Ask Gary: Has Archer put extra pressure on himself?

by Gary Shelton on April 23, 2016 · 1 comment

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

Chris Archer had a big off-season, Cy Young candidate, MLB representative, Cuba, face of the Rays, face of MLB, lots of air time announcing and such - has he put extra pressure on himself with all these activities? He seemed bigger than life in the off season - does he now have to be bigger than life (or feel that he is, anyway) as a pitcher to live up to it?

Cecil DeBald

Not the way he's going. The way Chris is going, he has to reestablish himself as a pitcher capable of dominant performances. I don't think a thing is wrong with his attitude; it's his slider and his fastball that are getting hit all over the yard.

The other day, Kevin Cash compared him to Corey Kluber. Whatever, he isn't pitching well. There is no escaping it. Now, Archer is sub-.500

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for his career, so he was never a David Price (his game against the Rays notwithstanding). But he has too much stuff to struggle the way he does. Isn't pitching supposed to be ahead of the hitting.

When a pitcher is going bad, however, people pick different things apart. Someone advised him to "get a haircut" the other day. Come on. His hair has nothing to do with it. He just needs to throw more pitches that end up in the catcher's mitt and across the plate.

Well, the Bucs are back, kicking off the 2016 season, so is this the year the Bucs turn it around? Realistically, what would be an "A" season for them? A "B" season? A "C" season? We'll leave it at that...

Cecil DeBald

Okay, let's be honest. The Bucs have to be graded on the curve. They're not going to win the Super Bowl, which is an A for the real teams of the league. They're not going deep into the playoffs.

I'd say an A season is getting back to the playoffs. Shouldn't that be every team's goal?Despite a good schedule, despite young stars, this team needs to shoot for the postseason. Period.

To me, a B season is .500. Again, it's an imposing schedule. If this team can get to .500, it has a shot the following year.

A C? That's another six-win season, but with competitive games throughout. If they lose in overtime to Denver and late to Carolina, it's understandable. If Winston plays well, the future still looks attainable.

I don't think there are any Ds. If this team backtracks, even a little, it's an F.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...Have you ever got angry with the person you were interviewing while doing an interview? Because of their attitude? What they said or wouldn't say? Knowing your success depends on maintaining relationships with people, how did you or do you handle situations like that, other than just smiling and pretending your delighted to talk with them.

Cecil DeBald

Cecil, I've had a thousand. Some where I was exasperated because the guy wasn't cooperating, and some where he just wasn't capable of an intelligent conversation.

I once had a blowup with Mark Duper in the middle of the field. He kept putting me off. Finally, I had it. "Bleep it," I said, walking away. Well, he thought I said "bleep you," and we went after each other verbally. I called him a bleeping prima donna, which was true, and he called me a "fat so-and-so," which was also true. I was young in my career, and I was scared to death it would hurt me with other players.

You know what? I've never had so many players offer to buy me a beer. Not that they didn't like Duper, but players relish a fight. They got a kick out of it.

I had a problem with the boxer Winky Wright, who wanted to read a newspaper while he answered questions. He said he was capable of doing both. He wasn't.

Booger McFarland and I are tight now, but he gave me the runaround one day in the Bucs' locker room. Warren Sapp and I screamed at each other one day.

Sam Wyche and I argued a lot, but I think he's a heck of a guy. Some guys move away from their roles, and they're fine. Others never forgive you.

I know about the many events columnist are involved in outside of a sporting event itself. Team interviews, coaches, individual player interviews, back stories, etc. What I did not think of, beyond the actual announcement of who would perform at the Super Bowl, was a press conference amid all the activities about the half-time show. Is that exclusively for the Super Bowl, which probably carries more public interest? I would imagine those particular press conferences to be a mixed bag of personalities and talent, not just of the performers but staff and hangers-on, maybe.

This brings me to Prince. I was glued to the set on Thursday and became even more aware of Prince's personality and his quirks. The name change, which was actually explained in a Larry King interview, if one really listened. So in light of the loss of, in my opinion, one of the best talents and one of, if not the best, half-time performer of all time, I have to ask; how was that experience for you? I can't even imagine it being just another press conference.

Veronica Richardson

Veronica, I can't remember ever going to a press conference about the halftime show for another game. Not even a big time bowl game. Not even the Olympics.

Still, the NFL brings in the halftime stars -- who are mainly interested in selling CDs -- for an interview. They're usually not very good outside of actually seeing Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty. Who cares if Keith Richards likes the Giants or Patriots, really?

