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Evan Longoria says B.J. Upton, James Shields couldn’t get the Devil Rays mentality out of their heads

Apr 2, 2013, 1:01 PM EDT

evan longoria getty Getty Images

Opening Day is always a time for big, optimistic thoughts. A time to declare that now, the present, is so much better than the past. Thing is, when you do that, you’re implicitly saying that what came before was inferior or flawed. And when you put names on the past, you’re trafficking in some level of personal criticism whether you intended to or not.

That’s where Evan Longoria seems to be in this article from the Tampa Tribune, in which he talks about how the team is all about clubhouse camaraderie and positive thinking and how everyone is on the same page with “The Rays Way.”  Part of why that is now? Because a couple of old holdovers from the pre-2008 Rays — the old Devil Rays –are gone:

“There was a lot of history with B.J. and Shields in this organization, and I think there were some things that were tough for them to get beyond,” Longoria said. “They were really the only ones that were left in here that were here before the Rays were in 2008 when we started to be the team that we are now. I think some of those things kind of stuck around, and as much as you try to instill the new way, some of those things, it was tough to get some of those thoughts out of their head.

He says Upton and Shields were fine players, and says that he’s not trying to be negative and that maybe he wasn’t putting it the right way, but jeez, it sounds a lot like a criticism.

Know what keeps one from making such criticisms, however inadvertently? Not treating a baseball season as a grand tale in which there are necessarily good guys, bad guys, new beginnings and all the rest. It seems here that rather than have any actual criticism of his former teammates, Longoria was simply trying to fit the Tampa Bay Rays into some narrative, however contrived. Sportswriters are bad for this. But it seems that players do it too.

  1. Kevin Gillman - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Evan needs to worry about himself staying healthy, because if he gets hurt for the third straight season, then there might be some negative comments about him….injury prone.

  2. chacochicken - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I’ve always found 3rd basemen to be the most psychologically introspective and observant players on a baseball team. For instance, Longoria is very observant to notice that neither B.J. nor Shields play for the Rays any longer. I wonder how he feels about David Price’s beard?

  3. illegalblues - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    i don’t even know what he’s really saying there.

    • El Bravo - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      After reading the whole thing I get two things from it:

      1. Longoria believes the Maddon-run, teamwork-focused “Ray Way” is better than ever as a result of some players, two of which he named, no longer being there. Maddon is on record disagreeing with respect to Shields, who he believes helped bring in the Ray Way. This can’t be taken as anything other than a criticism of Shields and Upton, whether they weren’t true team players or not.

      2. He believes Tampa is now a “destination” for players b/c of their winning ways. I’m not sure this is true b/c they still can’t pay anyone to go there like big-market clubs can. That said, they do win despite their low payrool, so perhaps that is drawing some talent (but I sure don’t see it). Longoria, again, is certainly critisizing Shields and Upton by saying what he said, which insinuates they did not feel at home in Tampa while playing there. True or not, a criticism.

      Lastly, I’m surprised that Crawford’s name didn’t come up in any way.

      • indaburg - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        It is a destination place for players hoping to prove their worth to other teams. It’s easier to prove your worth when the team is a winner. They come here for little money, perform well, then get a bigger paycheck from another team (see: Soriano, Rafael. Keppinger, Jeff.)

        It’s obviously not a destination place for players already making the big bucks.

      • El Bravo - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Someone go in their and fix my typos. Thanks.

    • indaburg - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      I agree. Longoria says, “…there were some things that were tough for them to get beyond.” What things? That the Rays won’t spend a little money on a decent DH? That he wasn’t willing to give them $100 million extensions? The cowbells? What?

  4. shaggylocks - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Geez, I would think anyone who was a part of the club when they went from worst in 2007 to first in 2008 would, as a rule, have some of that “Rays Way,” wouldn’t you?

  5. alexo0 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Now that the “Devil” has been entirely removed from the Rays clubhouse, they can finally start winning.

    • kollin7 - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:41 PM


  6. cur68 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    What a totally meaningless and ill-considered thing to say. “The Rays Way”? And Big Game James didn’t have that? BJ Upton didn’t? Well, shit. I guess the “Rays Way” is going down with injury for the last 3 years running like Longoria has, because he’s full of it.

    • bellweather22 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      It’s pretty easy for Longoria to throw stones when he got the big contract while Upton and Shields did not.

  7. indaburg - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I read the article and Longoria is quoted as saying, “I don’t know if that came out the right way.” No, it definitely didn’t. Upton and Shields were a lot of the reason for the Rays’ successes in the past 4 years, and I’m not getting where he’s going with this, if it’s not critical. What exactly didn’t Upton and Shields get about the Rays Way? Did they not “know how to win”? If I was Upton and Shields reading that, I would be asking Longo, “Wtf?” Longo has some ‘splaining to do.

