Guess we'll have to wait another 2 years for Jesus Rays

No name change in '07 for Devil Rays.

Although the organization hints it will pick a new moniker for '08. How about Not-DRays?


Bucs Bits

- Rich Gannon advises Chris Simms to run more often. Wonder if Gannon also mentioned how that strategy worked out for him?

- The Tribune also reports Saints are still interested in trading Dwight Smith to the Bucs. The trade was originally nixed because the Bucs didn't want to pay the roughly $1 million in salary Smith would make this season, but with the new salary cap deal the trade is more feasible.

- Interesting quote from Kenyatta on whether or not he's feeling the pressure to perform this offseason.

"If I'm not playing well, believe me, they're going to try to find somebody else to put in there."

Has anyone told 'Yatta Gruden drafted Trueblood in the second round?

We're gonna need a bigger boat

Hope everyone enjoyed their Memorial Day holiday but the weekend is almost over and it's time to get back to work.

So on that note I bring to you a fish story that has to be seen to be believed.

Captain Dennis, a fishing guide in Port Charlotte, caught the 1,280-pound, 14.5-foot hammerhead over nearly six hours Tuesday, during which the shark dragged his 23-foot skiff about 12 miles out to sea. It grabbed his bait, a hefty stingray, around noon in Boca Grande Pass, famous for tarpon fishing.

I'm not sure what motivates somebody to go fishing for sharks as big as your boat especially since it worked out so well for Robert Shaw.

(hat tip to The Sports Economist)


Movin' on up

After 30 years in One Buc Place the Bucs are moving into new digs sometime after training camp ends in August. And considering One Buc Place has roaches with more muscles than Martin Gramatica this is a good thing. Some of the highlights of the $35 million training facility include:

  • 145,000 square feet, thrice the size of One Buc Place
  • Locker and weight rooms twice the size of the old ones
  • 4,000 square feet auditorium
  • Dining room and kitchen
  • Coach's studio and draft room(?)
  • Adjacent to Raymond James stadium
  • Two side-by-side enclosed practice fields with lights
  • Giant steel and glass egg

Carl Crawford (still) wants to be on your fantasy team

Some guys play for money. Others play for fame. But Carl Crawford just wants to be the best fantasy player he can be.

Following an uber-fantasy game (stats below) DRays teammate Casey Fossum commented, "If you have him on your fantasy baseball team, I guess you're jumping up and down right now."

Which seemed like an odd quote for a baseball player to give until I remembered this Crawford gem from before the season.

"Nobody recognizes me. Ninety percent of the guys who picked me first in their drafts don't even know what I look like. But you know what? Putting up big fantasy numbers is part of what motivates me out there. That's another thing to play for."

The DRays are slowly morphing into the 2004 Rams, fantasy gangbusters but underperformers on the field. Then again the DRays are so young maybe they all have fantasy teams. In which case they might actually have a shot of winning something this year.

Crawford: 5-5, 5 hits, 2 RBI, 1 HR, 4 SB


Bulls and Bears

Considering the latest news Michael Clayton is almost certain to have a better year than last season (not that it would be hard to do). Which got me thinking, who would have a better season compared to last and who's production might slip next? Of course, if you disagree or have another Buc I did not mention whom you would like to bring up you know what to do.

Bull: Clayton (372 yds, 0 TDs)

No doubt about it, Clayton was a dissapointment last season. But we can expect greater things out of him this year for three reasons. First, he's healthy. Second, he's signed a pledge. Third, he's being pushed by Maurice Stovall.

Bear: Joey Galloway (1287 yds, 10 TDs)

If Clayton is going to have a better season then it stands to reason that Galloway's production has to drop...a bit. Galloway surprised many people, including yours truly, with his play last season. I don't see that happening again this season.

Bull: Alex Smith (367 yds, 2 TDs)

Anyone else remember when Smith caught two touchdowns in his first game and everyone thought we had the next Antonio Gates? Gruden made Smith work his way into the line up the rest of the season and didn't pass Smith the ball until late in the season. Smith has proven himself to Gruden and should improve on his performance this year.

