Connect with us

Uncategorized

How a clubhouse confrontation changed the course of Robbie Ray’s career – Sportsnet.ca

Published

on


“IT WAS REALLY WHAT I NEEDED”

“IT WAS REALLY WHAT I NEEDED”
Advertisement
Inside the clubhouse confrontation that set Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray on the path to eventual Cy Young candidacy

#block_618c1b4e26682 {
padding: 20px;
background-image: linear-gradient(to right, #0B223E, #00436E);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: 100% 50%;
}
.br-header-inner {
position: relative;
}
.br-info-block {
width: 100%;
padding: 0 20px 20px 20px;
}
.br-info-block.top {
position: relative;
text-align: center;
}
.br-info-block.left {
position: absolute;
text-align: left;
bottom: 0;
}
.br-info-block.center {
position: absolute;
text-align: center;
bottom: 0;
}
.br-info-block.right {
position: absolute;
text-align: right;
bottom: 0;
}
.br-title {
font-size: 60px;
font-weight: 600;

}
.acf-block-component .br-title {
font-size: 20px;
}
.acf-block-component .br-info-block.mobile {
display: none;
}
.acf-block-component .br-logo.mobile {
display: none;
}
.acf-block-component .br-read-duration.mobile {
display: none;
}
.acf-block-component .br-excerpt {
max-width: 56%;
text-align: center;
margin: 0 auto;
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 {
font-family: urw-din;
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-logo {
display: block;
background: url(“/wp-content/themes/sportsnet-nhl/images/logo-big-reads.svg”);
width: 114px;
height: 30px;
margin: 0 auto;
margin-bottom: 24px;
}
@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-logo {
display: none;
}
}
@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-logo.mobile {
display: block;
}
}
@media only screen and (min-width: 768px) {
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-logo.mobile {
display: none;
}
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-title {
color: #ffffff;
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-author {
color: #ffffff;
}
@media only screen and (min-width: 768px) {
#block_618c1b4e26682 .coauthor-profile-link {
color: #ffffff;
}
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-photographer {
color: #ffffff;
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-author.mobile {
color: #343434;
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-photographer.mobile {
color: #343434;
}
#block_618c1b4e26682 .br-excerpt {
color: #343434;
}
.acf-block-preview .btn-social-group-wrapper {
display: none;
}

I
t’s late in the 2012 season and four players are enjoying a card game in the Potomac Nationals clubhouse. They’re playing Pluck, which is a trick-taking favourite among the guys at the table, including Steven Souza Jr.

Robbie Ray, who’ll turn 21 in a few weeks, is scrutinizing his teammates from a few feet away. The left-hander is in a mood, and those on the club know that when Ray is in one of his moods, they should avoid him. If things are going well, he’s fun to be around. But when he’s struggling on the mound, look out. During this season with the high-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals — which Ray will ultimately finish 4–12 with a 6.56 ERA over 105 2/3 innings — there’s been much more bad than good.

Ray ambles over and stops behind Souza as the 23-year-old outfielder puts down a card. “Why did you play that?” he asks.

Advertisement

#block_618c1f7f26683 .br-drop_cap_paragraph .firstcharacter {
color: #343434;
float: left;
font-size: 120px;
font-weight: 800;
line-height: 80px;
font-family: urw-din;
margin-right:6px;
text-transform: uppercase;
}
@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
#block_618c1f7f26683 .br-drop_cap_paragraph .firstcharacter {
font-size: 86px;
}
}

#block_618c1f7f26683 .br-drop_cap_paragraph p {
line-height: 32px;
font-family: roboto;
font-size: 20px;
color: #343434;
}

ADVERTISEMENT

if (“undefined” !== typeof adUtility) {
console.log(‘ADUTILITY’);
adUtility.insertAd(“bigbox_block_618c1f9d26684”, { type: adUtility._AD_BIGBOX, adPath: adUnitPath, targeting: adTargets() });
}

.acf-block-component {
background-color: #fff;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-big_box_ad {
color: #000;
background: url(“/wp-content/themes/sportsnet-nhl/images/br_bigbox_ph.png”);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: contain;
background-position: center;
height:250px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-big_box_ad_label {
display: none;
}

Advertisement

“Why don’t you go over there and sit in your locker and let me play my own cards?” Souza responds. The line is delivered in a playful tone and Ray should probably let the exchange die there, but he doesn’t. The comment sets him off and he starts to yell at Souza. Teammates and coaches intervene before the situation escalates but as they’re separated, Souza lobs a piercing remark at Ray. “You’re always cutting corners,” he says.