But I have to tell you. The Prince interview was the finest press conference ever. Ever. We trundled down to his press conference room, and John Romano and I grabbed seats on the front row. There were microphones on the stage.

Some p.r. hack announced that Prince wouldn't be taking questions. A few minutes later, he came onto the stage, smaller than you would imagine, and said "Contrary to rumors, I will take some questions." So some guy starts to ask one. He gets about five words in, and Prince slams a guitar chord, then launches into a loud, enthusiastic version of Johnny B. Good.

He and his band played three songs, and I walked away saying it was the finest press conference I have ever attended. I still don't know if he liked this team or that one. I just knew I felt better.

A side note: A few years later, a flight attendant and I were talking about celebrities. She had waited on Price the week before. The thing was, she wasn't allowed to speak to him. She had to ask his bodygard "Would Prince like some more tea?' And the bodygard would say "Hey, Prince, you want more tea?" And Prince would say "Yes, please. Could I have some tea?" And the bodyguard would say "Prince will have more tea." It was like he was an English-to-English translator.

Talented guy. Different guy.

Looks like it's time to call my cable company and have ESPN removed from my sports cable package. That should help lower my bill by at least a Schilling.

Howard Powders

Funny, Howard. Has there ever been a player named "cent"" or "nickel" or "farthing?"

Friends of mine tell me that Schilling was trying to get fired so he can move to Fox, where his politics will fit better. If I was Fox, I wouldn't have him. I think he's two steps from wearing a tin-foil hat.

I covered a Phils-Blue Jays World Series where Schilling pitched wonderfully. I remember asking Dutch Dalton about Schilling growing up. "He was fine once we got him to take off the dress," said Dalton, meaning he got tougher. But considering Schilling's insult of transgender people, it strikes me as funny.

Don't the Bolts have to part with one of their goalies before next season? It's obvious that Bishop is the Team MVP so can't we conclude that Vasilevskiy will be playing for another team next year?

Barry McDowell​

Barry, they don't have to; they can always pay both of them. Of course, that's difficult with the salary cap, especially if you re-sign Steven Stamkos.

A year ago, when Vasilevskiy was hot, I think everyone assumed he would just take over and Ben Bishop would leave as a free agent. That still may happen, but keep in mind that Bishop has won, counting playoffs, 129 games for the Bolts the last three years.

If it were my team, I absolutely wouldn't let Bishop leave to save a goalie who started only 21 games this year.

The short answer is that, yes, Steve Yzerman has a decision to make. He has a lot of them. Stamkos. Jonathan Drouin. Hedman and Kucherov and Johnson in the coming years. Eventually, you fear that someone is going to be a cap casualty.

What do you think about adding a 'salary' column to MLB box scores?

Scott Myers

Scott, I think it's an inspired idea. The purpose of every line in a box score is to tell you something about the game. Well, that would. It would tell you which teams have the advantage coming in, which players are underachieving and which are overachieving.

Of course, the higher priced teams would hate it, because it would show that they should be smarter. The lower priced teams would like it. The fans would like it.

I will say this, though. The great athletes of our day have a knack of making you forget how much they make. No one ever brought up Michael Jordan's salary, or Derek Jeter's, or Tom Brady's. The real overpaid guys in sports are the middle class, the ordinary second basemen who make $7 million a year.

Do you think that Stu Sternberg of the Tampa Bay Rays (2016 team payroll of $65 million) is 'as pleased as punch' that Ken Hagan has spearheaded giving $27 million to the NY Yankees (2016 team payroll of $226 million) for care and feeding of the Yankees' spring training facility?

Scott Myers

I imagine he coughed up his coffee, don't you? I can't think of a way this helps the Rays in their quest to get a stadium built in Tampa. Yeah, yeah. I'm sure the politicos would say it's as separate as Amalie Arena and Raymond James Stadium, but let's face it: There is only so much money out there.

So now, these same politicians are going to expect the Rays to pay a higher portion for the stadium? The notion that the Rays would move anywhere without most of a stadium being built for them is foolish. You can argue all you want about who should build a stadium, but some has to bear the costs unless you're willing to see this team move.

You know who liked it? Baseball fans in Montreal liked it. Frankly, no baseball money should have been allocated until the Rays' situation was settled.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Howard Powders April 23, 2016 at 9:48 am

Why do celebrities go outside of their comfort zones and become self-appointed political commentators? Hollywood stars do it all the time and now sports commentators-Costas and Schilling. Enough’s enough.


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