Some baseball teams find their winning mojo in cowboy boots. Some harness the power of banana and mayo sandwiches. In the Tampa Bay Rays' clubhouse, manager Joe Maddon has proven over the years to be one of baseball's top purveyors of wacky motivation.
He's brought in penguins and a DJ and organized themed road trips. These aren't so much about bringing his team "good luck" but building camaraderie and keeping his players loose. They sure need those right now. And, actually, some of that good luck wouldn't hurt either.
With his team mired in terrible slump, Maddon sought outside help yet again. This time, he didn't call on something cute or something loud. He called The Rainmaker.
The Rainmaker is Seminole Tribal elder Bobby Henry, a 77-year-old medicine man well known in the Tampa area. Legend says he once made it rain in Tampa (not Pacman Jones style either, we're talking water falling from the sky). The Rainmaker didn't prove immediately helpful, as the Rays lost again Monday. They were shutout even, making it 13 losses for the Rays in their last 14 games. Maybe supernatural powers take a while to get warmed up?
Here's the scene from Henry's arrival, according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune:
Henry arrived Monday morning and walked around the field. He spent time sitting in the Rays clubhouse and in the Rays dugout.
“That field, not so bad. I walked around. … I don’t think it’s real bad, you know? We just have to open, just key opening and let them (bad spirits) out,” Henry said.
When asked what he can do to help the Rays, losers of 12 of their last 13 games, Henry said he didn’t want to reveal his secrets.
“We’ll see what happens this time,” Henry said. “I told Joe I’ll come back Sunday.”
Sounds like The Rainmaker wasn't making too many promises about Monday's game. And that's good, because the 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners was the fourth time this month the Rays have been shutout. Look at the calendar. It's only June 9. Now the Rays are 24-41, the worst record in baseball by a widening gap.
That wouldn't be as astounding had the Rays not been viewed as a World Series contender at season's start. Instead they're 14 1/2 games out of first in the AL East. That's not going to change overnight. And, in reality, it's probably going to take more than The Rainmaker to change their fortunes.
It might seem like the circus is coming to town, but these are the Tampa Bay Rays, what else is new?
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