Friday, March 30, 2007

The Voluminous Links-Story Of Stiles, Devil Rays Fan (catch up version)

So I've been writing alot of articles on this website called ArmchairGM.com "All Sports, All You"
Anyone can contribute, easy to do, so I go for it, right?

And I'm writing on there for a while (here's my ArmchairGM archives)

and I get this idea to sell my fanship and blogger abilities (I promised to write at least 50 articles) - on ebay for charity

The media picks up on it

Then the President of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays wins the bid. Yes, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are an actual real Major League Baseball team!

So I started : this site (The Yankees have their Empire, the Red Sox have their Nation, the Devil Rays have the Universe!!!) and also continue to contribute on ArmchairGM as well. I am going to Tampa in April to interview executive staff, players, anyone who will respond to my questions and hang out with the media so I can write about them as well!



Also check out my commercials!!! Unlike anything else you've seen.

basketball

more basketball

football

"Out of Shape"

after the first few, they made fun of my orange striped shorts

Spring Training

One of my radio interviews set to a slide show

And of course, there's MORE to come! Hit me up e-mail syles mannystiles@aol.com

Don't forget to vote for your Favorite Devil Ray! HERE!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stiles takes on ALL comers - Topic: Delmon Young

When I finally get the opportunity to interview Delmon Young I'll ask him two simple questions:

1. "How many times have you been asked about it?"

2. "Can I get an invite to your Hall of Fame induction?"

I chose Delmon Young as my favorite Devil Ray for a very simple yet personal reason. I've been there... (in a sense).

Sure, I could've gone the easy route and chose The Most Exciting Player in Baseball or Steve Carlton II as my favorite Devil Ray player, but I chose to be a fan of Delmon as much as he inadvertently chose me to be his fan.


Let's back up a bit: You know sports, you know baseball and you know how to make your mind up about things, right? Well, I'm not so sure you do...

It's often been said that there's two types of people in sports - those who play sports and those who write about sports. In a truly Stiles fashion, I dance on, tightrope and straddle that fence often.

Well, I happen to think the WORLD is wrong about Delmon Young. The writers, the fantasy gurus, the sports guy on the local news channel, YOU included. And I'll tell you why.


Exhibit A
Everything you know is the same as nothing

Name everything you know about Delmon Young without mentioning the words "bat" or "umpire". Here, I'll help you:

He's Dmitri Young's little brother

He's a former #1 overall pick (2003 draft)

MAYBE you know he's an outfielder, or a right handed batter... maybe.

OK, given those things, HOW HOW HOW can you make an assessment of his character??
Now I'll let you use the words "bat" and "umpire" and suddenly he's a candidate to make the Cincinnati Bengals roster?


Exhibit B
the video

I've seen it more times than I've seen the Zapruder film. (it's close, anyway)

There's no footage of Delmon even LOOKING at the umpire when he threw the bat. The umpire did not make a move in ANY direction when the bat was flung. The catcher did not react in any manner, the pitcher did NOTHING. It was almost as if everyone was SO BARELY shocked/surprised that he threw the bat, they were rendered NOT afraid and went about their business as usual.

Young did not so much as scream, yell, rant or rave at the play.

He simply was called out on a pitch that clearly was NOT a strike. He disagreed with the call, probably called the ump a seeyesser and got run appropriately. Then he flung, threw, chucked, whatever-you-want-to-call-what-he-did-with-the-bat at the umpire, striking him.
Acceptable behavior? Absolutely not.

You never throw equipment. ack 100 years ago when I played organized baseball, I would always tell my teammates that "it wasn't the equipment's fault" or "don't blame the bat. It didn't strike out, you did".

So we agree this is unacceptable behavior from a professional athlete, but HOW HOW HOW does this one singular incident make Delmon Young a player with "character issues"?

He was suspended for 50 games. He paid the punishment... supposedly. He had LOTS of time to rehash a simple moment. He's thought about it more than I have, I know THAT much. He is going to be asked about and remembered for the incident for the rest of his career, most likely.
He did not get arrested, convicted or even charged with any crime except in the court of public opinion. I'm sorry, but there's SO MANY variables beyong the 28 seconds of video that aren't accounted for.

Now....


Can we all agree that this wasn't even CLOSE to the same vein as the Izzy Alcantara "incident"???


Exhibit C
He made a mistake in the heat of competition

Delmon IS guilty of being a multiple sport star athlete, having amazing physical tools and merely being "young". He lost his cool to the point where he tossed the bat, but WHAT else did he do? A mistake? Once again yes... BUT who doesn't make a mistake, an err in judgement, a decision with ill consequences in life?

I understand that the microscope of sports journalism is focused on pinpointing how horrible professional athletes are (even though there's a greater percentage of convicted criminals in our Congress), since controversy gets people talking and feel-good stories don't sell copy. But here's where "the two types of people in sports" (players and writers) show their discrepancies.


Exhibit D
Manny Stiles has "been there"

Once upon a time I was a pitcher for an adult summer-league baseball team. For one particular road game our team had just "signed" a pitcher of relative star quality who was going to start in place of me and I was bumped to the bullpen.

Well, the game started out and "new star pitcher" essentially got his tits ripped off and gave up 8 runs before getting yanked in the second inning. I came in the game in relief and got us out of a jam.

Then I went on to shut the other team down over the course of innings 2-8. Our team whittled the 8-0 lead away until the game was tied going into the bottom of the ninth. I poured my heart out. I pitched my ass off, I gave all I could. I reached deep within myself. All the cliches were in effect.

Now the game was on a Saturday and there was quite a turnout for such a meaningless baseball game. tehre was about 500-700 spectators and some were even trying to heckle me (I DO seem to get people talking). Emotions ran high, close plays were hotly contested.

The bottom of the ninth came around, I was still humming, in the groove, etc. I got the first out easily, got the second guy out on a K then went to work on the potential third out. He got on from an error by my second baseman and ended up on second.

The next guy up was pretty good, so I drilled him in the ribs to secure the force play at any base (I hated intentional walks but loved drilling dudes). So with two outs and men on first and second, my adrenaline RAGING from the moment, I took it to the next batter.

Being the 20 year old I was at the time, I just tried to blow it by him but he made contact! he dribbled a ball right back at me and with my poor follow through I was a bit out of position to field the ball cleanly and literally stuck a leg out to stop it. The ball hit my ankle and rolled foul, but obviously was still a fair ball, bases loaded.

We came all the way back from down 8 runs and here we were in the bottom of the ninth! The batter stepped in and all I wanted was an out. knew the guy at bat wasn't going to beat me. I went right at him, but I was wearing down. The batter took the count all the way to 3-2. Pitches were on the black and not getting called. The ump was squeezing me!

So on a full count, the batter took my offering (which was pretty much a strike) the Ump called it ball four, the raucous crowd erupted (as much as a crowd of 500 could) and he walked with the bases loaded to win the game 9-8.

Then one of the least proud moments of my life happened. I was dejected, spent and angry. I frustratedly kicked my glove like I was Ray Guy, over the backstop. A child of maybe 8-10 years old said "nice kick!" and I launched the loudest FU Bomb of my career, tossed the "Mike Vick one-fingered peace sign" at the stands and began to punch the fiberglassed benches in utter disgust and rage. If you've ever punched fiberglass, you know how it shatters and splinters into a mess.

People were becoming frightened and scared and lucky for me I had a very good friend that grabbed me and my stuff and took us back to my car where I proceeded to redecorate my car with knuckle dents to the hood. My buddy told me to calm down, I did what I could (my best) and it was "just a game".

I was starting to have my senses come back to me when he asked:

"Are you OK to drive, or do you want me to walk home?"

It's at moments like that you can clearly define the difference between a good friend and everyone else. Anyone else would have gotten a serious ass whoopin', whereas my good friend knew THAT was exactly what I needed.

To this day, it's still a funny line.

What's the point of this mess? In the heat of strenuous effort/battle/love and war, sometimes your best/better/good judgement flies out the window. I would NEVER EVER act like that again (and am still appalled that I DID act like that once). You never fully realize your worst capabilities until it's too late. If somebody, anybody would have made a move at me, I would have probably attacked them! I was a raging fool (and I am NOT proud of this)

I probably could have been arrested (for the destruction of public property, maybe even for assault for threatening the kid).

Delmon was 20 when his incident occurred, I was 20 too...

There has to be a place where we can allow people to "mess up" without labeling them "Messed Up". I feel Delmon Young deserves the chance to be considered human (vulnerable, fallable, unperfect) even though he was given beyond-human physical abilities. I give people the benefit of the doubt at least once.

If Delmon Young did what I did and he did what I did, would anyone ever care to know the difference?

Exhibit E
Racism

Look, I'm not one to call out the slightest controversy and slap the proverbial race card on it, but open your eyes a bit wider than uniform colors here. It's clear to me that there's some racism involved with public perception of Delmon Young. It sickens me that it's so apparent in "the world we live", "this day and age", whatever...

More than "Black man beats Whitey with a stick for once" jokes...

