Rays only baking up trouble

Evan Longoria and the Rays continue to win, but empty seats always dot the background. Getty Images

About 12,000 and change showed up for the Rays' game on Monday, a night when Tampa Bay had a chance to clinch a playoff berth. Evan Longoria had some things to say about that, calling the support embarrassing; David Price later chimed in on Twitter before apologizing for his tweet.

Saying this stuff out loud makes no sense whatsoever, in the same way it makes no sense for a farmer or a hardware-store owner or a computer-outlet owner to complain about the customers. Can you imagine if the owner of a bagel store -- and I worked as a baker in bagel stores in West Lebanon, N.H., and in Nashville during my college years -- in St. Petersburg were to talk like Longoria?

    "You know, I've never made bagels as well as I'm making them now," the bagel man would say. "The lineup of sesame seed, cinnamon raisin and pumpernickel is the deepest I've ever had. We have more speed in our counter service than ever before, and the bakers -- that is a group that has been clutch all summer.

    "For us to go a full season of baking great bagels, it's kind of like, what else do we have to do to draw customers into this place? It's actually embarrassing for us.

    "I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not trying to take a low blow at the customers. I'm actually just trying to rally the troops and get more people in here. I'm not trying to say we have bad fans or any of that because, believe me, I've been here since '06, and I love the Tampa Bay community. It's just tough to see, and I felt I was the right guy to say it."

A bagel-store owner who says something like that would be laughed out of town. Folks who run a business -- any business -- put a product up for sale, and would-be patrons have the right to decide whether they want to buy the product. Nobody is obligated to buy the product, just as the Rays are not obligated to commit to staying in St. Petersburg forever.

Longoria is right, writes John Romano, but he's the wrong messenger.

In matters of baseball, the Rays missed a chance to clinch, writes Joe Smith, and so did the Yankees; A.J. Burnett was nothing less than awful, Mark Feinsand writes. Burnett was awful, writes George King, but he will get the ball in the playoffs.

With the division title and home-field advantage hanging in the balance, the Yankees will throw CC Sabathia tonight.

Meanwhile, Longoria is healing.

Thumbs up

The latest film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick -- "Baseball: The Tenth Inning" -- will air Tuesday night, and it's exceptional. The years covered in the documentary include Cal Ripken's record-setting night in 1995, the Atlanta Braves' brilliance, the Yankees' dynasty, Ichiro and the Red Sox's comeback in the 2004 playoffs. But the arc of the film is provided by Barry Bonds, whom we first see as a spectacular, dynamic and skinny young star, and who evolves over time. Burns and Novick's take on the steroids era is nuanced, and appropriately so. More on this on Wednesday.

NL West/wild card

The Braves won a game in extra innings but lost Martin Prado, David O'Brien writes. Tim Hudson will get the ball on short rest Tuesday.

A long and painful night ended for the Braves, writes Mark Bradley.

The Braves gained ground because the Padres lost to the Cubs. The Padres had a chance to win in the ninth inning, Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information writes, and the odds of their victory swung dramatically. From the research monster:

"So we had another instance of an ultimate pressure situation this evening in the Cubs-Padres game. Bases loaded, two outs in ninth inning, team down by a run, game decided by a batter. Nick Hundley flew out to end the game. This season, the pitcher has had an edge in that situation. Hitters have succeeded either via hit, walk or hit by pitch eight times in 28 plate appearances (28.6 percent of the time). Last year, hitters succeeded in that situation 14 of 26 times (53.8 percent)."

Will Venable was scratched because of back trouble.

The Padres are having fun, not feeling pressure, writes Tim Sullivan.

The home stretch begins Tuesday night for the Giants, Henry Schulman writes. Freddy Sanchez's shoulder injury is not considered serious, Giants GM Brian Sabean says.

A bright idea by a coach helped turned Buster Posey into a star.

Ubaldo Jimenez tried and failed to pick up his 20th victory, and the Rockies are all but dead in the playoff races. Jason Giambi likely won't play again this year, writes Jim Armstrong.


• MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera sprained his ankle and is likely to miss the final six games of the season.