The words stuck with Ray in the days that followed. If he was honest, he knew he was a bad teammate. He was distracted and squandering his immense talent. Ray was not only shortchanging his teammates and the organization; he was also failing himself. He arrived home that off-season and felt real desperation, wondering whether he even had a future in baseball. The Robbie Ray who exists today — the left-hander who has emerged as a frontrunner for the 2021 American League Cy Young Award — wouldn’t be here, were it not for the transformation he underwent during that period. This is the story of how Ray navigated the rock bottom of his baseball life.

#block_618c1fa126685 .br-paragraph .paragraph {
font-family: roboto;
color: #343434;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-paragraph .paragraph p {
font-size: 20px;
line-height: 32px;
}

Advertisement
“He thought that he could get by with just doing nothing,” Souza says of the Ray he encountered in Potomac (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

A
t 19, things were going smoothly for Ray. The Brentwood, Tenn., native had been selected out of high school by the Nationals in the 12th round of the 2010 draft and proceeded to dominate his first full season in pro ball, with single-A Hagerstown. He looked poised to quickly climb the organizational ladder, but the 2012 campaign changed all that. It was the first time Ray faced substantial struggles in the sport and he began to unravel as the season unfolded.

“He was uninspiring,” Souza recalls. “I hate to say that but that was kind of how he was. I just think he was a guy that was distracted. Meaning, he thought that he could get by with just doing nothing.”

Marlon Anderson, who played in parts of 12 big-league seasons, was the Potomac hitting coach in 2012. He describes Ray as someone who was “thirsty for knowledge.” The fresh-faced pitcher respected Anderson’s resume and would often sit on the bench and pick his brain about how to approach hitters. But along with zest, Ray brandished an attitude that rubbed some the wrong way. “In my opinion, it was not knowing how to be a teammate yet,” Anderson says. “When people come into pro ball, they come into pro ball selfish. You have to learn to be a good teammate. You want to get better yourself, but how you really become a big leaguer is to take into consideration all of the people around you. Respect the people around you. Work hard for the people around you. So, when you get in situations, they have your back.”

Ray certainly wasn’t taking anyone else into consideration. “I was not a good teammate,” he admits. “I was not a good person. I was just out for my own glory.” Ray says at the time he was caught up with the “baseball lifestyle” of going out, partying and having fun. The outcome was a player who was filled with tension. He could bring a dark cloud into a room with him, and teammates, like Souza, didn’t know when the lightning would strike. That was the context leading up to their clubhouse confrontation.

Nearly a decade later, Ray still remembers every detail, from the specific card game to his quick-strike response, because of the impact it left on him. “[Souza] called me out,” he says. “And it was really what I needed.”

Advertisement

#block_618c200b26687 .br-drop_cap_paragraph .firstcharacter {
color: #343434;
float: left;
font-size: 120px;
font-weight: 800;
line-height: 80px;
font-family: urw-din;
margin-right:6px;
text-transform: uppercase;
}
@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
#block_618c200b26687 .br-drop_cap_paragraph .firstcharacter {
font-size: 86px;
}
}

#block_618c200b26687 .br-drop_cap_paragraph p {
line-height: 32px;
font-family: roboto;
font-size: 20px;
color: #343434;
}

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
gap: 20px;
}

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a {
pointer-events: none;
cursor: default;
text-decoration: none;
color: black;
}

Ray went home that winter and endured what he says was the lowest point of his career. Quitting didn’t cross his mind, but he wondered whether he would get the opportunity to come back next season. He feared his chance to do something special in the sport might have already slipped away because of his behaviour and poor results. “I sat down that off-season and I was just thinking back on the year,” says Ray. “Thinking about my actions on and off the field. I took a deep look into my life and realized that I wasn’t living my life the way I wanted to.”