    • El Bravo - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      My guess is this: Longoria actually knows that both Upton and Shields were not exactly in love with playing there and/or they openly made selfish comments that went against he team-player grain (at least in Longoria’s eyes). I think he probably does have some truth behind his words, but of course, there’s certainly no reason to name names and cause a stir (if this even does).

      • indaburg - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        The word on Shields is that he loved being a Ray, and that he was a great mentor to the younger pitchers and a real team player. The pitching staff has always said that. Upton is more complicated. I personally liked him as a player but he got massacred on the sports radio shows by the fans. He occasionally brain farted but I took the good with the bad. Upton and Longoria once scuffled in the dugout during a game after a play that appear Upton’s head wasn’t in the game. I wonder if the effects of that lingered?

        Like I said, Longo needs to clarify those remarks, because right now, those words appear to me as mightily ungrateful and rather crass.

      • paperlions - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        In addition, it may be that Longoria simply doesn’t see things the way any of the other Rays do because he’s the one that got the extension after being up about a week….everyone else already knows that the Ray’s plan on letting them hit FA or trading them…they are all just waiting for that to happen. Longoria may not like it, but he’s actually the odd one….because he’s the one guy that is going to be there a long time. Everyone else that is good has a 6 yr shelf life, at most.

      • El Bravo - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        Very informative stuff indaburg and good point lion de papier. You both are truly scholars of the baseball arena.

      • indaburg - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:41 PM

        Interesting perspective, but I don’t know, ‘lions. Longoria can’t be ignorant to the fact he’s the odd one.

        As for: “everyone else already knows that the Ray’s plan on letting them hit FA or trading them…” Most players on most teams end up in free agency or traded. Very few stay with a team for life.

  8. ireportyoudecide - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    That’s not what I got from the quote. I think he may be talking about contracts, twice Longoria has signed long term deals well before he hit free agency at what most would consider less then market value.

    • ezthinking - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      So he’s bitter about being considered a dipshit?

    • bellweather22 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      So a 15 year $144M contract for a 27 year old coming off two injury marred seasons is considered “below market value”? Interesting analysis.

  9. samu0034 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    As tired as I am of sports writers feeling the need to shoehorn an emotional narrative into every single sporting contest, I’m equally tired of other sports writers essentially acting as if players are robots whose skill set is defined by their stat line, and that outside influences like enjoying your working environment and who you’re playing with are utterly meaningless.

  10. fukpittsburgh - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    The only reason I clicked this link is because I was going to read a story about B.J. Upton and James Shields giving Eva Longoria the Eiffel Tower.

  11. raysfan1 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    I find it more a statement of human nature than a criticism. The Rays have essentially tried to completely revamp their organizational culture, and the change was as necessary as it was fundamental. However, it’s inevitable that members of the organization would be comfortable with some aspects of the old order and thus not like changes in those areas. I’ve seen it in my line of work too, and often the best thing for the organization and the employee both is a transfer. I can thus see where that could be in play here.

    …or it could just be early season jock talk/defense mechanism for dealing with the loss of a couple team mates.

  12. thebadguyswon - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Hey Evan,
    Maybe you can kick the sand out of your vagina and stay healthy for a whole season. Give it a try!

  13. cuzzisaidso - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    From comments inside the clubhouse Evan’s right. This was a known issue, particularly with the center fielder, but he wasn’t the only one. Carl Crawford could be added well. But saying it to the press isn’t the right thing to do. I’m sure he’ll hear from BJ and get one in the back from Shieldsy. Just to remind him what happens in the clubhouse should stay in the clubhouse. As far as the assholes calling him out for injuries, nuff said.

  14. bellweather22 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    The questions about BJ Upton are definitely out there. The Braves have almost always had the best clubhouse in the league. The Braves also lost a number of good clubhouse guys in Chipper, Prado, Ross while adding the two Uptons and Chris Johnson. If the Braves win, there will be no worries. But Upton is a clubhouse cancer, it will come out if the Braves start losing.

  15. tuberippin - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Interesting that Evan Longoria is forgetting about BJ Upton’s power outburst during the 2008 playoffs, which helped them get to the World Series for the first and (so far) only time.

  16. mveal2006 - Apr 2, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    evan took a contract at less than full value, but neither shields nor upton did to stay with the rays. so he gets a little slack imo. plus, going forward, evan is taking over, telling everyone to forget carl, shields, and b.j. – and remember evan had to straighten out b.j. a while back. its life, and this may be a favor to the organization that had to do something a little unpopular. if i am wrong we will know in time. i inow the newspaper needs stories, but the rays need to have an anvironmment where they dont get beleaguered, rmember the rest of the division has payrolls 2, 3 , maybe even 4 times bigger than the rays.

    the rays lost their opener to yet another one of those old devil rays we had to give away. thats the real story.

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