Carlos Pena is signing with the Rays … to retire

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Veteran first baseman Carlos Pena is calling it a career at age 37 and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he will sign a one-day contract with the Rays in order to officially retire as a member of the organization.

Pena had two different stints with the Rays totaling five seasons, during which time he made his lone All-Star team, led the league in home runs once, and posted an .843 OPS in 726 total games.

The practice of signing a one-day contract in order to retire as a member of your old team is typically reserved for upper-echelon stars, but Pena was a good, solid player and certainly ranks among the best hitters in the Rays’ abbreviated team history.

Pena struck out a ton and hit just .232 for his 14-year career, but he still had big all-around value thanks to 30-homer power, 100-walk patience, and outstanding defense at first base.

Anthems, first pitches and other ceremonial stuff

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The World Series is not just about the baseball. It’s about the bigger-than-usual stars singing the National Anthem, the more-famous-than-usual people throwing out the first pitch and all of the assorted to-do which surrounds the ballgames. Here is that sort of stuff for Game 1 and Game 2 in Boston.

First pitches:

  • Carl Yastrzemski will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 1. Yastrzemski also threw out the first pitch of Game 1 in 2004, 2007 and 2013. The Red Sox won each of those games and each of those World Series so, yeah, go with what works, right?
  • Members of the 2004 World Series Champions will throw the ceremonial first pitch of Game 2. It doesn’t say which members, so maybe my dream of Manny Ramirez doing it will work out after all. Hey, he played for the Dodgers too, so let’s make this happen, OK?

National Anthems:

  • Singer-songwriter James Taylor will perform the National Anthem prior to the start of Game 1. This morning Peter Gammons tweeted that Taylor’s family helped build Fenway Park. Let’s file that under “interesting, but not so interesting that it’s really worth tracking down to confirm, so why not believe it?” Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.
  • For Game 2 the National Anthem will be performed by the Boston Pops, with the Tanglewood Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Chorus doing the singing. The Boston Pops are conducted by Keith Lockhart, who was a career .287/.354/.425 hitter in 37 postseason games with the Atlanta Braves. I mean, at least I’m pretty sure it’s the same Keith Lockhart. Again: not interesting enough to check so, like Gammons’ thing about James Taylor, let’s assume I’m right about this.

Play ball.