Bear: Simeon Rice (33 tackles, 14 sacks)

One year older, and one year closer to retirement for Rice. A speed rusher on the wrong side of 30 Rice is bound to see to his production diminish, especially with the emergence of DeWayne White.

Bull: Chris Simms (2035 yds, 10 TDs, 7 ints)

Yeah, I know...this is the obvious choice. Simms (and the rest of the Bucs) should benefit from the growing pains Simms went through last season. Although I will use this opportunity to mention this is the third straight season the Bucs have started the season with a different quarterback. If Simms doesn't produce this season Gruden has got some explaining to do.

Bear: Derrick Brooks (93 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 int)

Much like Rice, Brook's advantage has been his speed. Much like Ray Lewis, Brooks is bound to see his production decrease even while his accolades continue to pour in. But like Lewis if Ruud and some of the other Bucs linebackers start making plays then nobody will notice.


All this Barbaro love is coming dangerously close to beastality

I was one of the 100,000+ people in attendance at the debauchery called Preakness and I could care less what happens to Barbaro. Don't get me wrong, it would be a good thing if Barbaro survived but I'm not about to start hoping and praying a horse makes it through the next couple of days.

Which is why I have to wonder what motivates people to make signs for a horse? Are you hoping the horse knows how to read?

Anyway, as I mentioned I attended Preakness in Baltimore and fortunately I was not arrested while asking a police officer for directions.

The two things which make Preakness so entertaining (unlimited beer and no law enforcement) also make it a powder keg just waiting to explode. The infield of the Preakness is more akin to a giant all-day tailgate than a horse race, and the difference between the infield and the rest of the race track could not be more stark. Mud wrestling, beer slides and flashers were not uncommon fare on Saturday. I fully expect something really bad to happen at Preakness in the next couple of years. Of course all that will not stop me from attending again next year.

Unlimited beer, lax security and meatheads are always a good combination

Barber's future with Bucs remains in doubt

The Times reported this on Sunday but I will mention it again here, the Bucs are interested in reaching a contract extension with Ronde Barber. Barber is signed through the end of next season but would command more money from another team (think Dexter Jackson to the Cardinals or Bengals).

Training camp opens July 27th and the Bucs would like to bang out a new contract with Barber before then. With Penn State CB Zemaitis now on the roster it will be interesting to see if the two sides can reach an agreement.

Tribune looking for a few good bloggers

The Tampa Tribune, in their ongoing game of catchup with the St Pete Times, is now embracing blogs. In fact they've gone one step farther than the Times and are looking for an individual interested in blogging the Bucs for the Tribune.

Are you a die-hard Bucs fan who knows the team inside and out? Would be just as comfortable ripping them for a bad third-down call, as you would giving them props for shaking up their lineup or cutting that once-valuable veteran?

TBO.com is looking for a fan who would like to contribute a Bucs blog to our growing list of sports and entertainment blogs. We're looking for some good, clean content (with a little attitude sprinkled in) that will engage our rabid base of Bucs readers in a lively online discussion of all things Bucs.

They had me up until the good, clean content. Oh well, maybe next year.

The Best Bucs Blog is looking for a few good cheerleaders


EA Sports hates me having a life

Much like Pavlov's dogs my mouth starts drooling at the mention of Madden. Last year I left work just to buy Madden the first day it came out. I'll even admit to watching that horribly contrived ESPN show of the same name.

Which is why my heart skipped a beat when I saw these screen shots for the latest edition in the franchise.


(Tip of the hat to Dave)

Boston in Tampa

Problem child and often injured receiver David Boston was in Tampa to work out for the Bucs yesterday. After several stud seasons in Arizona, Boston fell off the map with his move to Miami.

Could this be another reclamation project by Gruden?

Reggie Bush good for business

Saints set season ticket sales record.

Which is truly amazing considering only 40% of New Orleans pre-Katrina population has returned to the city (even if that returning population is largely middle class).


