Ask Gary: More stories about Hubert Mizell

by Gary Shelton on March 5, 2016 · 5 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 6 a.m.

I was so sorry to read about Hubert Mizell's passing.  Do you have any favorite Hubert stories?

Jim Willson

Jim, I used most of them in Friday's piece. But here's one. We were in Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics, and on the last day, we had written our stories and were interested in looking around.

Hubert had heard about a nude beach in town, and we started joking about going. Then daring each other. We decided to go.

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I came down to the media village wearing shorts and a t-shirt --
after all, I was going to the beach. Hubert wore a dress shirt, dress slacks, Florsheim's and a large camera around his neck. I'm sure he blended in just fine.

Hubert loved the Olympics. He was there when the Israeli athletes were killed. He was there when Lee Roy Selmon went into the Hall of Fame. He was there during the World Series earthquake. He covered John McKay. He saw Steve Spurrier and Bobby Bowden win titles.

On Saturday, the day of the Final Four semifinals, most columnists write the first game. You have more time to work, if nothing else. It's only when it can't be avoided that a guy is moved toward the second game.

One year, both of us were at the Final Four, and Mizell wrote about Bill Clinton being there. "Boss Hog," he called Clinton, a big Arkansas fan. Another year, he wrote about Wisconsin.

The trouble? The University of Florida played both second games. Still, Mizell  pulled it off nicely.

Another  day, Hubert was in the Oakland Coliseum for a Bucs' game and smelled something funny. Marijauna, a co-worker said. So Hubert wrote that "some of  my younger and wilder colleagues said it was marijauna." One of the writers said "Hubert, my mother reads this paper."

Another time, Hubert was on the radio and a listener was attacking a story that was written in that day's Times. The Times didn't use many off-the-record quotes, but for this story -- which suggested Sam Wyche had lost the team -- it did. The listener was challenging Mizell, suggesting that the paper had made up the names.

Hubert, growing angry, finally said "How do Rusty Tillman and Trent Dilfer sound as sources?'' In his ire, he had given up the other writer's sources, even though he was trying to defend him.

I told you the one about finding the letter to the editor that talked about how perceptive Mizell had been. It was from O.J. Simpson.

Personally, Hubert loved his wife and son. He liked food, but he didn't drink. He was an angry driver. The guy in front of him was always going too slow. He had a soft spot for Bobby Knight.

One day, as the internet was coming into being, a co-worker and I were talking about some of the spam mail encouraging male virility. Hubert stood up, and said, said "you guys get that email, too?" He thought he was the only one.

For a long time, we ran together. Olympics. Super Bowls. Bowl games. He was good company. A lot of people will miss Hubert today. I'll be one of them.

Since Stammer is playing so well now that he is back in his preferred position, will they keep him there for however much longer we have him?  What exactly was accomplished by moving him?

Jim Willson
Steven Stamkos was moved, if you remember, last playoff season because he was in a dreadful slump. Defenses tighten in the post season, and Stammer was having a dickens of a time.
But Stamkos prefers to play center, and lately, he's been a ball of fire. The Lightning would be nuts to move a guy who is playing so well from the position. That's a move of desperation, not one of strength.
In the playoffs, it depends on how Stamkos plays as to how long he'll stay there. But if it's up to me, he goes down fighting from  center.
How old is the turf at Tropicana Field?  It always looks kinda crappy on TV.
Jim Willson
The Rays changed their turf for the 2007 season, so it's almost a decade old. I've been told it's pretty good by the standards of artificial turf, but that only goes so far. Carl Crawford hated the turf here. Desmond Jennings isn't crazy about it, either. It's like playing on carpet, not grass.
You know my main problem with the turf? The Rays don't hit nearly enough baseballs into its gap.
On 2/29/2016 the owners of the Bucs, Rays, and Lightning took questions from moderators at the Poynter Institute as you noted in your column of 3/1/2016.  Who were the moderators?  Who was the audience?  As you noted, the questions were of the softball variety.  Is the reason there were no hardball questions because the owners would not agree to such a forum if there were?  The owners certainly have no problem agreeing to taking gobs of public money year after year, do they?
Scott Myers
The moderators were Earnest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times and Mary Byrne of ESPN. Questions were then asked from the audience, which was largely made up of Associated Press Sports Editors. Then there were a couple of written-in questions.
My problem was that, at no point, were any of the media who were covering the event allowed questions. The owners -- particularly Bryan Glazer -- simply aren't available enough.
The APSE Sports Editors, who come from across the country, can't be blamed for not knowing the subtexts of Tampa Bay sports. But a couple of the moderators' questions were softball.
I don't think it was an arrangement to only ask easy questions. One writer did ask about researching Jameis Winston -- and the question was diverted. There were a lot of public funding questions. But there were also "who was your favorite ballplayer" questions, too.
So why not have a town forum where harder questions can be asked. If you want to limit it to season-ticket holders, that's fine. But there are certain questions that can only be answered by the owner. And that's where most of the money goes, right?
How do the Rays look this year? Is it our lot in life to have major franchises that cannot score? I mean, can’t we move the Rays into the National League? Any hope of consistent 7-4 wins?
Nick Houllis
Nick, I've whined about this for years. There just hasn't been enough offense in Tampa Bay.
It could be changing, however. The Rays had a good final two months of offense last year, and this off-season, they rolled the dice on Corey Dickerson and Steve Pearce. The Rays offense won't resemble the '27 Yankees, but it could be better.
The Bucs, too, had a good year on offense with a rookie quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and the second-best running game in the NFL. Right now, you'd have to say the Bucs' offense is a mile ahead of the defense.
And the Lightning, of course, have great offensive personnel, even though they haven't always played like it. If Tyler Johnson can get healthy and get going, I suspect it will be good again.
You're right, though. For most of their seasons, there hasn't been a lot of electricity to the offense. The Bucs have three players in the Hall of Fame (who played primarily in Tampa Bay), and they're all defensive. The Rays were at their best because of pitching.
Meanwhile, our end zones are pristine. It'll be interesting, however, to see what the next decade holds.

