Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How Bout Them Bulls

It’s official, I love the Tampa Devil Rays, or, more specifically, the D-Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls. The team that once featured Nuke LaLoosh, has moved onto bigger and better things. At the beginning of the year I was thrilled to see Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young and BJ Upton all on the same roster. For one thing, they are all extremely talented athletes, and for another thing,

Dukes + Young + Upton + hot weather + living in Durham + Devil Rays organization = anger…deep seeded anger.

Elijah Dukes past antics have been well documented on this site. To summarize, he has been arrested twice before age eighteen, and five times since joining the Devil Rays. He consistently shows up late or misses practices/games, and has attended many anger management classes. In other words, imagine Milton Bradley…on a bad day…with hemorrhoids, multiply that by five and you end up with Dukes. And he has made headlines once again—suspended indefinitely for the remainder of the season for an unspecified reason. Yet, it was only a matter of time before Dukes joined his AAA Durham Bull teammates in community service in 2006. Earlier this year, stud Delmon Young threw a bat at an umpire and was suspended fifty games. Just last week, another uber-prospect BJ Upton got a DUI. He is expected to appear in court on August 1st. I am pretty curious to know what Dukes did this year to be suspended indefinitely. After all, if Young can throw a bat at an umpire and “only” be suspended fifty games, Dukes must have done something awful.

Some possibilities:

1) Dukes beats fan mercilessly with brass knuckles after fan confuses Dukes, with another Duke (below) of the Pittsburg Pirates.

2) Dying of hunger during the seventh inning stretch, Dukes decides to eat Wool E. Bull, and Lucky the Wonder Dog.

3) Strange things are afoot at DBAP (Durham Bulls Athletic Park). Dukes caught in Cleveland Steamer fiasco.

But seriously now, I feel bad for even speculating about Elijah committing such deeds. He is one of my favorite players. In fact, I love reading about the Durham Bulls more than most Major League teams. Not to say that I condone such behavior, but there’s nothing better than when a player says/does what he’s not supposed to do. As Crash says to Nuke in Bull Durham, “it’s time you started working on your interviews…learn your clichés…study them…know them.” And there is something eerily true about this statement. Pick up the paper--this is all the crap you hear from athletes. As Minor Leaguers, Young and Dukes make ESPN headlines not for their ability (which is ESPN worthy), but, instead, for their behavior. Attendance is up in Durham this year for a reason. It’s kind of like a reality show down there in Durham, you never know what’s going to happen next. Even manager John Tamargo is getting into the action. He was suspended for ten games earlier this year for bumping an umpire.

The best thing about all this is that the player’s getting into trouble, are all really fucking good. So good, that despite all their off and on the field issues, that, eventually, all three will be in the big leagues. If not with the D-Rays, with another team. I used to debate with my friend about who has the “toughest” team in baseball. It won’t be much of a debate in 2008: Young, Dukes, Upton, and Jonny Gomes are quite a fierce foursome.

I pray for thee public relations people of Tampa Bay in 2008, you are in for a good one.


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