Sunday, April 1, 2007

Grapefruit League Tour Stop 5: New York Mets vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Welcome back to the final edition of The Serious Tip's Tour de Grapefruit League 2007. So far we have gone to Clearwater, Viera, and Lakeland, and today we conclude at Tropicana Field in beautiful St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, you can't tell how beautiful it is outside, because the Devil Rays play in a ridiculous dome. Needless to say, I am not a fan of dome baseball. The geography of the Tampa-St. Pete area is screaming for a retro-retractable dome stadium. If you build it, more than old people will come.

Anyway, today the Devil Rays took on the New York Mets. For the sake of convenience and brevity, today's tour notes will be in bullet form and not in lengthy article format.

- Today's game featured most of the starters from both teams, and the Mets took advantage of the American League rules to bat both Shawn Green and Lastings Milledge with Green filling the DH role. Likewise, the Devil Rays used their DH spot to give top prospect Elijah Dukes some more at-bats. My only wish is after the season starts, the Mets keep Milledge in RF and find somewhere far away for Green. Perhaps across the street to help build CitiField?

- I didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed at the incessant ringing of cowbells by Devil Rays fans. I am glad the fans care enough to be louder than the overwhelming amount of visiting fans, but cowbells make my ears bleed. I gotta have less cowbell. Can we try kazoos?

- Good to see the Tropicana Field powers that be had the scoreboard working. All it said was "Coming April 6th, 2007". Sure, that's the home opener, but how could you not have it working sooner? Is it asking too much to have some way of keeping the fans informed (i.e. the score, the lineup, etc.)?

- New Devil Rays player Akinori Iwamura looks stockier than the usual Japanese import. Think more Toyota Tundra than Honda Civic.

- Mets prospect Mike Pelfrey was not very impressive, allowing 8 runs in 4 innings. Either he won't live up to hype or the Devil Rays lineup might not be that bad. Think about this: if Crawford hits .300, Delmon Young hits near .300 with 20-30 home runs, Dukes hits 20-25 homers, Upton hits 20 home runs or so, and the Wiggingtons, Navarros, and other miscellaneous spare parts hold their weight, the Devil Rays could cause some problems. I'm not saying they will compete in the AL East, but they should be fun to watch.

- Speaking of, can't we put the Yankees and Red Sox in their own division? Or at least re-align the teams by maximum economic potential? Put the Mets, Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, etc. in one division, the mid-market teams in other divisions, and the small market, economically struggling teams in their own division? This might increase interest in teams that are currently struggling and feel they have no shot. Maybe I am just babbling.

- Does anyone else have the feeling the Mets are one Jose Reyes hamstring injury from being completely one-dimensional and totally unmotivated?

- The Mets are also the first team I can remember in a long time that could easily act out Major League 2. David Wright would be "Ex-Wild Thing" Vaughn, with the commercial appeal and interests off the field; Jose Reyes is so ready to think of himself as a power hitter; and let's hope Carlos Delgado doesn't start wearing a robe and chanting to Buddha. As a Mets fan, this scares me.

- Speaking of Met worries, in the bottom of the second inning, the inevitable happened. D-Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist hit a flyball to left, Moises Alou took two steps and did an ill-fated half-dive and the ball bounced past Alou and rolled all the way to the wall. Alou has the mobility of the Rock of Gilbaltor. If he doesn't hit 20-30 home runs and drive in close to 100, he could be the worst signing of the offseason. In an offseason that saw ridiculous contracts to Gary Matthews, Jr. and Gil Meche, that's saying something.

- Call me biased and sexist, sexist, or just biased, but I've noticed women look really good in Devil Rays colors. Not all team color schemes can boast that. I've never seen a hot woman in Rangers blue or red or Marlins teal or (all apologies to Barbara Streisand) Yankee pinstripes. But Devil Rays green ... yeah.

Anyway, the Devil Rays beat the Mets 8-3. I'm smelling World Series preview.

On the other hand, given the current shape of the Mets' pitching rotation, maybe not.

Well, that wraps up The Serious Tip's Tour de Grapefruit League 2007. Hope you had as much reading as I had basking in the springtime Florida sunshine watching baseball.

- Jordi

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