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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001


DOME CREW: In Seattle, they have Buhner Buzz Cut night, when fans can get their hair cut (off) like Mariners outfielder Jay Buhner. The Rays are working on the Bullpen Buzz Cut.

With Travis Phelps' decision to be shorn last week, four of the team's six relievers have dared to be bare on top. "We're trying to make it a unanimous decision down there," Doug Creek said.

Phelps, a 23-year-old who was somewhat follicle-challenged anyway, said he decided after some recent struggles it was time to go the way of Creek, Jeff Wallace and Esteban Yan. "Just needed a change," Phelps said.

The initial reviews, though, were cautious. "He looks like he's a little sick right now," Creek said. "We've got to get him out in the sun a little bit."

Rusty Meacham and Paul Wilson, who both sport full heads of hair, say they are not likely to add to the bullpen glare any time soon.

"Not a chance," Wilson said. "I tried it once before, and it didn't work. It didn't make the ball stay down any more. And it made me look uglier."

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ: There's a "revised and updated" version of a book, unimaginatively titled Fields of Dreams, that purports to be an expert guide to visiting and enjoying major-league ballparks.

What makes author Jay Ahuja's chapter about Tropicana Field interesting are a number of things he found at and near the stadium that no one else has discovered.

Like batting cages and miniature golf in the Batter's Eye restaurant. The addition of a parking deck just east of the stadium. And radar guns at the seats behind home plate.

Those aren't the only mistakes. Ahuja has fans driving across the Howard Farkland Bridge, has the Rays playing on Astroturf12 rather than FieldTurf, has WFNS-AM 910 (which doesn't air much of anything these days) as the leading all-sports radio station. (He also lists Legends Field as the top thing to see in Tampa.)

And to think, one area newspaper quoted from the book in a recent editorial trashing St. Petersburg and the dome, calling Ahuja "perceptive, dispassionate and good-humored." HEY, I KNOW YOU: Countryside High pitcher Mike White, the Rays' 36th-round pick, already has a connection in the organization. His high school catcher, Garrett Buckles, is a visiting team bat boy at Tropicana Field.

What they're saying

Paul Hagen, writing in the Philadelphia Daily News, as the Rays were sweeping the first-place Phillies: "Yeah, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are a big-league team. They have the major-league franchise papers to prove it. Their box scores appear in newspapers across the country and they get their allotted time on Baseball Tonight. But, yo, they are also the worst team in the big leagues. They have the record to prove that, too. They are the type of team, in short, a first-place team with hopes of remaining there should beat."

Quote of the week

"If I don't get dirty, the (clubhouse attendants) don't have a job." -- DAMIAN ROLLS, Rays infielder discussing his all-out play

By the numbers

14: Consecutive games against Red Sox and Yankees starting Tuesday.

21: Wins by Rays through Saturday.

23: Most games Bucs could win with perfect pre, regular and post-season.

Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays

2001, 21-46, .313, 5-181/2

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

1999, 26-40, .394, 5-12.5

1998, 27-39, .409, 5-22.5

Overall (Year, W-L, .Pct. P-GB)

2001, 51-111*, .315*, ?-??

2000, 69-92,.429,5-18

1999, 69-93,.426,5-29

1998, 63-99,.389,5-51

* projected. P-GB: Place in East Division-games behind first

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