How do the Tampa Bay Rays manage to compete year after year with the big-budget beasts of the American League East? Two words: Joe Maddon. The club's skipper consistently finds innovative ways to keep the small-market franchise loose -- from bringing a penguin into the clubhouse earlier this season to conducting themed dress-up road trips. The manager's latest move? Bringing a live Dominican merengue band into the locker room before Tuesday night's game with the Boston Red Sox.
Tampa's own Sol Caribe, a four-piece group, provided the pregame entertainment. Reliever Joel Peralta danced with a female singer while outfielder Matt Joyce looked on in the background with approval. And there was more fun too. Closer Fernando Rodney -- who introduced us to the "magic plantain" during the World Baseball Classic in March -- organized bunches of the banana-like fruit to hang above several of his teammates' stalls.
[Fantasy Baseball 2013: There's still time to join a league today!]
Meanwhile in the NBA playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs went up 3-2 on the Golden State Warriors in their Western Conference Semifinal series after a 109-91 victory. And the Indiana Pacers are up 3-1 in the Eastern Semis following a 93-82 win over the New York Knicks.
Evgeni Malkin has earned a point in all seven Stanley Cup playoff games the Pittsburgh Penguins have played so far this postseason. The reigning Hart Trophy winner had a goal and an assist in the Pens' 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Semifinals. And the reigning champs took care of their in-state rival out west as the Los Angeles Kings shut out the San Jose Sharks 2-0 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semis.