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.