Delmon Young is percieved as being a doo-rag and gold chain wearing, gangsta wannabe hip-hop culture thug by far too many people whom have never even SEEN him! How many people NEVER watched the clip still called him "hip-hop thug" or more simply "dumb nigger"? How many people that "would never use the N-word" still think about him the same way whether they want to admit or not?

How many people hear the name "Delmon" and don't think "that's a black guy's name"? Or see a picture of him and envision meeting him in a dark alley. It truly doesn't matter to me personally what skin color a person has (name someone who got to choose), but I know there are people that feel this way. I have had people tell me "players like Delmon Young don't respect the game", "he's a ghetto punk" and other similar statements of blatent, overt ignorance.

Keep in mind that the people I have heard bad mouth Young 1) don't know him, 2) have never met him and 3) couldn't pick him out of a lineup if their life depended on it, but would just as easily bet their life that he is as likely to "be in a police lineup as a batting lineup"... huh?
We are SO trained in this society to have the headline tell the story and have the video "evidence" slam the gavel on the 'sentence'.

There is a fear in people that grows in the petri dish of ignorance. Racism is one thing, but so is ignoring racism. As much as I wish it couldn't be true, Don't double down on the ignorance.

I haven't met Delmon Young personally (yet), but I have a pretty good idea that he'll be different than I expect, different than you expect and different than the media expects me to expect. He might just be a "regular guy" in some respects!

...or maybe he'll be happy and jovial like O.J. Simpson...


Exhibit F
The Devil Rays Corallory

WHAT do you know about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Seriously? How can SO MANY people know next to nothing about the Devil Rays yet know what's beating inside of #26's jersey? From the time he was spending in the minors?

PUH-Leaze!

The day that all the smacked asses stop running their mouths about how they know everything about what they saw on SportsCenter one time will be the finest day of them all.
Playing professional baseball is a privilege not a right. Me thinks Delmon "gets" that concept. No worries here.from Manny..


Exhibit G
What lies ahead (emphasis on "lies")

For all the reasons stated above, I empathize with Delmon Damarcus Young. I can't help but feel sorry for how he has to handle a ration of B.S. (not blown saves) over an incident of such meaningless insignificance that has been blown out of proportion by idiots who can't conjure up a real story, fear, racism and ignorance

Delmon Young will need to have an MVP-like season or four before the journalists of the world will let the bat incident rest. Again, in the grand scheme of things (at least to me) it's the deadest story in Florida (hanging chads anyone?).

And GOD help us if even the slightest event conjures up the "incident". Delmon could be a saint for the rest of his career, if another player throws a bat, or hits an umpire GUESS whose name will be dragged through it....

In less than a month, the story will pop up again as the one year anniversary comes around (April 26th). Of course, no one will ask him about THIS season, or what he's doing NOW, they'll just want to pin Delmon down under that 28 second clip like that grainy book jacket flap can tell the whole story inside.

Maybe Delmon can learn some "bat control" and stop swinging at EVERYthing thrown his way, maybe mix in a walk every so often and the "witty" journalists can come up with some actually FUNNY headlines (now who's the funny one?)

Maybe he'll continue to be the free swinging slugger that got him to the bigs, I don't care. As long as he goes out there and plays baseball, he WILL have a great, incident-free career. And I'll be rooting the WHOLE time!

Of course, I'll be busy making my plans to visit Cooperstown in 20 or so years...


Go Devil Rays!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Raise or Raze the Rays - Episode One

by Bball3345, Davis21Wylie, and Manny Stiles

"Raise or Raze the Rays" - Episode One starring Armchair contributors Bball and Dice21Dub is yet another deluded concept from the 'Chair's resident whackjob.

In honor of my favorite homonym/antonym, Raise/Raze along with my favorite baseball team, this series will analyze data from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays through the sabermetrically tinted glasses of two of our favorite Chart Wizards/Stat Geeks a.k.a. "Neil" and "Tim", while ManRay a.k.a. "Erik" gets to interject his typical antisense. The series will run about once a month throughout the regular season, and maybe even a special "Post Season Edition" when the Devil Rays win the AL East.

Build 'em up? Or knock 'em down?

Enough tapyap... To the DATA, Statman!!!

Raise or Raze the Rays

Neil: Okay, Tim, let's get this show started...

Welcome to the inaugural edition of "Raise or Raze the Rays," a periodic column in which my colleague Tim and I, Neil, will aim our ever-growing arsenal of sabermetric weapons at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In this space, we'll dissect Tampa from practically every statistical angle, in the hope of learning something new that this guy can put to use. But will our boss, Mr. Kombol, like the results? Um... maybe. At the very least, stay tuned to see if this column is discontinued!

But, seriously, let's get the (B)ball rolling by taking a look at one of the D-Rays' primary strengths: their young talent base. As I noted here, we can all agree that the Rays have more than a few quality prospects on their roster, especially on offense -- Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, B.J. Upton, Jonny Gomes, Jorge Cantu, etc... Tampa had a profoundly horrible offense last season, but most of these guys were either hurt, suspended, or in the minors. So is there any hope for this O when (if?) they get their young core in the lineup full-time?

Tim: No doubt, Tampa has an outstanding crop of young offensive talent at the major league level and, even more amazingly, there is still more talent on the way. The scary thing is how all of these high-profile prospects could realistically flop.

They have four potential 20/20 guys, but none of them come without question marks. Carl Crawford, improving but yet to reach the "next level." Rocco Baldelli, torn ACL and Tommy John surgery. Delmon Young, attitude problems. B.J. Upton, can't play defense to save his life.
Baldelli is the most interesting to me, partly for being a non-pitcher and having TJ surgery. Last season, in his 92 games of rare health, Baldelli had a RC/27 of 7.08. Had he had enough bats to qualify, that would have ranked him in the top 20 in the AL. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) wasn't even that inflated either, at .338 compared to his career .333. His Line Drive percentage was at 15.6% compared to his career 16.3%. The most promising trend has been in his power; Baldelli's HR per Fly Ball rose from 7.2% in 2003 to 16.0% last season. At 25-years-old, don't you see him proving his past injuries were a fluke and leading the Tampa Bay offense?

Neil: I can definitely envision a situation in which Baldelli is the cornerstone of this team -- as a Vernon Wells-style two-way OF -- especially given the way his power finally came through last season. I mean, we know this guy is crazy talented: in high school, people were regularly comparing him to Joe DiMaggio, and his top comp for the last fully-healthy season he played (2003) was Tris Speaker. But I'm concerned that his past injuries weren't flukes. The offseason ACL tear? Well, maybe, but the elbow and leg/hamstring issues are troubling for a player of his age. He's still got that great speed, but players with histories of leg problems generally tend to lose it sooner rather than later. If he proves himself to be durable, though, I think they've potentially got one of the best CF in the American League.

As for the rest of this lineup, there's a lot of upside here. They shouldn't be scoring 4.25 runs per game, right? And if you were to look at a best-guess for their guys' production, it'd probably be:

No. Player Pos RC/G

--------------------------------------
1. Rocco Baldelli CF 6.2
2. Carl Crawford LF 6.3
3. Delmon Young RF 5.8
4. Jonny Gomes DH 5.8
5. Jorge Cantu 2B 4.9
6. Ty Wigginton 1B 5.3
7. B.J. Upton 3B 4.9
8. Dioner Navarro C 4.5
9. Ben Zobrist SS 4.5
--------------------------------------

Pretty solid, huh? But we've been saying that for the last few years, and someone has always gotten hurt, or underperformed, etc. The margin is paper-thin for them at this point -- somebody goes down or stops hitting, and suddenly you're seeing a lot of Damon Hollins again.
I think one of the key guys for them is actually Akinori Iwamura, the Japanese import. This team was giving infield PT to guys like Tomas Perez last season, so if Iwamura performs like he did overseas, it'll definitely give them some breathing room in terms of depth. How do think Iwamura will handle the transition to MLB?

Tim: Well, Iwamura is 28-years-old, which puts him right in the prime of his career. He has hit over .300, with OBP's a tad under .400 and slugging in the mid-.500s over the past three seasons in Japan. Baseball Prospectus calculates his EQA (Equivalent Average) over the past three seasons at .285, .295, and .293. If he had posted an EQA like those on this side of the ocean, only Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teahen, and Troy Glaus would have bested him in the AL. Personally, I see his EQA coming down due to the shift and the innacuracy of predicting between leagues. An EQA in the .270's with 20 HRs and a mid-.300's OBP seems about right. Production like that would make Iwamura an above-average third baseman and, at under $3 million per year, one heckuva bargain.

As far as I know, Iwamura has stayed healthy and has a solid reputation with the glove. He is capable of playing 2B or 3B, so this improves Tampa Bay's flexibility. Not to mention, Iwamura's bat would be even more of an advantage at 2B. Assuming Iwamura pans out, I see prospect Evan Longoria taking over 3B by season's end and Iwamura shifting over to second base, bumping Cantu out of the starting lineup.

