© St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000
Davey Johnson, Buck Showalter, Jack McKeon, Lou Piniella. The list gets more attractive every day. Instead we are looking forward to the 2001 season with Larry Rothschild. Chuck LaMar should have waited ... before deciding to rehire Larry for next season.
What will change in 2001? Same poor team morale, low enthusiasm from the skipper and low fan turnout? This team needed a change, and LaMar failed in his decisions once again.
Vince Naimoli should listen to his fans, the paying customers. Chuck LaMar clearly didn't.
-- Jeff Mills, via e-mail
What's wrong with the Devil Rays?
The manager can't motivate, challenge or get the players he is given ready to play.
The general manager cannot provide his manager with quality players and has a penchant for giving away better players than he can get in return. Examples: Perry, Graffanino, Martinez, Mecir, White.
The owner may be accepting subpar performance. His experience with bankrupt companies should highlight the basic requirement for a good product to be successful. Without a good product, the owner will not succeed (assuming he wants to succeed).
-- Ken W. Anderson, Treasure Island
I am in a state of shock. I just can't understand how Vince Naimoli and Chuck LaMar can justify keeping Larry Rothschild on as the manager of the Devil Rays. What's next, contract extensions for Wilson Alvarez and Juan Guzman? Trading Fred McGriff?
This team is going backwards, and it is very evident that Vince and Chuck have lost control. I am a season ticket holder, and I will continue to be one through thick and thin, but I sometimes wonder what they are doing to make this team any better.
Take a reality pill, Vince and Chuck; the two of you are the real liabilities of this team.
-- Norris Smith, Palm Harbor
The Devil Rays could have had a winning record this year if Larry Rothschild had known four things:
How to use the sacrifice bunt when you're down a run in the ninth, no outs and a man on base (no matter who is at bat).
John Flaherty does not know how to give his pitchers a target or how to block the plate on a close play at home.
He can't put in Roberto Hernandez without at least a two-run lead.
Steve Cox is the best hitter the Rays will ever have.
-- Guy Nash, St. Petersburg
I want to go on record and say what a great job Chuck LaMar did by keeping Larry Rothschild on for another year. It wasn't Larry's fault he lost his two best starting pitchers for the season. It wasn't Larry's fault Castilla couldn't hit. The best reason for keeping Larry is so the Rays wouldn't hire Lou Piniella.
If people think Piniella is the answer, they don't understand the question. Piniella would be a great manager, but he ruins pitchers by pitching them too much. To save our pitching staff, do not hire Lou Piniella. The Devil Rays pitchers thank you.
-- Mark Gentry, via e-mail
It was nice to see Jim Mecir in the spotlight in Game One against the Yankees. No other right-handed middle reliever in baseball would be called on to face the middle part of the Yankees lineup: Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, David Justice, Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada. He was so effective, he didn't even get to Posada before closing out the eighth inning.
Mecir was the best player in the history of the Devil Rays franchise before being traded to Oakland at the end of July. He filled a huge void at Oakland, which had no effective middle reliever to face left-handed batting. Mecir may have been the difference in Oakland making the playoffs. He may be the difference in Oakland taking it to the next level. A very smart trade for Oakland.
I hope the Devil Rays recognized these facts when negotiating this trade. I look forward to seeing the tremendous young talent we must have acquired in exchange for our best player.
-- Darrell Dirks, Tampa
Just a short note to thank Gary Shelton for the way he consistently writes and reports the sports news with respect for the people he is writing about. This wonderful quality was never so evident as throughout the coverage of the Olympics. He managed over and over to lift the image of each athlete as a person first, yet still tell it like it is. The joys and sorrows. The victories and defeats. The image of a perfect athlete vs. the reality of a body that doesn't fit that image. The underlying issues. My list could go on and on.
Gary knows how to touch the heart. Thanks for a job well done.
-- Ruth Peterson, via e-mail
I hope you have a gold medal ready for Gary Shelton when he gets back from the Olympics. His column each day was so warm, wonderful and exciting. Please make a fuss. He made this old lady very happy.
-- Nan Murphy, St. Petersburg
Thanks to Gary Shelton for his article "This time, back the drug cheat." I have been a longtime fan of gymnastics, and the Romanian gymnasts in particular, and I, too, was outraged when the International Olympic Committee stripped Andreea Raducan of her all-around gold medal -- a medal she worked long and hard for and that she earned fair and square. Yet the IOC, trying to prove that it has zero tolerance, sees only that she took drugs. Never mind that she had a cold, it was cold medication she took and her team doctor gave it to her.
I think the IOC needs to take a long, hard look at itself. It has far too much control. Gary verbalized exactly how I feel.
-- Shannon Massieu, Clearwater
I am outraged and embarrassed over the actions of the victorious U.S. men's 400-meter relay team at the Olympics. Maurice Greene's pre-race antics in the 100 meters and the relay had already convinced me that he was unworthy of Olympic glory. The Jordanesque tongue wagging and the contrived swagger were sickening. Before the team accepted its medal on the world stage from Henry Kissinger, it let everyone in the stadium know an arrogant, ignorant, contemptuous group of Americans was in the house.
These four athletes acted like complete imbeciles. Their performance was worthy of the gold medal, but their actions made it clear they were not worthy of the honor and privilege of representing our country in the Olympic Games.
-- Byron Broun, St. Petersburg
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