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Johnny Damon leads “players only meeting” as Rays fall to 0-6

Apr 8, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT

players only meeting

Yesterday the Rays lost their sixth straight game to begin the season and afterward Johnny Damon led “a brief players-only meeting,” according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

Topkin reports that “Damon didn’t talk for long, and he wasn’t the only one, as Felipe Lopez also spoke up, in stressing to the others to stay positive.”

If a team goes on a big winning streak following a players-only meeting it tends to become a big story, as people assume it turned things around, but short of that they’re mostly forgotten within a few days. That’ll probably happen here as well, but I do find it interesting that the two guys leading the meeting, Damon and Lopez, are new to the team this season. In fact, Lopez wasn’t even on the Opening Day roster.

They’re both veterans, but I’m guessing the whole concept loses a little something when the rah-rah speeches are coming from two guys everyone else on the team met six weeks ago. Neither player has actually won a game as a member of the Rays yet and Damon is hitting .053 through six games.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Apr 8, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    If your .053 man can’t rally you out of a slump, no one can.

    • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      LOL! Don’t you realize yankeesf.. that Damon was signed because he’s a “heart-trob” and surely will bring in thousands more lady paying customers to the Trop? (nyuk! nyuk! nyuk!).

    • uyf1950 - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      yankeesfanlen – see what happens when you talk about something. You jinx it, if you get my meaning !

  2. purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    When I predicted the Rays to finish 4th in a close battle with Baltimore right after spring training broke, I did so for the following reasons: 1) Man-Ram off roids is as useless as teats on a bull; 2) Damon is way past his prime; 3) The Rays have no veteran bench depth; and 4) The Rays totally revamped bullpen is a big question mark.

    All the players only meetings in the world aren’t going to solve the above problems, and the lucky Rays get John Danks tonight too!

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 8, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    At least they care, and took the time to do this sort of thing.

  4. easports82 - Apr 8, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    No threats of beating the crap outta people? Mike Sweeney needs to give them a tutorial on players-only meetings.

  5. shaggylocks - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Johnny Damon at least has experience crawling out of seemingly insurmountable holes. If anyone is fit to lead this team meeting, it’s the guy who helped his team come back from a 0-3 deficit in the 2004 ALCS.

    • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      When Gordon Beckham first came up with the White Sox he didn’t have any idea who Harold Baines was; he just thought he was a coach.

      2004 is to most of the young Rays ancient history and bears no relevance to how they are currently playing. In baseball terms, that’s ancient history.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:02 PM

        The gap between Harold Baines and Gordon Beckham is a lot wider than the gap between 2004 and today. Beckham was 14 when Baines retired, who had already exceeded his sell-by date. Those young Rays were likely in college in 2004, and as college baseball players were certainly paying attention to the 2004 playoffs.

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        schrute… no, you no longer can classify Coors Field as being the counter weight to ridiculously pitching friendly Petco Park ever since the Rockies started to humidify baseballs there. It’s no longer the band box that it originally was; the bandbox of the NL is now The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, and the power stats from the past two seasons totally bear that out.

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        scatter… You obviously must be a Johnny Damon fan. 2004 was 7 years ago; I doubt that most currently on the Rays roster even bothered to watch the playoffs that far back unless they happened to grow up either Red Sox or Yankees fans. That’s my point.

        A 38 year old .053 hitter from a past era that’s only been with the team something like six weeks I don’t think is going to get a whole lot of run in the Rays clubhouse. Just my opinion.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        I must be. Certainly no one would disagree with you unless they had some unhealthy obsession with Johnny Damon.

        Actually, I’m just a fan of math, logic and research. Jaso, Zobrist, Shoppach, Johnson, Rodriguez, Brignac, Joyce and Fuld were all drafted and/or in the minors by 2004, and Upton and Lopez were in the majors. Longoria was in college. My opinion is that if you are playing baseball professionally or you intend on doing so, you’re probably going to pay attention to the playoffs.

