Having been offered a ticket to tonight’s matchup between the A’s and the D’Backs, I said yes. (What the A’s have done with their ticket prices is a kvetch best left for another time). Money is the absolute pits right now, even though today was payday. But I had hoped to be there today since the schedule was first announced. And apparently the gods, and the lovely person who offered the ticket, definitely want me to be there.
I’m still not quite decided as to whether I’ll wear my Byrnesblog jersey as I did in San Francisco, or the D-Backs T-Shirt with Byrnes 22 on the back. Were it a day game, the shorter-sleeved T-Shirt would definitely be in order. But it’s a 7:05 p.m. start, meaning whatever I wear will probably end up being covered up by a sweatshirt by the middle of the game. I’ll wear my purple sweatshirt, since that’s a D’Backs color, and my authentic D’Backs road cap. The Diamondbacks may have the worst pitching staff in the majors right now, but they’ve got the some of the coolest logos.
(Sorry about that. I don’t mean to go on and on about clothes like some sort of sports fashionista. But I do want to look the part of welcoming Eric Byrnes home to the Bay Area. I expect to see a bunch of green and gold Byrnes 22′s in the stands).
With this Interleague game in the American League Park, there is simply no excuse for BoMel not to start Byrnesie, the team leader in slugging percentage (not to mention the D’Back who knows most on the team about the Coliseum’s outfield. He played center there as well as left). DaVanon can be the DH.
Byrnesie’s triple last night was down the RIGHT field line. This is very good news. He hits better when he gets out of the notion that he has to pull everything to have power. I will be taking my looseleaf binder full of Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Reports to the game and I look forward to filling out tonight’s edition with more True Elation. May the A’s pitchers end the night wondering why Oakland ever traded him. (Photo on this graf, by George Nitikin/AP, is of the triple in Byrnes’ cycle of 06-29-03).
Who knows? The D’Backs might even win! A goil kin dream, cain’t she?
Kéllia "The Byrnesblogger" Ramares
P.S. I’ll be in section 122, Row 27, if any of you want to stop by. Just be aware that when Byrnesie is at bat or on base, I don’t get distracted.
Former Mets right fielder Ron Swoboda is 62 today. But as my friend and fellow Mets fan Lucy said after she saw him at Shea several years ago, "he’ll always be 24 to me." His 9-year major league career, which included a stint with the cross-town rival Yankees, never achieved the level a lot of people, including Casey Stengel, had hoped. Rocky had trouble with curve balls and stuck out alot. (647 Ks compared to 642 hits and 299 BBs). Some folks, including my father, thought Swoboda was brought up from the minors too soon.
Nevertheless, he has a ring. Ron Swoboda was part of the 1969 World Championship Mets team, as our fellow blogger Brooks Robinson probably remembers all too well. In the 9th inning of Game 4, Swoboda took an extra-base hit from Robinson with a stunning diving catch that was all the more spectacular for the fact that Rocky wasn’t known for that sort of thing. Casey Stengel had said of Swoboda, "Amazing strength, amazing power – he can grind the dust out of the bat. He will be great, super even wonderful. Now, if he can only learn to catch a fly ball." Rocky sure caught that one and the catch helped prevent the Orioles from breaking open that game. Stengel, doing newspaper commentary in New York for the Series was very proud and named Swoboda the hero of the game.
Rocky batted .400 (6/15) in that Series. He hit a double that drove in in the fourth run in championship-clinching Game 5. That run broke a 3-3 tie and proved to be the gamer as the Mets won 5-3. The RBI is featured in the MLB highlight video of the Series. Click here and look for the 1969 clip.
I had just started high school when the 1969 World Series took place. Latin was required in freshman year, and I was having trouble. Latin not only has verb conjugations but noun declensions. Thus, the nouns change endings as well as the verbs, depending on what case the noun is in. It’s all rather complicated. Since the Romans did not have ESPN, FOXSports or MLB.tv, sports in Rome, such as chariot races, gladiator matches and Lions vs. Christians interspecies wrestling, were all live events. So the spectators didn’t have much to do after a day at the Coliseum except eat, have orgies, and develop complicating nuances to their language. I couldn’t grasp the details until I used Swoboda’s name as a mnemonic for the first declension, and when that proved successful, I found other Mets names for second and third declensions. As my high school paper noted when word got around that I was doing this, "Looks like Julius Ceasar has finally MET his match."
