Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tampa Bay Sports News Cavalcade

By JC De La Torre
The local fishwraps were actually worth reading today as they had several interesting stories about our various favorite teams.

The St. Petersburg Times is highlighting Rays Manager Joe Maddon's "Thankmas" initiative. It's a program Maddon began three years ago to raise awareness of the homeless situation in Tampa Bay. Maddon, along with a couple of dozen Rays employees, spend an afternoon cooking spaghetti, meatballs, sausage and pierogies in the Tropicana Field kitchen, then travel around the bay area for several days delivering meals at homeless shelters.

The Times also reported that Rocco Baldelli's medical condition was misinterpreted as mitochondrial disorder. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have reviewed more sophisticated testing that indicates his condition is a channelopathy, which is a treatable condition that involves dysfunction of ion channels for such things as potassium, sodium, chloride and calcium according to

"It's definitely an encouraging development," Baldelli told the Times, "Knowing this is a treatable condition, I feel this is a very positive thing for me and my baseball career. With this less severe diagnosis, I hope to be on the field on a much more regular basis."

The Lightning return to the ice tonight against the Colorado Avalanche after a four day layoff and some good may have come out of it. Other than getting some much needed practice time to continue the process of implementing Rick Tocchet's system, Tocchet and team captain Vincent Lecavalier got a chance to get on the same page.

"Tocc is talking to players. He's listening to players," Lecavalier said to the St. Petersburg Times, "He's telling us things and how to be better. It was a good conversation. It's not like we're out of control, but we can be more precise in what we do, It's not only the coaching staff that has to tell guys to be on time, when the bus is, and all the other stuff that surrounds the locker room. It has to be the players. Myself as team captain. I have to do that."

"You've got to be in a situation where you can't let your team be sloppy," Tocchet told the Tampa Tribune, "What I mean by sloppy is sloppy with your sticks on the ice, taking stupid penalties, little trivial things, late for the bus. It has to come from the room. The coach has to mandate it, but it has to come from the room."

Player accountability has been something the Lightning have sorely lacked since Dave Andreychuck's retirement. Let's hope that Lecavalier can grow into and assume that role.

Head Coach Jon Gruden is confident Jeff Garcia will be available for Sunday's critical game against the San Diego Chargers. Garcia practiced on Wednesday and told the St. Petersburg Times, "I really just have to do my best to block it out, I really just have to take the approach that I'm going to be me and do whatever I have to do in order to be successful and not think about what I'm trying to overcome. And hopefully at that point on Sunday, it won't even be a question mark."

The Tampa Tribune reports that just in case, the Bucs are getting Brian Griese ready to go. The paper also reports that Chris Hovan and Jovan Haye returned to practice, which could be great news for the Bucs run defense that has given up 474 yds in the last two games. Derrick Brooks also appears to be improving with his rib injury. He's still a gametime decision but Gruden told the Trib, ""We did get good news (Wednesday), that doesn't mean Brooks is going to be out there running around (today). But there is at least a better chance that he can play. Knowing Derrick Brooks the way I do and you do, he'll find a way to get to the field. And chances are he'll play one of his best games."

USF Bulls
There's apparently plenty of tickets still available for the inaugural St. Pete Bowl that has the powerhouse matchup of USF vs. Memphis. Yeah, the Bowls are more important to college football...who needs a playoff when you can have USF vs. Memphis in the Magic Jack St. Pete Bowl?

Tampa Bay Storm
The Arena League owners have voted to suspend the league for the 2009 season and hopes to return for 2010, but the AFLPA (who knew they had one?) has rejected the board of directors' move to suspend the 2009 season by voting against it according to an arena league blog called reports a "team representative for the AFLPA told ArenaFan that the Executive Board for the AFLPA has not requested a revote of the owners. The source went on to state that the players are under belief that the vote for the Orlando Predators was not made by the majority owner, and that a minority owner gave their vote to a different team. The vote for suspending the season passed the Board of Directors by just one vote."

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