Speaking of fielding, Tampa had serious issues last year on defense. Their Defensive Efficiency Ratio (the number of times they turned balls in play into outs) was a league-low .673. The difference between their Fielding Independent Pitching (4.86) and ERA (4.96) comes out to about an extra 15 runs over the course of a season. In other words, their defense easily cost the Rays a victory or two by itself. According to the HardballTimes fielding stats, the problem appeared to be on the ground, not in the air. The Rays' infield made 82! less outs than expected, while the outfield made 9 more than average. Playing Iwamura, Longoria and Ben Zobrist around the horn would go a long way toward fixing that problem. It also means that deciding to add the dreadful defense of B.J. Upton could further damage the pitcher's confidence in allowing groundballs. What do you think the Devil Rays should do with Upton? Should they try and get him at-bats in the infield, trade him, move him to center, or something entirely different?

Neil: I've always liked Upton, but having him in the infield is clearly unacceptable as long as he's going to do his "Chuck Knoblauch circa 1999" impression. The outfield would be a more appealing destination defensively, because he has loads of speed, but I wonder if his bat is strong enough to support the move (especially after last year's nightmarish .246/.302/.291 line). It's one thing for Alfonso Soriano to go from a defensive-liability IF to an MVP-caliber OF, because Soriano's hitting ability was never really in question -- we may have taken exception with his, um, lack of selectivity, but he always had good power and would at least hit for average.

Upton, on the other hand, has never really proven himself at all as a hitter at the major-league level; yes, his minor league translations have been good, but his career MLB line is .251/.312/.347 in 334 at-bats. At 22, it's not really time yet to give up on him as a player, but now is the time to make him an outfielder, because that defense at third (or short, or the infield in general) isn't getting any better.

But, you know, as bad as Tampa's defense was this past year, you still have to lay a lot of the blame for their 5.28 RA/G at the feet of their pitchers. If it weren't for Kansas City and Baltimore, this would have been the worst staff in the AL, a showing made worse by the fact that they had one of the game's brightest young pitching prospects headlining the rotation (for the first half of the season, at least). To be exact, their non-Kazmir ERA was 5.15. This is what makes the Devil Rays so frustrating: the good players on the team get hurt a lot, and that's not really something the organization can control, but there are contingency plans that don't have to include guys like Seth McClung, Casey Fossum and Doug Waechter -- pitchers who have "removed all doubt" about their suckitude by now.

The good news is that they have what many are calling the best farm system in MLB. With guys like James Shields, Jason Hammel, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Jacob McGee, and Jeremy Hellickson coming down the pipeline to join Kazmir, the staff looks like it should improve a lot in the next few years. Meanwhile, Young, Longoria, Elijah Dukes, and Reid Brignac will bolster an already-impressive core of young talent in the field. So, yeah, I like Tampa's future a lot, provided they don't screw things up on the development side. Of course, all of these guys are at least a year away from making an impact at the MLB level, so they're of little use to Joe Maddon & Co. right now. Given that, how do you see the 2007 Devil Rays performing? What are your best-case and worst-case scenarios for this upcoming season?

Tim: First, lets take a look at some of the overall team numbers from 2006 to see if there are any signs of hope.

----------------------------
Actual Record: 61-101
Pythagorean Record: 65-97
----------------------------

Last season, the DRays underperformed their Pythagorean Record by 4 games. So, lets make the assumption that they will over perform their Pythagorean record this season by the same amount.

-----------------------------------------
Batting Average: .255
BA w/ Runners in Scoring Position: .240
------------------------------------------

Also last season, the DRays performed 15 points of batting average worse with runners in scoring position then they performed on average. If this number corrects itself as well, they could be in for some more runs from better luck with men on base.

BaseballProspectus's PECOTA predicts the DRays to finish in 4th at 78-84. Lets assume that PECOTA's prediction is the Pythagorean Record for the Rays, since it is built on Runs Scored and Runs Allowed. If they best their Pythagorean Record by 4 this season, that puts them at 82-80. With the question marks all around the rotation, this is probably the best anyone can expect from them in the toughest division in baseball. However, young players, especially with the talent of the Devil Rays' youngsters, have a strong chance of outperforming any of their projections. Delmon Young, Ben Zobrist, and Akinori Iwamura could all outdo their projections by a win each, plus some other smaller additions from others. Finally, as a best-case scenario projection, I give the Devil Rays an 86-76 record, assuming a tad better luck and some big years from the talented prospects.

The worst case scenario is as dreadful as the best-case scenario is delightful. For starters, Rocco Baldelli could go down with yet another injury, leaving the spot open to probably B.J. Upton or Elijah Dukes, both with issues of their own. Iwamura could fail to make the transition from Japan to America, acting as a sinkhole in the lineup until Longoria replaces him. Jonny Gomes and Greg Norton could provide Replacement Level or worse offense at DH. Delmon Young could flop or explode and be suspended for a substantial part of the season. Jorge Cantu could join Norton and Gomes around Replacement Level again on offense. Ty Wigginton could prove last season's improved power was merely a fluke (although, the numbers point toward it being real). Dioner Navarro could postpone his breakout yet another year, being just one of multiple Replacement Level hitters in the Tampa Bay starting lineup. Scott Kazmir could get hurt again, leaving the rotation a complete mess. None of these possibilities are outlandish and most of them have happened before. If all or most of these come true, the Devil Rays will endure enormous struggles trying to get out of the 100-loss zone.

In my AL East Preview, I predict the DRays at 75-87. No one can doubt the Devil Rays have a talented, young offense that is ready to start scoring runs in bunches as soon as this year. There are even a handful of useful arms in the bullpen. Tampa Bay has a legitimate, yet fragile, ace in Kazmir and a capable #2 in Shields. If they were in the AL West or NL Central, this team could legitimately contend with a few lucky breaks. Unfortunately, the AL East is still a two-team show. It seems likely the Devil Rays will fall somewhere in between the best and worst cases, but my money has them ending up closer to 86 wins than 62.

Neil: Wow, that best-case is way more optimistic than mine would be -- in my AL preview, I projected that they would score 4.83 runs per game, allow 5.55 runs per game, and finish at 70-92, last in the AL East. That projection may be overly pessimistic for the pitching staff, though; after all, they allowed only 5.28 runs per game last year, and that was with Kazmir injured. So let's say they allow 5.10 RPG and score 4.90 RPG... that works out to 78-84, which I would consider to be their absolute best-case scenario, seeing as how they've never notched more than 70 wins in their entire 9-year existence. (By the way, Tim, I think assuming that they'll overperform their pythagorean expectation by 4 just because they underperformed by that much last year is a bit of a misapplication of the Plexiglas Principle -- with a little of the gambler's fallacy thrown in to boot -- but I digress...)

Tampa's worst-case scenario would have to be a repeat of last year's 61-101 record. And the odds are against the offense collapsing that badly again, so I would expect them to finish with 80 wins before I'd expect another less than 65 wins campaign. Overall, I'd call for a mean projection of 70-75 wins -- which would happen to be their best record ever. It would also represent real progress for the franchise, especially given their prospects on the way from the farm. I should note, however, that asking for anything more than beating out Baltimore for 4th place in the East is merely a pipe dream.


Tim: Before I wrap-up our first edition of "Raise or Raze the Rays," I want to plead guilty to both slightly misusing the Plexiglas Principle and the gambler's fallacy. I realize that the Devil Rays aren't guaranteed by any measure to outperform their Pythagorean Record by 4 just because they underperfomed by 4 in 2006. I used the number 4 merely as a hypothetical, slightly flawed, best-case scenario. That aside, Neil and I look forward to scrutinizing and praising Manny Stiles' new favorite team all year long. Now, if only Spring Training would end, so the 2007 Devil Rays can show everyone what they are made of, good or bad.



Manny's Post Script

Sounds like this episode rates as a RAISE the Rays!

Great job, fellas! Yes, it is a team full of hope, prospect and talent. Does ANY team in baseball have a wider discrepency between their theoretical "upside" and their expected "downside"? Does ANY team in baseball have more former highly rated prospects on it's roster?

So for personal reasons (because I said so), I will trust ONLY the upper limit on most of the data provided, and I feel that many of the projections could easily be exceeded (in my opinion, Delmon Young will have a monster year, B.J. Upton will focus on playing baseball not head games and Carl Crawford will be... well, Carl Crawford!)

The lineup seems as if they could explode at times and do some damage, for sure. You guys took into account many things but I'm glad you stuck more to the batting side of the team.

All Devil Rays fans know this season will hinge on the pitching and defense. After all, 90% of baseball is pitching and defense and the other half is offense, right? And the pitching staff, regardless of the data you could find/conjure/skew is without a doubt the BIG question (especially the bullpen). Here's a trick for you... I'll give you Scott Kazmir and Jamie Shields, now name 3 other Devil Rays pitchers....

Waiting...

Waiting...

Beuler?....

Regardless, I am VERY excited for the season to start (so I can go bash D21Dub's BoSox) and I truly feel that this is the year (the magical 10th season of Devil Rays baseball) that they actually crack the .500 plateau.

That being said as I am dead serious about my prediction. I'll gladly submit myself to drug testing to prove it to the jackasses out there (admittedly, I might not do as "well" on a thorough mental evaluation)!