Latin Nouns – First Declension
When Swoboda was traded to the Expos in 1971, I was crushed. I remember seeing a man on the subway reading a newspaper that bore the backpage headline: "End of an Era — Swoboda Traded". That headline made the trade real to me. But unlike now, where my team "loyalties" are defined by whoever has Eric Byrnes, I remained a Mets fan. It was a different time.
After his playing days, Swoboda became a sports reporter and later a sports news director in New Orleans. I saw him on TV when I was in New Orleans in 1989.
Happy Birthday, Ron Swoboda! Thanks again for your part in the 1969 World Series…and for the help with the Latin.
When the D’Back’s pitching staff isn’t giving the opposition a big head start, the bulllpen is giving away the store. Sometimes Arizona pitchers do both.
Consider the just concluded sweep of the D’Backs by the Mariners. On Tuesday, the D’Backs were down 5 runs before their first at-bats. And that was with ace Brandon Webb starting. The bullpen gave up 4 runs in the ninth and the D’Backs lost 11-7.
In the second game, the score was 3 – 2 Seattle when the 8th inning began, the Arizona gave up 3 in the 8th and 4 in the 9th. Final score: Seattle 10 – Arizona 3.
Tonight, rookie starter Enrique Gonzalez pitched a gem, giving up only 1 run in 7 innings. The Snakes entered the 9th leading 2-1. They left the 9th having lost 3-2.
That’s 13 runs the Snakes have given up in the late innings of the last three games.
Jorge Julio, the one reliever who was doing well lately, finally succumbed to the bad pitching virus that has afflicted the rest of the staff.
Both Diamondback runs were scored by pitcher Enrique Gonzalez, the first time when Seattle’s GIl Meche balked with Gonzalez on 3rd. The second time when he was batted in by an Eric Byrnes single in the 5th.
The Eric Byrnes line tonight: 2-4 (a triple and a single), and 1 RBI. That’s True Elation 11. The RBI came with 2 out. He had 2 two-out RBI in the first game of the series. Thus, Byrnesie is showing improvement in the clutch-hitting department.
BUT: No one drove him in either time he was on base. And he also GIDP (leaving 2 on himself) and he K’d in the 8th inning. (He’s been doing that alot lately. Maybe someone told him that if he wants Phoenix to support him for the All-Star team he has to K as often as Adam Dunn…or at least as often as Chad Tracy!)
So now the D’Backs head to Oakland for the weekend and I’ve been asked if I am going. I can only make the Friday night game because I work the weekends. I am not quite decided yet.
is evident in today’s lineup as the D’Backs get ready to go against the M’s. "King" Felix Hernandez.
DaVanon is in the lineup in center field, in place of Eric Byrnes. This is the only change in the regular starting lineup for the D’Backs. Rookie 1B Conor Jackson, a righty sometimes replaced earlier this year by the switch-hitting Tony Clark, when BoMel wanted to get as many left handed bats into the lineup as possible, is starting. And I think that’s fine. He IS the regular first baseman. Eric Byrnes, who had 2 doubles, 2 RBI and 1 R last night, and who had Sunday and Monday off, and therefore does not need rest, is supposed to be the regular center fielder. Casual observers of the Diamondbacks will be forgiven for failing to realize this.
Neither Byrnes nor DaVanon have any record against the twenty-year old righty phenom.
The comparision between Byrnes and DaVanon goes this way:
Name BA OBP SLG XBH/H HR 2B 3B RBI R BB SB%
Byrnes .286 .346 .534 .493 12 20 1 30 37 20 .889
DaVanon .289 .376 .430 .302 3 8 2 24 26 22 .778
Both have had hot spells, both have cooled off. They are actually fairly similar these days except for two important factors. Though I have not kept the stats on DaVanon that I have kept on Byrnes, my observations of him suggest that DaVanon is the more successful pinch hitter. Given how poorly the Arizona pitching staff has worked lately, and given the fact that this Interleague game is being played in a National League park, so there is no DH, it would make more sense to have DaVanon coming off the bench than Byrnes.
Likewise, given Arizona’s need for many runs these days, it would seem sensible to have Eric Byrnes in the starting lineup. He’s the guy who is the team leader in SLG and XBH/H, co-leader in homers, tied for second on the team in doubles, and high up the league leaders list in that category. (Byrnes has 20, the leader, Matt Holliday of the Rockies, has 26).