I got your cheerleaders right here

I've basically been goaded into mentioning this, but then again I'm a glutton for goadenment. Beginning next month the NFL Network extends its foray into reality tv (which I hear is all the rage) with "Making the Squad", which follows around a group of young nubiles trying out to become Bucs cheerleaders.

This show airs next month on the NFL Network...which I do not have. There's only one station I'll pay extra to get, HBO. Which means I will not be able to comment on the entertainment provided by bouncing bosoms, catfights, and naked pillow parties...sadly.

And Scott, ask and ye shall receive.

Gannon imparting Chicken McNuggets of wisdom

Former Bucs whipping boy Rich Gannon has been in Tampa to help tutor the young quarterbacks on the roster. Gannon's message to Simms and the rest...stay healthy. Quoth the former Raider:

"That's really your value to a football team, to be a consistent performer and be a guy who takes care of himself physically and mentally, a guy who understands not only his strengths but also his limitations."

...and to not get trucked by Derrick Brooks.

How about you quit being tools...

Somewhere in his ramblings Tom mentioned that the Bucs official message board is looking for suggestions to make the site better. Since I've been banned from there for mentioning Ron Mexico, I'll use this site to offer my own advice...quit being a bunch of giant, completely useless douchebags.

Comparing that board to Soviet Russia would be an insult to Stalin's intelligence. Example, a quote from one of that board's moderators in response to a perfectly innocent and reasonable question about the why the moderator banned a member for something the moderator was also guilty of:

DeadEagle, you have been a member here since 2004. You know very well that the Mods and Admin ALWAYS have used sig lines. We are, per definition, not members here.

In the future, if you have any questions regarding the rules, PM a Mod. Do not question the rules in public again. This is a favor as much as a warning.

Ahh, the foundation of an open and honest message board...censorship and dogmatic obedience to the rules. It's like 1984 all over again.


This explains that Kurt Warner thing

As if I needed further evidence Ricky Proehl is the devil, just check out his career receptions number...666.

Proehl left the Rams for the Panthers in 2003. Kurt Warner was replaced by Marc Bulger in 2003. The Panthers made the Super Bowl in 2003. Coincidence?

Not a chance.

Will Joseph hold out?

From the every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining file, Reggie Bush has announced the last thing he wants to do is hold out for a few extra dollars. While this dashes any hope of Bush pulling a Cedric Benson, it does make it more likely Buc's first round pick Davin Joseph will not hold out.

If we can take a trip in the wayback machine, Cadillac made a very similar demand a year ago. Cadillac badly wanted to be at the Orlando training camp but had to first wait for his agent, Ben Dogra, to finish a contract. Dogra didn't finish negotiations until shortly after midnight on the first day of training camp. Of course, that didn't prevent Cadillac from jumping in his car during the wee hours of the morning and making the commute out to Orlando to be with his new team.

"He got in about 3 o'clock," said roommate Michael Clayton. "And at 6:30 he jumped right out of bed because I had the alarm set and he said, 'Let's go to work Mike.' He's hungry. Guys like that always show up on time."

If there were questions about whether Bush's first year would be as successful as Cadillac's or as disappointing as Benson's this can be considered as evidence for the former. But what effect will this have on the Buc's ability to sign Joseph?

First off, I would be surprised if Joseph held out. He seems like a high character guy, which would indicate he is unlikely to sit out of training camp. But even the best intentioned player can fall victim to bad advice from a greedy agent.

Last year (with the notable exception of Cadillac) we saw a higher than normal number of first round draft picks hold out for more money. The problems started with the top of the draft class, notably first pick Alex Smith, whose contract negotiations dragged on much longer than they should have because Smith thought he was worth more than the 49ers wanted to pay him (and he hasn't been so far).

But this year's first pick, Mario Williams, has already agreed to a contract, and the second pick is eager to work a contract out. We still have another two months before training camps begin but I expect to see fewer holdouts this year than last. Although I'm sure the Falcon's first pick, Jimmy Williams, will prove to be the exception to that prediction.


