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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Calcaterra: Evan Longoria says B.J. Upton, James Shields couldn’t get the Devil Rays mentality out of their heads

But does Shields Trust the Process™?

Evan Longoria… in this article from the Tampa Tribune... talks about how the team is all about clubhouse camaraderie and positive thinking and how everyone is on the same page with “The Rays Way.”  Part of why that is now? Because a couple of old holdovers from the pre-2008 Rays — the old Devil Rays –are gone:

“There was a lot of history with B.J. and Shields in this organization, and I think there were some things that were tough for them to get beyond,” Longoria said. “They were really the only ones that were left in here that were here before the Rays were in 2008 when we started to be the team that we are now. I think some of those things kind of stuck around, and as much as you try to instill the new way, some of those things, it was tough to get some of those thoughts out of their head.

... Know what keeps one from making such criticisms, however inadvertently? Not treating a baseball season as a grand tale in which there are necessarily good guys, bad guys, new beginnings and all the rest. It seems here that rather than have any actual criticism of his former teammates, Longoria was simply trying to fit the Tampa Bay Rays into some narrative, however contrived. Sportswriters are bad for this. But it seems that players do it too.

The District Attorney Posted: April 02, 2013 at 03:45 PM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: b.j. upton, evan longoria, james shields, rays

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   1. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4402351)
What a surprisingly dick move from Longoria. I mean, I can get it about B.J. Upton...the guy's reputation for loafing on occasion was definitely earned. But what did James Shield EVER do to be perceived as having a bad attitude? Or bad on-field performance? Have there ever been whispers about Shields in the past that I was unaware of?
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4402365)
I don't know, but I assume that Evan Longoria knows about a zillion times more about James Shields than you do.
   3. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4402373)
I don't know, but I assume that Evan Longoria knows about a zillion times more about James Shields than you do.
I wouldn't assume any such thing. I mean, it's possible, of course...but I've never heard even the slightest thing about Shields being problematic as a player in terms of either effort or clubhouse behavior. Maybe there's something there, but if so it comes out of nowhere. Everyone with a pair of eyes could see that B.J. Upton had some motivation issues, for example. Rumors about Scott Kazmir's questionable lifestyle decisions were rampant. But I've never heard nor read anything about Shields. And his numbers as a pitcher for Tampa Bay bear that out.

EDIT: And even so, it doesn't make it any less of a dick move.
   4. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4402382)
I suppose the "Rays Way" involves going down with major injuries for each of the last three seasons and resting on the laurels of your long-term contract.
   5. Dale Sams Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:37 PM (#4402390)
I would only add that the Rays went into Operation Shutdown in 2009 *and* 2011 (until their miracle comeback against the Royals jolted them). They were mailing it in. Maybe Shields was one of the more guilty...

I do recall the whole "Big Game James" thing was kind of a joke until...well...until it wasn't.
   6. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4402393)
That seems like an amazingly dumb thing to say.
   7. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4402396)
Even if there's some truth to his comment, what's the point of airing the dirty laundry? And some of his current teammates might be annoyed if they feel like they can't trust him.
   8. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4402404)
Even if there's some truth to his comment, what's the point of airing the dirty laundry?
This is where I come down.
   9. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4402407)
So a metal head with an affinity for classic Camaros and AK-47s doesn't get along with the black guys on the team? Weird.
   10. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4402409)
I think Calcaterra's read sounds about right. There's a reason why most players act so boring in interviews; it's probably the only way to stay out of trouble.
   11. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4402410)
So a metal head with an affinity for classic Camaros and AK-47s doesn't get along with the black guys on the team? Weird.
And yet Chipper still somehow managed to put together a Hall of Fame career...
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4402412)
James Shields is a black guy?
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4402413)
This seems really arrogant - he is kind of implying that this supposed Rays Way came into existence the precise moment he made the big league roster. Maddon got there in 2006, and most of the key pieces of the Rays turnaround 2008 team was also there before Longoria. BJ played almost his entire Rays career under Maddon, and Shields did play his entire Rays career with Maddon. They weren't established fat-cat veterans, they were young guys developing alongside Longoria in the Maddon system at almost same time.
   14. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4402417)
Maddon got there in 2006, and BJ played almost his entire Rays career under him, and Shields did play his entire Rays career with Maddon. They weren't established fat-cat veterans, they were young guys developing alongside Longoria in the Maddon system at almost same time.
And unlike Longoria, THEY weren't sitting pretty with megabucks long-term contracts guaranteeing them security until the end of time.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4402419)
So a metal head with an affinity for classic Camaros and AK-47s doesn't get along with the black guys on the team? Weird.