But it appears that unless Byrnes’ batting average returns to the stratosphere, we are going to see BoMel’s de facto platoon in center field.
Oh well, it’s not as if I don’t have other things to do tonight. But I can make only the Friday game of the upcoming series in Oakland, and I’m sitting here on Wednesday not sure if Byrnesie will play Friday.
I should be having no doubts about his being the starting center fielder for the D’Backs Friday night.
Kéllia "Where did I put that crystal ball?" Ramares
Happiness is . . .watching Eric Byrnes have a great day. One hit or defensive gem is cause for good cheer. But True Elation is seeing a multi-hit day with at least 1 RBI.
Happiness is . . .watching Eric Byrnes have a great day. One hit or defensive gem is cause for good cheer. But True Elation is seeing a multi-hit day with at least 1 RBI.–Kellia Ramares, Spheroid.
If last Saturday was not the worst night of Eric Byrnes’ major league career, it had to have been darned close. He went 0-6 with 4 K’s. In the field, he missed two of his signature diving catches; and on the second miss Byrnes got a bloody nose for his trouble. He was given Sunday off, a wise move, and the whole team had Monday off before beginning the series with the Mariners. As one of my correspondents put it, "New Week – Clean slate."
So I hoped. It didn’t look that way in the early going. Byrnes was 0-3 (K, pop out, K) to start. Put that together with Saturday and he was 0-9 with 6 K’s and 2 pop outs. Count back from June 21, the day after True Elation 9, through the first three AB’s of last night (June 27) and Byrnes’ stats are just HORRID! 1-18 with 11 K’s, 3 pop outs and only 1 RBI. UGH! Looking at the replays on video after the game, it seemed to me that on both strike threes last night, Byrnes swung and missed at balls. Judgment and timing looked still way off. And mind you, M’s starter Jarrod Washburn was familiar to Byrnes and he’s done well against him.
But Byrnesie fulfilled my definition of True Elation in his last two AB’s last night by hitting two doubles and getting 2 RBI. Both RBI came on the first double, which he hit in the 7th inning, which tends to be a great inning for him. With two out, and the count 0-2, Byrnes fought back to a full count and then hit the double that drove in runners from 2nd and 3rd. This brought the D’Backs to within 1 run, 7-6. Chad Tracy then hit a double that brought home Byrnes with the tying run. Unfortunately, all the rest of the evening’s scoring was done by Seattle.
Yes, the D’Backs lost again despite Byrnes’ 7th and 9th inning accomplishments and some other good news, especially Luis Gonzalez hitting a three-run homer in the first inning, his first round tripper since April 20. They have now lost 18 of their last 21. Giving the opposition a head start will do that to you. Brandon Webb gave up 5 runs in the first inning. The final score was 11-7. Giving up 11 runs is generally a recipe for disaster.
Before the game, Chad of Charge the Mound gave me a link to an Arizona Republic article by Bob McManaman that quoted Byrnes extensively. Apparently, I am not the only person who has taken some solace in recent Arizona losses that were not blowouts (e.g. June 21 Devil Rays 3, Diamondbacks 2), or in the rare high-scoring win (Diamondbacks 9 – Angels 7 on June 25). Still, Byrnes said:
I’m sick of feeling better about (expletive) losses. There’s no moral victories in the big leagues. This ain’t the minor leagues. We’re not trying to develop players here. We’re trying to win freaking games.
I’m sick of feeling better about (expletive) losses. There’s no moral victories in the big leagues. This ain’t the minor leagues. We’re not trying to develop players here. We’re trying to win freaking games.
The first step to "win freaking games" is for the Diamondbacks’ pitchers to hold the fort. This will allow the offense to do its work without having to come from behind, and to score so many runs, so often. Scoring 7 runs ought to win you a game, but it can’t if you give up 11. The pitching is going to have to get better, much better, and soon, or the D’Backs’ 2006 campaign is lost.
Even if they don’t bounce back, I am very proud of Eric for caring about winning, for caring about the team’s progress and not just his individual stats. In a team sport, pride in individual stats should be the primary concern of fans like me, or a player’s agent. I know Eric’s going to do everything he can to help his team win. But he’s not a pitcher, and I think the turnaround has to start on the mound.
