This signing will have a huge impact
Sabermetric guys will laugh, stat guys will moan, but the Rays signing of Gabe Kapler will have an impact on this division next year. Gabe is not only a nice addition as an extra bat and OF, but his clubhouse presence is beyond measure. One of my all time favorite teammates, and people, this guy is a rock in the clubhouse.
He brings a ton of veteran qualities but beyond that he’s a stabilizer. He is one of the guys that never allows a clubhouse, or team, to go too high, or too low. He’s much more unique than many think or believe, just ask the guys that were here with him, ask the Brewers teammates he played with last year.
The only fear for a team like Tampa is a letdown in my opinion, not having guys in that clubhouse to push and make them understand that going out this year and being mediocore makes last year a fluke. I never wanted to be on a team or thought of as a fluke, since that denotes luck beyond skill. Gabe, and Pat Burrell, are going to help that team be good again next year. Not to mention Joe Maddon is a truly good guy. I’ve known him for 20-plus years and he’s a major reason I was even discovered. I don’t know what kind of manager he is but I’ve heard nothing that would make me not want to play for him or think it wouldn’t be a blast.
If they can stay healthy and compete again they can truly turn this division into a three-team show, and that would be a good thing.
Oh and another thing. This is why it’s now different here. These guys just do things right, professionally and players pay attention and notice.
“In November, Smoltz sent a video to teams he was interested in playing for, throwing in a bullpen and chucking a football. The Red Sox were impressed, so they sent front office representative Ben Cherington, trainer Mike Reinold, and pitching coach John Farrell to Atlanta to watch him pitch. “Even for a guy who’s been in the big leagues for 21 years,” Smoltz said, “That really impressed me.”
You have to understand how big that is. Laugh it off but it’s real and few teams put that personal of a touch to things. I promise after John talked to John Farrell Boston became a much more realistic option. Meeting and talking to him you get real fast that this guy is wired so differently than pretty much any coach, front office person you’ve ever been around.
“Smoltz attended the Celtics game last night, and in the third quarter, they flashed his face on the Jumbotron. “It blew me away,” Smoltz said.”
It happens in other places I know, but it’s special and things like that make memories for a lifetime. 1993 at a Flyers game it happened to me and I’ll never forget it. Fans make moments like these in rare places, but they impact players.