Until next time, Go Devil Rays!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Surveys Galore - Let me see what the fanbase thinks!

Are you ready to answer a few simple questions? EVERYONE likes surveys, be like one of the cool kids and pick your favorite answers to the Devil Rays specific questions!


Tampa Bay Devil Rays... one of the more 'interesting' names in baseball for sure, but not for long, I understand.

So... the name is changing. What SHOULD the team's name REALLY be next year?
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Tampa Bay Rays
Florida Devil Rays of St Petersburg of Tampa Bay Area
St Petersburg Devil Rays
Western Florida Devil Rays
Tampa Bay Manta Rays
Tampa Bay Sun Rays
Tampa Bay Manatees
AAAA All Stars
Las Vegas Jackpots
Free polls from Pollhost.com




A trade seems inevitable. There's a TON of young talent and not alot of veteran leadership. To make the leap, a trade may be neccessary.

Check off ALL of the pieces you'd give up to make a "difference" trade possible...


If a trade can make a difference, who do you LEAST want to trade?
Rocco Baldelli
B.J. Upton
Delmon Young
Jonny Gomes
Jorge Cantu
Elijah Dukes
Evan Longoria
Reid Brignac
Trade 'em ALL EXCEPT Crawford and Kazmir!!
Like what we got/ don't want to give up talented youth.
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So obviously, what is a poll without having you predict some sort of "future"???


How will the Devil Rays 2007 season end?
World Series Victors!
AL Champions!!!
ALDS Winners!
AL EAST winners,
2nd place AL East, AL Wild Card
3rd place, AL East
4th place, AL East
5th place, AL East
What's the record for LEAST wins, again?
Less than one victory per Manny Stiles article...
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And now, time for one more precise prediction!


How many wins will the Devil Rays compile in the regular season?
>100
91-99
85-90
82-85
81 even
77-80
72-76
68-71
61-67
<60
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Thank you for your precious time and for giving me some of your mouseclicks (hey, you only get so many mouseclicks in life, make 'em count!)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sports Anagrams: Pasta Bay Army

Another steamy pile of non-sense from Name Isn't Sly.....If you don't remember how to play...

This time it's ALL Devil Rays, all the time! And by the way, the title is the only decent Sports Anagram you can make after removing the word "Devil" from 'Tampa Bay Devil Rays'. I promised anagrams, you're getting anagrams!

I was thinking of using the 50 best Sports Anagrams as titles (I just noticed what happens if you leave 2 s's on the word "titles") for articles throughout the season.

Here is some possible article titles you could be looking forward to (all are anagrams for "Tampa Bay Devil Rays") somewhere amidst the season.

Viably Dreamy Pasta

Viably Made Pastry

Simply Beady Avatar

Vary Pay, Blast Media

Private Abysmal Day

Pay As A Balmy Divert

Avid, Stay, Pray, Blame

A Abysmal Depravity

A Variable Stymy Pad

A Bastard Pay My Evil

Adapter By My Saliva

Variably Damp Yeast

Salivate Map By Yard

Smart Viable Payday

My Pit, A Savable Yard

Data May Vary Per Libs

Lapidary May Be Vast

Adapts Very Amiably

Pita Salad Bevy Army

Bedlam AT Spt Aviary

Lava Bypast Midyear

Team Pray Advisably

A Betrayal Damps Ivy

Ably Avid Paymaster

A Palm Abates Dry Ivy

A Very Baptismal Day

Vapidly Astray Beam

A Rapidly Vast Maybe

Pry My Vast Labia-Ade

BiYearly Data Vamps

Maybe Lips Vary Data

A Parade By My Vitals

Admirably Stave Pay

Lay By Vamp Radiates

My Availed Abs Party

Bats Payed Ivy Alarm

Vet Ails By Pay Drama

Aviary Blamed Patsy

Lava Based Pity Army

Mail Bravest Payday

I Spat Verbal Mayday

Avidly By Aspartame

Database Vary Imply

V.A.T. by Dare I Say, Lamp?

As By Vim, Already Apt

Vast Radial Pay By Me

Pay Vet AS By Admiral

Validates Pay By Arm

May Bats Prevail Day!

Bay's Private Malady


So you can see some potential here, eh? They practically write themselves



Now for Players -

Carl Crawford- Crawl For Card, Ford Car Crawl... not the greatest anagrams so
far

Scott Kazmir - Rack Most Zit, Smack Zit Rot, Mock Zit Star, Art Mocks Zit

B.J. Upton- Punt Job (the one and only one anagram for his name)

Delmon Young- Ogled My Noun, Lo My Dungeon, Glued On My No, My Loon Nudge, No Gun Melody, My Noodle Gun, No Ugly Demon, My Undone Log, On My Long Due, Ungodly Omen, Yo Dung Melon, Dog Menu Only, Nu Gone Moldy, Loud Neon Gym, Nylon Ego Mud, Do Ogle My Nun

Rocco Baldelli- Calico Bedroll, Bed Color Lilac, Local Cold Brie, Laced Brocolli, Cod Boil Recall, Cobra Lice Doll

Jonny Gomes- Nosy Men Jog,Jog My Neons, Joy Men Song

Dioner Navarro- On A Radon River, Rain Donor Rave, A Vain Error Nod, A Van Odor In Err, Or Iron Veranda, Iron Radar Oven, Redo or Nirvana, Avian Error Nod, Roar on Invader

Seth McClung- has no anagrams for his name

James Shields- Jam Hides Less, Lies Jam Sheds

Jorge Cantu- Centaur Jog, Not Care Jug, Not Gun Race, Jag Counter, Cute Jargon, Conjure Tag

Carlos Pena- A Porn Scale, As Clean Pro, Carnal Pose, Coarse Plan, Loans Recap, Acorn Lapse

Akinori Iwamura- Main Kiwi Aurora

Greg Norton- Rent Gorgon, Gong or Rent, Not Err Gong

Brendan Harris- reran His Brand, Drab Inner Rash, Rid Rah Banners, Brash Rain Nerd, Darns Her Brain, Harder Bras Inn

Ben Zobrist- Ribbon Zest, Bronze Bits, Biz Orbs Net

Ty Wigginton- Witty Noggin, Twinging Toy, Tying No Twig, Tying Got Win, Gin Tying Two

Heep Seop Choi- Hi Cheese Poop, Hi Pope Echoes, Ooh, Pie Speech, Hose Hop Piece, Oh Hope Pieces, Echo Shoe Pipe, He Choose Pipe, He Copies Hope

Elijah Dukes- Hue Jades Ilk, Duh Seek Jail

Casey Fossum- Mess of Saucy, Soy Cuss Fame, Coy Seam Fuss, Essay of Scum, Focus my Seas, Foamy Cusses, Use Comfy Ass

Dan Micelli - A Minced Ill, Decimal Nil, Called Mini, In Calm Deli, Iced In Mall

Dustan Mohr- Hand Tumors, Hard Mounts, So Damn Hurt, Random Tush, Tundra Mosh, Humor Stand, Hansom Turd, Donuts Harm, Humans Trod, Do Nuts Harm, Rotund Mash, Rounds Math, Haunts Dorm, Trash Mound, Drum on Hats, Arm Thuds On, No Smart Duh, Smart Hound,

Edwin Jackson- A Jock Wins End, Jacked in Snow, Jocks and Wine, Ninja Cow Desk, Jaws Once Kind

Shawn Camp- Champ Swan, Pawn Chasm, Mach Spawn

Tim Corcoran- Raccoon Trim, Micron Actor, Moronic Cart, Comic Nor Art



and coaches, front office and executive staff....

Joe Maddon - Jaded Moon, One Odd Jam

Bill Evers- I Sell Verbs, Rib Levels

Steve Henderson- No Sheered Vents, Need Stern Shove, The Oven Redness, He'd Onset Nerves

Don Zimmer- I med normz

Andrew Friedman- New Drama Friend, End Warfare Mind, Fine Warm Dander, Warned Mired Fan

Matt Silverman- Metals Varmint, Arms Maven Tilt, Smart Mail Vent, Slam Tin Arm Vet, Let Man Star Vim

Stu Sternberg- Regrets Bunts

Tropicana Field- Fine Radical Top, Oil Print Facade, It Flop Radiance, Flip Into Arcade, Antacid Profile, Fanatic Idol Rep, Factional Pride, Fried Placation, Cranial Dope Fit, Afraid Clone Pit, Profaned Italic, Replication Fad, Fornicated Pail, Partial Confide.

Manny Stiles Announces April Visit to the 813 and 727

Breaking News!!! Manny Stiles has begun to finalize plans for an April visit to Tampa/St Petersburg, FL. Details will be released in a slow trickle in order to build the drama over time. Which is helpful since the details are pretty much developing at the same rate of speed.

Yes, I am going to some games!

Yes, I am getting some interviews!

Yes, I am planning on hosting the World's Largest LIVE Devil Rays Running Gameblog while I am at the game! (TBA)

Also -
Despite some recent computer issues I've been barely "dealing with", I am available to answer your questions... they don't even need to be Devil Rays related!