Ray searched within himself, trying to bring the same honesty Souza had, and decided he wanted to be born again, becoming what he calls a “professing Christian.” Baseball would occupy just a short period in his life, he concluded — “I mean, if you’re lucky you get to play 10 years,” he says — so he needed to look after himself as a person.

Advertisement

“I wasn’t pleased with the way I was acting,” says Ray, who was not religious prior to that off-season. “So, I can’t imagine God was very pleased with me. It was kind of a reset to be able to sit down and be like, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this all for Your glory. And it’s not going to be for me.’”

Ray remembered that Souza had undergone a similar rebirth the previous off-season. Souza had considered leaving baseball at the end of 2011 until, he says, his friend, former big-leaguer Brent Lillibridge, “shared Jesus with me, and it changed my whole life.” Souza arrived at spring training as a transformed person and player, going from a middling hitter to a serious power threat who posted 23 home runs and a .938 OPS across two levels of A-ball in 2012. Ray was mired in his own woes that season, but was on the periphery of Souza’s sudden success. It registered in his mind and after he had undergone his own journey of self-discovery, the picture became clearer and he had a blueprint he could follow.

#block_618c206326689 .br-paragraph .paragraph {
font-family: roboto;
color: #343434;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-paragraph .paragraph p {
font-size: 20px;
line-height: 32px;
}

ADVERTISEMENT

if (“undefined” !== typeof adUtility) {
console.log(‘ADUTILITY’);
adUtility.insertAd(“bigbox_block_618c20832668a”, { type: adUtility._AD_BIGBOX, adPath: adUnitPath, targeting: adTargets() });
}

Advertisement

.acf-block-component {
background-color: #fff;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-big_box_ad {
color: #000;
background: url(“/wp-content/themes/sportsnet-nhl/images/br_bigbox_ph.png”);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: contain;
background-position: center;
height:250px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-big_box_ad_label {
display: none;
}

The left-hander showed up to Nationals camp in early 2013 and set out determined to work. By July, he had spent three months dominating at high-A Potomac, to the tune of a 3.11 ERA over 16 starts, and was promoted to double-A Harrisburg, where he was reunited with Souza. “I just knew something was different about him,” says the outfielder. “Boy, this man was focused. He was an unbelievable teammate. He was selfless. He was fun to be around.”

Souza describes the difference in Ray as “night and day.” He was still a jokester at his core, but didn’t seem as self-involved. Ray would actively try to help teammates whenever he could. The heightened ego he’d displayed before was replaced with a deep desire to do right by those around him.

The two had long since put their confrontation behind them, and they grew close that season. They read the Bible together, encouraged each other and even lived in the same house for a period. Ray says those experiences forged a true friendship with Souza and were instrumental in his own personal development.

Advertisement

What was different in Ray’s eyes? “Having a servant mentality of, ‘How I can best serve my team every single day?’” he says. “That kind of mindset for me was huge. It was putting myself to the side and saying, ‘What can I do to help the team today?’”

Anderson, the Potomac hitting coach, was out of the Nationals organization by 2013, so he didn’t get a chance to witness the reformed Ray firsthand. He eventually caught wind of the changes, though, and he wasn’t surprised that the gifted pitcher finally put things together.

“The distraction is just a normal part of trying to figure it out,” says Anderson. “A selfish man makes it nowhere in life. [Ray] realized that when you make it all about yourself, it’s about me on the mound, instead of [being] about me trying to help my teammates win a game tonight. I think that’s truly what he got better at — understanding that when you make it about everybody else, it takes the pressure off yourself. And then you can relax and just let your natural talents come out.”

#block_618c20872668b .br-paragraph .paragraph {
font-family: roboto;
color: #343434;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-paragraph .paragraph p {
font-size: 20px;
line-height: 32px;
}

Advertisement
“When you make it about everybody else, it takes the pressure off,” Anderson says. “And then you can relax and just let your natural talents come out.” (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

A
t one point in Ray’s life, he thought he’d be fortunate if he carved out a decade in professional baseball. That was in the off-season of 2012 — precisely nine years ago. Given the way his career is lining up at this exact moment, Ray should soon blow past that 10-year mark in lucrative fashion. The 30-year-old free agent is fresh off the best season of his career, having led the AL in ERA (2.84), games started (32), innings (193.1), strikeouts (248), WHIP (1.045) and bWAR (6.7). His was one of the best campaigns by a hurler in Toronto Blue Jays history and will likely result in a Cy Young nod over New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole — the winner is announced November 17.