I'm not seeing the connection. I could see if you said a guy who had an affinity for pickups and country music. or a guy who plays recreational golf. Or a guy born in Georgia...those are the type of people I would associate with inherent racism...metal heads? Not seeing it. semms a large percentage of metal songs are anti racist (Anthrax, System of a Down, Iron Maiden, Rage against the Machine, etc) more than they would be pro-racism.

   16. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: April 02, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4402420)
And yet Chipper still somehow managed to put together a Hall of Fame career...


I think Craig has this about right. This is just clubhouse cliques carrying over into stupid narrative building. Evan Longoria didn't like BJ Upton. Chipper hated Yunel Escobar. Meh.
   17. The District Attorney Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4402424)
James Shields is a black guy?
He's both secretly Jewish and secretly black.
   18. Dale Sams Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4402426)
I find nothing strange about a guy who would jump out of a helicopter for a hat, not getting along with BJ Upton.
   19. Danny Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4402437)
I suppose the "Rays Way" involves going down with major injuries for each of the last three seasons and resting on the laurels of your long-term contract.

And unlike Longoria, THEY weren't sitting pretty with megabucks long-term contracts guaranteeing them security until the end of time.

Longoria's being stupid, but why do you keep saying this? Until he signed an extension after the 2012 season, Longoria was working under a contract that guaranteed him all of $17.5 million over 6 years. In comparison, Shields was guaranteed $11.3M over 4 years.
   20. Jim Wisinski Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4402439)
I don't know what the hell Longoria was trying to say here but whatever it was its disappointing that he said it
   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 02, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4402441)
This seems really arrogant - he is kind of implying that this supposed Rays Way came into existence the precise moment he made the big league roster.


Nah, it was the moment they removed the satanic portion of the moniker.

   22. robinred Posted: April 02, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4402471)
But it seems that players do it too.


Bill James wrote something to this effect about 30 years ago, one year when Reggie Jackson was doing some WS commentary back in the 80s and the issue also relates to his "Inside-Out" piece from that era. And, while it is easy to bag a little on Longoria for this, baseball players aren't generally big-picture baseball analysts. Maybe Longoria should check out Jonah Keri's book about the Rays FO. Longoria certainly knows a lot of things about Shields that we don't; that is true. But there are also a lot of things about Shileds that analysts know that Longoria doesn't know. Like B. James said back in those days, you can't always learn about the forest by asking one of trees.
   23. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 02, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4402473)
The original article says Zobrist is the last remaining Devil Ray. It's just a matter of time until Edwin Jackson comes back though, four-year contract or no.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: April 02, 2013 at 09:57 PM (#4402665)
I don't know what the hell Longoria was trying to say here but whatever it was its disappointing that he said it

There ya go. Thing is, I don't know what he was trying to say although everybody in this thread except Jim and I seems to know. Is he saying they were lazy? Is he saying they were self-centered? Is he saying they were jealous? Is he just saying they had gotten used to losing and so, when something went wrong, they had more the attitude of "here we go again" rather than "time for a comeback"? Is he saying they would not shut up about how much they missed Crawford and Gomes or what a great guy Brendan Harris was? Maybe it was just "that Shields dude is like over 30, he can't relate to the rest of us."

Yeah, probably not good and better to say nothing at all but I don't know what's meant by the old Devil Rays way and I'm not sure anybody else in this thread does either.

