Maybe the key moment in the Rays game three loss was the two-out, two-run single by Josh Hamilton off of JP Howell in the seventh inning. The hit made the score 4-1 and the Rays would eventually lose the game by one run, 4-3.

At the time, a lot of fans questioned the move by Joe Maddon to Howell, who had struggled this season with a 6.16 ERA. However, Howell was better in the final two months of the season, allowing just three runs in 12 innings (2.25 ERA).

And whether it was anger towards Howell, or annoyance with Maddon, or just frustration with the situation, some fans booed as Howell was removed from the game. Whatever the reason, Maddon made it clear that booing Howell is completely unacceptable.

“It’s really wrong. I don’t understand why the folks would have gone there on him…It’s inappropriate. Here’s a guy who was a big part of our World Series run, is coming off a severe injury and has done some really good work this year, particularly against left-handers. He’s given up a couple of homers. That’s why the numbers are so high. He’s not been as bad as it seems. But that was the right moment for him, that was the right situation, him versus Hamilton. I felt good about it.”

Yes, Howell’s home run rate was higher this year. And that could be a sign of just plain ol bad luck. But he also went from an arsenal of 4-5 pitches in 2009 to a two-pitch pitcher in 2011. That may have allowed batters to sit on his fastball. And if a batter is sitting on an 86 mph fastball, they can do a lot of damage. But that is another discussion for another time.

Maddon went on to say that blaming the loss on Howell “is absolutely insane as far as [he is] concerned.”

Hey, we know Maddon will always have his players’ backs. And we have no problem with him defending Howell, or his own use of Howell. But from what we have seen and heard, most people are blaming Maddon for using Howell, more than actually blaming Howell.

And even if some fans were booing Howell, Maddon can’t attack paying customers and call them “insane.” The Rays already have an attendance problem. They don’t need Maddon driving more away.



  1. Beth says:

    What’s he supposed to say, “those fans booing JP really sent the right message?” Honestly, this is such a non-issue. You can’t laud the guy for being the best players’ manager ever, and then complain because he defends his players. All managers act shocked when their players get booed. It doesn’t affect attendance.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Not all managers call the fans “insane.” As I said above, I have no problem with him defending Howell. But 1) most people (i think) were booing Maddon; and 2) my problem is with the over-the-top rhetoric.

      Booing is a part of sports. I dont do it. But I have no problem with other fans doing it. They paid to get in. The players make a lot of money. And by its very nature, sports are designed to elicit emotion. Booing is just one form of emotion, and is not an indictment of a person’s mental capacity.

      As long as fans aren’t throwing things, or using innaporpriate language or making inappropriate comments about a player or his family, then boo away.

      • jim says:

        Jesus let’s twist the numbers to somehow may a heel into a hero. The ERA stat for JP is completely misleading. Since he is a reliever, his job is to come in and put out the fire. Look at Monday, he technically gave up 0 earned runs, yet we all saw what happened. But those numbers are “lost” in the stats. How many times did he come in and completely fall flat on his face? How many times did he fail?

        He’s not a MLB pitcher anymore. We have a minor league system that is full of kids that are more capable than JP howell is at this point in his career. It’s not 2008 anymore, and for maddon to bring that up is a complete farce, hell let’s bring back aki, he’s broken down but he sure did help in 2008. No team in the majors will sign JP to a big league deal next year(other than us!). please let’s save ourselves $1 million, but we’ll resign him so joe can try to prove us all wrong.

  2. jim says:

    hey joe, i was booing you for putting him in.

    • Remy says:

      I’m with Jim.

    • MarkE says:

      So was I Joe — from home.

      Don’t flatter yourself Maddon, the boos were not so much for JP, but for YOU. I (partially) defended Howell on RI a couple weeks ago when he was doing really well for a couple months, then gave up a painful game-losing HR to a lefty whom he had no business facing. That was his first of a series of Boston-esque CHOKES. But as I said then, I blame Maddon for putting him in that situation. Once again, when he put him in against Hamilton the other night, I heard the boos on TV and told my kids, “they’re booing Maddon, not Howell”.

