Tagged: playoffs

ALDS Game 1–Is it really here?

Tomorrow it begins.

I know, that sounds a little overdramatic.  As if it is something from a bad Michae Bay movie.  But for me tomorrow is a huge day.

ALDS Game 1.

I’m going to see how many times I can naturally work that phrase into this post.

My Rays played 162 games in order to put themselves in position to play ALDS Game 1.  It is a pretty prestigious place to be, considering so many other MLB teams wish they could be right here.

When I got my postseason ticket order form a while back, I didn’t have to consider much about whether or not I would be buying a package.

Of course I would.

And now I am giddy with excitement, anticipating getting into the car tomorrow morning and heading out to the Trop for a little tailgating and a little ALDS Game 1.

I’m meeting some friends in the parking lot (my wife will be showing up shortly afterwards) for a little fun in the brisk morning sun (we’ve been getting as low as the mid-50s in the morning–sweet!) before walking inside the Trop to watch our boys take on the Texas Rangers and the vaunted lefty, Cliff Lee.

I cannot wait.

I picked up my “playoff” hat over this past weekend.  You know, the bRAYzer hat that is all the rage in the area these days.

New Era Plaid AC Caps

It is pretty sweet, in a totally dorky and geeky way.

Hey, it’s the playoffs!

Hey, it’s ALDS Game 1.

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Pitching Analysis

The Rays are sending none other than 2010 Cy Young candidate and 2008 rookie postseason phenom David Price to the bump to take on an amazing pitcher for Texas, Cliff Lee.

Both are lefties and both are the aces of their respective staffs.

They matched up in early August for what many considered the game of the year.  It wasn’t bad.  The Rays ended up winning that one 6-4 when they rallied (I had started getting ready for bed–I’m not old…just tired) improbably against Lee.

When you look at each guy’s numbers, you have to be impressed.  But what is worrisome is when you see that Price is winless in four starts against the Rangers with a ******** 7.45 ERA!!!

However, Price is in a spot where he has thrived in the past.  I think he’ll thrive again tomorrow.

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Keys to Victory

The Rays won the season series agianst the Rangers 4-2, winning the last four games they played against Texas.

What is even more awesome is that they swept the Rangers at the Trop, where ALDS Game 1 takes place tomorrow afternoon.

Sweet.

So here’s what our Boys in Blue need to do to get a win in ALDS Game 1.

Price Price Baby!  He’s got to give the Rays 6 strong.  Not kinda good, but strong.  Any starter who gets knocked around in game 1 of any playoff series ends up depleting his bullpen and lowering hope for the rest of the series.  So Price needs to come out and set the tone.

 

Make Lee Work.  If the Rays go out and flail away at Lee’s fastball or slider, then they’ll have a long night.  It is no secret that this team is the worst when it comes to striking out.  The only thing that helps them is that they are #1 in walks too!  Patience, boys…

 

Capitalize with a Capital C!  When the situation presents itself, and it will, the Rays have to take advantage.  When they get that runner on third base with less than 2 outs, they have to bring him in, yes.  But I’m talking about that moment where the game is in the balance and a hit there, or a walk, or a strikeout can shift the game clearly in the Rays favor.  We need that.

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1:37 Game Time?  Seriously?

I almost spit out my Diet Coke when I saw the game times flashed up on the screen on Sunday.  I could not believe at all that MLB could be such a–holes and make the BEST team in the American League play in the afternoon while reserving a prime spot for six other teams.

How fair is that?

So now I–along with many other die hard Rays fans–will be taking a day off of work (I even had to cancel a very needed basketball practice) so that we can drive across the bridge to the Trop for ALDS Game 1.

I think that the Rays deserve a lot more respect than they got with this time slot, but, as usual, they will overcome the rest of the doubters and do something very special this postseason–just like in 2008.

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Kevin Kennedy Gone

It is with sadness that I report that color analyst Kevin Kennedy has been dismissed from his television duties with the Rays.

Yeah, sad.  Uh-huh.

The guy was boring and never met a lame catchphrase he didn’t like.

If I had a nickel for everytime the guy said “Paint” to describe hitting the black on the plate with a great pitch, I wouldn’t have to worry about calling off work to go to tomorrow’s game.

I’d be retired.

He was a good guy, no doubt.  I’ll never forget when he subdued the guy on his red-eye flight who was saying crazy terrorist stuff.  That was great. 

But I couldn’t take it anymore.

Next season it’ll be Dwayne Staats and Brian Anderson calling games.  Anderson will bring some serious energy to the broadcast. 

About time.

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Exalted

The Rays did it. 

I’m just feeling great right now. 

Seeing the boys spray the champagne and beer.  Watching Don Zimmer get doused with champagne by BJ Upton.  Seeing Matt Garza with his diving mask on. 

These are memories.

You start off the season hoping your team will be good enough to be one of the final 8 teams after 162 games.

When it happens, it is tough to put into words. 

The Rays aren’t supposed to be here.  It’s supposed to be the Yankees and Red Sox.  The Rays are supposed to be small market also-rans. 

