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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 June 25, 2006
This week's visit to Washington will stir some memories for senior adviser Don Zimmer, the first time he has been back to RFK Stadium since playing the last three seasons of his major-league career there in 1963-65. Zimmer played for manager Gil Hodges and with Frank Howard, among others. He remembers it being hot because the stadium "sits down in a hole," remembers being heckled because he was one of several ex-Dodgers to come back East and remembers the signs in the upper deck marking where some of Howard's majestic home runs landed. Were any of Zimmer's home runs worth marking? "I didn't hit any up where he hit them," Zimmer said.
The trip will bring back different kinds of memories for Rays coaches Tom Foley and Bobby Ramos, who played the bulk of their major-league careers in Montreal, which lost the Expos franchise that relocated to Washington in 2005 as the Nationals.
"I feel real bad about that," Ramos said. "Baseball was real good up in Canada for a lot of years. The fans were great until the team changed ownership, and it went downhill after that."
Both Foley and Ramos said they grew to greatly enjoy the city, even taking French classes, and miss the chance to return.
"It was very clean, very European and very fun," Ramos said. "I was right at home."
Foley said as much as he liked it, he realized that the baseball team was always going to be battling for fans.
"It just seemed like it was always a hockey city," he said. "It was always going to be a struggle to get people to support the team."
RAYS VS. RAYS
The Rays' Joe Maddon, Scott Kazmir and Toby Hall donned wetsuits last week to visit some real rays, checking in on some of the "cownose" creatures that will move from the Florida Aquarium next month into the new Tropicana Field tank. Kazmir, the left-handed ace, said there were two highlights to the visit - seeing Hall in a wetsuit that was on backward and feeding the rays. "It was cool, but I was a little scared that they might bite," Kazmir said. "Right before I fed them, Maddon said, "Use your right hand!' They chomped down pretty good. Luckily they don't have any teeth."
Obviously the role the Rays want Tim Corcoran to play well is that of a successful pitcher. But Corcoran plays roles out of some movies so well - and at such odd times - that teammates rave about his comic ability.
"He's a funny, funny man," reliever Jon Switzer said. "It's a lifestyle for him."
"He's pretty witty," reliever Chad Harville added. "Put it this way: He wants to be on Saturday Night Live after he retires."
Here are Corcoran's best bits:
Sean Connery from The RockBurgess Meredith from Rocky
Harry Caray (actually Will Farrell doing Caray)
Sylvester Stallone as Rambo in First Blood
Braveheart (assorted characters)
The Diamondbacks have been the far more successful team of the 1998 expansion twins except in one important category - head-to-head play. After last week's sweep, the Rays are 6-0 against Arizona. A look at their record against each opponent (through Friday):
Team W-L Pct.
D'backs 6-0 1.000
Phillies 10-5 .667
Padres 4-2 .667
Brewers 2-1 .667
Royals 39-34 .534
Tigers 32-32 .500
Giants 3-3 .500
Rockies 3-3 .500
Orioles 65-76 .461
Blue Jays 65-78 .455
Twins 28-38 .424
White Sox 28-38 .424
Mets 5-7 .417
Nats/Expos 5-7 .417
Mariners 31-47 .397
Marlins 18-28 .391
Rangers 32-52 .381
Indians 23-41 .359
Angels 29-52 .358
Red Sox 47-94 .333
Pirates 2-4 .333
Cubs 1-2 .333
Dodgers 1-2 .333
Yankees 43-92 .319
A's 24-54 .308
Braves 4-12 .250
Astros 0-3 .000
Cards 0-3 .000
Reds 0-6 .000
YOU DON'T SAY
"You guys have no clue what Barry Bonds is going through, LeBron James ... You've got Shaq dealing with stuff just to win a championship. Unless you guys put on the uniform and get to a very competitive level, (you) will never understand what athletes and entertainers go through on an everyday basis."