The big kid out of North Carolina was hailed as The Natural. The Rays selected him first overall in the 1999 draft and paid him a $4 million signing bonus. After some early success in the minors, Josh Hamilton was hit by a rash of injuries, then fell into a black hole of drug abuse. He was reportedly in rehab eight times from 2003 to 2005. Then he got clean, and started working his way back up. This year, the Rays, who had nurtured their Natural for more than a half decade, left Hamilton off their 40-man roster, which allowed him to be drafted by other teams. He ended up with the Cincinnati Reds and came out hot this season, winning National League Rookie of the Month in April. Hamilton went on the injured list, and when he returned his numbers tapered off some, but he was still a productive ma-jor league player with a terrific upside. Even if his career ended today, the Reds will have gotten more out of him than the Rays. Why our local team put such care and feeding into a potential phenom, only to let him get snatched away for nothing in return, well, it just dont make no sense.
You dont have to act like a politician if you have a solid record upon which to run. Unfortunately for Miller, she needed to tap dance a bit in her umpteenth re-election campaign. Actually, her campaign more closely resembled a third-grade class president contest. She flip-flopped on property tax reform about a dozen times, seeming not to remember whether she was for it or against it. (Were still not really sure, even now.) She pronounced that her biggest accomplishment was lending her always-reliable yes vote to Mayor Pam Iorio on command. Despite all that and losing the editorial recommendation of the Times to opponent Joe Redner! Miller squeaked by for yet another term.
Tampas community access station TBCN, known for its anything-goes culture, garnered national attention for a run-in on The Bleepin Truth, produced and hosted by Chris Krimitsos. A guest, token Republican Tony Katz, squared off in a debate against Joe Redner, a fel-low whos been known to get under peoples skin. When Joe called Katz fat, well that did it: Katz stormed off the set, hurling profani-ties at the renowned strip club owner. And he threw more than indelicate words; he also launched a wicker stool that hit Redners shoulder and nicked his ear. bleepintruth.com.
You could make the argument that calling Devil Rays games on TV is a thankless job, seeing as the team loses about two games for every one win. But we should thank Staats and Magrane for making Rays telecasts watchable and most of the time entertaining. The pair clearly has a home-team bent thats pretty much part of the job description but they handle it with finesse. Further, both are adept at boiling down the games nuances and micro-strategies in ways that can be understood by the casual fan. Theyre funny in a dry, and sometimes obscure, kind of way. And they seem to be genuinely enjoying their time together in the booth.
In the chatter-filled weeks leading up to the NFL draft, geeks and pundits thought Tampa Bay, picking fourth, had a good shot at getting freakishly talented wide receiver Calvin Johnson. If Johnson happened to get grabbed up because of his superstar potential, the thinking was that the Bucs would have a shot at a beast of a left tackle, Joe Thomas. It didnt work out that way. Detroit grabbed Johnson; Cleve-land took Thomas, and that left the Bucs with defensive end Gaines Adams from Clemson. The kids a talented pass rusher, but he simply did not merit a fourth overall pick. The Bucs, as draft experts like to say, did not get enough value. Certainly, Adams has the po-tential to become a star, but he also has the potential to become a bust. During preseason, he got pushed around and looked lost. But hey, it was only preseason, right?
Boxers Winky Wright, Jeff Lacy and Antonio Tarver dominated Tampa Bay badassery until last year, when each experienced signifi-cant career setbacks. Its time to hand over the badass award to a mixed martial artist. The sport often called MMA is experienc-ing a boom in popularity internationally, and that includes Tampa Bay. Berto stands 5 foot 9 and weighs 154 pounds. Unlike a lot of MMA practitioners who try to wrestle their opponents to the ground and hug them to death, Berto likes to throw punches and kicks. Af-ter dominating the local Real Fighting Championships, he won two matches on the national scene this year as part of the Elite XC se-ries. The 24-year-old transplanted Haitian is a nice guy with a winning smile, but did we mention that you shouldnt mess with him?
First it was his belief that he was justified in pushing county workers to clean up the lake next to his home ahead of many, many other lakes that are polluted. Then it was his fight with a fellow commissioner who dared suggest the board might want to freeze their own salaries in the current budget crisis. Then it was his double-speak on the issue of wetlands protections, pretending to hug the envi-ronment while trying to gut laws and lay off regulators. One thing I found in politics is there is no way that you can make everybody happy, Blair said at a recent public meeting, but if we find some type of compromise and we work together, we can do wonderful things for this community. Yeah, we buy that.
See above. Despite Redners assurances that he was willing to brave criticism to get people to vote in the runoff election (for either can-didate, just be sure to vote, he proclaimed), the gambit served to remind folks that Hey, this guys owns strip clubs, an image that hed worked hard to overcome. In the end, as ostensibly civic-minded as it may have been, the stunt helped defeat Redner, who lost his clos-est race for public office in nine tries. Oh, and a few dozen people redeemed their I Voted stickers for a more visual experience than voting.
Hardcore conservatives have to be mad enough to choke a dog at the way Republican Charlie Crist governs: an awful lot like a progres-sive would. First, the governors property tax reform proposal was softer than the Houses, which called for a drastic paring back of government in Florida. Then he ordered an end to electronic voting and called for (gasp!) paper ballots. Finally, he held an environ-mental summit in Miami, convinced California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to attend and drew national attention by calling for stricter changes to Florida environmental policies to forestall global warming: tighter pollution limits for power plants; better building codes for efficiency; 20 percent of Floridas power from renewable resources such as solar and wind. The environmental initiatives prompted one conservative blogger to write on PEER Review: Today, Florida conservatives met Gov. Hyde. The rest of Florida, however, seems very happy with Jekyll and Hyde, giving both approval ratings in the 70s. No wonder Time magazine headlined its story about Crist Undoing Jeb Bush in Florida.