SCREAMING FROM THE CHEAP SEATS: JULY 23

By Leo Haggerty

DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE

O.J SIMPSON

The Juice is loose.  That was the predominant headline when the Nevada Corrections Board agreed to release the jailed Hall of Fame running back as early as October 1st.

I have a different opinion on this than most people.  That’s because I just look at why he ended up in the Lovelock Correction Center.

If we just look at the crime that led to his incarceration in 2007, this is a common practice for criminals who have been model inmates.  The former Buffalo Bills star has served the required amount of time behind bars for an armed robbery conviction and has met all criteria for parole.  For that reason, Simpson should, and was granted, his release.

On the crime that he was found innocent that almost everyone is tying to the one that put him in jail, I have a unique opinion as well. Did O.J. do it?  Maybe but the bigger question that should be asked does Simpson know who did it.  My answer to that would be a resounding yes.

Let’s give this one time to play out.  Rumors are circulating that O.J is coming to Florida and St. Petersburg is a possible locale with two of his children already reside there.

If that comes to fruition, stay tuned.  That will probably because a hot topic for at least one news cycle.

WHAT’S HOT

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Don’t look now but the team in the American League with the third best record is the Tampa Bay Rays. In fact, if the season ended today, three teams from the AL East would be playing October baseball.

The Houston Astros lead the West, and the league, with a 64-32 log.  After that, the next three teams all come from the East. The division-leading Boston Red Sox are at 55-43 with the New York Yankees (50-45) and the Rays (51-46) in a virtual dead-heat for the two Wild Card spots.  The Central front-running Cleveland Indians (49-45) would complete the post-season package.

The only real surprise in this quintet are the Rays.  A team who most most experts predicted would struggle to win 81 games is on pace to win at least 85 games.

The only question that remains is will that be enough to get the Rays into the October baseball sweepstakes.  Personally, I think it will take 89 victories to secure a Wild Card spot so Tampa Bay will have to pick up the pace.

For Rays fans, it’s an exciting time.  It been too many years since meaningful baseball was played in the greater Tampa Bay area in August and September.

Now get out to the Trop and enjoy the ride.  Who knows if the team isn’t moving to Montreal or parts unknown for the 2018 season.

WHAT’S NOT

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays, have given this writer a first. They’re both the recipient of noteriety in the What’s Hot as well as the What’s Not segment of my column. This one, I am sorry to say, is personal.

I will not be mentioning the Rays at all in any future columns because they denied me a press credential.  I wanted to use the same procedure that I used with the Tampa Bay Lightning and that was to attend one game at the beginning of a home stand and then another, if possible, near the end of the home stand.  The Bolts had no problem with that scenario.

I proposed the same arrangement with the Rays that I had with the Lightning with one corollary.  That was, if there was an extended hone stand, I could be credentialed to a third game.  In my eyes, this was a reasonable request.

I guess the powers that be with the Rays saw it in a different light.  My press credential request was denied not just once but, after I resubmitted it, twice.

I know this is going to sound stubborn and childish but I refuse to cover an individual or team who will not grant me the courtesy of access to their players plus coaches as well as other key members of the organization.  It is not fair to you, the readers, to get second-hand information and I, quite frankly, won’t do it.

Hopefully, when I resubmit my credential request for a third time, the Tampa Bay franchise will see the value in having as many media groups as possible covering the team.  If not, it’s strike three and I’m out.

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

SAN DIEGO/LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

The Crystal Ball is showing very vaguely that there could be some National Football League activity happening on the Left Coast. The unusual part is that it looks to be in the distant future.

The transparent orb is targeting the San Diego-less Chargers that have relocated north. The Lightning Bolts will begin playing up the coast in Los Angeles which was their original home when the American Football League came into existence.

What the Crystal Ball is revealing is a name change.  The all-knowing sphere is predicting the new moniker to be the Southern California Chargers. This would be a logical attempt to keep as many San Diego fans and not alienating any new followers in The City of Angels.

The reason why this message is extremely cloudy is two-fold.  First, it’s not going to occur quickly. Second, ownership may not view this as important and that’s a distinct possibility.

The Spanos family haven’t made too many good decisions lately. The Crystal Ball is concerned that streak will continue by alienating a fan base south of LA where they will be in direct competition with the Rams.