Amidst the whirlwind ride of the past season, Ray frequently made time to call Souza. The two remained extremely close friends over the years and never go more than a week without speaking on the phone. At one point in September, Souza — who spent the campaign in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization — was laughing with Ray during a conversation when something dawned on him. “I’m just sitting there thinking, This guy’s going to win the Cy Young and he hasn’t changed,” says Souza. “And that’s what makes me really proud.”

#block_618c211b2668d .br-drop_cap_paragraph .firstcharacter {
color: #343434;
float: left;
font-size: 120px;
font-weight: 800;
line-height: 80px;
font-family: urw-din;
margin-right:6px;
text-transform: uppercase;
}
@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
#block_618c211b2668d .br-drop_cap_paragraph .firstcharacter {
font-size: 86px;
}
}

#block_618c211b2668d .br-drop_cap_paragraph p {
line-height: 32px;
font-family: roboto;
font-size: 20px;
color: #343434;
}

ADVERTISEMENT

if (“undefined” !== typeof adUtility) {
console.log(‘ADUTILITY’);
adUtility.insertAd(“bigbox_block_618c21332668e”, { type: adUtility._AD_BIGBOX, adPath: adUnitPath, targeting: adTargets() });
}

Advertisement

.acf-block-component {
background-color: #fff;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-big_box_ad {
color: #000;
background: url(“/wp-content/themes/sportsnet-nhl/images/br_bigbox_ph.png”);
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: contain;
background-position: center;
height:250px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-big_box_ad_label {
display: none;
}

Ray struggled mightily during the abbreviated 2020 season, surrendering the most walks in the majors. One year later, he’s a bona fide star. That type of reversal can stir something unpleasant inside a player, says Souza. “I’ve been in this game for 14 years and in the big leagues for eight years. When guys have success like Robbie’s having this year, [I’ve seen them] change,” he says. “They think that they’re bigger than the game. They get arrogant. When you get the notoriety, the attention, all the people in the world telling you that you’re the best at what you do, some athletes love that and they gravitate toward that and they feed off that.

“But Robbie doesn’t,” he continues. “Robbie’s different, man. Last year and the year before were really hard on him, but he was the same guy. And then this year, it’s been really easy for him, and he’s the same guy.”

Ray acknowledges that he and Souza will joke every now and then about their clubhouse spat. He’s also quick to point out the role his friend played in helping him become the person he is today. The two men share a mantra that goes something like this: You find out who you are in times of failure. Words that they have each lived during their time in baseball.

Advertisement

“When things aren’t going your way, then your true self shows,” says Ray. “It shows where your values are. Where you’re putting your hope. In that failure, you find out where your true focus is.”

#block_618c21372668f .br-paragraph .paragraph {
font-family: roboto;
color: #343434;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-paragraph .paragraph p {
font-size: 20px;
line-height: 32px;
}

Photo Credits

Mark Blinch/Getty Images; Julio Aguilar/Getty Images; Winslow Townson/Getty Images

.acf-block-preview .btn-social-group-wrapper {
display: none;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-additional_credits {
text-align: center;
}




Source link

Advertisement

Uncategorized

Patrick Mahomes peels back curtain on AFC Title loss | FIRST THINGS FIRST

Published

on




Patrick Mahomes revealed that he learned a valuable lesson from blowing an 18-point lead against the Cincinnati Bengals, and losing out on the AFC Championship: Never take your foot off the gas. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said that the lead had the team playing it safe, thus allowing Joe Burrow to stage a comeback, and taking their spot in the Super Bowl. Mahomes asserts he won’t make that mistake again, and Greg Jennings shares his thoughts on the QBs comments.



Source link

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Fantasy Football Rankings 2022: Sleepers from advanced model that nailed Damian Harris’ big season

Published

on



Dalton Schultz of the Dallas Cowboys made major strides last season, when he jumped to the No. 3 tight end in the Fantasy football rankings. With Dallas losing two of its top four wideouts this offseason, Schultz could potentially vault to the very top at his position as a major component in a high-octane offense. Thus, despite his gaudy 78-808-8 stat line from a year ago, Schultz could still be in the conversation as one of the 2022 Fantasy football sleepers.