I really hope the D’Backs can turn things around. Winning is definitely more fun than losing. Being part of a winning team is one of Eric’s goals and I want him to achieve success as he defines it. I also want to see him in the playoffs again. (The last time was game 5 of the 2003 ALDS when he stood on third as the potential tying run in the bottom of the 9th and the A’s couldn’t get him in). But in this era of free agency, frequent trades, and the mobility of the American population, the latter of which has seen me move from New York to Indiana to California, I have chosen to be a player fan first and a team fan second. I’m not going to cry if Byrnes has a career year, but the D’Backs season falls apart because the pitching staff keeps giving away too many runs. I am still going to be truly elated whenever Eric Byrnes has a multi-hit day with an RBI. After all, I’ve been truly bummed by all the strike outs lately.
It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got.
–Sheryl Crow, Soak Up the Sun
The Moon went into Leo late this morning and I went into overdrive to cast my All Star ballots. Stuffing a ballot-box is hard work–I thought I’d never get done–but it was certainly more interesting than washing the kitchen floor, which I did earlier this morning.
Of course, it took longer for me to vote because I split my ticket at most positions in both leagues. Some by a lot, e.g. NL First Base, where I split my votes among Pujols, Berkman, and <gulp> Garciaparra. Yes, Northern Californians, I cast a few votes for <gasp> a Dodger! Blame Diamondhacks for that! (He did not succeed in convincing me that Adam "Strike Out or Homer" Dunn should get any of my votes).
And I split in some places by a little. Miggy Cabrera got one vote for NL Third Base because he has been mentioned so often as a guy you would build a club around if you were starting from scratch. The rest of that category went to the Mets David Wright.
I also voted several times for some other favorites of fellow bloggers: e.g., Jason Bay, Vernon Wells and Kevin Youkilis. (Youk is a write-in; that took more time. I think I spelled his name correctly!)
I did not vote for Barry Bonds or anyone from Oakland. But I did cast some votes for Moises Alou.
But really this post is about the guys who got all my votes. As you could expect, a certain National League center fielder I talk about now and again got all my votes, despite how bad everything has been for him lately. You all knew I was going to do that, so I needn’t elaborate. What might surprise you is that all my votes also went to his middle infield teammates: Orlando Hudson and Craig Counsell.
In horse racing, this would have been called a field entry; one bet gets you both. With guys like Jose Reyes and Chase Utley on the ballot, I would not have voted for Hudson or Counsell if they were not on the same team. But together, they are this year’s dynamite double play combo. Although more offense is expected from middle infielders nowadays than these two generally provide, I’m still old-fashioned enough to care more about how middle infielders field than about how they hit.
Any Mets fans out there remember Harrelson and Millan in ’73?
Claudio Vargas was pitching lights out and the D’Backs were up 4-0 thanks mostly to homers by Orlando Hudson and Craig Counsell of all people. Then Vargas hit a batter and Conor Jackson made a fielding error, Vargas exited with the bases loaded and before you knew it, the score was 4-4.
A two-out, pinch-hit, two-run homer by Robb Quinlan won it. K-Rod got the save. This loss was hideousness exemplified for the following reasons:
Luis Gonzalez’ 7th inning at-bat marked the 200th AB (obviously more than 200 PA’s) since he’s homered.
Jeff DaVanon, one of the few D’Backs who had a decent day, had three singles against his old team (and he made some good fielding plays in right), but in the 9th, with a runner on, he K’d. So mujch for the romantic notion of his beating his old team.
Shawn Green, sent up as a pinch hitter, was robbed by the home plate umpire on the first pitch, which was low, but called a strike. Green K’d, and was tossed for arguing balls and strikes. Greenie is a low-key personality who rarely argues; but he got the heave ho mighty quick, so he must have said one of the magic words.
Then BoMel went out to argue and he got the thumb as well. I thought managers were supposed to argue and risk getting tossed to protect a player from getting tossed. But this happened after Green was ejected. So I guess the D’Backs timing is so bad, even the manager can’t get thrown out at the appropriate moment.
Things got so desperate Damion Easley ended up playing first after going in as a pinch runner for Tony Clark who had hit a broken bat single. Clark was a defensive substitution for Jackson. Easley did well, but he’s not really a first baseman.
