© St. Petersburg Times, published April 15, 2001
Why show up for the next (Rays) home game, Gary Shelton asks? Because we're baseball fans and Devil Rays fans. We want the team to do well.
And I, for one, will be there because I see league-leading hustle in the way Felix Martinez beats out the throw to first on an infield grounder. I see professionalism in the serious demeanor Mike DiFelice adopts as he gets ready to play. I see Vinny Castilla genuinely disgusted with himself when he fluffs a grounder, obviously knowing he can do better and seemingly willing to try. I see exhaustion in Paul Wilson after a determined effort on the mound. I see a new decisiveness in the early roster move involving Bobby Smith. And I want to see for myself how anything can get by Gerald Williams.
I'll pay to see the effects of hustle, professionalism, effort and decisiveness in sports that I like. Having them may not be enough to win, but no team can win without those attributes.
Ironic, isn't it, that few of you who are paid to observe, and who get in free, have seen any of this, judging by what you write and say. Whose ax are you grinding?
-- Bob Morrissey, Tierra Verde
The Rays are a perfect example of what baseball ought to do: have a promotion-demotion system like the European soccer leagues. Every year send the worst two major-league teams to Triple A and promote the best two Triple A teams to the majors.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the Rays moved down and the Durham Bulls moved up?
-- Ernest Lane, New Port Richey
I was wondering who wrote the derogatory remark on the front page of the April 9 sports section concerning Pittsburgh. This person obviously has not spent any time in Pittsburgh. It has one of the nicest skylines, cleanest downtowns, as well as two of the oldest and most tradition-rich sports franchises in the country. It also has some of the nicest, hardest-working people you'll find anywhere.
Whoever wrote that better make another visit to Pittsburgh because pound for pound, Pittsburgh is probably the best city in the country.
-- Don Boytim, via e-mail
As a 25-year-old former professional golfer, I can tell you that what you saw (last) Sunday afternoon will turn out to be the greatest achievement in golf, and maybe in all of sports. Tiger Woods has won more majors in one year than professionals dream of in a career. You have to win four majors in a row to earn the Grand Slam. That's four out of four. Tiger accomplished that Sunday. I don't care if it isn't in a calendar year. It is in a 12-month period. Four majors entered, four trophies on his mantle.
-- P. Michael Natale, Clearwater
I watched the Masters from about 4:30 to 6:20 p.m. (Sunday) and never heard Chris DiMarco mentioned. I realize he was no longer in the running, but his playing partner, Mark Calcavecchia, was shown and talked about. DiMarco led for two rounds and was only two back starting the final round, yet the only time I was made aware of his score was when they were shown on the screen. Didn't he deserve a few words?
-- Joanna Coburn, Clearwater
In 1977 I was a chaplain for kids suffering from leukemia and other forms of cancer at Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. One of the kids, Jamie Kelleher, was 14 and in his last days. One day I went into his room to find him all smiles. Willie Stargell was driving through Columbus, saw the hospital and stopped in to see the kids. Jamie was asleep, but when he woke, there was the note, "I'm pulling for you, Jamie," signed Willie Stargell. That note and Willie Stargell was all Jamie talked about for the next two weeks. Within two months, Jamie was gone, and now Willie is with him. Pops, you were the greatest off the field as well as on.
-- Fr. Joe Pellegrino, Tarpon Springs
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