And here they are clinching a playoff berth. 

And here they are watching the Minnesota Twins struggle against the Kansas City Royals, hoping to get that much closer to the best record in the AL and home field advantage throughout the AL side of the playoffs.

It’s tough to explain.

Joe Maddon said it best when he said that 2008 was pandemonium and 2010 is more controlled. 

I agree to an extent.

I’m happy.  I’m ecstatic. 

But I’m not just happy to be here.

I want to see the boys do something.  I want to see them win the Series.  2008 was a time when we were happy to be there and kept getting more and more surprised with each playoff win. 

But it seems that in 2010 there is a job to do.

I’m happy.

I’m blown away.

I have chills.

And I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Great job, Rays.

Thanks for giving your fans a hell of a year.

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This might sound dumb, but I wanted to say THANKS to those who have continued to stop by the blog.  I have stopped by your blogs too, but have not really had the time to leave comments as I usually do. 

I have had alot going on these days–who doesn’t, right?–and I have let my blogging duties lapse.  I miss it, and I hope that when things settle down for me I’ll be able to get more involved with talking baseball with all of you great folks.   

Thanks for being a great ‘sphere…

Sox, Yanks, Sheesh!

Man, this is quite a season.

I don’t think it compares with 2008, to be honest, because that season was a season of “firsts” all over the place.  This year has a “been there, done that” feel while infusing every game with a new kind of enthusiasm.

No longer is it, ” I hope.”

Now, it is “I expect.”

Who knew that would happen?

The Rays took on the Red Sox last week.  Sure, the series did not go as Rays fans would have liked, but it wasn’t a sweep.  And, to be honest, seeing the Sox 7 1/2 games in the rearview mirror (along with their pale hosed counterparts from Chicago) makes any loss to Boston totally endurable.

But to follow that big series with a much BIGGER series against the Yanks, well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have a heart condition.

It’s getting tough to take!

Tonight’s game has been simply amazing.  CC Sabathia and David Price have shown why they are two of the top candidates in the Cy Young race.  So far, each pitcher has absolutely shut down the other’s vaunted offense.

(Currently, the Rays have first and second with 1 out in the 8th)

What is at stake in this series–heck, in this GAME?

No less than first place.

Man, I love baseball.

Watching these two teams battle as they have tonight, go pitch by pitch, at bat by at bat, has been a delight one can get from few other endeavors.

Forget the football on ESPN.  I have my main event right here.

I don’t know how this series will go. 

But, I will tell you that I don’t HOPE the Rays will win.

I EXPECT it. 

Isn’t that what happens when you believe in your boys?

What a game.

Go Rays!

This is a Big ‘Un

Rays and Red Sox.

There was a time when this phrase meant little more than a full Trop–full of Sox hats and jerseys and ugly, invasive fans.

However, the last three seasons have seen a big shift in the meaning of this incredibly intense rivalry.

They battled in 2008 all season long and into the 7th game of the ALCS.  In 2009 the Rays, despite a rough season, gave the Sox all they could handle.  And now in 2010 our Boys in Blue have dominated those Bostonians to an 8-4 season clip, including two series sweeps and a 2-game series split. 

And it has been oh so much fun.

Beating the Red Sox is like celebrating your birthday, but so much more often.

This series is going to go a long way towards determining who makes the playoffs and who plays golf in October.

The Rays are tied with the Yanks for first place in the impossible AL East, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Sawx.  A series sweep by the Rays this weekend, with only a month left in the season, would all but end Boston’s playoff hopes.

But you have to give those guys credit (though I hate to); they have to be one of the most banged up clubs in the league (9 guys on the DL right now) and yet they can still see a playoff spot in the distance.

But it is a long distance.

Several scenarios could emerge from this weekend’s series:

1–The Rays sweep, go up 8 1/2 games, and end Boston’s season.

2–Boston sweeps, closes to wthin 2 1/2 games, and gain momentum and hope.

3–One of these two teams pick up a game on the other.

Scenarios 1 and 2 sound pretty exciting.  Number 3 is a yawner.

The pitching matchup tonight has to be one of the most exciting of the entire season.  Cy Young candidate David Price takes on fading Cy Young candidate Jon Lester

Wow.

Two of the best lefties in MLB. 

No wonder everybody’s clamoring for tickets.  And those who won’t be at the Trop will certainly be crowded around the tv.

Football season might be closing in, but we have one incredible brawl about to take place in ol’ St. Pete.

Let’s get ready to rumble…

Championship Time in Charlotte?

The Rays’ Single-A team, the Charlotte Stone Crabs, are in the final game of their championship series.  They beat the Tampa Yankees 3-1 tonight to force a decisive Game 5.

Ok, ok, I know it isn’t MLB.  But right now this is the most compelling story in the Rays organization, so deal.

A win Wednesday night would mean that the Rays franchise would get another championship under its belt (to go with those from Durham and the AL Championship last season with the MLB club) and maybe give Rays fans something to be proud of.

