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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 16, 2006
Gomes' cut: "Just because it was Fenway."
Among the hundreds and hundreds of things the Rays did to get ready for the first homestand of the new regime, principal owner Stuart Sternberg took credit for only one thing - More Cowbell.
The short clip - a snippet of an April 8, 2000, Saturday Night Live skit that ranks among the show's funniest - made its way to the videoboard opening night, and soon will become a Tropicana Field staple, with plans to make it the Rays' version of the Angels' now-legendary Rally Monkey.
The scene is a parody of a VH1 Behind the Music segment on Blue Oyster Cult, showcasing its hit (Don't Fear) the Reaper. Christopher Walken plays supposedly legendary music producer Bruce Dickinson, and he insists that the key to the song's success will be adding more cowbell to the track.
"I gotta have more cowbell!" he pleads, then adds: "Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
Will Ferrell is playing the bell, with his typical exaggerated physical humor, and when Dickinson tells him "really explore the studio space," hilarity breaks out.
Sternberg loves it.
He has it on DVD, he has the clip on his computer, his sons have More Cowbell T-shirts. One of Sternberg's first acts was asking entertainment director John Franzone if he could get the clip, and when members of Franzone's staff started quoting it, they felt they had a hit waiting to happen. By Friday, the Ray Team spirit squad and some fans were clanging bells along with the video.
"The clip is drop-dead funny," Sternberg said. "It gets funnier and funnier each time. We'll bring in other bits, but I'm hoping this one becomes our - and the fans' - signature."
Manager Joe Maddon is another big fan, and thinks it will catch on.
"I love it," he said. "I laughed my head off. I think it's a great idea. I was all for it when I heard about it."
They are not alone. There are Web sites, T-shirts, coffee mugs, buttons, blogs, posters and even entries in urbandictionary.com 1. Something everything needs more of. 2. A remedy. dedicated to the phenomenon. There is a band called More Cowbell. An Internet group known as the Committee for the Advancement of Cowbell. And there are video clips of the full skit readily available, including at: www.funnyhub.com/videos/pages/snl-more-cowbell.html
"I could see this place rocking with that," Maddon said.
Just add more cowbell.
Veteran infielder Tomas Perez has lent an important hand since joining the Rays, contributing some big hits and several key plays that have sealed wins.
But he hasn't shown off his best handiwork. During his six seasons in Philadelphia, Perez was known for his spectacular timing and crafty delivery of shaving cream pies to the faces of unsuspecting teammates as they did TV interviews.
And he is warming up to the task with the Rays. "Soon," Perez said. "I'm going to bring that to my new friends and my new house. We're going to have fun."
The Rays saluted Jonny Gomes on Saturday by handing out figurines of their powerful slugger. We salute Gomes here by letting him rank the biggest home runs of the 25 in his brief career:
1. Two-out, two-run walkoff shot to beat Detroit 5-4, July 9, 2005.
2. Eighth-inning grand slam to break a 3-3 tie on Wednesday.
3. Three-homer game against Kansas City on July30, 2005.
4. First career homer at Toronto on April 26, 2005.5. Second-inning shot at Boston on Sept. 1, 2005.INTERNET SEARCH
Landon Thomas Jr., writing in the New York Times about Stuart Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman : "Indeed, there is a distinct boys-club feel to the slap-happy camaraderie that binds Sternberg to his two young executives. It mixes the testosterone of the Wall Street trading floor with the geekiness of those who spend an inordinate amount of time breaking down earned-run averages."
YOU DON'T SAY
"I'm not going crazy - yet. And it takes a while."