I know you’ve always wanted to learn the game from a major leaguer who plays the game my way and is surrounded by teammates who are coming of age doing things, as we say in Tampa Bay, the Ray way. And because you’re in Minnesota, you’ve seen just what I’m talking about.
I’ll teach you how to make a diving, skidding catch in foul territory with a runner on third and one out in the eighth inning of a tie game. And I’ll teach you how to make it within feet of the other team’s closer, one of the best in the game, while he’s warming up for the ninth inning. In no position to make the throw home? No big deal, my friend. You’ll even get the other team’s radio guy to mutter, “Catch it! Catch it!” because even he wants you to succeed!
I’ll teach you to say things like: “I still figured it was just one run. Hopefully we could come back and score two runs. … I wasn’t worried about that run too much but I understand what I did.”
And if that’s not enough I’ll teach you to run the bases! Remember last year at the Dome? A 2-2 tie and Ben Zobrist led off with a single. Then I came to bat and hit the ball high, hard and far to right field. Remember that? I ran head down to third base, thrilled with my good fortune. Of course, Ben had stopped at third and we both ended up being tagged out. We lost that game by one run, too!
I have teammates and special guests who used to play for us (We call them x-Rays) who will teach you too. Defensive whiz B.J. Upton will show you how to ignore a cut-off man while throwing the absolute tar out of the ball so that any batter can take an extra base! Our new shortstop Jason Bartlett (Remember him, Twins fans?) will teach you how to pi$$ off your pitcher by skipping a throw on a two-out ground ball. And x-Ray Brendan (Mitt) Harris will teach you the ol’ grounder-rolled-up-my arm trick, which turns potential 1-2-3 innings into game-tying adventures.
And there’s more! Jonny Gomes, who’s been thrown out 40 percent of the time when trying to steal during his career, will teach you how to test Joe Mauer’s arm — and how to run in from right field to start a fight during an exhibition game! And my manager, Joe Maddon, will do his ever-popular seminar on “playing the percentages the Ray way,” which means pulling the lefty reliever and bringing in the right-hander to face Mauer and Justin Morneau. How can something that seems so wrong turn out so right?
Camp will end with my ever-popular seminar on throwing former teammates under the bus. I could never figure out which one was Elijah Dukes and which one was Delmon Young. So after they got traded I ripped both of their sorry behinds when I reported to spring training and they were x-Rays who were far, far away.
Part old skool, part contemporary baseball! It’s the Tampa Bay Ray way and it’s here to stay because, after all, we’re always a year or two away.