More Fun/Anti-Fun with Google

Stealing an idea from the vastly entertaining EDSBS, let's look at some of the results from Google's latest toy, Trends. Although I will add the side note that I can only half enjoy Google since they are helping suppress human rights in China (commie-sympathizing, money-grubbing yellow-bellied bastards). Top ten searches by location for "Bucs".

  1. St. Petersburg
  2. Tampa
  3. Sarasota
  4. Gainesville
  5. Orlando
  6. Tallahassee
  7. Des Moines
  8. Birmingham
  9. Baltimore
  10. Jacksonville

First off, suck it Tampa. Suck it long, and suck it hard. St. Petersburg is more technologically savy than you bunch of inbreeding, cow-tipping rednecks (either that or St Petersburgites are wasting more time on frivolous Google searches).

Second, what the hell is Des Moines doing at seven?

Some more fun/anti-fun with Google Trends...

Top city for searching "Gruden": Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Top city for "Ron Mexico": Albuquerque

Top cities for "herpes": New York, Mexico City, Atlanta


The Rundown

Dusting off a rarely used gimmick, the Best Bucs Blog boldly brings (isn't alliteration fun?) you some of the best posts from around the web. (And yes, I should probably start using a new picture for The Rundown but the current one is just so satisfying.) Let's get this jalopy moving!

Have to agree with Rays Index, much like Sapp and Keyshawn before him, we have to love/hate Delmon Young as long as he's a DRay. Of course that does not mean Young loves us back. Fandom, it's a one way street.

And while we're on the subject of baseball...hey, it's another column about Barry Bonds and the Babe. Except this one is full of wild inaccuracies and fatal flaws. (Good job Tampa Tribune, NOT.)

Has anyone else been really confused by Under Armour's latest "click clack" ad campaign? Mighty MJD has all the juicy details. Let's just say I'm not surprised that the ad campaign comes out of Baltimore.

Now if you'll excuse me Scrubs is about to start.


Wanted: Fact checkers in the UK

On the heels of Scott's UK Times find comes a bit of laziness from a local newspaper. The following are recent headlines about the Bucs newest quarterback from the St Pete Times and Tampa Tribune.

Marino, Montana, Namath ... Gradkowski?
Times (6/7)

Namath, Montana, Marino ... Gradkowski?
Tribune (6/8)


Another page from the theater of the absurd

In a decision fueled entirely by commercialism Reggie Bush has petitioned the oddly named NFL Competition Committee to allow him to wear the number 5. In any other alternate universe this would be utterly un-noteworthy news except as yet another example of the crotchety old guy-ism of the NFL. But SI hack Peter King, proving once again he has lost all sense of journalistic objectivity, takes up the case in favor of Bush.

King lists five reasons why the NFL should rule in favor of Bush, but in the interest of entertainment I will skip ahead to the fifth point of absurdity.

5. Helping Katrina victims. Bush is smart. Ornstein is shrewd. How about if Ornstein calls a member or two of the Competition Committee and says, "Look, Reggie will take half of his proceeds from jersey sales this year and give them to Katrina relief. Think about it. That's maybe $750,000. It might be a million. You know how far 750K goes in the Gulf Coast? It'll rebuild seven houses in the Lower Ninth Ward -- if they ever get around to having a plan for the reconstruction there.''

My complaint with King's piece lies not in his pom-pom waving for the reconstruction of New Orleans (a noble effort), but in the manner which Cheerleader King waves his pom-poms. King throws impartiality to the wind, and in the process literally puts words in someone else's mouth. The reconstruction of New Orleans has become King's latest one man crusade (at least until T.O.'s next rant) and King shows no remorse freely volunteering other people's money towards the cause. Perhaps if King has ever demonstrated his own commitment to the cause, his words would carry more weight.

In all fairness, King does not completely deserve to be the object of ridicule. In an article for Sports Illustrated magazine King writes on how the mantle of savior of New Orleans is being placed on Bush's shoulders. In a piece of anecdotal evidence, King describes how the Saints ticket sales phone lines (all 8 of them) where immediately busy after the Bush selection on Draft Saturday. Turning to more concrete evidence, the Saints sold 34,000 season tickets last season. The most season tickets the Saints have ever sold was 54,000 in 2001. So it will be interesting to see how many season tickets the Saints sell for this season.