Mariano Rivera threw two innings against the Rangers on Sept. 10 and was given the ball again the next night. Whether it's coincidence or not, his performance simply has not been the same, and his cutter looks very flat. Before the Yankees' game on Monday, he worked on a mechanical adjustment in the bullpen. Mo is not worried, writes Filip Bondy.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Heard this: Unless there is a last-hour change of heart, Brewers manager Ken Macha will not be retained. Willie Randolph is a possible heir to Macha's job, but he's not expected to take it.

2. FYI: There is a high probability that Kirk Gibson will be retained as Arizona's manager.

3. The Tigers are preparing to discuss the offseason.

4. Ozzie Guillen will come back for 2011. Presumably, part of the conversation that the White Sox's brass had Monday ran along these lines: "Please, everybody needs to get along next year. Because the way this feud between Ozzie and Kenny Williams so publicly was a complete embarrassment for the organization, and ridiculous and unnecessary. Let's not bother to assess blame for how this happened this year, but next year, please, work it out. And if you don't think that can happen, then maybe it's time to break up the Kenny-Ozzie team."

Guillen was not offered an extension, writes Joe Cowley.

5. Buck Showalter was suspended.

6. The Orioles are taking bids for their radio deal.

7. Marlins president David Samson addressed the Marlins' managerial situation.

8. Closing arguments in the McCourt case are set for Wednesday.

9. Brandon Webb will not pitch in the last week of the season, writes Nick Piecoro.

Champagne watch

It was fitting that Roy Halladay was on the mound for the final pitch of the Phillies' NL East-clinching victory Monday. He had made this possible with his willingness to walk away from much more money as a free agent to make his marriage to the Phillies happen. He did it with his work ethic and his dedication to his craft, which are so important for a team that had some valleys in the first four months. Halladay is not the type to dwell in a postgame celebration, and for an instant after his final pitch, it almost looked as if he was going to settle for just a grin and a handshake. But Halladay was embraced by catcher Carlos Ruiz, then embraced the moment like his other teammates. Well-deserved, well-earned.

This was the Phillies' fourth straight division title, David Murphy writes. It's pretty cool that Mike Sweeney got to participate in this, too, because he's been one of baseball's great servants (on some really bad teams) during his career.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro got to relish this, too, Rich Hofmann writes.

The Reds still don't know whom they would play in the postseason, writes John Fay.

The Twins and Rangers

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is frustrated with what he sees as a lack of focus in his players. J.J. Hardy was sent home with a mysterious knee ailment, and Jim Thome has a stiff back.

Joe Mauer has been crucial to the Twins' success, writes Kelsie Smith.

Josh Hamilton is increasing his workload as he tries to come back from rib fractures.

Dings and dents

Adam Wainwright's elbow is bothering him, and he might not pitch in his last scheduled start, writes Derrick Goold.

Monday's games

1. The Cardinals stayed alive for one more day.

2. Joakim Soria set a Royals club record, Bob Dutton writes. Jarrod Dyson had a really good day.

3. David Ortiz picked up his 100th RBI of the season.

4. The Indians had a big day at the plate.

5. Brian Matusz was The Man, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

6. The Pirates continue to lose, writes Dejan Kovacevic. Pedro Alvarez has been hot.

7. The Nationals had to watch the other team celebrate.

8. The Marlins were toppled in extra innings, Juan Rodriguez writes.

9. Justin Smoak had a really good day, Geoff Baker writes.

10. The Athletics lost some of their lead over the Angels. This is no small matter, because Oakland hovers in the range of having the 15th- or 16th-best record in the majors -- and remember, the teams with the 15 worst records in the majors do not have to surrender a first-round pick if they sign a Type A free agent. Rather, they would give up a second-round pick.

11. Casey Blake has been feeling his age.

12. The Jays just kept hitting homers in bashing the Yankees on Monday and moved into the top 10 among teams in single-season homers with two blasts on Monday. Here are the teams with the most homers in one season, all time:

1997 Mariners: 264

2005 Rangers: 260

1996 Orioles: 257

2000 Astros: 249

2001 Rangers: 246

1996 Mariners: 245

2009 Yankees: 244

2000 Blue Jays: 244

1999 Mariners: 244

2010 Blue Jays: 243 (with six games left in the season)

1996 Athletics: 243

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