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Rays Update: Hair, Catwalks, and Kyle Farnsworth With A Crossbow

These days, the Rays are the Yankees’ rivals every bit as much as the Red Sox are. So in the know-your-enemy spirit, and given all the renewed Rays interest sparked by friend-of-the-Banter Jonah Keri’s new book “The Extra 2%,” I figured I’d gather up some recent developments down in Tampa.

Yep.

First of all, Rays manager Joe Maddon is awesome. I’m sorry, but he is. I loved his golf pants efforts last season, and he’s still in full support of his players getting goofy with their personal appearance:

I might have preferred to get an “almost” in there before the “wherever,” but I applaud the sentiment. Although I think we’ve all seen by now that ballplayers hardly need much encouragement to grow fantastically horrible facial hair.

Last season, Maddon complained when the Trop’s bizarre house rules cost the Rays a run, after a pop-up hit one of those oddly placed catwalks and went for a single–saying the team needed “a real baseball field.” He subsequently apologized to the injured party via Twitter:

“most recent whine was my getting on Trop roof, have since apologized to said roof and r now on much better terms, maybe best ever…”   RaysJoeMaddon

Now, the Trop’s bizarre, byzantine ground rules are changing… or, rather, changing back to what they were before last fall’s Division Series. TampaBay.com explains, sort of:

At the request of Major League Baseball, the 2011 regular season ground rules pertaining to the catwalks at Tropicana Field will revert back to the language that was used during 2010 regular season. Tropicana Field’s ground rules were changed prior to the 2010 American League Division Series. 2011 Tropicana Field Ground Rules.

BULLPEN AREA
- Ball lodging on, under or in the bullpen seating area: OUT OF PLAY. A ball is deemed to be lodged when it goes in or behind equipment or seating or, in the umpire’s judgment, is deemed otherwise unplayable.
- Ball enters the bullpen seating area and rebounds out of the seating area: IN PLAY.
CATWALKS, LIGHTS AND SUSPENDED OBJECTS
- Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over fair territory:
- Batted ball that strikes either of the lower two catwalks, lights or suspended objects in fair territory: HOME RUN.
- Batted ball that is not judged a home run and remains on a catwalk, light or suspended object: TWO BASES.
- Batted ball that is not judged a home run and strikes a catwalk, light or suspended object in fair territory shall be judged fair or foul in relation to where it strikes the ground or is touched by a fielder. If caught by fielder, batter is out and runners advance at own risk.
- Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over foul territory: DEAD BALL
Previous rule:
- Batted ball strikes catwalk, light or suspended object over fair territory:
- Batted ball that strikes either of the lower two catwalks, lights or suspended objects in fair territory:
HOME RUN.
- Batted ball that strikes either of the upper catwalks, lights or suspended objects in fair territory: DEAD BALL and the pitch does not count. Any declaration of an Infield Fly after the hit shall be nullified.

You know what, Maddon was right the first time: that team does need to get themselves a real ballpark. Damn.

Finally, a Marc Topkin profile of our old frenemy and current devilish Ray Kyle Fransworth last week turned up several facts about the man of which I was not aware:

  • He lives in the Disney owned and operated town of Celebration, Florida.
  • He is a non-practicing Mormon.
  • He has been sober for the last two years, after some hard drinking in his younger days.

The article’s overall tone is generally one of “oh look, he’s not actually that terrifying, he bakes holiday cookies!” but it undercuts that point with details like this:

Farnsworth’s 2003 technically perfect pursuit, tackle and takedown, plus subsequent pummeling, of Reds pitcher Paul Wilson — captured in photographs and still-popular video — remains his greatest hit, though a similar 2005 tussle with Royals reliever Jeremy Affeldt is close.

“He went crazy wanting to fight everyone,” said Affeldt, now with the Giants. “I’ve been in the weight room with him after that working out, and there’s no bitterness. It’s like it never happened. Kind of weird.”

And:

That competitiveness and machismo thread runs through everything he does: high-intensity workouts, martial arts training, marksmanship, paint ball and his beloved hunting, as he switched from gun to crossbow five years ago to make it more challenging as he pursues deer, turkey and hogs on his 2,500-acre plot in Georgia that is his favorite getaway.

Sober cookie-baking Disney mormon or not, the image of Kyle Farnsworth running after a hog with a frigging crossbow is quite a vivid one.

8 comments

1 RagingTartabull   ~  Mar 15, 2011 1:10 pm

having him on the Yankees took years off my life, but by all accounts Farnsworth is actually a really decent guy in person.

and Celebration, Florida is the creepiest place on earth this side of Ocean Grove, NJ

2 Raf   ~  Mar 15, 2011 2:00 pm

Well, at least he has gotten that aspect of his life together, hooray for sobriety!

I'm not surprised that he let bygones be bygones WRT Affeldt. What's done is done, there isn't any need to harbor bitterness. Sometimes guys get into fights and become best friends after. It's a "nothing personal, just business" type of deal.

3 Just Fair   ~  Mar 15, 2011 2:13 pm

Joe Maddon can go jump in a lake.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 15, 2011 2:27 pm

Emma you rule.

3) Really? I like Maddon. LOL

5 Sliced Bread   ~  Mar 15, 2011 2:51 pm

Lord Kyle Farnswacker: When the ground hog sees Lord Farnswacker's shadow, there will be zero more weeks of ground hog. Cappice?

The Word Of The Farnswacker.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Mar 15, 2011 2:56 pm

I like the Rays, and almost respect them, but I won't completely respect them until they play home game baseball outside.

7 wcyankee   ~  Mar 15, 2011 3:26 pm

Is it me, or does Maddon look a little like DeNiro with white hair in that pic? Probably just me, but I see the craziest shit in pictures sometimes. And for the record, I give the Rays a little more credit nowadays.

8 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 15, 2011 3:32 pm

[5] If I ever needed to hire a personal bodyguard, I'd go with Farnsworth and his crossbow. You would have to be certifiably insane to go after that guy.

If the Rays played in any other division in baseball, I'd like them a lot more. As they don't, I give them a lot of respect, and will happily cheer for them to go .500 against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles. =)

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