© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000
Nothing seems to highlight the Devil Rays' shortcomings more than their series last week in Cleveland. Mike DiFelice tries to backhand a pitch instead of moving over to block it. Shortstop Felix Martinez continues to try to make plays when he should hold the ball (his throws go into the dugout and runners move up). The team is hitting .238 over the past 20 games or so. Bobby Smith strikes out three times and lets a ground ball go through his legs.
No focus. No fire. And no wins. Who lights the fire? Who keeps the focus? Lou Piniella should be in the dugout kicking butt. We deserve better. These guys just don't seem to know what professionalism and playing hard every day means, and it starts at the top.
You want to see a team going through the motions? Go to Tropicana Field.
-- Joel Hersch, Clearwater
Many incidents of conflict and violence have occurred recently in youth sports, causing some to wonder why. It's not a far stretch to see that many of these behaviors are modeled after so-called professional sports. The recent Devil Rays game against the Red Sox is yet one more example. When did this kind of behavior become acceptable?
In this country, there needs to be a turn toward self-control or we will have a whole generation that feels it is never wrong and feels it always has the right to do or say anything it pleases, or resorts to violence when things aren't going its way. Let's start with professional sports. We expect professionalism from doctors, lawyers, teachers and others we come into contact with. Shouldn't we expect the same from the players and coaches of professional sports?
-- Paula G. Adams, St. Petersburg
Again Major League Baseball has proven how hypocritical it can be. It has laid down the law about the Aug. 29 fiasco at the Trop. Nothing was said to anyone in the Red Sox organization, which was actually responsible for initiating the fracas when Pedro Martinez clobbered one of our guys. Pedro has been allowed to bean batters and smugly act as if it were a momentary loss of control. Get real.
Major League Baseball should be ashamed of itself. What are players supposed to do to protect themselves from a man who can throw 98 mph? It's another reason why the AL needs to let the pitchers bat. I'm sure then Martinez could keep it in the strike zone.
-- Art Dorsey, St. Petersburg
I would like to once again say thank you to all of the fans of the St. Petersburg Devil Rays who in the past three years have made me feel welcome, not only in their park, but in their lives. There are too many people out there to mention, but I would like to thank the Booster Club for its full support of the team, and to the players for making going to the stadium everyday fun.
I will miss all of you.
-- Jarrod Wronski, public address announcer, St. Petersburg Devil Rays
Why should Charlie Jackson and Greg Walls face any disciplinary action from USF? When you have players in professional sports getting away with rape, drug abuse, battery on their spouses, non-support of their children, destruction of property, etc., why ask our college sports darlings to aspire to any better behavior? Their reward for being tough and aggressive could possibly lead to multimillion contracts.
For their girlfriends, wives and the community at large, the "rewards" could be vastly different. Sadly, without the support of the community at large, this couldn't happen. Maybe we should ask ourselves what our own fate would be if we indulged ourselves in the same behavior as some athletes. Are we reaping what we continue to sow?
-- Charlotte Bentley, St. Pete Beach
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