by John Walters
That’s So Ray’vin
Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays improved their record to 11-0 in front of fewer than 13,000 fans at Tropicana Field. By comparison, the New York Yankees averaged 40,000-plus fans per game last year.
So part of this story is Tampa Bay’s historic start to the 2023 season: the Rays are two wins away from tying the MLB record of 13, shared by the 1982 Braves and the 1987 Brewers. Skeptics will note that Tampa Bay have played no one but bottom-dwellers thus far (Washington, Oakland Detroit and Boston, all of whom are currently in last place in their respective divisions. Nevertheless, the Rays have six dudes hitting above .300 (though, oddly again, no one in top 30)
The other half of this story is that Tampa Bay will play its 9th home game today (versus Boston) and they’re averaging just over 16,000 fans per game. That ranks 27th out of 30 teams. Part of it is the stadium, being both indoors and located far across the bay from the major city of Tampa (it’s in Saint Petersburg). Part of it may simply be the fan base. The Rays, after all, have been good for awhile now.
Would/should the Rays consider moving? We could see Nashville or Memphis, or our perennial favorite expansion city, Billings, embracing this club. Even Albuquerque. No matter where they end up, since they’d no longer be the Tampa Bay Rays, they should call themselves… wait for it… the Ex-Rays.
“Play (Basket) Ball!”
After the longest preseason—82 games— the NBA’s real season began last night with two play-in games. Though, as Charles Barkley aptly noted on TNT, because the NBA refuses to include play-in game stats as postseason stats while also refusing to include them as regular season stats, maybe these two contests never took place.
Last Sunday the Mavericks rested Luke Doncic, while only playing him 12 minutes in the team’s penultimate game, as a way to ensure that Dallas would miss the play-in and retain at Top 10 draft pick. Hey, Dallas was going nowhere this month, even if it did make the conference finals a year ago, so you could understand the strategy. Even if you do find quitting distasteful.
What I found funny is that the NBA was investigating whether Mark Cuban & Co. were making “a mockery” of the play-in tournament. You cannot make a mockery of a mockery (unless you hire James Austin Johnson to impersonate it). The NBA spends 6 months playing 82 games per team all to eliminate 1/3 of its franchises. It’s a colossal waste of time and all the teams and players know it.
It’s cute to see a team like Sacramento (or, last year, Phoenix) that has had so little NBA Finals success race to a top finish in the regular season. But the real ones know that it’s better to finish 6th and be rested and healthy. So you have to steal a game on the road. A team such as Golden State can do that in their sleep.
By the way, I was listening to ESPN hoops analyst Chiney Ogwumike (a former No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick) yesterday talk about the NBA and she referred to the Warrior players as “the original O.G.s” which is rather redundant.
In the wake of the latest school shooting (Nashville) or in preparation for the next one (remember, April is when all the wackos come out, from David Koresh to Columbine, etc.), allow me to propose an analogy:
You live on a street like the one on which I grew up in Middletown, New Jersey. It’s a suburban neighborhood where kids are always outside playing, often in the street. These kids have parents who have enough sense to keep an eye on the little ones. As for the older ones, say above the age of 9 or 10, they know enough to yell “Car!” when a vehicle approaches so that the kids can clear the road and remain out of harm’s way.
Embedded in this culture is a dual compromise. The kids clear the street when a car approaches while a driver is decent enough to not speed on a road where he or she knows kids are playing. Now, let’s say there’s a driver who decides to gun it (no pun intended), maybe he’s listening to an early Springsteen song, and he races down my street at 75 mph. And maybe he kills a kid or two.
The parents would be outraged. The driver might be jailed for manslaughter. If the parents went to the local officials and said, “You need to put up a speed limit sign,” would the officials say, “There’s nothing we can do about it.?”
Let’s say there already was a speed limit sign up. The driver ignored it. Let’s say five more drivers, 10 more drivers ignore that sign, each time taking out a kid or two. At what point, as a parent, do you take matters in your own hands either by 1) never letting your children play in the street again or 2) acting as a sort of vigilante group against any driver who comes onto your street speeding recklessly?
Regardless, what would you do if your local city government refused to put up a single speed limit sign, simply saying, “There’s nothing we can do. People can still get their hands on cars. They will still speed.”
This is hardly the first argument to demonstrate the hypocrisy of 2nd Amendment truthers or our current gun laws. The kids clearing the street to allow a car to pass is every sensible American’s understanding that, within reason, you have the right to own a gun. The car speeding along without any regard to the children’s safety is the gun lobby saying no number of innocent lives lost will induce us to budge from our hard-line stance.
There’s a difference between playing on a freeway and playing on a neighborhood street. Sensible people understand that. Hard-liners for the 2nd Amendment refuse to do so.
Two unrelated Boston items:
- Yesterday, or maybe two days ago—earlier this week—the Indiana Fever selected Aliyah Boston of South Carolina as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft. The 6’5″ Boston was born and raised on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She will not be the last first overall pro basketball pick this year. Boston actually has history with the Boston area, as she moved from the Caribbean to improve her game at Worcester Academy as a teen. But, as you know, Boston itself has no WNBA team. The closest one is near the Conn/Rhode Island border at the Mohegan Sun casino.
- Last night (definitely) the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 to improve to 64-12-5. The Bruins now own the NHL record for most wins in a season (64) and most points (133) with, one game remaining.
A reminder that the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116 wins), 2016 Warriors (73 wins) and 2007 Patriots (17 wins) all set single-season wins marks in, respectively, the MLB, NBA and NFL. All failed to win championships in those seasons.
- What film won the most Oscars without winning Best Picture?
- True-False: area-wise, the U.S.A., Canada and China would all fit inside of Africa.
- What defines a ‘quality start’ for an MLB pitcher (two qualifiers)?
- In how many of New York City’s five boroughs has Notre Dame football played a game?
- Name two countries that 1) are longer than four letters and 2) are within one letter of being the same word.
1. La La Land
3. 6 innings and no more than 3 earned runs
5. Don’t know
Good answers, not 💯
Thank you, TJ
5. Nigeria and Niger. (It’s an honorable mention)
I think it’s Ireland & Iceland, but that just came to me now….not 22 hours ago.