MannyStiles@aol.com

Also if you are a Devil Rays blogger or know someone else who is, I want to hear from you! (I have an idea - see above)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Woooooooo!!!

Yeah, Fellas!!! Way to get a W today!!!

Oh yeah! The sleeping giant awakens, the bats are aoused and the scoreboard is a little more lit up today (there goes the electric bill)

8-3 over the Pirates!!!

There is NO curse of Manny Stiles!!!

Today's Box Score

Looks like a nice, productive outing (despite giving up 8 hits) by James Shields, 5 IP, 2 Runs on 8 hits, NO walks (I like that).

Manny Stiles' Bon Mots

Everyone knows I like myself. If you were me, you would too...

French for "Good Words" or Stilese for "Links I've compiled to articles that say good things about me"

The official media recognizes Manny (as a jester perhaps?)

I'm a hero, dammit! Where's MY parade?

When it's for charity, it's not called an "investment", but O.K.

I was misquoted, but I stand by ALL my misquotes

And the online world took notice, too! (Ok, barely a glance)

The Deadspin Article that got most people's attention

Rays Index breaks the news - by The Professor

My elevator "might" be broken, but I WAS serious!!!

The guys at DRaysBay took a nice angle - They played it like... "Yeah so..." (they were the first to contact me, so it was old news to them)

A Devil Rays preview by one of ArmchairGM most respected contributors, Kelsdad

Ha ha... the didn't buy me, but they did win me over!

Can't say much for 28 other teams, but at least Nats fans aren't totally asleep

Yes, I AM a Delmon Young fan!!!

I get headlines over Curt Schilling!!!

Under March 7 - the obligatory "there goes $ for a fifth starter joke!

Under MLB - Dan, where does freaking blog begin and freeky blogger end?


'til later.... Be good, or failing that, be safe!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Great Joltin' Joe and Teddy Ballgame debate.. Part I

It started out as a simple heated argument and escalated into a tussle.

Propose the "right" idea to a close minded drunk with a short temper and you could end up on the bleeding edge of all that's happening in broken glass technology. Exchange the words "close minded drunk with a short temper" to "passionate Yankee fan" and it shares the same consequences. You could see my quandry.

I don't think Joe DiMaggio was as great as everyone remembers him being. I thought that he was a very good player (way better than Derek Jeter, mind you) but not quite as great as his contemporaries (like Derek Jeter). Not only that but DiMaggio had THE cat (Marilyn Monroe) in the bag and he let her go (to a writer!) or shall I say couldn't ''satisfy'' the agreement (sound familiar to Mr. Jeter?)

The patrons of what shall always be remembered as "The Bar I Will Gladly Avoid From Now On." were not pleased with my rhetoric, my verification and corrections of their referenced data nor my whimisical attitude towards the Legend of Joe D.

Furthermore if you state that "Ted Williams was better and I can prove it over and over with fact, statistic and all other valid forms of authenticated quantities", they start to think of you as less of an a-hole and more of "worse than than an a-hole". Well in the "right" neighborhood you're just asking for a wicked awesome fight, BoSox Boy!

But that's not what I was saying to the clench-fisted, ultra-spittle endowed master of Bill Cowher impersonations. I was saying that if DiMaggio didn't play in the right hander's cavern of Yankee Stadium and if Ted wouldn't have had the Monster, or if both of them never missed any time due to service time. And on and on and on, we'll never know! There were so many variables!

I started sensing the aura of more of "them" enclosing around less of "us", with the "us" being me... It wasn't just a random conversation bashing the Yankees at a bar with a guy that looked like his blood type is 10W-40 anymore. It was a tripped trigger for a guy that wasn't satisfied with an overall lack of violence in this particular rendition of Tuesday Happy Hour. He had a glint in his eyes you usually only see in tower climbing snipers, long-term residents of padded rooms and the typical unibomber wannabes. And this emepher wanted to fight me!

He's pushing 50 lookin' like he's pushing 70, had a rough life and a rougher day. Maybe his wised up and girl left him, maybe his dog died, maybe his second favorite shotgun busted today while he was using it to fix a flat on his pickup, maybe all of the above stereotypes and more are true. Maybe he was just a psychotic Yankees fan who's existence relied on the simple notion that Joe DiMaggio was an annointed Saint.

And normally, why would I be afraid of this guy? I'm not a violent person. I'm waaay bigger than this dude, I'd crush him if need be! But his 17 or so friends don't appreciate a few things about me:

a) it WOULD be fun kicking my ass, eh?
b) they don't like my so-called resemblance to that "Jolly Green Giant feller"
c) I keep saying the wrong things about the Yankees (nothing good)
d) I keep saying these things to the one guy who REALLY doesn't need to hear it. (drunk angry folk)

But logic fails to cool the boiling heat of rage. Often, it enrages the fumous, impatient and non-rational anger MORE!

"I said you were WRONG! How dare you prove that you're right??!?!?"

For once, I felt the fear that I wasn't going to talk my way out of this one, this time... it was reckoning time; the inevitable day of Manny's comeuppance! I knew only had one possible course of action that would possibly save my "oily hide" from some unwanted facial reconstruction.

I told them I was a Devil Rays fan.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Joe D and Splendid Splinter as Devil Rays... How it came to be.

So I ponder the argument. Who WAS better? DiMaggio or Williams?

AS #2 Devil Rays fan I propose the theory that they both indeed SUCKED! They were a Yankee and Red Sock afterall! OK, they never had a chance to be Devil Rays, but ''what if they did''.... What... if they....diiiiiid???

???

?????

I always used the argument that Joe D's hitting streak is the most garbagely overrated record in all of sports. 56 game hitting streak... woo woo.... it just means you ogood or lucky 56 games in a row. It doesn't even neccessarily mean you had an awesome run of 56 games! You can go 1-5 for 57 straight games and be a hero!

I'm not saying it isn't a feat. Of course it is. But let us put it into perspective. During DiMaggio's streak he batted .408. So what did he bat during the rest of the season? Go look it up. Here's the punchline: Ted Williams batted .406 for the ENTIRE season that same year. Is 56 straight games better than whole season?

The other thing, lost time: they both paid the price here.

So I decided that if the two players played for the same team, the variables such as Yankee stadium and Fenway could be equalized. All I needed was a control such as another franchise...

Ahhh... modern technology! It's a bitch and a ho that we're hooked on, as we keep coming back for more, now, faster! A little application called "Baseball Mogul" has wasted many a sit-on-my-asstasic days. It's a baseball simulator where I could transport data from the Tampa Bay Devil Ray franchise today transport it to the past and let history be rewitten (but not without an imaginative story attached).

But HOW do I get the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to sign Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and slap a Rays Jersey on them? Haa haa ha ha haaa! Pure evil, that's how!

So I present to you what happened the time time tim,e ti,me t,imetimeitmreijre that everything was rearranged and the present as you know it was altered.

------------------------------------------

The year is 1937. Things are a little testy in the world. A bright minded executive of a minor league baseball team named Frank Jingleheimerschmidt has a hunch and tries to intervene in the icy relations between his native Germany and his beloved adopted land of America.

Frank (whose real name was Franz Jingleheimerschmidtkopf) came to New York and learned to play stickball in the Brooklyn alleys. He fell in love with the game of baseball. After his deli brands took off in popularity, through the depression, he made himself a nominal fortune. So he bought a floundering basbeball team in Hoboken and turned it into a viable franchise with gimmicks, schtick and hoaxes to draw in the masses and enjoy an afternoon of sideshow and baseball It was quite an event.

One day, Jingleheimerschmidt dropped a few names (his cousin was a bigwig in government) and had arranged for Adolph Hitler to come catch a Hoboken Yamikas game. Old Franz is gonna sell out of weiners that day!

Well, time passes as it often does, and Hitler shows up for the game. A big hubbub is made, but the game starts relatively on time. Young pitcher Dave McGillicutty chucks a slider in on the hands of Yamikas' clean up hitter "Muscles" Smashinski who pulls a screamer right over the dugout and directly into the temple of the former poster painter.

Hitler is knocked square into a 3 month coma before emerging several points lower in IQ and returns to painting posters on the streets of Germany. Of course, World War II never happens.

Now that makes you wonder. If there was no WWII, what about all of the technical advances like radar and sonar or the quirky cliches like "the whole nine yards"? Well, a wizard did some of it, but otherwise technology was advanced at the same approximate time because I said so. Nuclear weapons are never made because timehey skipped right over it for personal, portable cold fusion applicators. EVERYONE has 'em!

Meanwhile, baseball becomes EXTREMELY popular in America. More people play it than ever and it helps lead an economic revival all across the land. Expansion teams hit the Junior Circuit in 1939 in Toronto and Tampa Bay.

Amazingly the franchise in Tampa Bay builds the first dome in sports and it's literally decades ahead of it's time, called Tropicana Field (it looks ''eerily'' similar to the current stadium AND has the exact same dimensions as it is this very day) and has this technologically advanced "FieldTurf II" on it. AStroTurf never comes to be and no one can figure out if there was a FieldTurf I.

