Friday, April 8, 2011

Bulls Lose Close First Game

Game 1: Durham Bulls 1; Gwinnett Braves 2
Season: 0-1
Wrap, Box, Gwinnett Daily Post

Just as a warning to new readers, when the Bulls are on the road, this blog is not likely to have any more deep insights into the game than you may have heard on the radio broadcast. That’s certainly the case here where the Bulls started the season with a very well-played losing effort. The Braves put together a string of hits in the 5th inning that were enough to put two runs across. And that was the game.

We got our first look at a Bulls defensive lineup and what’s striking to my eye is how much the Bulls have changed — only three of the nine batters (Ruggiano, Jennings, and Furmaniak) were with the Bulls at the end of last year. Only one, Justin Ruggiano, was in last year’s opening lineup.

So, rather than trying to write about ballplayers I’ve never seen, why not just rant about something completely off-topic?

Bobby Cox, retired Atlanta Braves manager, threw out the first pitch of the game last night. He got a sustained standing ovation from the crowd. The cheers actually delayed the start of the game. Now, I know that Bobby Cox is a pretty famous guy and he would get a robust round of applause at the DBAP. But what the event brought to mind is what little effort the Rays have put into developing the Triangle as a market for their team. Let’s face it, if Joe Maddon (he's the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays) were in the crowd at the DBAP he wouldn’t even be noticed.

As far as I can recall, the only modest local marketing effort was in 2009 when almost all the giveaways were Rays hats and T-shirts (you can see what happened to mine here). The gods of television have decided that the Triangle is in the Baltimore (Baltimore!?!) market as another blogger has noted. So we can rarely watch the Rays on television around here (even if we were to pay a gazillion bucks for MLB.TV on our iPads). The Rays did play a spring training game here last year. That was nice and I enjoyed it even if the first stringers didn’t stay in the game past one at bat.

Otherwise, I can honestly say that in my years of going to the DBAP I have not met one Rays fan, not one. That includes the guy I stare at in the mirror every morning. I have met a couple of guys who have individual Rays on their fantasy team (inevitably Even Longoria and/or David Price).

So, Joe, if you ever throw out the first pitch at the DBAP, don’t expect a standing O, because most folks around here don’t even know who the guy with the funny sunglasses is (haven’t we seen him in a vitamin ad, dear?). At least, not until the Rays get into the local TV lineup, get some stories into the local papers and start promoting their team hereabouts.


  1. Interesting stuff, Chris. Not a single Rays fan? I guess I always assumed there was a lot of interest in the Rays in the Durham area, what with all of the back and forth between the two rosters. Surprising to me.

  2. You'd think so. Not being on TV is probably the key factor. Neither the Rays nor the Reds (AA Mudcats are a Reds affiliate, this year) have leading positions in the newspapers. Issue deserves a more thoughtful piece than this. I'll do that sometime this summer. The standing O for Cox just triggered the impulse this morning.

  3. I've become a Rays fan due to their roster being mostly Bulls. That said, I tried to watch the free MILB online thing on opening day, but was "blacked out" because we were in O's territory I guess despite it not being on TV. Nice...

    BTW, Looks like Manny retired on the big club. Wonder if Jennings heads up quickly.

    Neil mentioned Baker is on Hudson Valley, so that solves that mystery.

  4. Chris,
    Thanks for the tip on Ramirez! I hadn't run my traps this afternoon, so hadn't heard/read. Would have missed it without your help.

  5. How can you not be a Rays fan when, as you pointed out in an earlier post, 18 of the Rays active roster players were Durham Bulls players? I don't get to see any MLB games on tv other than what ESPN or the networks choose to show, so it's not like tv coverage can sway me one way or the other. I love following the stats of our former Bulls, and appreciate the autographs I was able to collect when they were here! Go Rays!

  6. Well, Donna, you have fairly called me out. In my heart I am exclusively a Bulls fan, but once the players leave I admit that I can't help but keep an eye on them. If the Rays were on TV, and the Bulls weren't playing, they are the team I'd watch. That said, I'm not really a fan of any major league team. But of all the major league teams, I like the Rays the best (although I used to watch the Royals, that's another sad story). I'm extremely grateful that they seem to have very competent management these days. And they keep an eye out for players like Ray Olmedo, J.J. Furmaniak, and Chris Richard who may never play, or not play very much, in the big leagues. We get to see them and sometimes get to watch some great stories (Dan Johnson comes to mind). More than that, those are the players that get us into the playoffs and make August interesting. I guess that makes me something of a mini-fan. Would love to see them become more popular in the Triangle and have greater economic success down in St. Petersburg.

  7. I am another one here that would call myself a Rays fan, though again only because of the connection to Durham. I do pay the money for (and, and I would say that 75% of the nights that the Rays are on, they are the ones that I watch. I do flip around from game to game a lot, though.

  8. OK, we've got at least two Rays fans here.

    DRR: Are the Gwinnett games being televised? I might give MiLB TV a try this year.

  9. Sadly no Gwinnett games on TV. I think that I would probably not do if I knew that I would be making it to most of the home games, since the Braves games won't be on (no idea about the other divisional teams we play often). However, this will probably be a low attendance summer for us (I figure that next summer our daughter will be old enough to be out to games on a semi-regular basis), and I will want to have computer access to the home games.