It was just a nightmare of a game for Eric Byrnes. Painful figuratively and literally, for him and for me watching it. First of all, it was golden sombrero night. Batting sixth, he went 0-6 with 4 strikeouts. Two looking and two swinging. He’s standing too far away from the plate again. In the last four games he has gone 1-15 with 9 K’s. His batting average, which was climbing back toward .300, is sinking like a stone again.
To make matters worse, he missed two diving catches, the kind we Byrnes fans are used to seeing him make. He bloodied his nose on the second miss and was in obvious pain after hitting the ground. Mark Grace wondered several times if Byrnesie had broken his nose. He played the rest of the inning with blood coming out of his nostrils, but the trainer managed to stop it after the inning ended and he went out again. To the People who wonder why I like him so much: There’s an answer for you. He’s tough.
But things have been really tough on him in the last four days. Strike three in the 13th inning was a swing and a miss at gas down the middle from K-Rod that he should have put into the seats. I don’t have words for how horrible all the K’s and the missed dives are. It’s like bad timing has just taken Byrnesie over on offense and defense.
The D’Backs are now 2-17. I want to think that tonight was rock bottom for them in general and for Byrnes in particular. But I will admit that I can’t bear to look, right now. Tomorrow, I am brunching with some good out-of-town friends, I am working at KPFA, and I am going to try to forget about baseball for a day or two and leave Byrnesie and the D’Backs to turn things around without my looking. They have a day off Monday. I have a number of things I need to take care of that have nothing to do with baseball. So now would be a good time for me to pull the disappearing act I thought I was going to pull about 5 weeks ago.
Turn it around, Byrnesie. Here’s another consistency test. Relax and don’t stand so far from the plate. As for the missed dives, I don’t get it. It’s as if that computer in your brain that calculates the distance to the ball has developed a glitch. Time to debug and reboot.
Go Byrnesie! Go Snakes! (And I don’t mean to **** in a handbasket!)
Consider some stats as of the morning of June 24: Eric Byrnes is the Diamondbacks’ co-leader in homers. He and Chad Tracy both have 12. Shawn Green is in 3rd place with 7.
Byrnes is the team leader in slugging percentage (total bases divided by ABs) at .543. Second place is a tie between Johnny Estrada and Chad Tracy at .465.
Speaking of bases, Byrnes is second on the team in total bases with 121. (Chad Tracy has 134).
Byrnes is the runaway leader in XBH/H, i.e. the percentage of his hits that go for extra-bases. He’s 31/65 (.477). Chad Tracy is second with 31/79 (.392)
Byrnes is 3rd on the team in doubles, with 18. The team leader is Luis Gonzalez with 20, Chad Tracy is second with 19.
Byrnes is second on the team in stolen bases, with 8, but he has a much better success rate than team leader Craig Counsell, who has 9 stolen bases but has been caught 6 times. Byrnes has been caught only once.
Eric Byrnes is third on the team in batting average. At .291 he’s just behind Shawn Green at .293 and not far from team leader Johnny Estrada at .308.
Byrnesie’s in a three-way tie with Counsell and S. Green for third in runs scored with 36; Luis Gonzalez has 45 and Chad Tracy has 40.
There are two stats in which Byrnesie is weaker than we’d like to see. One is RBIs. There he ranks 6th (with 28). Of course, the entire team is showing weakness in that area. The D’Backs team leaders are Tracy and Estrada, with 40 each, closely followed by Conor Jackson with 39.
Why is Estrada, a .300+ hitter who is leading the team in RBIs, batting 7th?
The National League leaders are Ryan Howard (Phi) and Albert Pujols (StL) with 66, Lance Berkman (Hou) with 65 and Andruw Jones (Atl) with 64. If D’Backs hitters would drive in runs at the rate at which D’Backs pitchers are giving them up, the team would win more and the team leaders would be further up the league leader list in the RBI category.
But I digress. Back to Eric Byrnes.
DTLFL is most unhappy with Byrnesie’s AB totals. Despite being first, second or third in many offensive categories, Byrnes is only sixth in AB’s. He has 223 ABs. The team leader is Chad Tracy with 288. Among the starters, only rookie 1B Conor Jackson with 205 and catcher Johnny Estrada, who has 198 ABs and plays the most physically demanding position on the field, have fewer official times at the plate than Eric Byrnes.