In the expansion draft, the newly formed Tampa Bay Devil Rays select Ted Williams and Robert Feller while craftily making trades for Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig.

*editor's note - so NOW, Williams and DiMaggio are both Devil Rays, plus we worked out Lou Gehrig, who moves to Tampa - St Petersburg and amazingly enough, he avoids getting ALS somehow, so he gets to play out his career normally (but he never gets to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth).

So who would have made the better Devil Ray? DiMaggio or Williams? I'm going to play out their careers and compare notes at the end...

On to the data!!!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In the first season, 1939.

Tampa Bay, in their inaugural season loses game 7 in the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 as Lefty Gomez (yeah, we got him too) was trying to complete the shutout only to give up 5 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th. Coach Grady Little Sr. said "I stuck with my ace"

Rookie of the Year (oh, yeah, that award was invented by then) Ted Williams swatted .327/28/129 while Joe DiMaggio hit 54 HRs and batted .381 (second in both categories). Lou Gehrig missed a few games, ending his consecutive games played streak but still plowed 55 HRs while Jimmie Foxx paced the league at .384 with 53 HRs and a new record 207 RBIs while running away the MVP award for the Devil Rays (Oh, yeah, I picked up Foxx, too!) But the bitter disappointment of losing game 7 left me wanting more! Four players in ALL of baseball hit more than 37 homers; 3 of them are Devil Rays! Arky Vaughn provided good defense all year.

The Next season - 1940
Basically the same team with a few pickups in the bullpen.
We win 122 games, face the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series rematch and sweep them badly. 13-6, 13-5, 11-3 and 17-11

Lou Gehrig, the only batter with over 35 homers in either league in 1940 and second player to cross the 600 HR plateau, goes .360-43-213 on the season for the AL MVP!!! He also celebrates his 3,000 th hit during the season

Williams .353-33-129 .466 OBP
DiMaggio .349-32-125 .434 OBP

1941 - The dream season
DiMaggio doesn't get anywhere near his hit streak and although Ted Williams flirts with .400 most of the season he ends up well short.

Williams .350-30-169,
DiMaggio at .327-36-154.

The Devil Rays win 116 games. Jimmie Foxx keeps chugging along at an incredible pace, getting another MVP award But we face a new team in the World Series, the Chicago Cubs! And we sweep them too! Dynasty! Dynasty! Dynasty!

And there's no World War II to stop us!

1942 - An aging team...
Gehrig and Foxx are fading fast. Stats are down league wide, for some weird reason, even with no war. Arky Vaughn wins the batting title and we face the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Fall Classic and win in 5 games

Williams .305-22-125
DiMaggio .297-18-140

1943 - Another 116 win season in a new deadball era.
Jimmy Foxx and Lou Gehrig are showing signs of aging but are still steely veterans.
Up against the Chicago Cubs once again and sweep them easily. 3 sweeps in 4 years!

Williams .307-11-108 (64 Doubles!!)
DiMaggio .298-11-131

1944- Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx's last hurrah not enough!
Lou comes into the season with 646 homers, Jimmie Fozz at 587.
Now I have a problem! The young talent I have been harboring in my minor league system are pushing for playing time. DiMaggio might have to go to left to make room for a can't miss prospect.

But I gotta keep the project intact. DiMaggio and Williams MUST be teammates their whole careers!!! I stuff the prospect away in the minors and may one day trade him for pitching...Nope, in late August the rookie can't be suppressed any longer. We're 3 and 1/2 games behind the Senators! We need his offense, Joe, who is struggling, drops a few slots in the batting order and is batting just .269. Out of the lineup comes Jimmie Foxx who starts the farewell party around the league. Gehrig, at 40 years old. Joe D puts on a 1st baseman's glove to replace Foxx.

The Rookie gets hurt, back to CF for DiMaggio and a pennant race down the stretch! With 9 games left, Tampa Bay was behind the Senators by 7.5 games!!! Washington won the division on the last day of the season when the Senators end a 6 game losing streak to clinch. 103 wins just doesn't get you what it used to!

The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 to win the World Series

Williams .316-14-119
DiMaggio .268-11-119

Gehrig wants to hang on one more year, apparently and Detroit offers me Wally Berger for him. I do Lou a favor and let him keep playing. Hell, he should have been dead already! I turn around and deal off Berger to the Yankees for Chuck Klein (who also found extended career in my little exercise)

What a weird season that 1944! 20 homers leads the league, even though 6 players do it. Lou Fette wins his 4th Stiles Award (best pitcher award, like Cy Young Award).

1945 -
At the all-star break, there's a three way tie for 1st in the AL East - Tampa Bay, New York and Washington. Joe DiMaggio trade rumors are rampant, but I won't deal him! I have young talent pushing Williams in the outfield (which is why he has been predominantly a right fielder). Jimmie Foxx is better now than three years ago.

On the last day of the season, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and New York Yankees are tied with 104-57 records (yeah, 162 games in 1945) The teams have met for the last 7 games of the season, spliting the last 6 evenly, but the last game was a blowout 15-2 in favor of the Devil Rays. It would all come down to a final game for the division title.

The Devil Rays took a 3-0 lead into the top of the ninth with Dizzy Dean on the hill when all hell broke loose. with two outs and the bases loaded an error by Dean scored 2. Then he walked the bases loaded again before getting out of the inning on a line drive right back at him!

The Rays win a dramtic 7 game ALCS 8-7 over the Blue Jays on a ninth inning Joe DiMaggio walkoff solo HR.

Then the World Series against the (guess who?) 111-51 Chicago Cubs! Who then BEAT us 4-2!!! I guess the billy goat was allowed in!!

Williams .296-9-115 (Is it me or is he turning into Mark Grace in this exercise?)
DiMaggio .267-10-127 (50 doubles and one ALCS winning HR)

1946-
Pitching talent has come up through the farm system and has really flooded the organization with assets. I'm sticking to DiMaggio and Williams even if it costs me Titles! Although, I'm sliding them down the order a bit...

106-56 record and runaway division title, a-gain!

Rematch with the "Defending Champion" Cubs in the World Series and the Cubs win in 6!!! Dammit!

Williams perks up a bit throughout the season and I'm having a hard time giving PT to DiMaggio. This is not what I thought would happen! It's hard to argue he's hurting us, I just have better players on the bench. Ted is solid and rightfield is all his!

Williams .344-14-129
DiMaggio .251-10-120 (OBP .339 eek!)

Jimmie Foxx still playing, has 618 HRs and batted .211 in his 23rd season in the bigs. Lou Gehrig, still playing in Detroit is finishing his 25th season! 4309 hits, 685 HRs and over 3000 RBI!! But it looks like Mel Ott won't reach 500 HRs.

1947-
I stick with what I have and let the pitchers develop.

Another runaway division crown at 112-50, Arky Vaughn wins his second MVP the Devil Rays are league dominant and we match up with old pal Lou Gehrig (now all-time hit leader and has 700 HRs) his Detroit Tigers for the AL crown. We beat the Tigers to face (guess who?) the Chicago Cubs for the third season in a row and 5th matchup overall.

The Cubs win the World Series in 7 games winning a boring game seven, 5-4.

Williams .280 - 15 - 107
DiMaggio .276 - 12 - 88

1948-
119-43 Devil Rays win their division by 31 games and faces the New York Giants in the World Series and win in 5 games.

Wooo! It feels good to be champs again!!

Williams .327 - 11 - 118
DiMaggio .304 - 34 - 143 HGH? Nope, he's DHing! (Oh, yeah... I like DHs)

1949 -
After a really slow start, we win the division by 33 and oh yeah, have a record of 125-37 (all about the pitching)
Surprise! Meet the Chicago Cubs in the World Series AGAIN! But this time we dispose of them in 5 games. BACK-to-BACK!!

Williams .315-16-115
DiMaggio .302-22-122

Joe D and Splendid Splinter as Devil Rays... the 50's

1950 -
Lou Gehrig, the game's greatest player ever somehow effs up my simulator and plays forever! I think he's going for 5,000 hits then he'll stop... hasn't won a championship since he left the Rays.

We go 106-56, modest enough! Dramatically we pull out a game 7 win over Detroit in the ALCS, 9-8 on a Joe Gordon 8th inning Grand Slam. Then to the World Series against (WTF?) the Chicago Cubs!!! And we beat them in 6 games to make it three years running champs!

Williams .293-15-99
DiMaggio .269-19-88

Seven Rings and counting, 0 MVPs between them!!!

Lou Gehrig retires after the 1950 season with 4,990 hits, .325 AVG and 759 HRs with a ridiculous 3,631 RBI... think he makes the HoF still?

1951-
Promising season with hopes of completing our second four-year title run.
We come from 6 back in the last three weeks to win the division by 5 games.

Sweep our way to the World Series, where we meet yup, the Cubs. We win Game 7 by a score of 3-1 DiMaggio is hurt during the World Series.

