10/28/08 7:15 PM ET
With no game, Rays catch some Z's
Forced to Delaware, club falls in love with new accommodations
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
A felt hat sat on top of the Rays manager's head and he was bundled appropriately for the bone-chilling temperatures outside. The glow on his face felt like those associated with the holidays.
Maddon and the Rays relocated to a historic hotel in Wilmington after Game 5 of the World Series was suspended Monday night. The Rays had checked out of the team hotel in Philadelphia prior to Monday night's game and had to find the new digs after Game 5 was suspended.
Early Tuesday, the Rays found out the continuation of the game would not even be attempted until Wednesday night. So the Rays did what they normally do: they enjoyed the day.
Maddon held court in the middle of the hotel lobby, and shortly thereafter was greeted by Brian Anderson, a former Major Leaguer and assistant to pitching coach Jim Hickey. Anderson, who had just been up the street working out, wore a headband, resembling something from "The Karate Kid." A fitness buff, Anderson confessed to indulging himself Tuesday morning.
"I took a bath," Anderson said. "[There are] nice tubs in this place."
Maddon laughed, as did Anderson. Sure, Tampa Bay is down 3-1 in the World Series, but life is good. A situation that would have put a frown on most has turned those frowns upside down where the Rays are concerned.
"Quite frankly, it's one of the nicest hotels we've stayed in all year," Maddon said. "If you're going to have to have a postponement, you might as well stay here. We haven't got out in the town yet. Obviously, that would be very difficult. The weather is kind of nasty here, too, but [it's a] great place. People have treated us wonderfully, and again, we'll get out and walk around a bit if the wind dies down."
The logistics of finding their little haven in Delaware fell to Rays traveling secretary, Jeff Ziegler, to whom Maddon gave all the credit.
"Well, Jeff Ziegler, our crack traveling secretary, got on the phone immediately and did a little research," Maddon said. "We were pointed in this direction. And finding it was only 30 minutes from the Phillies' ballpark, we jumped all over it. There were plenty of rooms. ... So we get here, and it was quite a treat, actually, to be able to come up with this situation in a moment's notice."
As Carlos Pena moved through the lobby, a smile was permanently affixed to his face.
"This is nice here, isn't it?" he said. "When I got here, I was pleasantly surprised. It's very cozy, very elegant."
Pena's mind seemed a million miles away from the pressures of playing in the World Series as he waxed on about the team's hotel.
"One of the features I like, they have this nice radio with all these different relaxing stations," Pena said. "You can choose from guitar, Latin, smooth jazz, piano, violin, and my daughter was playing with it all night.
"After a while, it was time to turn it off. But at first, it was like, 'Oh, this is nice.' She kept pushing all the buttons. Then after about 45 minutes, it was like, 'I've got to shut it down [and it's] time to go to sleep.' She'd go until the sun comes up."
Pena said the situation has allowed the Rays to step back and kind of "recharge their batteries."
" I think everybody walking around here has a little smirk on their face," Pena said. "It's cool. This story has been amazing up until this point. And the twists just keep surprising me. This was a twist I wasn't expecting -- the weather twist -- that we'd have to wait to play a few more innings in a couple of days, hopefully tomorrow.
"It's kind of cool. It's all unfolding. And all of us here are very optimistic. We are honestly expecting a very happy ending for us."
J.P. Howell said the experience has been kind of different.
"But we like it," Howell said. "[It] just gives us another day to be together. This is cool. I'm going to get some rest tonight and get ready for tomorrow. [I'll] probably go out to dinner and check out the best spot in Delaware and get a steak or something."
Grant Balfour wore a heavy coat and reported having patronized a local tavern where they have a "good burger."
"Yeah, last night was kind of weird," Balfour said. "[I] checked out of one hotel [and] now we're in another place. But it's a nice place. Different isn't always bad."
And what could have been a chaotic nightmare for the Rays has turned into a nice situation.
"Honestly it did," Maddon said. "It's like getting snowed in. I go back to my roots, on the days that it snows too much or the weather is so bad everybody can't go outside, everybody kind of gathers today. They did a tremendous job of pulling it off.
"Believe me, it was really organized, in spite of all the chaos in front of us. I came down this morning to get the coffee, and there were a bunch of Rays folks down there having a good time -- families together and a bunch of kids still with us. ... It was one of those moments when the organization comes together."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.