Others like Kyle Pitts and Zach Ertz also have chances to be even more productive considering the skill position personnel losses of their respective teams. The tight end position isn’t very deep outside the likes of Travis Kelce and George Kittle, but there is value in the middle of the Fantasy football rankings 2022. Who should you keep an eye on before going on the clock? Before crafting your 2022 Fantasy football draft strategy, be sure to check out the 2022 Fantasy football cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

Last year, the model accurately predicted that Patriots running back Damian Harris would dramatically outperform his fifth-round Fantasy football ADP. The result: Harris became the early-down workhorse for New England and rushed for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns to finish as the No. 8 running back in all of Fantasy football. He finished ahead of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Josh Jacobs and Chris Carson, who were all coming off the board at least 20 picks earlier on average.

Advertisement

The same model has a proven track record providing Fantasy football tips, also identifying A.J. Brown as another sleeper in 2020 and players like Julio Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster as Fantasy football busts last season. Additionally, it’s called past Fantasy football sleepers like Derrick Henry in 2019, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in 2018, and Davante Adams in 2017. Anybody who banked on players like those made a run at their league title.

The model is powered by the same people who generated projections for all three major Fantasy sites, and it beat human experts last season when there was a big difference in ranking. The projections update multiple times daily, so you’re always getting the best Fantasy football advice.

Now, SportsLine has simulated the entire NFL season 10,000 times and released its latest Fantasy football rankings 2022, along with plenty of sleepers, breakouts and busts. Head to SportsLine now to see them

Top 2022 Fantasy football sleepers

One of the 2022 Fantasy football sleepers the model is predicting: Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki. The former Penn State star has increased his catches and receiving yards every year and posted a 73-780-2 stat line last year. He’s finished as a top 11 Fantasy tight end each of the past three seasons and is playing on the franchise tag in 2022, so he has all the motivation needed for a career year.

Miami appointed Mike McDaniel as its new head coach and the former 49ers assistant was a big part of Kittle’s ascension into the league’s elite. He should utilize Gesicki similarly, as the athletic tight end will be a complement on intermediate routes to Tyreek Hill’s deep routes. Gesicki didn’t even finish among the top 10 tight ends in snaps last year, so there’s room for improvement, and SportsLine’s model pegs him as a top-10 player in its 2022 Fantasy football TE rankings.

Advertisement

Another sleeper that SportsLine’s Fantasy football rankings 2022 have identified: Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. Injuries aside, McCaffrey has been the top Fantasy football player over the last few seasons. He would be the clear No. 1 pick in Fantasy football drafts if owners could certify a clean bill of health for Carolina’s star.

However, he has become one of the Fantasy football sleepers 2022 based on his 2022 Fantasy football ADP, which is early in the third round. SportsLine’s model expects him to have a better season than James Conner and Aaron Jones, who are both being selected before him in most drafts. While there might be injury concerns surrounding McCaffrey, he is worth selecting as a sleeper pick.

How to find proven 2022 Fantasy football football rankings

SportsLine is also extremely high on a surprising quarterback you aren’t even thinking about being taken in the middle rounds of 2022 Fantasy football drafts. This quarterback is listed as a shocking top-five option ahead of superstars like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar JacksonYou can only see who it is, and the 2022 Fantasy football rankings for every player, at SportsLine.

So which 2022 Fantasy Football sleepers should you be targeting? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get 2022 Fantasy Football cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Damian Harris’ huge season, and find out.

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Aaron Rodgers has 4th best odds to win 3rd straight MVP | FIRST THINGS FIRST

Published

on




Aaron Rodgers is optimistic about this upcoming NFL season. In a recent Sports Illustrated profile, the Green Bay Packers quarterback expressed how happy he was to be in the locker room, that he’s a ‘kinder, gentler QB’ and that fun things are coming. Fox Bet odds show Rodgers tied at 4th for the MVP award, behind Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Josh Allen, and alongside Justin Herbert. Greg Jennings and Nick Wright decide how likely it is that Rodgers will three-peat his MVP win.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending