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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 August 20, 2006
IT'S A RACCOON, IT'S A SQUIRREL . . .
Having exhausted the traditional ways to bust a slump, Jonny Gomes wanted to try something different. And, no surprise, he went for really different.
Gomes walked into the Rays clubhouse Wednesday and asked Wilber Bonilla, the team's unofficial barber, for a cut akin to a Mohawk, which usually is shaved on the sides and long - or even spiked - on the top.
But given Gomes' naturally curly hair, the dyed-in highlights, the not-quite-totally-shaved sides and the little, for lack of a more technical term, ball of hair at the bottom, it's hard to put into words exactly what it looks like.
"Like maybe a raccoon poised on the top of his head?" manager Joe Maddon said. "Or like Davy Crockett?"
"It looks like a horse," Tomas Perez said. "Like My Little Pony. It's terrible."
"Poodle-ish?" executive VP Andrew Friedman said.
"It brings us back to the British punk days," Josh Paul said.
"The only way I can describe it," said follicly challenged senior adviser Don Zimmer, "is that I don't want one like it."
Gomes said the decision was a spur-of-the-moment thing - "I was feeling froggy" - and he likes the look and the reaction. "It grows on people," he said. "It's a straight-up Mohawk. No beating around the bush."
Veteran reliever Brian Meadows wasn't so sure, calling it "the only curly Mohawk I've ever seen in my life." Carl Crawford said he expected Gomes to do the "make-it-stand-up-straight thing," but, "It's cool. He likes to do all that kind of funny stuff." And Rocco Baldelli said, "There are no words for it. It's an original."
The Devil Rays occasionally make news when they hit a ball off a Tropicana Field catwalk. Tonight, several Rays will be in the spotlight when they walk on the catwalk - as part of a charity fashion show at International Plaza in Tampa.
Their willingness to strut their stuff raises the question of which Ray is the most stylish.
Or at least the most in the absence of since-traded fashion plate Julio Lugo, whose rather, um, unique style was once described by Rocco Baldelli as a combination of "full-body denim outfits," "the good Hawaii Five-0" and "my little brother's T-shirt with a pair of slim-fit tapered jeans."
Based on a quick clubhouse survey, it appears the style must run in the family, with reliever Ruddy Lugo standing out for his slightly tamer but equally eclectic choices.
"The only person I can say that comes close to Lugo is his younger brother," Carl Crawford said. "If what you mean is flashy, he's the only person who dresses like that."
"Ruddy's trying," veteran Brian Meadows said. "It's his own style, and that's about all I can say. Just like Julio was Julio. He definitely wears some stuff I would not wear."
Ruddy Lugo said there are no themes to his collection; he is more of an impulse buyer and shops everywhere from discount outlets such as Ross to designer stores.
"I'm into a little bit of everything," he said. "Thursday and Friday you've got to look spiffy. Other days it's more relaxed tomboy, with paint on my jeans. You've got to look stylish."
With Julio scrambling to leave town after being traded to the Dodgers, Ruddy inherited a closet full of clothes, but it did him no good. "Man, his size doesn't fit me," he said.
Lugo may have the most overall stylish look, but there were a few other suggestions:
Jae Seo: "He has expensive taste, or at least it looks expensive," Greg Norton said. "He's pretty much in a full suit every trip, and he likes pinstripes. And he has two Louis Vuitton carry-ons, though whether they're real or not . . . "
Scott Kazmir: "Every time we go on the road, I see him with three bags from Nordstrom or Kenneth Cole," Josh Paul said.
Travis Lee: "Coming to the park, I like T. Lee and his surfer wear -flip-flops, board shorts and a T-shirt, and they're all color-coordinated," Norton said.
Jorge Cantu: "He wears some stuff that I don't think you can get away with with cowboy boots, but he's pulling it off," Jonny Gomes said.
Carl Crawford: "He's got that endorsement-with-Nike thing locked down," Norton said.
Baldelli, though, said it's hard to name a replacement because, "We lost a lot the last couple years with the departures of Julio Lugo and Rob Bell." As for the worst dressed? "It's still (ex-Ray) Aubrey Huff," he said. "There's no way to forget that look in six weeks."
The show benefits the Amandalee Fund, which supports pediatric sarcoma research through the Moffitt Cancer Center, and the Rays foundation. Doors to Nordstrom open at 7 with a limited number of $100 tickets available there.
Scott Kazmir needs three more strikeouts to pass Victor Zambrano (the pitcher he was traded for) as the Rays' all-time leader:
Pitcher Ks IPs W-L ERA
Victor Zambrano 372 4812/3 35-27 4.47
Scott Kazmir 370 358 22-20 3.77
Esteban Yan 351 4182/3 26-30 5.01
Ryan Rupe 348 4662/3 23-37 5.84
Bryan Rekar 292 4951/3 18-37 5.20
Wilson Alvarez 291 3772/3 17-26 4.62
Tanyon Sturtze 285 472 19-30 4.58
Paul Wilson 270 396 15-25 4.23
Joe Kennedy 264 448 18-31 4.98
Albie Lopez 262 4532/3 26-31 4.27
HE SAID IT
"For the most part, we don't have too many stylish guys."