Video: ESPN's beer-soaked farewell to coach Barry Melrose

After Tampa Bay Rays ace Scott Kazmir screwed the pooch against the Red Sox last night, St. Pete Times columnist Gary Shelton joked that the team would have been better off leaving in Barry Melrose, who tossed out the ceremonial first pitch, as the starting pitcher.

And why not? The Tampa Bay Lightning coach is on record as saying that he's "a better baseball player than a hockey player." Check out that form on the mound! (H/T to Japers for the photo.)

He looks like the kind of pitcher who'd proudly dab a little Crisco, Bardol or Vagisil on the ball, because any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curve. Right before he goes into the locker room, takes a shot of rum and says, "Up yer butt, Jobu."

Speaking of adult beverages, something called Dirty Water TV caught up with Melrose and his ESPN hockey cronies at The Greatest Bar in Boston for his going away party. As Leahy points out on Five Hole: "Don't they know he'll be back at ESPN by March?" (Wocka. Wocka.)

You'll see Steve Levy giving a heartfelt farewell to a man who'll never have to worry about an ounce of criticism ever coming his way from Steve Levy. You'll see EJ Hradek in a bar ... OK, nothing really extraordinary about that. You'll see John Buccigross refusing to dress like a 42-year-old man and giving a smarmy "love the show" platitude to the camera. Yuck. And most of all, you'll see Barry Melrose in all his Mulletastic splendor.

Anyone else wondering if he knows that it's actually called "The Greatest Bar," or if every bar with Barry Melrose inside of it is automatically "the greatest bar?"

Maybe it's the lighting or the music or just the general good vibe here, but has Barry Melrose ever seemed more down-to-earth and likable? To the point where you're almost rooting for him to do well in Tampa Bay this season?

We'll say this: The man has no regrets for moving from the WWL to the TBL:

"A lot of people say, 'What if I fail?' I'm a much bigger believer in, 'What if I succeed?' That's how I've handled my life. So, this is a great time for me. This is what I've dreamed of. I love this time of year. The guys are in the dressing room and we're starting to get the team together and we're on the ice tomorrow. This is a coach's time. This is a great time."

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