Rob Johnson throws the ball. They weren't the only ones.

The backup quarterback easily could have had a career as a pitcher. At least that's what his second cousin, Rays major-league scout Bart Johnson, said.

The Twins thought enough of Rob to draft him in the 16th round in 1991 out of California's El Toro High, but they couldn't convince him, or pay him enough, to give up his football scholarship to USC. Sticking with football worked out pretty well for Johnson, who was a fourth-round pick by Jacksonville in the 1995 draft and went on to start for Buffalo before signing with the Bucs.

But Bart Johnson is pretty sure his father's brother's grandson also could have made it on the mound: "I think he could have been a No. 3 starter on a big-league team."

TULLAHOMA TIME: Dewon Brazelton won't be much help to the effort to speed up games. Brazelton's processional from the mound to the dugout each inning seems more like a timeless journey, but the 22-year-old rookie said it's just part of his personality. "I catch a lot of grief around here about how I walk," Brazelton said. "They call me little Lee May, but that's just me. I'm the most laid-back person here normally. So if you see me in too much of a hurry, you know something's wrong."

* * *

EXCERPTED: From Rocky Mountain News baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby's column on managers who may be in trouble: "The Devil Rays are the first team to post two successive 100-loss seasons since Toronto in the expansion years. (Hal) McRae has given the Devil Rays a professional approach and held the team together, but logic never has carried much weight with this franchise."

* * *

ONLINE ITEM OF THE WEEK: B.J. Upton didn't make it through his first pro workout until last week, but his first baseball card, produced for the program at the National Sports Collector's Convention, was listed on eBay Friday with bidding starting at $2.

* * *

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "For some reason, I can deal with it a lot better with (Carl Crawford) in the field."

-- GREG VAUGHN, Rays player on being relegated to DH duties next season


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Today's lineup

Rays
  • Fans get in their gripes while Rays just keep winning
  • All-Star OF Winn named team MVP
  • Rays cut Nash loose
  • Blame falling on McRae
  • Regression has club bracing for overhaul
  • Rays tales

  • Bucs
  • Taming the beast
  • Defense feels pressure to rush Warner

  • Lightning
  • Boyle defends scoring ability
  • Prospect watch
  • Lightning returns to last year's form in loss

  • Other sports

    College football
  • Quick recovery
  • Rix puts on display in easy ACC win
  • College football: Spartans WR ties NCAA record
  • Bowden: Franks can lead Duke to elite
  • Florida State: By the numbers
  • 'Derby offense' pays dividends for FSU
  • Around the state
  • This time, Hurricanes need no last-minute aid
  • 'Canes LBs lack favorable matchups
  • Big East: Panthers win league opener
  • Big 12: Va. Tech grinds out win against Texas A&M
  • Pac-10: Ground attack sparks floundering CU
  • ACC: Injured Hollings' three rushing TDs rally Yellow Jackets past BYU
  • C-USA: Bearcats lose to Buckeyes late
  • Around the Nation: Nevada has rarity: a winning streak
  • Big Ten: MSU rallies, then loses to ND
  • Vols quotebook
  • Gator quotebook
  • SEC: Georgia gets feel-good rout of Northwestern St.
  • Maligned Gators D gains confidence
  • Gators benefit from earlier experiences
  • Florida: By the numbers

  • Golf
  • Making Koreans proud
  • Huston can't get it going in his title defense
  • Solid play cheers up Weekley
  • Ryder Cup hostilities cast aside
  • Europe puts heat on U.S.
  • The Ryder Cup format
  • Woods has others shaking their heads

  • Tennis
  • Blake caps U.S. win in Davis Cup doubles

  • NFL
  • Niners offense goes south
  • NFL preview
  • Riley puts heat on Jets for Miami

  • Running
  • Teacher wins 5K event in Race for the Cure

  • Baseball
  • AL: Practice pays off as Myers lifts A's
  • Surprise, surprise: Yanks clinch
  • NL: Giants keep hold on wild card
  • Comiskey fan planned attack on coach, prosecutor says
  • Saves king ready for mark to fall

  • Motorsports
  • Wallace hopes to end losing streak at Dover
  • Rudd where he wants to be

  • Et cetera
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  • Preps
  • Win makes believers out of Cougars
  • Berkeley reaches final but can't slow Plant
  • Sickles girls, King boys finish on top
  • Area teams now favorites

  • Letters
  • Ryder Cup should omit Tiger from future teams
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