Chad Tracy, the team leader in AB’s (and 4th in the NL in K’s), has appeared in 72 of the 74 games the D’Backs have played so far. And he has started almost all of those 72. I can recall one time he came off the bench as a pinch hitter. He was being given most of the day off after turning his ankle in a plate appearance in the game the night before. Eric Byrnes has appeared on only 61 of 74 games and has started only 52 of the 61. (He has NOT been on the DL). In one of those games in which he did not start, Byrnes appeared as an eighth-inning pinch runner, getting 0 AB (and not being driven in). In the other 8 games he was a pinch-hitter, getting only 1 AB, except in one game where he was left in and batted twice. (And DTLFL thinks this is a poor use of Byrnes. Pinch hitting is not one of his strengths).
I say Eric Byrnes isn’t getting enough playing time. He should have started 70 games already. What say you?
These blowouts getting so routine it’s becoming a bore to write about them. The D’Backs were down three runs before they had their first AB’s. The geographically-challenged Angels had no trouble finding home; the score was 5-0 before the D’Backs scored their first run in the 4th. Enrique Gonzalez gave up the first 5 runs; Jose Valverde, pitching the 7th, gave up the other three.
But let’s not rag on the Arizona pitchers all day today. If someone told you that one team, in this case the Angels, got 9 hits and 7 walks, while their opponents, in this case the D’Backs, got 10 hits and 6 walks, you would guess that it was a high scoring game, but not a blow out. Not 8-2.
Can you say "Lack of timely hitting"? I know you can.
All the position players were charged with at least 1 LOB. Shawn Green and Johnny Estrada left 5 a piece and Orlando Hudson left 4. One of the two runs scored by the Snakes was Chad Tracy driving himself in with a solo homer in the fourth. It was his 12th of the year, moving him back into a tie with Eric Byrnes for the team lead.
The only other score came when Conor Jackson walked with the bases loaded in the 5th. This brought home Jeff DaVanon from third. DaVanon had walked and moved to third on a Luis Gonzalez single. After Tracy walked to load the bases, Jackson walked to score the run. All this happened with only one out. But then S. Green popped to second (infield fly) and Johnny Estrada flied to center.
So the Snakes got only one run out of a bases-loaded situation and that came because of a bit of wildness by the pitcher, not because of a hit. Can’t win that way unless your pitchers are throwing shutout or near-shutout ball. In June, that has happened only three times: June 1 (D’Backs 2 – Braves 1); June 3 (D’Backs 4 – Braves 2), and June 13 (D’Backs 2 – Giants 1). I’m writing this on the morning of June 24.
This interleague game had no DH because it was played in a National League park. So Jeff DaVanon got the start against his old team at the expense of you know who. This is also getting so routine it’s becoming a bore, an infuriating bore, but a bore to write about, nonetheless. It was another day where the D’Backs starting lineup was complete except for center field.
Byrnesie was called on in the 8th to pinch-hit. As I have said time and again, this is not one of his strengths. He flied out to center, failing to advance a runner on first. Tony Clark and Andy Green, who preceded Byrnes in the game as pinch-hitters, also failed to hit safely.
DaVanon was 0-3 with 2 BB and 1 LOB. (A blip, really, compared to S. Green and Estrada).
Like I said before, can you say "Lack of timely hitting"? I know I can.
On my way to the laundromat today, I saw a truck belonging to a company called BubbleMedia on the corner of my street. I have seen several of these lately and I am beginning to wonder if the company’s HQ is in my neighborhood. But that’s the least of my wonderings with regard to this particular enterprise.
BubbleMedia trucks are large black trucks with a vague resemblance (to me anyways) of package delivery trucks. But the sides and the back have very large windows behind which various ads are displayed. The ads are printed on large sheets that are scrolled when the driver wants to change the ad in the window.
This is a new business and they don’t have too many clients yet. So far I have not seen any Giants or A’s ads on the trucks. I hope never to see baseball-related ads on these trucks and I hope the trucks, and the business itself soon disappear.
Every time I see one of these trucks I think, "Just what we need. Let’s waste gasoline driving ADS around!"
Do you have Bubble Media or something like it in your town? Do the vehicles carry any baseball-related ads?
Kéllia "There’ve got to be better ways to make money in America" Ramares