(Of course I didn't RTFA so if there's more in the article, sue me.)
   25. Esoteric Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:04 PM (#4402681)
Yeah, probably not good and better to say nothing at all but I don't know what's meant by the old Devil Rays way and I'm not sure anybody else in this thread does either.

(Of course I didn't RTFA so if there's more in the article, sue me.)
There IS more in the article, including Joe Maddon being queried later about Longoria's statements, and while I agree that it's all a bit vague the clear implication is yes, there's a contrast between the "we're born to be losers, every man for himself" Devil Rays 'way' and the new "we are a destination for talent, and a team-first organization proud of its achievement" Rays 'way.'

Maddon, interestingly, goes out of his way to disagree with Longoria about Shields (crediting him as one of the guys who was key to the franchise's turnaround)...but not B.J. Upton.
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:04 PM (#4402682)
But what did James Shield EVER do to be perceived as having a bad attitude? Or bad on-field performance? Have there ever been whispers about Shields in the past that I was unaware of?

This was my reaction, too. I suppose anything's possible, but the guy who was a 16th-round draft pick (although I think there were signability reasons for him falling that far; he had a free ride to LSU), missed an entire season in the minors after shoulder surgery, was never a top-ranked prospect, and now perennially ranks among the league leaders in innings (not to mention complete games and shutouts some years) isn't the first guy whose attitude I would question.
   27. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:32 PM (#4402711)
Well, I'm guessing Mr. Longoria ends up with a nice baseball stitch pattern his ass in his first game against the Royals...
   28. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4402726)
Nah, it was the moment they removed the satanic portion of the moniker.


Evan Longoria says B.J. Upton, James Shields couldn't get the Devil ... out of their heads!
   29. villageidiom Posted: April 02, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4402739)
Even if there's some truth to his comment, what's the point of airing the dirty laundry?
There really is very little separating all the AL East teams this year.
   30. Jim Wisinski Posted: April 03, 2013 at 02:25 AM (#4402871)
Maddon, interestingly, goes out of his way to disagree with Longoria about Shields (crediting him as one of the guys who was key to the franchise's turnaround)...but not B.J. Upton.


Where the heck are you seeing this? Maddon's sole statement in the Tribune article about the specific players:

Rays manager Joe Maddon said Upton and Shields were two of the reasons why the Devil Rays were able to morph into the Rays. Shields set the tone of the pitching staff, and Upton was a major part of every playoff run.

I was on break at work and on my phone when I posted earlier so I can write longer now.

It's a bizarre statement from Longoria and I hope for everyone involved that it doesn't get any more press and just fades away. He's obviously trying to say something like "Our strong clubhouse atmosphere and winning attitude will help us overcome the departures of key players and we can be even better going forward", which is cool and all, but he is bizarrely trying to tie in the old Devil Rays attitude and saying that two of the team's better players were bringing that with them still. It not only doesn't make any sense but it also comes across as nothing more than "We're better off without those guys anyway". Maddon always tries to handle internal business out of the eyes of the fans and media so it's not surprising to see him disagreeing but not chiding Longoria in public but I bet he has already sat him down to say that A) It's dumb to say stuff like that to the media, B) It's a bunch of crap, C) Whether it's true or not there's no benefit and only harm from kicking people on the way out the door. Also, Price was known to be close friends with Shields so I bet there has been some "Hey man, WTF?" between players about this.

If Shields and Upton brought the old Devil Rays attitude and were bringing down the team's ability to win they sure had strange ways of showing it in their first postseason. Shields gave up only 9 runs in 25 innings while Upton hit 7 home runs; not much negativity there. Shields always seemed very popular among his teammates, especially the other starting pitchers (plus he taught several other pitchers in the organization how to throw better changeups), and though Upton had his mistakes at times he seemed to be quite well-liked and was known as a very dedicated worker in practice. I can't imagine Longoria is going to find much support among his teammates for this.