      I, like Cork, am not a booer at games. But I support anyone’s right to do so. I am shocked at the amount of post-season booers out of our fans this year, but I guess I’ll just take it as a sign of good, passionate fans. If there was ever a time for booing, it was when Maddon waddled to the mound to get the ball from JP AGAIN in Game 3.

      I really like a lot about Maddon, but his unbreakable loyalty-at-all-costs is starting to be painful to watch.

  3. SLMcgee says:

    Sorry Joe, we aren’t all on a guilt trip for over pitching the kid and blowing his arm out in the first place. He needed more time in the minors this year, and it’s very obvious to those of us without a guilty conscience.

    • Gus says:

      Dead set right. The Rays pitched his arm off in 2008 and 2009. He may me okay in the future, but he didn’t have it this year, and Maddon’s guilt.

      Joe’s off-season reading list: “The Wisdom of Crowds.” Sometimes, we just know. This is one of those cases.

  4. defdans says:

    Couple things:

    A fan should never boo their own team. All it does is make YOU look like an idiot. It certainly does NOT help the team in any way, shape or form.

    And to me, the blame falls squarely on Maddon. No way Howell should be there in that situation. He was not the same pitcher this year. How Maddon didn’t see that is beyond me, and I believe he should be manager of the year. I think he makes the right move 95% of the time, but this was a mistake. Everybody watching the game knew it as soon as Howell started warming up…

    • Jim says:

      So fans are just supposed to accept everything their team does? How else are fans supposed to express disgust or disagreement? Booing is booing. Who cares? The only idiots are people that think it is a big deal. Get over it.

      • defdans says:

        Honestly Jim, do you think Maddon and Howell didn’t realize the result was unsatisfactory? How dumb do you think they are that you have to boo for them to understand you weren’t happy with the result? Don’t you think Howell was disappointed, disgusted, and embarrassed that he failed? Do you think your public mockery of him somehow helps his confidence for the next time he plays?

        Instead of publicly embarrassing yourself and the player like an entitled child, how about you suck it up and support your team when you’re at the game? Then when you go home, you can complain long and hard on the internet and call in to your favorite radio host.

        You’ll find no disagreement from me that Howell in that situation was a horrible mistake, but I’ve yet to find anyone who can logically explain how booing is helpful to your team in any way, shape or form. Because it isn’t.

    • Sarah says:

      I’ve got to agree with defdans here. I recognize that many fans think it is fine for them to express their frustration this way, and clearly they can do what they want, but I would never boo a player on my team, unless he’d clearly failed to play hard, or done something unethical (e.g. a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter’s head).

      But the issue here isn’t whether fans can boo a player; the issue isn’t even whether Howell should have been pitching in that situation (ABSOLUTELY NOT!), it’s Joe Maddon’s right and obligation to defend his players.

  5. CC says:

    I would like to know how many runs scored when JP inherited runners causing the previous pitchers ERA to go up. Joe we are really blaming you for the use of Gomes and JP in that inning. I’ll say it again, Price with 100 pitches or Gomes and Howell to get one out. Who would you take. My money is on Price.

  6. Justin says:

    Fans can boo whoever and whenever they want. If they’re being disruptive to other fans this is a problem, but otherwise, boo away!

    • defdans says:

      Can boo? Sure. Just recognize that you’re hurting the team you supposedly care about and making yourself look like a classless jerk in the process. But yeah, knock yourself out if you’re incapable of controlling your own emotions.

      • jim says:

        hey i have an idea, instead of booing, we can just boycott the games to protest. joe should have been happy that the fans actually showed up and cared enough to voice their opinions. no, instead let’s hack on them and tell them that are insane for showing their displeasure for what had to be one of the dumbest moves by a manager in our history.

        i don’t see joe going after the press for writing scathing articles about the move. isn’t that equivalent to booing? but no, let’s take a piss on the fans.

      • Jeff says:

        You are the problem with sports in Tampa Bay especially baseball. No passion. It drives me crazy at Rays games how quiet people are. Blowing stupid horns and shaking cowbells is OK but booing when you are unhappy is not. Give me a break. This isn’t little league. Grow a pair and get animated or you will be pulling a team that no longer exists.