Oh, and while we are on the subject I will guarantee that Bush's jersey (no matter what numbers he gets) will be the number one selling jersey this offseason.


Happy Birthday to us

If you'll excuse our self indulgence for a moment, today we celebrate the Best Bucs Blog's one year birthday. Actually our birthday was four days ago (May 3rd), but we've never been sticklers about details here. We'd like to think we've come a long way since the drunken bar bet which led to the creation of this one horse website, but that would be giving into our delusions of grandeur. Ahhhh screw it, this blog is the best thing to happen to the Bucs since the invention of the forward pass. Consider yourself lucky I even bother to wake up in the morning...sometimes.

Normally, we are supposed to be the ones receiving presents but as a wise man one said, "yada, yada, yada," or something to that effect. Enjoy the You Tube goodness.


Why is the NBA better than the NFL?

For the last couple of days I have struggled to find the most apt words to describe why the NBA Playoffs are more compelling (although not more exciting) than the NFL's postseason. But then I stumbled upon this nugget of wisdom from the folks over at FreeDarko.com.

If this series revealed much about LeBron, it’s also taught me about my own relationship with basketball. Increasingly, I’m coming to realize that I don’t watch basketball, but instead watch people playing basketball.

Basketball is as much a drama as it is an athletic competition, we watch it for the individuals, the LeBrons and Kobes. But if we watch people playing basketball, when it comes to the NFL we are simply watching football.

Perhaps this has more to do with the emphasis on team play in the NFL or the helmets which hide players from us, but the NFL is missing out on something by its stubborn refusal to allow players to express their individuality. Whether it's through fining players for wearing different colored socks or penalizing them for celebrating after a touchdown, the NFL has continually attempted to supress free expression among its players lest one of them offend Joe Sixpack.

Take Chad Johnson, the best thing to happen to the NFL since Ickey Woods. Johnson made last season infinitely more enjoyable (and if you disagree on this we can't be friends) and how does the NFL respond? The same way Congress would, by implementing obscure regulations to limit freedom of expression. (If you don't think I'm rooting for C.J. this season simply to see his TD celebrations you're crazy.)

Maybe you feel differently, and don't think the NFL needs to change anything else other than a few minor rules. After all, there's got to be some reason the NFL is the king of the hill in America. But me, I look at the NFL and see all this unfulfilled potential, an ability to make the league more interesting than its current cookie cutter blandness.

That was fast

According to his agent, Steve McNair has reached a deal with the Ravens, in theory, for a signing bonus of $11 M and a base salary of $1 M. I write "in theory" because McNair is still property of the Titans who are trying to obtain a fourth round pick in exchange for the quarterback. Ravens have so far stopped short at offering a fifth rounder.

Stopping short isn't always a pickup move

Considering the Falcons gave away a first rounder for John Abraham, a fourth rounder isn't a lot to ask for. Hell, the Browns traded Dilfer away for a seventh rounder and a bag of chips. Safe to say McNair doesn't carry the same amount of water he used to in the league.

Note to Titans management, please feel free to slow down this process. Take a couple days or months...really, as long as you need to make your decision. It would give me something to talk about and would give McNair less time to become familiar with the Raven's offense.


Quoth the Raven, "WTF?"

With the draft excitement having come and gone, we have little to quench our thirst for the rest of this desert trek they call the offseason. With that in mind, we (and by we, we mean I, the royal we) plan on following the quarterback drama unfolding in Baltimore, including the latest and oddest turn involving a two year old. Read on...

An accident could prompt the Tennessee Titans to part ways with quarterback Steve McNair sooner than they would like.

The Titans' Michael Waddell will be sidelined four to six months after suffering a knee injury while playing with his 2-year-old son, leaving Tennessee short on depth and experience at cornerback.

To make a free-agent signing, the Titans likely would have to release McNair, who counts $23 million against their salary cap. Tennessee is reportedly $112,000 under the cap.