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        scatterbrain… I truly believe that the reason baseball TV ratings for the playoffs and world series continue their steady decline is because of the implementation of divisional based scheduling (done primarily to cut down on travel and travel costs, no matter what Bud The Dud may claim).

        This has caused baseball to become a REGIONAL game. If your team(s), and/or team(s), from their respective divisions aren’t in the playoffs, outside of the region that the teams making the playoffs play in, the rest of America is largely disinterested now.

        I’m a big baseball nut, but I didn’t care about the “all New York World Series” at the turn of this century, nor did I care about the Rangers-Giants World Series last year, because I had no dog in the fight.

        I think that baseball players in college and the minor leagues aren’t much different than the rest of America in that regard. The choice between chasing skirt or watching two teams that you have no emotional vested interest in is easy… you go chase skirt!

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        I get what you’re saying. Baseball thrives on it’s regional coverage, which makes comparing the TV ratings from the Commercial Bowl and the World Series an apples-and-oranges issue. I would like to think college baseball players would pay more attention to the playoffs than the average fan, simply because their ultimate goal is to play in one and win it. But I also understand I’m a different animal. I watch the playoffs regardless of who’s in.

        Funny you mentioned ratings though, because one of the main reasons why the NFL beats MLB in TV ratings is gambling, specifically fantasy football….

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM

        scatterbrain… you’re on a roll! Another good post.

        Yes, fantasy football indeed has had a huge, positive imprint on NFL ratings; no question about it!

        ESPN’s Colin Cowherd did a good analysis a few months back on the growing disparity between NFL and MLB TV ratings. I think that Colin’s analysis is spot on too. In the NFL, there are only 16 games to track, not 162 as is the case with MLB.

        More importantly though, the vast majority of the NFL games are played either on a weekend or on Monday night, which is much easier for busy family men to follow than the seven day a week routine of baseball. Makes sense to me.

        This just in … Manny Ramirez just announced his retirement.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:50 PM

        One game a week (and only 16 of them) is way easier to track…that’s totally understandable. It makes it a lot easier to get marginal or casual fans involved in an office fantasy league or a pool. Baseball can be overwhelming in that regard (but there are leagues where you set lineups weekly rather than daily).

        That’s nuts about Manny, but helps your original point a bit…the Rays just got a little younger.

  6. Joe - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    So I clicked on the Felipe Lopez link because I wondered if this was the same guy the Red Sox acquired at the end of last season. And it only took me five minutes of clicking around to discover that, not only was he on the Red Sox last season, he played 113 games for them.

    Conclusion: if you’re not managing a fantasy team (and I am not), RotoWorld’s player profiles are borderline useless.

    • Ace - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      Further to your point about the uselessness of RotoWorld profiles: Lopez did indeed appear in 113 games last year. It’s just that only 4 of them were actually with the Red Sox. (He spent most of the year in St. Louis.)

      • Ace - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        Right, reading fail on my part. Captain Obvious is obvious.

    • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      Joe: Had fantasy leagues been around back when I was in my pre-teens and early teens I would have been all over it like losing and the Cubs. As a grown adult though, I fully realize why it’s referred to as “fantasy”, and the “game” is badly flawed for the following reasons:

      1) There are absolutely no factors for defense, one of championship baseballs two cornerstones (the other of course being pitching). So in a lot of these leagues I’ve noticed that you can “start” 2 left fielders and a designated hitter in center field because defense doesn’t matter; and

      2) While there’s more fantasy (fun), in dreaming up mixed league rosters, it’s folly to compare/mix starting pitching from both the AL and NL for the following reasons:
      a) In the NL starting pitchers get 2-3 mulligans a game, as the opposing pitchers mostly just flail away at the dish (oh sure, there are a small handful of exceptions like the Cubs Zambrano, but that’s what they are… exceptions);
      b) The NL has far more “pitchers parks”, especially in the NL West. This greatly distorts the ERA’s of starting pitchers who play half or more of their games in such parks. Question: Name the four largest parks west of the Mississippi River. Answer: Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Petco Park in San Diego; and
      c) The styles of play between the NL and AL remain vastly different. Finesse and flyball pitchers oftentimes get killed in the AL, which is why you see such pitchers as Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, Lily of the Dahyears and Hudson of the D-Backs having so much success in the NL that they wouldn’t enjoy to that degree if they were in the AL.

