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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 10, 2001


BOBBING ALONG: Bobblehead dolls are a big deal. They're the hot promotions at ballparks across the country and are bringing premium prices being resold on the auction market. Thursday night on ebay.com, a Jim Edmonds doll went for $34.50, Frank Thomas for $43 and Omar Vizquel for a head-bobbing $131.

Rays fans can get in on the action June 22, when the first (only?) 15,000 can get a Fred McGriff bobblehead doll. It looks like the real McGriff, smiles like the real McGriff and might even be more animated than the real McGriff. "They made me look better than I look," McGriff said.

McGriff won't be the only Ray to be miniaturized. The Triple-A Durham team is giving away Josh Hamilton dolls.

Never mind that Hamilton is injured, or that he was struggling at Double-A Orlando when he was playing, or that there's a chance he'll jump from Orlando to the majors when he's ready and skip Durham.

The Bulls had to make their plans early, Hamilton was the Rays' top prospect and he is something of a local hero, hailing from nearby Raleigh, N.C.

"He's really popular here," Bulls spokesman Aaron Bare said. "We're just trying to feed off that."

The Bulls are giving the dolls to the first 1,000 fans who buy either of their five-game miniplan packages, for a bargain price of $27.50. A limited number will be given to fans who attend the July 25 and Aug. 2 games. The Durham ticket office number is (919) 956-BULL.

HEEEEERRRREE'S JAY: The Rays' dismal performance has officially become a joke: Jay Leno is picking on them.

They may not be worthy of the headlines, or one of those inane "man on the street" interviews, but the Rays made it into The Tonight Show monologue.

"Let's see what else happened in Washington," Leno said Monday. "President Bush hosted the second White House T-ball game. Are you familiar with T-ball? T-ball is like baseball but without the pitching. You know, kind of like Tampa Bay."

This is Rays' second tour of the late-night laugh circuit. Last year, on a Dave Letterman list of the "Top 10 Good Things About Being the Mother of Someone Famous," Dot Jeter said: "Sometimes, when they're playing the Devil Rays, Derek lets me come in for a few innings."

NEED A LIFELINE?: You already know that Joe Kennedy was the first left-handed starting pitcher for the Rays in a span of 219 games, dating to Wilson Alvarez's Oct. 2, 1999, start against the Yankees. But do you know who was the last left-hander to win a game for the Rays before Kennedy? Try reliever Mike Duvall, on Sept. 27, 1999. Before that? Reliever Alan Newman on Sept. 17, 1999.

What they're saying

Steve Wulf, comparing the Rays to 1962 Mets on ESPN.com: "Look, it's probably too late to make the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a better team. But if they're going to threaten the 1962 Mets' record of 120 losses -- and as of now, they're right on pace -- we should at least make them as loveable as those Amazin' Mets were."

Quote of the week

"I hope I still don't know this team." -- HAL McRAE, Manager, asked if after 60 games he knew what type of team he had.

By the numbers

12: Series lost by Rays before streak ended against Mets.

15: Consecutive series lost by '99 Cubs, longest streak since 1990.

44: Days between back-to-back wins for Rays.

Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays

After 61 games(Year,W-L,Pct.,P-GB)

2001,18-43,.295,5-17 1/2

2000,23-38, .377,5-12

1999,25-36, .410,4-11

1998,26-35, .426,5-20

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