Williams .312 -22 - 117
DiMaggio .267-11-47 (starting to get injured alot)

1952-
Hot start of 74-11 gets the Rays an early lead they never relinquish finishing 124-38
And we meet up with the Giants where it takes up 7 games to win our fifth straight World Series.

Williams - .318-27-107
DiMaggio .288-23-115

1953-
This might be the best pitching staff yet! And we only go 117-45.
vs. the New York Giants in the World Series, win in 5!

Williams .303- 16-104
DiMaggio .267 - 21 -113

That's TEN and counting!

1954-
111-51, but we lose the ALCS to the White Sox who go on to lose to the Cubs in the World Series in 6.

Williams .263 - 25 -111
DiMaggio .285-34-131

1955-
114-48, meet the Giants in the World Series and take back our crown in 5 games. 11 World Series titles in 16 years!

Williams .304-16-132
DiMaggio .319-25-122

1956-
112-50, and beat the Giants in 5 AGAIN! 12 and counting! You win with pitching!

Williams .287-19- 132
DiMaggio .299-33-167 (as a 41 year old!)

1957-
112-50, swept the New York Giants

Williams - .272-27-106
DiMaggio - .304-16-107

1958 -
112-50, again... beat the Reds 4-1

Williams - .291-25-124
DiMaggio - .309-27-117

1959-
113-49, lost the ALCS to the White Sox! They beat the Reds in the W.S. in 6 games.

Williams - .281 - 24 - 109
DiMaggio - .283- 2- 102

Joe D and Splendid Splinter as Devil Rays...the end

1960-
91-71, finish second to the Yankees who sweep the Pirates in the World Series.

DiMaggio got hurt (ruptured cervical disk) to end his season early, it's the end of a long freaking career. 3794 games!!! (1500+ Ks) and 14 championships with the Devil Rays UNQUESTIONABLE Hall of Famer.


Williams - .271-15-92
DiMaggio -.243-9-41

1961-
the run is over. Devil Rays go a measely 92-70. finish THIRD in the division behind the Yankees and Senators. Yankees beat Dodgers in the World Series 4-2

Williams - .299-15-84


1962-
wheels are falling off the dynasty...team got old and money runs out.
finish 3rd at 77-85, 31 GB the Senators. White Sox beat the Giants in the Series 4-1

Williams - .280-17-82


1963-
75-87 21 GB New York. Yankees beat Dodgers to win the Series 4-1.

Willliams career winds on as Devil Rays dynasty passes and lean years are inevitable. That's good for baseball, people are tired of the Devil Rays winning every year.


Williams .271-24-91


1964-
sad. 60-102, last place in the AL East.
Cubs beat White Sox in 7 game W.S.


Williams .243-19-60




JUST SKIP to HERE

Final Totals

Red Bar is Career totals, blue bars are playoffs for each particular season.



Williams -








DiMaggio-






So as you can see, while Joe D had surprisingly better numbers, Ted Williams played MUCH better in the bigger games. Neither one won an MVP, but they both netted 14 championships!

Also, another thing wrong about the calculations... check Williams' career triples total and hits total (Welcome to the 5,000 hit club, Ted). I think maybe the simulator tries to use triples to correct SLG? Still fun to see that Williams really was a better hitter no matter how you slice it. And clearly the programmers tried to make Joe D way better than he really was anyway.

What does this all mean? That's for you to decide, but one thing is blatently clear. The World would see the Devil Rays in a different manner. And I did this to prove a point. If they actually had THIS history and not the past 10 years they did have, HOW would any of it mean a damn thing THIS YEAR?

Attitudes are going to change!

How will you respond when you the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are good?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

St Peterburg Times, going for the Pulitzer!

St Petersburg Times outs Manny Stiles

No, Manny Stiles is not announcing that he is gay (despite the obvious, overt clues to some, including his wife). St Pete Times beat writer/journalism wunderkind Marc Topkin tells the world that Manny Stiles' real name is "Erik Kombol". He forgot to mention "and hardest working lazy ass in the charity baseball blogger/shameless self-promotion business", but "oh well".

An aside to Topkin's article- a segue I call "Also..."

Also...

I met John Vukovich a few times when I lived in PA and he still holds the record for telling me the 1st, 2nd and fourth funniest jokes I've ever heard. A great guy, a baseball lifer and every time I think of him, I'll be smiling through sadness. Another example of there being waaay too many serious moments in life.

It seems I'm going to be a big Joe Maddon fan. I like his attitude and hardheaded unwillingness to accept negativity. That's a start in the "What do we have in common" category. Why waste energy on negativity when it's so much easier to do nothing and be positive?

Articles to come on "the guy with a disdain for meaningless history"/manager.

Devil Rays Week in Replay

Congrats on surviving a wild first week of Manny Stiles "#2 Devil Rays Fan"

- The Devil Rays have lost every game since I officially came on board. I think it's a good sign of things to come. Get the losses out of the way early. During the regular season, I will add links for box scores, etc. Let me get moved in and decorated first!

- There really hasn't been much bad press about this whole arrangement. I don't care personally what people say about me, but I do like to use it as material for writing. I was anticipating a backlash, jealousy, a-holes calling me out unneccessarily. I was prepared for battle and instead everyone kinda went "meh..."

I can't wait to see the imitators for college football (will blog for tuition) and NFL (will blog for beer) season.

-Other than Dan Shanoff calling Matt Silverman his favorite executive, slobbering over Matt's insightfulness and praising Matt for such genius, then wagging his finger at me and warning me that I owe Matt "the best freaking blog ever"; it's been a feel good deal.

Hey, Mr. Shanoff, the auction winner was already going to get a "Freeking Awesome Blog" anyway - my flavor of 'freek' has 2 times the awesome power of 'e' and none of the inconsequential, apathesthesia and space constraining 'a' of ordinary freaks.

In other words... "duh"

- With Matt Silverman winning the bid. (let's focus here - Matt won, he paid the charity, it's his donation, in his name, not the Club's technically) it really just makes it easier on himself. Basically I was going to blog on behalf of the winning fan's fanship. Dive into their allegiance, study their emotional connection, etc. I think it's fairly easy to dissect Matt's fanship. His perspective is (sorry, regular fans) 694% more interesting than a regular fans. How he does his job depends on it.

Also, If any other Devil Rays fan would have won and made me cover the Devil Rays, I would have HAD to pester him at some point. This way, I can get in touch with him real easily. (even though I'm still going to be pestering him, it's what I do - pester people)

See? The man IS a genius! He even outsmarted me!

The whole story of how it happened will be posted soon enough.

- Don't fret. I'm here ALL season! Even if the times gets tough, despite my superstitions... even if they NEVER win a game, I will be here (actually, if they lose ALL of them, that would be a fantastic feat for "The curse of Manny Stiles" to brag about.)

-Don't assume you know how this season will go. Forget about what was and what never was and what "should have been". Focus on now until what's next gets here. The only thing you can do about the past is change your attitude towards it.

- It's so hard to pick a favorite Devil Ray (every fan has a favorite player, right?). I am a fan of all of them! Carl Crawford is THE most exciting single player in baseball. Scott Kazmir is the Ace. There are TONS of guys on this team to idolize for all kinds of reasons. But this year, Delmon Young is my boy. Tell me one bad thing about him without using the word "bat" and convince me otherwise. Manny's got Delmon's back.

All the other Devil Rays that people got beef with, (BJ Upton, Elijah Dukes, the bullpen) Manny is your fan too! I won't put up with people talking bad about my team. Especially when they don't know what they're talking about... (there's 3 sides to every coin - heads, tails, edge)

-Expect the unexpected and be disappointed otherwise. If you can't be good, at least be safe!

If you're not having fun, what are you having? There's already too many serious moments in life.

Friday, March 9, 2007

101 Reasons the Devil Rays could Win the World Series ("This Year" Edition)

by user Manny Stiles


The market data shows that people who read blogs are the same people who enjoy reading lists. So, ever one to be market data compatible Manny Stiles presents


101 Reasons the Tampa Bay Devil Rays could Win the World Series ("This Year" edition)...


Let's just say I'm an unrealistical unrelentingly hopeful Rays fan!

















ManRay is always cooking something up...Tonight it was a batch of WTF




1. The Yankees (thank God I didn't have to write about them) and Red Sox (I got REALLY lucky I don't have to write about them) are both due to fall apart in the same season.

2. Are you really afraid of the Orioles? (thank God an Orioles fan didn't win the bid, although I'm surprised one of them didn't drive the price up unneccessarily)

3. Have you seen the ridiculous amount of young talent here?

4. A championship trophy would look sweet next to the St Pete's Times' Pulitzer Prize they'll get.

5. The Red Sox suck where the Yankees suck at sucking too suckily.

6. Easy to remember words: Blog Intimidation.

7. Two words: Chuck Norris!

8. On occasion, talent outperforms it's "projected potential"

9. Ten years of bad attitude concretization down the drain.

10. Everything comes together at just the right time for all the right reasons (to prove me right)

11. A group of Devil Rays fans win the biggest lottery ever (at 3.2 billion, it just kept going and going...so go with it) and they build a better bridge between St Pete and Tampa and ALSO paid a guy to fall on Jeter's knee at the ESPYs

12. Ever heard of a "conspiracy"?

13. The baseball gods love lore. Like Game 7 catwalk incidents. Except it only works in theory. Everyone knows Devil Rays would never let a Series go seven games.