      Not trying to burst anyone’s bubble here; just pointing out something that’s typically ignored about roto-ball. Whatever you enjoy doing as a hobby, just so long as it’s legal that’s a good thing though rotoballers.

      • schrutebeetfarms - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        What are all these leagues you refer to that you can start a DH in centerfield?
        I’m pretty sure that none of the actual fantasy websites allow that. If you were just using an absurd example to rip on fantasy baseball that’s fine then, carry on.

        As a Twins fan, I have to address point #1. Pitching and defense are nice and all, but you can pitch a shutout and play stellar defense but you can’t win if you don’t score a run. For years, the Twins have been known as a great defensive team and with deep solid pitching. And come playoffs, they have unspeakable things done to them, mainly because they can’t score any runs.

        And if comparing Division parks, wouldn’t Coors field offset Petco Park?

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        schru… sounds to me like you’re a (defensive), rotoballer. That’s ok though; nothing wrong with rotoball as a hobby, but too many fans that I know really fancy themselves as being major league GM’s, and while that may be fun, it’s also “fantasy” and frankly, a bit silly.

        As a curiosity, I’ve checked into a number of fantasy leagues just to see what rules that they play under and the rules can vary greatly from league to league. For example, Adam Dunn is a full time DH this year, but because he’s historically been a first baseman playing his entire previous career in a DH-less league, he’s still eligible to be penciled in as the starting first baseman in all of the fantasy leagues I’ve checked into this year.

        The reason though that NO NL teams showed any serious interest in Dunn when he hit free agency this past season is because he’s a liability in the field, something that’s totally irrelevant in every fantasy league that I’ve ever checked out.

        While you make a good point of at least needing SOME offense to advance in the playoffs, I don’t care if the Twins were batting the ’27 Yankees lineup in the playoffs; for whatever reason the Yankees truly have their number and the Yankees would, and will continue to, run over the Twins if they meet in the playoffs again like a runaway John Deere lawn tractor.

        The Twins have a lot to worry about offensively this year though, especially having just lost their starting 2b’man likely for up to two months now. Nobody has a gauge on just how bad Mauer’s ailing knees are (and his power has been totally been negated with the Twins move into Target Field), Morneau’s ability to rebound from his severe concussion last season, or how much gas Thome at 40 still has in the tank.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        Growing up is overrated. As a grown adult, I fully realize fantasy baseball is not real, does not mirror real baseball, nor does it even attempt to do so. But I don’t care either. It’s just another way to further follow the sport I love. I’ve played since I was in high school and I continue to enjoy it, and don’t adhere to some arbitrary cut-off that says “now that you’re XX years old you shouldn’t like this anymore.”

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:42 PM

        scatterbrain… Really dude, I wasn’t trying to make my post personal; my only point was that when I first fell in love with baseball as a kid, up until I had to leave for college I too was so immersed in baseball stats that I couldn’t wait for my weekly subscription to the Sporting News to arrive in the mail.

        You see, back then, The Sporting News was the ONLY place that you could get ALL the then available stats of ALL teams (the local papers of course always ran abbreviated stats of the home teams… in my case, 2, one in each league), as well as ANY minor league news. Al Gore hadn’t yet invented the internet and there was no such thing as daily access to stat services.

        Once I hit a college campus, however, there was simply no time (or access), to continue to follow the stats, nor once I had kids was/is there any time to follow the stats of 30 teams (much less the mere 16 that I grew up with).