Not that we are disappointed with our Big Show guys, but, well…

I am sure that one guy who will be rooting hard for a Stone Crabs win tomorrow night is this one right here.

After all, he IS the owner! 

No doubt Mr. Ripken will be ecstatic to see his club win it all in its inaugural season.

Game 5 will take place at 7:05 at picturesque Charlotte Sports Park–a great place to catch a ballgame. 

And imagine this, tickets are still available! 

Ok, that is a little tongue-in-cheek but I did a search and was tantalized by Row 1 tickets directly behind home plate for the game.  Hmmmm…do I have the guts to buy ’em?

90 minutes each way.

Work on Thursday.

Decisions, decisions…

Either way, tomorrow night will be fun.

Be sure to tune in on the Stone Crabs’ website for free online radio streaming.  That’s how I’ve been keeping up with the team.

They have some serious talent there.  One guy I’m sure we’ll see in a Rays uni soon is a pitcher named David Newman.  He has logged 2 wins in the playoffs against no losses and has thrown some serious baseball.  He got the win tonight in a must-win game.  Those are the kinds of kids we need with the big club.  He won’t be there for a while, but it’ll be cool when he arrives.

So if you need a break from $20 million dollar men (and who doesn’t?), tune in to the game.

Good stuff…

Go Ra–er–Stone Crabs!

Reality and a Haircut

I got a haircut this morning.

Nothing special, just a trim on the sides and a straightening up on the top.  It was pretty run-of-the-mill.

As I sat in the chair, though, a dose of reality was thrown my way via my barber-ess and those around her. 

She wanted to know if I was watching the big game today. 

You know, the Bucs vs. Cowboys game. 

I also heard others in the shop being asked the same question, to which the response was pretty much a resounding “Yes.”

I responded to my hair cutter that I would be watching, but with 3/4 of an eye on the Rays game.

Luckily, she had put down the hair shears before I threw out that little nugget because her response was one of disbelief.  She assured me that she loved the Rays, but that they had fallen out of it; that it was time to see if we could get a winner on the gridiron intstead of the Trop field turf.

My first reponse was going to be one of frustration, that the fans would not want to watch a double header with one of our biggest rivals while also keeping an eye on the football game.

But then, I thought….(this was pretty much during the time when I had to close my eyes while she trimmed the front).

And I came to a realization:

I don’t blame her.

Before you get all disgusted and self-righteous, bear with me…

Why should we watch the Rays right now?  No doubt, die-hard fandom rules dictate that putting your hometown baseball team on the tube whenever they play is a no-brainer until the season comes to a halt.  That simply watching your guys play is always a good time.

But I would argue that that time came and went weeks ago.

Don’t me wrong, I love the Rays.  Always have, always will.  But the last few weeks have been a display of brutal baseball followed by worse baseball. 

I know that people get on fans–especially baseball fans in this area–all the time for lack of committment.  It is kind of en vogue–for fans of other teams AND for fans of the Rays.   

When do the fans get to get on the team for lack of committment?

Not doing so should lead many to be committed, but not in the good way!

I “kept an eye on” the first game of the double header today against Boston only to see the bullpen blow another game and the offense sputter again.  We scored 1 run for the 2nd game in a row against Bawston and for the 4th time during this now 10-game losing streak.

Yep, that’s right, we have scored 1 run 4 times in the last 10 games.

Isn’t this supposed to be a playoff push? 

Aren’t we supposed to be contending with spirited efforts and dramatic play?

If we are, our guys have missed the memo.

Don’t give me the crap that we have lost Carlos Pena for the season or that BJ Upton’s sprained ankle has pushed us into the doldrums.  I don’t buy it.  While those two guys have been a big part of our success the last two years, the fact is that their production could have been mimicked by any number of players in the short term who have had to step up in the last few weeks.  That’s what good teams are able to do.

Yet, none have stepped up.

And that is not just offensively.  Our pitching has fallen apart–especially at the end of games–to complement the extreme lack of hitting.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with voicing a concern about the team you love so much.  How could there be?  That is what being a REAL fan is about. 

Accountability.

To simply accept with a wink and a smile the garbage that the Rays have spewed on the field the last 10 games would be asinine–an exercise in insanity.

We don’t have to turn our backs on the team, of course.  But it is the responsiblity of the fans to keep our boys in check.  To let them know that their effort as of late has been unacceptable.

Going through a small losing streak that might cause you to fall out of contention in the last month of the season is one thing.  It happens all the time.  You drop 3 or 4 in a row and find yourself outside looking in.

But losing 10 games?

Seriously?

Something far more grievous is going on here, though I’m not smart enough to figure it out.  The Rays have–gulp–seemingly quit on the season and are enduring the punishment that comes to all quitters. 

Last season was wonderful.  A time that all Rays fans will never forget. 

There was a run a little more than a month ago that was just as memorable; a run that made this year fun and restored hope to the masses.

But this last month has shown that the magical mix that we have loved for the last two seasons is a little out of whack.  That something has been added too much or too little.

This offseason things might change a little bit.

This offseason, get ready for a trim.  And it ain’t gonna be pretty.