Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Grief--Is It Safe to Look Yet?

I've been rooting for the Rays all season, as well as for the Saux. I was thrilled for the Rays and their fans, who seem to have multiplied like fishes and loaves, when they finished first in the East. DIdn't mind at all that they finished ahead of the Saux, kind of liked their dramatic rise from worst to first. What was important in the AL East standings was that the Rays and the Saux finished ahead of the Yankees--the Saux didn't even have to make it to the Wild Card as long as they finished ahead of the Yankees,

And I was happy when the Rays and the Saux both won their ALDS. I wasn't until they faced each other for the first game of the ALCS that my fealty was tested. I thought I wanted to see the Rays go all the way, but watching Dice-K loading the bases in Tampa Bay, I couldn't bear to see the Saux lose and not make it to the Series.

So I have watched little of this round of the play-offs, though the scores indicate it's been a wild one, pitching duels and home run derbies, not to mention a comebacker like only the Saux can do. When the score for game five was 4-0 I figured the Saux were still in it, but when it went 7-0, I figured it was over and went to bed, only to flip back and see the Saux finally on the board, 7-4, and I recalled that game in 2004 when they were down 7-0 going into the bottom of the ninth in Fenway against the Yanks and won it 8-7.

I'm going to watch tonight, still wanting the Rays to make it to the World Series, but not wanting the Saux to lose.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Combo Post

The final week of the 2008 season had a number of things to note.

It included the 100th anniversary of Merkle's Boner, the baserunning blip that eventually cost the Giants the pennant and sent the Cubs to their most recent World's Series win.

It also included the 100th anniversary of back-to-back shutout wins in a doubleheader, both games pitched by the same man, Ed Reulbach. It's unusual enough to find a pitcher throwing two games in one day, well, in my lifetime it is though it wasn't unheard of during baseball's first century, but for a pitcher to start both halves of a doubleheader and win both games is incredible, but Reulbach shut out the opponents in both games, gave up only 8 hits total that day.

The final Friday of the 2008 regular season saw a slight irregularity that displayed appropriate respect and love when the Red Sox made an exception to their rules regarding retiring players numbers. Johnny Pesky's number 6 will go up on the right field roof along side his teammate Ted Williams (technically it will be beside Yaz's 8) to honor a man who has devoted his life to the Red Sox and Red Sox Nation. He began in baseball as the bat boy/clubhouse kid in the PCL, played through some wonderful years with the Saux, and to this day continues to work with the team.

The last week also provided me with a chance to see another of My Guys playing for the Saux. Gil Velazquez was a promising shortstop when he first arrived in Binghamton. In 2001 he lost his father, and struggled to finish that season. He played a couple more seasons with the B-Mets, during his final season there went through a slump which was broken when, at a friend's son's advice, he had the theme song from Sponge Bob Squarepants played when he came to the plate. When Gil returned the next season as a member of the visiting Fisher Cats, his first at bat was recognized by that song being played over the PA system. Last year I saw him playing for Rochester and was happy for him that he had finally reached AAA. I hadn't seen him at all in 2008 so I was pleasantly surprised when I turned on the final game, the final Sunday, as Gil was coming to bat for the Red Sox.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rays v Cubs

From the day the Tampa Bay Rays took over first place in the AL East, people have been saying it can't last, they're going to fold. And each time people asked me what I thought of the Rays being in first, I said I was excited about it and although they might fold, I didn't think they would.

For a couple years I've been saying the Tampa Bay organization has been putting together an interesting team, one that would some day soon be a contender. Although to be totally honest I didn't expect them to launch directly to the top so soon. I figured they'd be third or maybe even second in the division as this season got underway. In response to my my opinion that they were building a good team, more than one person dragged out that old chestnut about blind squirrels and acorns, but if that were so, how can so many other teams have fallen so short so many years?

The Rays are made up of wise (and lucky, let's be honest about the effect luck has on baseball) minor league trades and rejected player pick ups. They have not rushed the team, but let them develop.

At the All-Star break people were asking me when I thought the Rays would fold, and I said I don't think that they will. When Labor Day and the stretch drive arrived, people asked me if the Rays were about to fold because it was impossible for a perennial cellar dweller to rise to the top and dominate a strong division, and again I said I don't think they're going to fold.

People give me quizzical looks when I say I'm rooting for the Rays this year and have been all season long. They ask, "What about the Red Sox?" and I say it would be fine with me if the Saux win another World Series, but the big thrill of that win was at its greatest back in 2004. Following the Rays' domination of the AL East has been the most interesting aspect of the 2008 season, and I am rooting for them to win the AL pennant and take on the Cubs.