        Everyone though should have a hobby or two, so if rotoball is your thing, certainly nothing wrong with that! I’ve even had baseball nut buddies of mine offer to give me the entry fee to their leagues and have continued to turn down such overtures, generous as they are. For me the time has passed for me to join a fantasy league, but I suspect I’m probably a bit older than you are and you likely have more time to devote to it.

        Again, no knock, bro; just isn’t my cup of tea. If/when though that fantasy baseball gets more real and starts factoring UZR stats to take defense into account, then I might reconsider it. Until such time though, no defense, no reality… all fantasy. Hey look! There’s Jim Thome starting at third for the Red Hawks! (LOL!)

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        purd: I’m definitely taking this too personally…honestly, part of why I still play is to give me another something to talk about with my dad. He likes to follow and give me shit when a player on my team goes 0-fer or gets lit up…

        Oh, I’m 37 and have no kids….and yes, I have done the thing that makes kids….

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:38 PM

        scatterbrain… good for you! (seriously, not sarcastically). I’m all for ANY hobbies that anyone may enjoy (so long as they are legal).

        Until you have kids though, there’s just no way to explain just how much of a time drain that they are on parents. Years 1-5 are easy; in fact, I yearn for the days when my kids could be dropped off at daycare so that Mom and Dad could both work… and not have 24 hour a day duty.

        Sure, I love my kids of course, but they ARE a significant time drain once they starting getting into organized sports and activities… just no time to devote to something like rotoball in any sport.

      • madhatternalice - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        Not really sure where all this is coming from, but I’ve used CBS Sportsline for years, and, like Yahoo, you can customize your stats. My main league (points), for example, penalizes for fielding errors. Another league (Yahoo) is roto, and fielding percentage is one of the categories.

        You also ignore the large percentage of leagues that are AL and NL only, which does them a disservice.

        Because every league is different, and every league has their own rules, the best part of fantasy baseball is being able to find a league that values what you do. The above referenced CBS league, for example, stresses OPS so much that at bats are penalized (think -.25 per AB, but 1.25 for a single, 2.25 for a double, etc).

        I’m also not entirely sure what “the styles of play between the NL and AL remain vastly different” has to do with fantasy baseball. Your point is valid when it comes to MLB, but in terms of fantasy it’s kind of moot. Yes, pitchers like Clayton Richard might be worse off in the AL, but that truly doesn’t matter for fantasy, does it?

      • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        madhatter… first, Manny Ramirez has just abruptly retired, reportedly for failing another MLB drug test (in spring training), and facing another stiff suspension, so he just hung ‘em up instead.

        With respect to rotoball, errors are only a small part of baseball defense. Guys with a lot of range get throwing errors trying to make plays that other guys would just wave their glove at and guys that are stiffs can avoid errors by simply not taking any risks by going too far to their left or right.

        Sure, beats nothing, but there are a lot better statistical measurements now available that could easily be incorporated into rotoball to make roto league outcomes more realistic.

        With respect to the difference between the AL and NL, it really only makes a difference in roto “mixed leagues” (i.e., those that have rosters of players from each). Using Clayton Richard as my example, there’s no way his stats would be anything even close to what they are if he was starting for an AL East team, so whoever “drafts” him is getting an unrealistic boost because in the real world his stats wouldn’t be what they are in a real mixed-league featuring a lot of AL hitters.

        No biggie; just a pet peeve of mine.

  7. motherscratcher23 - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Where is Mark Grace when you need him?

  8. wurst2first - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    If it works and the Rays go on a tear, all references to this meeting going forward must refer to it having been a “Come to Jesus” meeting, as mandated by cliche law.

  9. halladaysbicepts - Apr 8, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    I wonder if during the player’s meeting they were taking turns shooting up Manny with some PEDs. LOL!!!!!

    • purdueman - Apr 8, 2011 at 7:04 PM

      I heard that at the players only meeting no one gave Manny an injection on his big butt, but rumor has it he had “the cream” and “the clear” rubbed on him in order (presumably), to give him a nice little energy boost! (LOL!)

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