The Raven's courthship of McNair should be the writing on the wall for Kyle Boller. Boller, a first round pick in 2003, has been given more chances than he should have and has failed to meet expectations each and every time. McNair, a shell of the player who carried his team to the Super Bowl in '99, is still a better quarterback than Boller.


Who's hot for teacher?

Few tasks are as pointless and arbitrary as assigning grades less than a week after the draft. But that doesn't stop Mel Kiper Jr. and the rest from doing just that every year. And honestly I don't blame them, people are still going to read and bitch about draft grades. And as long as we keep reading them Mel Kiper Jr. will keep writing them. It's like one big never ending circle jerk.

And in that spirit I bring you the Buc's draft grades from around the web and both ends of the spectrum. On one end we have Mel Kiper Jr. who takes his grades far too seriously while providing little reasoning for the grade. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Dr. Z, who injects a healthy mixture of humor and insight into his grades.

First up...

Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN.com), C+

Tampa Bay went offensive line with its first two picks: OG Davin Joseph and OT Jeremy Trueblood. Joseph might have been high for the first round, while Trueblood is tall and sometimes plays upright. Wide receiver Maurice Stovall really improved under coach Charlie Weis and was a very good third-round pick. Alan Zemaitis is a solid cornerback who has a knack for the ball.
John Czarnecki (Foxsports.com), C

Notre Dame receiver Maurice Stovall is a big target like Keyshawn Johnson used to be. Penn State cornerback Alan Zemaitis is a perfect cover-two cornerback in Monte Kiffin's scheme and had six interceptions last season.
Pete Prisco (Sportsline.com), C

Best pick: Cornerback Alan Zemaitis, the team's fourth-round pick, didn't run that well, which dropped his stock, but he's a perfect fit for what the Bucs want from their corners.

Worst pick: Second-round pick Jeremy Trueblood was probably taken a round too high. But the Bucs liked him.
Dr. Z (SI.com), B-

As a pair, I like choices Nos. 3 and 4 better than Nos. 1 and 2. First choice Davin Joseph is a top-grade guard, but the second pick, T Jeremy Trueblood, is a 6-8 string bean who was tied for sixth weakest among the 44 linemen who participated in the combine's grunt and heave, a.k.a. bench press.

Again, none of these grades have any meaning, so feel free to abuse them how ever you like (much like the Filipino mail order bride you have in your basement).


"They stole our jobs!"

First immigrants were stealing our construction jobs, then all the McDonalds' openings, and now they're taking over the NFL positions. We need Congress to do something about this. After all, what's left for us WASPs besides cush banking jobs and spots on the PGA Tour?

In all seriousness, much respect to Davin Joseph and his family. 24 years ago Davin's father, Elie, was living in Haiti when he decided it was time to get his family out of the country. Elie was able to get a one month visa to the States and ended up in South Florida. From there Elie worked his ass off to provide for his family in Florida and his family back home in Haiti.

And now Elie has a son playing in the NFL and a daughter working as a physical therapist in Gainesville. It's safe to say America has been good to the Joseph family. Land of opportunity, roads paved with gold, Scarface and all that.


I Like That

In case anyone accuses me of drinking to heavily from the Hater-ade, I did like one of the Bucs draft day moves...signing undrafted rookie Andre Hall. Hall, of course, hails from the most expensive four (or five) year party in Tampa, aka USF. (Apparently Hall's SATs weren't good enough to get him into FSU.)

Since there's nothing the media loves more than the chimera of local-boy-dun-good combined with a Cinderella story (anyone remember Shaun King?), expect a few more stories on Hall if he experiences the least little bit of success. And maybe it's just the masochist in me, but I'm rooting for Hall to do well. After Cadillac the depth chart at runningback will be wide open. Michael Pittman had a stranglehold on the number two position last year but is on the wrong side of 30. And the rest of the backs on the roster are solid but unimpressive.

And just because all the cool kids are doing it, I leave you with some YouTube highlights of the former Bull.