Improved bullpen big reason Rays have high hopes
BOSTON -- As the Rays players gathered around the TV in the cramped visitors clubhouse in Fenway Park, a poll suddenly appeared. Viewers were asked which team was most likely to fall off after its quick start, and after a moment of suspense, Tampa Bay was revealed the winner with 30 percent of the vote."Aw, that's cold," Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said. "That's cold-hearted right there. They must all be Boston fans, since we're at Fenway."
"DROP THE DEVIL"
It's been five months since Rays team president Matt Silverman launched his "Drop the Devil" campaign, urging employees, fans and the media to erase the Devil and add Rays to their lexicon. The effort has resulted in Silverman's signing at least 150 letters (ESPN.com is an offender; click here to view the letter sent to ESPN.com from Silverman) and raising over $1,000 for charity in the process."I think Fernando Vina sometime over the weekend said Devil Rays," Silverman said. "Someone reported it to us and we sent out a letter." The reports usually are from staff, though many fans have written in, citing violations. Each violator receives a form letter followed with a detailed description of said violation, signed by Silverman. After starting a donation box for employees to drop a $1 for every violation, Silverman said "Devil" has been eradicated from Tampa's executive offices. He hasn't had a 100 percent completion rate with the media and blogs, though he said the idea has been very successful. "People are having fun with it," Silverman said. "And that's really the point." The campaign will likely last until the All-Star break. Then, the focus will shift to a much different task. "Our next big campaign is trying to get [our new] ballpark built," Silverman said. That one will be a bit more difficult.
--Amy K. Nelson
I'm more proud of my bullpen stats -- as an entire bullpen -- than what I do individually, for sure.
-- Rays closer Troy Percival