        • defdans says:

          Oh, so I’m the problem because I don’t boo my own team? Fascinating.

          How about this: you explain how booing helps? I’d love for someone to explain how that energizes the team or gives confidence to the player?

          I’m sure the fans booing a team in the middle of the ALDS really endears Sternberg to the Bay Area. I bet it does a lot for the national perception as well.

          You want to talk about the problem with sports in Tampa Bay? How about that people only support the local teams when they’re winning? As soon as they start struggling, you boo or you don’t show up. Not booing when a team or player struggles doesn’t make me a bad fan, it makes me NOT a fair-weather fan.

          • jim says:

            once again, did maddon call out the press? nope, he pissed on the fans that took a day out of work and spent their cash to show up. smart. god forbid that they voice displeasure for his STUPID move.

          • Jeff says:

            I am sure Sternberg would be happy with the boos if the seats were filled. What makes this area look bad are empty seats. Your analogy about fans supporting teams only when they are winning is weak. The Rays have been winning and seats are empty. Could not even fill up the small stadium during a playoff game.

            This area lacks passion and as a fan I will scream, yell, boo, etc to show that passion. Take a visit to NY, Boston, Philly, etc.

            As for Howell, I feel for him. He should not have been out there in the first place but hey you get paid a lot of money to do your job and he did not do his.

        • Sarah says:

          So driving an hour to a game and dying my hair blue isn’t enough passion — I’ve got to boo when things go wrong, because otherwise it looks like I don’t care. Do I have that straight?

          And just so I have the etiquette right, when is this boo-ing required? OK, I was supposed to boo JP Howell because he blew the game. Should we have booed Matt Moore yesterday when he gave up the homerun? Every time Longoria struck out? Please provide the guidelines so we Rays fans can prove our “passion” to you.

  7. rayalan says:

    Joe get a clue. We were not booing JP. I was booing, but I was booing at you Joe for such an incredibly stupid move. The worst in your career as a manager. I respect Maddon tremendously but that was certainly a major blip on the radar.

  8. Don says:

    …Maddon was misquoted: WHat he Really meant… is that you fans are STUPID…you don’t really know when management makes a mistake or a player fails to perform and for you to point that out by booing is actually embarrassing to me and the players..
    SO cut That Booing BS out.or you are “insane”…Right Joe….

    • jim says:

      omfg, i actually agree with don.

      joe got lucky on a bunch of his moves, let’s face it. bringing in dan johnson batting .108 with 2 outs and your season on the line was insane, yet it somehow panned out. was it a good move, no, did it work? hell yes. would he have take HUGE grief and deservedly so if it had not? hell yes he would have been blasted for it.

      joe likes to think he is the smartest man in the room, and when you disagree, you are insane.

  9. CC says:

    Somebody made a comment that Maddon is 95% genius and 5% idiot. Well the 5% came out in that game and now in this statement.

  10. Steve says:

    I think we need to give Joe a break here. I’m sure he doesn’t think the fans are really “insane” it was probably just a bad choice of words made after a very tuff 1 run loss.

  11. Jfrey says:

    You fans are horrible. Do you know anything about baseball? You bring in a lefty to face a lefty especially with the success JP has had against Hamilton. Hamilton is one of the best clutch hitters in the game. Asking JP to come in with the bases loaded and 2 outs down one is a tough task. Especially when he walks in and immediately gets booed. It’s like your wife booing you when you walk in to have sex with her because the last time you couldn’t get hard…its tough for the confidence. What happened to support? It disgusts me that people would boo a guy that has been so valuable

  12. Ken Heller says:

    Howell never should have been on the roster in the first place. Being there cost us a valuable bat. Our starters consistently throw 7 innings a game. Peralta, McGee, Gomes, Farns, Cruz and Davis would have been plenty of arms to go with in the 8th and 9th. He also could have put in Moore for 1 batter. Joe, you are a great manager but you blew that one. Everyone sitting around me slumped when Howell came in. The outcome was obvious. 2 years in a row now Joe, Washington has out managed you. That’s what you should have said. I do agree that the boos were bush. Made us look like Yankee/Sox/Philly fans.

