Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beleaguered D-Rays Manager Maddon Admits Team “Will Never Be Any Good”

Compares Ballclub to Frozen Pizza In Post-Season Press Conference

Tampa, FL (Oct. 12) - Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon, speaking candidly during the team’s annual post-season evaluation with the media, finally admitted what has been on the minds of baseball fans everywhere.

“Look, I gotta be honest with you guys – and gals,” Maddon said in his office beneath Tropicana Field, addressing the guys – and gals – of the media crowded in there with him yesterday. “The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been in the majors since 1998, and, well …,” Maddon said, shrugging his shoulders and giving reporters a “You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?” look.

When no reporter would finish the sentence for him, Maddon sighed and said, “Do I have to spell it out for you guys – and gals? When I took this job a couple years ago, I guess I was like every other manager who’s come through here. I thought I could make a difference.

“But the Devil Rays are like frozen pizza: we’ll never be any good.”

Johnny Gomes, one of the promising Rays stars, loses a fly ball in his bubble gum

Maddon spoke in the wake of his second season at the helm in Tampa, seasons in which his clubs finished last (“Naturally,” Maddon said) with records of 61-101 in 2006 and 66-96 in 2007. Since entering MLB in ’98, Tampa has never had a winning record, nor ever come close. The D-Rays’ average record in ten years of existence is 64-98.

Citing those numbers, Maddon seemed almost sheepish and apologetic with reporters.

“I mean, come on – let’s call it for what it is. We stink. We always have stunk, and we always WILL stink. I just can’t keep putting on this charade with you, or our thousands of fans who nearly pack section 117 every other night.”

Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon concludes his post-season press conference, in which he admitted the team will once again be bad in 2008

Maddon’s remarks were somewhat surprising. Because even though the D-Rays had another miserable season, it’s generally accepted that the team has a lot of young, promising talent. But even Maddon’s players seemed all-too-willing to accept their skipper’s assessment.

“He said that? Well, I think he’s pretty much right on the mark,” said outfielder B.J. Upton, one of the promising young players. A reporter pointed out that he was one of the bright spots on the team, but Upton dismissed it.

“Bright spot, shmight spot,” Upton fired back. “Y'all know the drill. Some of us so-called ‘promising players’ will go sideways and fall off the map. Then our veterans will get washed up, and whoever’s left will have their spirit broken by all the losing. What team have you been watching all these years, anyway?”

Devil Rays fans – most of whom gathered in a popular coffee shop across from Tropicana Field – seemed to respect Maddon’s candor.

“Finally, someone of authority with the Rays said it!,” said Lenny Rollins, 28, who’s been a D-Ray fan ever since the team’s inception. “They’ve only been kidding themselves. Everyone knows they’ll never be any good. Kudos to Joe Maddon. They should keep him around for a long time!”

Melissa Benning of St. Petersburg only started watching the Rays this summer (“On a dare,” she said), but it didn’t take long for her to form an opinion.

“Oh, it was like, SO obvious. I watched, like, two innings, and I’m like, ‘I am SO sure!’ They are like, REALLY bad,” the 22-year-old cocktail waitress said at the coffee house, whose southwest corner table was packed with Rays fans. “And now I hear their coach/manager guy says they’re bad? And he’s been here TWO YEARS? Where has he BEEN?”

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig released a statement in light of Maddon’s remarks, a portion of which read, “While we are somewhat surprised to learn of Joe Maddon’s assessment of his team and its future, we nonetheless are thankful that he has been forthcoming with the Devil Rays fans and said what this office has been unable – though not unwilling – to say about that organization, which clearly is one of the worst in baseball.”

Maddon, who despite his scathing comments will return for his third season at the helm in 2008, offered a final jab at his team before packing up his things for the winter.

“See all you guys – and gals – in spring training,” he said. “As if it’s going to matter!”

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