The other strange thing about all this is the talk about the new guys buying in and that being key to the chances of future success. I get that it's great for the new players to accept the Rays Way and all but to imply that Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, and Shelley Duncan are more important to clubhouse chemistry than Shields and Upton ever were is ridiculous.
   31. billyshears Posted: April 03, 2013 at 04:36 AM (#4402876)
Longoria was simply trying to fit the Tampa Bay Rays into some narrative, however contrived. Sportswriters are bad for this. But it seems that players do it too.


All people do it. The whole "Evan Longoria is only criticizing BJ Upton and James Shield because he's trying to fit them into some sort of narrative" is a bit of a narrative. I mean, maybe those guys were lazy #####. Maybe Evan Longoria is full of ####. I can't take sides here because I have absolutely no inkling of whatever it is that Longoria is talking about. My only interest here is that I have each of those guys on my fantasy team, so I'd prefer that they focused more on the baseball playing.
   32. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:10 AM (#4402931)
Thing is, I don't know what he was trying to say although everybody in this thread except Jim and I seems to know.

I don't know, I think it's pretty clear. He's saying "they had gotten used to losing and so, when something went wrong, they had more the attitude of 'here we go again' rather than 'time for a comeback.'" IOW, "losing is a disease . . . as contagious as polio." And I actually agree with him to the extent that that culture can have a significant impact on a team. But singling out Shields and Upton is weird. They were both pretty young and had only been on the team for a short time when Longoria joined. And of course they both played key roles in the team's success from 2008-2012. And what about Zobrist? He's been on the team since 2006.

As noted above, it's also incredibly arrogant. He's suggesting that there was some magical turnaround in 2008, coincidentally the year he joined the team. But the seeds for 2008 had been planted long before (a lot of people thought 2007 was the year they'd break out), and many people deserve credit, especially Maddon and Friedman.
   33. Esoteric Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4403115)
I suggest that we resolve this with a spontaneous crucifixion. It's the only way to be sure.
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4403131)
It'll more likely be resolves with the Orioles or Toronto winning the division. (/ducks)
   35. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4403141)
I suggest that we resolve this with a spontaneous crucifixion.


Would that be like having the stigmata, except waaaaay more gruesome?
   36. bigglou115 Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4403166)
I'm not seeing the connection. I could see if you said a guy who had an affinity for pickups and country music. or a guy who plays recreational golf. Or a guy born in Georgia...those are the type of people I would associate with inherent racism...metal heads? Not seeing it. semms a large percentage of metal songs are anti racist (Anthrax, System of a Down, Iron Maiden, Rage against the Machine, etc) more than they would be pro-racism.


As somebody who literally fills every requirement you stated (assuming Arkansas is a valid stand-in for Georgia), I'm going to let that go for the health of the thread.

It may be a Southern thing. The guy who buys automatic rifles and listens to metal is more likely to be what we in the south refer to as a s***kicker, and they are closely associated with racism.

Also, if your Georgia born racist was born in Atlanta he's statistically more likely to be AA than white.
   37. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4403173)
or a guy who plays recreational golf


Recreational golfers are inherently racist? Where the hell did that come from?
   38. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4403179)
Possible likelihood of country club membership? No idea, really.
   39. The District Attorney Posted: April 05, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4405779)
Shields:
“It’s disappointing,” Shields said. “I’m a little bit surprised. Evan is a great player, but I really don’t know what he’s talking about. I really don’t, and I’m being honest with you … “I don’t know where he was coming from with that,” Shields said, “but, frankly, I really don’t care. I’m more worried about the Kansas City Royals, and what we’re doing here. I felt my time in Tampa Bay was a good time. I felt my leadership over there was sufficient. But I’m moving on. This is my team over here.”
   40. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4405854)
Recreational golfers are inherently racist? Where the hell did that come from?


This stuff cracks me up. The logic is 1) most golfers are rich white guys 2) rich white guys are inherently racist. No need for elaboration; a, therefore, b.

I guess since Upton and Shields couldn't let go of the "Devil" Ray mentality, we should assume that they are Satanists that resented the name change and refused to embrace the light.

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