  13. Scot says:

    No, those who booed either JP Howell or Maddon’s decision to have JP pitch against were not insane, they are just ignorant hence we feel sorry for these fans.

    Maddon has data and evidence to support the move to put in a lefty against a left handed batter. Lefties hit 222/279/302 against JP this year. Hamilton hits RHP better than LHP.

    So know the facts before you criticize. (This does not apply to Don.)

    And P.S. – there is no strong statistical evidence to support clutch pitching or clutch hitting. Maybe it will be detected, but it hasn’t been yet. Just ask James “suck in 2010, god in 2011″ Shields.

    • Jim says:

      Hamilton had a .347 wOBA against lefties this year. Not as good as his .377 versus righties, but still better than most right-handed hitters hit lefties. And now tell us how much Hamilton “struggled” against lefties that throw 85? That .347 wOBA is now probably more like .375 or .380 if not higher. And you say lefties hit .222 versus Howell? So what? How many of those were against hitters as good as Hamilton? What does a groundball from a number 8 hitter in May tell us about how Howell will do against Hamilton? Josh is not a garden-variety hitter.

      I’m guessing the numbers might suddenly start swaying in Hamilton’s direction. Just a hunch.

      • Scot says:

        Thanks for supporting Maddon’s decision. Hamilton hit worse against left handed pitchers.

        And as you correctly point out, the vast majority of batters that JP pitched to were not as good as Hamilton. How does this apply to the argument that JP was the wrong choice? What was the better choice?

        No need to guess here – there is no evidence to say using JP as opposed to another pitcher was incorrect.

        • Jim says:

          the point being that the drop-off is not enough to justify putting in a guy that throws 85mph and who at times this year struggled. The point being that Hamilton is still a very good hitter against lefties. It is not like all of the sudden he is a sure out just because some lefty with a pulse walked in from the bullpen. The point being that Howell’s sample-size is not enough to justify putting him in there at less than his best against somebody who is one of the best in baseball. But why I am not surprised you dont get it. You think the game is played on a spreadsheet.

    • CC says:

      Scot, we had one of the best left handed pitchers in the game in that inning. We needed one out. He was pulled for a rookie Gomes and a washed up Howell. I’ll stick with Price thank you.

      • Scot says:

        Your statement is different. Now the complaint is bringing in Gomes. At this point Price had pitched 102 pitches and had allowed 3 hits in the last 5 batters he faced. Gomes, who in 2011 pitched better against RH batters than Price, faces Kinsler and Andrus. Again, this was a defensible decision.

        However, now that Gomes is in and Hamilton is coming to the plate, you would then put in.. who? Or stick with Gomes?

        • CC says:

          My money is on Price. I never would have taken him out for Gomes. Price with 100 pitches is a better option than Gomes. Now if you had to take him out for whatever the reason may be.I would have brought in Peralta or Davis. You need 1 out. I never would have had Howell on the post season roster to begin with. Maddon made the statement that we owed it to JP for the way he pitched in 08. Huh. This is 2011. Howell is not even close to what he was in 08. The gomes , howell combination was a boneheaded move. Joe’s loyalty cost us the game. He was out-managed by Washington again.

          • Scot says:

            Problem is that by the time Hamilton came up, Price would have been over 110 pitches. Gomes was a reasonable decision and if he had not been wild, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

          • Scot says:

            I’m sorry, but you provide no evidence, no data, no simulations, to justify this statement, “Joe’s loyalty cost us the game. He was out-managed by Washington again.” This is not the TB Rays way.

  14. Scot says:

    In reading more of these comments, you people need to step back and ask yourself – what was the chances of the Rays being in the playoffs? Where were the Rays expected to finish the season at the beginning of the season? Generous expectations were 86 wins, many were closer to 81-83. So at 91 wins, the Rays won more than a standard deviation above expected. And they still had problems with luck! Yes, Maddon has made some decision I don’t agree with, particularly with base-stealing, but the JP Howell was not one. So give him credit.

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