BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Living in the land of the white sandy beaches, blue sky and even hotter sunshine there are some things that Uncle Mel is still having a hard time adjusting to like the new surroundings, like saying good by to old acquaintances and introducing you old-time favorite uncle to new friends.
Uncle Mel is having a hard time adjusting watching the Tampa Bay Rays as his new major league baseball team to follow.
After spending every baseball season watching, reading about and growing old with the Detroit Tigers. Uncle Mel is use to seeing a brand of entertaining baseball even when the team was playing worst than the Toledo Mudhens-it was bad baseball but it was Tiger baseball and that made it all right.
A lot of tears, wishes and dreams went with following the Detroit Tigers but also there were plenty of heartaches and head-scratching about some of the moves made by the Tigers and the moves not made by the Tigers.
Back in the month of February, when the snow fell and covered the outfield in Comerica Park and the temperature reach into the upper 20’s. The men in charge in Detroit, both Tigers’ General Manager Dave Dombrowski and Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland packed their suitcase for spring training in Lakeland, Florida with plenty of ideas and that they had the arms in the bullpen for a good closer.
Since then, many pitchers have been given the task or have stepped up and wanted the role as being the closer in the bullpen only to fail for the Tigers.
Dombrowski and Leyland tried to mask the issue of no closer, the Tigers even went as far as to sign the closer that they released after the 2012 season.
They decided to give him a call and give him another chance but Jose Valverde who looked good at the start of the experiment raised a lot of hope but in the end in Toledo, Valverde and the Tigers parted company for the second time.
“We tried, he tried and it just did not work out,” Leyland said after the release of Valverde. “He did a terrific job for us, you couldn’t ask for a better teammate but we’ll always have great memories of him.”
Valverde finished his baseball career in the Detroit organization at Toledo, making 11 appearances, with an ERA of 4.09 and no decisions.
Valverde made 20 appearances for the Tigers after he was signed and brought up to the club. He made nine saves but the end came between May 31 and June 19. He allowed seven home runs and his ERA ballooned to an unimpressive 13.50 before being sent to Toledo ending any hope of a Hollywood-style comeback story.
So now the Tigers have welcome back to the team another alumni, Jeremy Bonderman and Leyland is excited to have Bonderman in the bullpen.
“We were looking for a veteran guy and thought that it was worth taking a look at him. He went to Toledo, got good reports on him and he has experience,” Leyland said about Bonderman. “He’s not going to faint.”
Bonderman is keeping the emotion at a controllable level about his return to the major leagues and he is not putting any pressure to become a starter, he is just happy to be back in Detroit and providing some positive contribution for the Tigers.
“One thing about it, is that you don’t have to reserve anything for your seventh or eighth inning. You can just let it fly and attack guys,” Bonderman said after his first appearance with the Tigers against the Cleveland Indians. “I probably do not throw as hard as I use to but I just try to locate the fastball, keep the ball down in the zone like everybody else and try not to get caught up in the moment.”
The Tigers swept away the Indians and the winning streak continues to grow as Max Scherzer recorded his 17th victory and now the Tigers will be looking to extend winning streak this weekend against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
So now Uncle Mel is trying to get behind and root for the Rays but the transition is too slow.
There are players that deserve to be watched like rookie outfielder Wil Myers or Evan Longoria and the team does have some personality none better or bigger than the Tampa Bay Ray Manager Joe Maddon.
He is so cool under fire, he is so cool with the baseball stories that he tells and to top it off he is a pretty good manager.
Maddon and the Rays beat the Tigers in June and took off on a pretty good winning streak that raised a lot of interest in baseball about the Rays.
The bad thing that happen is the All-Star Game and the three days away from baseball that some say broke the mojo of the Rays but Maddon does not by into that and he is not making up excuses about his club.
The Rays are just two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the East Division of the American League but most important-is that both teams are tied with 47 defeats in the lost column.
The Rays will be spending the weekend in the land of make believe, were dreams come alive and is the home of Chavez Ravine and the Los Angles Dodgers.
The Rays will start a three game series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium starting Friday night August 9, 2013. The game is scheduled to start 10:10 EDT.
“It will be fun to experience that atmosphere,” Rays’ starting pitcher David Price said, who will be starting for the Rays Friday night.
The Rays and their fans are hoping that the fun in California will be a happy time for all to enjoy.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.