Can you provide any kind of insight or rationale for the actions of Jonathan Drouin with the Lightning, but sitting out is going to make it more difficult for him to stay up with another team I'd think. So he's traded, and the team sends him down — does he fail to report again? Any clue what he's trying to accomplish — is it just that he hates the Lightning that much?

Cecil DeBald

There isn't much rationale to Drouin, who painted himself into a corner with the help of an agent who is supposed to know better. The basic rule of holdouts is to make sure you have leverage. You never hold out from a team that doesn't depend on you. Steven Stamkos could have held out successfully, or Victor Hedman or Ben Bishop. Drouin? Who is he?

I don't blame Drouin for trying to force a trade. But what good did he get out of holding his breathe until he turned blue? He's lost a year, and he's in no better shape now than he was except that teams might wonder if he's a baby.

It reminds me of the holdout that ended Errict Rhett's time in Tampa Bay. His team was going nowhere, He had no way to win it.

I think the fact that Drouin wasn't traded tells you what other teams were offering for Drouin. Not much.

Saw that the MLB union "might" want to limit press coverage in the locker room. First, why would that be an issue for the players? And second, well, I expect you have an opinion on the whole thing.

Cecil DeBald

I loved hearing that Stu Sternberg thought limited press availability was an awful thing. And it's not needed.

Heck, there are Rays who hide pretty well as it is. If they don't want to talk, they don't have to. There are so many rooms where we aren't allowed.

On the Bucs, there is usually one time period a week, 10 or so minutes, where the lead players speak. It's silly. Look, there won't be any less coverage. What there will be is more coverage where reporters don't worry about talking to the athlete. I'd think they'd fight against that as hard as they could.

Media coverage has changed. Often, no one needs access. I've talked often about the guy who covers the Bucs for Bleacher Report from Europe. What is he sharing? But there is still room for a good in-depth piece on, say, Archer or Kiermaier.

It that access is lost, baseball loses. And the fan.

Any thoughts on Michigan's Spring Break down here? Will they pass a rule to prevent that going forward?

Cecil DeBald

I think every team in the SEC should have spring practice in Ann Arbor next year.

Yeah, they'll probably pass a rule. I think that's the fallback position of college football. Let's pass a rule.

The only problem I have is the way Michigan has twisted the truth to say it's for their fans who are in Florida for spring break. That's hooey. If they want to be near their most fans, that's in Michigan. This as a recruiting play, plain and simple.

So, who's going to win the exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team on March 22nd in Cuba?

Cecil DeBald

Who cares? It's an exhibition game. In 1999, the Orioles had a fairly easy time with the Cubans, who aren't nearly as deep as they once were.

But can you tell me how long the Rays are going to use their starting pitcher Will they use the key members of the bullpen? How many innings will the regulars go. And will someone from the state department suggest that the Rays might not really want to win this one.

I say Cuba wins, and four members of the Rays defect because the Cuban Nationals pay better.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick March 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm

I recall reading that the Rays resurfaced The Trop in 2011 with Astroturf. It looked “okay” for half a season. Now it looks very bad again – on TV or if you’re sitting in the stands. It really is an eyesore.


Cecil DeBald March 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm

If four Rays defect…do we get the first four draft choices in the next draft? And can we pick the four players we want to defect? Might not be such a bad deal…



Gary Shelton March 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Ha. We should start a contest. Pick four to go.


Jim Willson March 5, 2016 at 11:32 am

Gary….thanks for sharing the great Mizell stories.


Gary Shelton March 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for batting leadoff.


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