14. Fans finally realize that the stadium isn't that bad. It's quirky, yes. But is it bad? No. Everyone suddenly realizes that it IS 90 feet to first base and anywhere that happens, the Rays win. (until the basepaths are shrunk for marketing reasons, then the Rays win more)

15. New rule: Devil Rays get one - two - three - four strikes you're out. (And four outs an inning too)

16. As sad as a trade would make me, a good trade would go a loooong way in the right situation.

17. I'll learn to dabble a little in mass mind control. The American League is a great sample size for hypnotism. This post and it's feeble attempt at humor is making you sleepy...

18. Someone finally wikies up Matt Silverman's wikipedia bio

19. A wizard did it

20. Team Presidents that win bloggers in charity auctions have never NOT won a World Series in that same season!

21. Hulk Hogan learns how stay back on a breaking ball. (and pass a steroid test)

22. Think - every Disney movie about baseball rolled into one!

23. Tom Brady falls onto Derek Jeter's knee at the ESPYs while Calvin Murphy and Alex Rodriguez both get double hernias from laughing. All miss the rest of their season (Murphy, too)

24. Two words and three letters: Carl Crawford M.V.P.

25. This is the first year since 1999 that more than one Devil Ray graces the All-Star game with their presence.

26. Crates of radioactive vegetables wash ashore. (Ever seen Gilligan's Island?)

27. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: First in charity bloggers, first in the AL East.

28. As owner Stu Sternberg rightfully predicted, the Rays WILL win 50 games at home this season (except they screw it up and do it before August ends).

29. Because raising awareness to Fred McGriff's legend is a good thing.

30. A hole is torn into the time-space continuum when pseudo-celebrity blogger Manny Stiles interviews a reporter trying to interview him about his blogging..

31.Because you didn't think of it first.

32. There's a whole staff of pitchers waiting to surprise your so-called intellect.

33. Two words: Scott Kazmir, AL CY Young winner.

34. OK, I can't count words well, I count wins: Scott Kazmir, 20+ wins! (obviously more wins in the playoffs as well)

35. I didn't keep all of this eye of newt and dried leprechaun brains for nothing

36. Because I'm watching Rocky IV on TV right now!

37. Because the baseball gods already had their fun with the St Louis Browns.

38. Switch opponent's greenies for sleeping pills (also leave the lid of the salt shaker very, very loose)

39. A good baseball team in September makes you forget how crappy the Buccaneers are, eh?

40. You didn't think they could, but they sure do find a cure for death. They take Ted Williams' frozen parts, bring him back to life and reattach his head. Then we dig up Babe Ruth and revive him too. Come to find out they both wanted to don a Devil Rays uni all along. Ted DHs at a .409 clip and drives in 145, while Babe throws 3 no-hitters, beats Kobiyashi on July 4th at Nathan's on Coney Island, while winning 25 games on the mound and comes second in Cy Young voting to Scott Kazmir (with THIS outfield, we don't need dead Ruth to hit!)

41. Same scenario as above, but we didn't find a cure to death, Williams and Ruth are just zombies who feast on and gain power from the immense brains of smartypants front office personnel.

42. Because baseball games are played on FieldTurf II, not excel spreadsheets.

43. Because October in Florida, winning and baseball all jammed together isn't such a bad idea.

44. Because the last nine years were just a set up. Ha-ha! Got you right where we want you, suckers!!!

45. You can't win 5 World Series' in the next five years if you don't win the first one this year.

46. Because things that make the masses shrug their shoulders and say "go figure" need to happen more anyway.

47. Because after my Phoenix Suns win the Larry O'Brien, I'm gonna need the rush of sweet victory for my beloved franchises to keep rollin'...

48. Roger Clemens signs with the Red Sox but never plays a game because he gets injured walking into the clubhouse at the same time as Curt Schilling tries to leave. Their immense heads get stuck in the doorway and Fenway Park has to be disassembled. ('bout time! Yeah I said it). Schilling's blog gets offended and applies for free agency..

49.What? Say what, say what? Anything can happen.

50. Money in a big sack with a "$" on it shows up for the umpiring crew before every series

51. Fifty Devil Rays posts is a "starting point", Post Season game coverage is free.

52 Because the champagne hangover always hurts worse but feels better than the hangover caused by drinking my bullpen woes away, which lasts forever!

53. We go undefeated in domes in 2007, 'Nuff said.

54. Bottle in a brown sack with a "XXX" on it shows up for the umpiring crew before every inning

55. Weirder things have happened.

56. Bugs Bunny signed as a free agent to play all 9 positions. If that fails, scientific evidence proves that rabbit feet are lucky (How does Nike not have a deal done with Warner Brothers already?)

57. Roofies in the opponent's Gatorade always worked well for me.

58. Turns out that You were wrong.

59. Just to catch Vegas off-guard

60. If the name is changing, let's "Win one for the Devil"

61. The odds are better than winning the lottery (and people do that all the time)

62. A whole bunch of guys turn the corner all at the same time.

63. Two words: Hanging Chads

64. Two more words: Hanging Curve Balls (They have 'em and we don't)

65. Lots and lots of new legislature regarding baseball games passed REALLY quickly.

66. Didn't you hear? There's 13 Wild Cards in the American League this year (Yes, I said 13. You gotta make SURE)

67. Anything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can do, we can do better!

68. Anything the Tampa Bay Lightning can do, we can do better! (and not cause the game to stop playing for over a year to recover)

69. The world needs more signs that it is truly indeed the end times.

70. Every time they hear the words "Go Devil Rays!" they actually go!

71. All games at the Trop declared forfeit victory for home team (Rays go 78-3 in home games, losing only to the Rangers in May)

72. "Because I said so!" (I am a Daddy afterall)

73. Basepaths shortened to accomodate SpiderMan 3 the Movie advertising on basepaths. Carl Crawford proceeds to steal over 300 bases, passes Go! and collects $200 each time!.

74. Maybe every Official Scorer will *wink, wink* forget to keep score for Rays opponents.

75. Voodoo. Jobu takes the bait, Rays reap the rings. It's just that easy.

76. George Steinbrenner's senility gets the best of him when he trades the only good players he has to the Devil Rays because he "spends an awful lot of time in Florida anyway..."

77. I have an idea for a book if they win it all. Hopefully it won't contain many lists as crappy as this one.

78. The better question is: What did I do with those 'other' two wishes that Genie gave me?

79. "Worst to First" has happened before several times. 71 wins is nice to make a franchise record, .500 is intriguing, but why stop there?

80. The Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees (who all suck) are just good enough to beat each other equally as bad because they (all suck in general and) suck at beating any of the other sucky teams.

81. B.J. Upton finally gets a chance to just "play" baseball.

82. Ever heard of "bribes"?

83. Lots of post-concussion syndrome where it matters most.

84. Then we could chant "1983", "1993", "Year 2000" AND "2004" to division foes like the smarmy champs we will be

85. World Series winner decided by a game of basketball.

86. It would really screw things up for conventional thought.

87. Come on,,if the "Idiot" Red Sox can do it, ANYONE can!

88. After this season Delmon Young will be known best for how he handles a bat. And second best for being my #1 favorite Devil Ray to root for.

89. Fixing scores suddenly en vogue again. The old black is the new black again.
90. Joe Maddon: Manager of the Year (and his lucky underwear that he never washed - beats a bloody sock, eh?))

91. Because the Devil Rays have the best, most gracious, realistic fans in baseball (see? I ruin everything!), not a bunch of fluff loving barely-keeper-up-with-ers, but REAL baseball fans (at least the Devil Rays fans I've met are so far).

92. There's always prayers to be said, witchcraft to be practiced (Practice? Practice), letters to Santa to be written, wishing wells to have rare coin collections tossed into them, worry beads to be rubbed, goats to be sacrificed, 4 leaf clovers to be discovered, sidewalk cracks to be avoided, good to be lucked, effagies of Derek Jeter to be made, prodded and possibly burned.... all KINDS of stuff!

93. There's no way you can convince me that they were REALLY that bad last year. (I'm serious on this one)

94. Is the A.L. really that stacked? Come on... really?

95. Plain, old "Shit luck" as opposed to the standard "Shitty Luck"

96. Two words: Health

97. All non-Devil Ray players get suspended for weapons of mass construction, I mean performance enhancement drugs.

98. We're not the Cubs, remember? (Hey, Lou!)

99. St. Louis Cardinals proved last year that you don't need 100+ wins to win the World Series.

100. Did I mention the likelihood of magic? Over the course of 162 games, that starts to add up!

101. if the Rays truly believe that they will win, and they play their best and let all the cliches cliche themselves, nothing will stop them..


There you have it. 101 of the manny more reasons why the Devil Rays really could win the World Series this year. Hey, some team has to!