Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’

This is Beyond Dedication


The last time the Red Sox were in Miami was
the summer of 2006. The closest they have been since then is when they played
the Orioles, whose facility was in Fort Lauderdale, in Spring Training last
year. Then they decided to make my life difficult by moving to Sarasota. Otherwise, the closest the Red Sox have been is Fort Myers, which is about
two-and-a-half hours from where I am. And those games don’t even count. So if I
want to see a Red Sox game in Florida that actually counts, I have to drive to
Tampa unless the gods of Interleague play decide to work in my favor.

Those of you familiar with the Florida terrain
know that any drive across or up the state is absolutely boring. There are no
hills or mountains, no really big cities that you can see from the highway:
nothing. You might see a group of cattle every now and then. And no, driving
through the Everglades is not cool. You will not see a panther, nor will you
see an alligator. You will only see trees. 

A four hour drive through this kind of terrain
doesn’t sound fun, but the ends clearly justify the means. A normal person
would have spent the night in Tampa, and maybe driven back the next day. It’s not that I’m not normal, it’s just that I didn’t have that option. You see, this series came at probably the most
inconvenient time for me: finals week. I decided that my best option was to go
to the last game of the series, on Wednesday night, because I only had my
French final the next day. 

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So after my Pre-Calculus final, my dad and I
hopped in the car and we were off. Google maps says that the drive is about
four-and-a-half hours. Somehow, we made it in about three-and-a-half. We
arrived before the gates opened, so we waited in line for a bit. When they were
checking my bag, they almost didn’t let me bring my Dustin Pedroia salsa
inside, but it ended being alright. 

Those who work at Tropicana Field are very
clever. They open the inside of the stadium itself at 5:10 pm, but they don’t
let you in to the seating sections until 5:40. Basically, they want you to buy
stuff. Honestly, I do not feel like I’m in a baseball stadium when I am at the
Trop; I feel like I’m at some stupid carnival. It’s air-conditioned, and
it just doesn’t feel like a real baseball stadium. My father and I didn’t
weight our options quite well enough for food. We basically stopped at the
first place we saw, and we got these sausages with peppers and onions on top.
They were fairly decent, but nothing like the sausages at City of Palms
Park. 

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We were finally let in to the seating bowl, I
went straight to the dugout. I’m pretty sure that the security guard decided I
was mildly insane as soon as I put my Dustin Pedroia salsa (which expired in
February) on the dugout. Well, Dustin Pedroia did not sign my Dustin Pedroia
salsa. But I was able to get Darnell McDonald’s signature (he was the only guy
that signed). His signature looks a little bit different now than it did during
the Spring, but not by much. 

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We had great seats: twelve rows behind the Red
Sox dugout. I found it a bit weird that we were row ‘W’ though, yet we were 12
rows back. The Rays clearly do not know their alphabet. Luckily our row was
filled entirely with Red Sox fans, and they were absolutely great to converse
with. Even the two Rays fans in front of us–season ticket holders since
1999–were very kind. The cowbells weren’t even that obnoxious. I’d be willing
to bet that opposing teams, and especially opposing pitchers, hate playing at the Trop. 

I really just do not like Tropicana Field. I understand the necessity of retractable roofs for stadiums located in areas where it always rains. But a dome? Baseball was not meant to be played indoors. Billy Crystal says, There’s a very peaceful thing: it was created and played in pastures and
meadows. There’s grass, there’s outdoors, there’s everything that people though
was American and feel about America.” The Trop just does not make me feel like I’m at a baseball stadium. I wonder what the players think of it; I’ll have to ask one of them. They even give you a weather update, and I’m just sitting there asking myself, ‘How is this at all relevant?”

I was really hoping that the Red Sox would win
the game because driving back four hours after seeing a loss would not have been fun.
I was hoping that Lackey would continue in the streak of stellar outings from
our starters (at that time). He didn’t pitch a gem like Matsuzaka’s one-hitter, or Lester’s
gem, but he pitched well enough for the Red Sox to win, and that’s what counts.
Lackey’s main problem was that he was inefficient with his pitches. Nevertheless, his balls to strikes ratio was significantly better than Matt Garza’s that night. 

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Adrian Beltre was absolutely on fire this
game. He hit two home runs (the first of which is pictured above), and he was a
double shy of the cycle. He may make errors sometimes, but his bat has been such a valuable part of the lineup. He is among the league leaders in batting average, and has generally been great with runners in scoring position. 

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David Ortiz hit an opposite field home run, which was great to see. He really turned it around in May, but I still think mild skepticism during April was appropriate (maybe not during the first week, but after that). He simply was not seeing pitches well in April, and he was always getting behind in the count. Ortiz has struggled during June though. He was something like 1-for-24 on this road trip. Some people (like Jon Lester and Mark Teixeira) just aren’t April guys, and maybe Ortiz is just one of those guys now. 

Being at that game was such a great birthday present. The Red Sox offense was just so in sync. By the time the game ended, everyone around me was wishing me luck on my French final. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority thought that I was a bit nuts for being in Tampa when I had a final four hours South the next day. 

On our way back, my dad and I picked up some 5-hour energy. My dad drank it to keep him alert on the long drive home, and I saved it for the next morning. Believe me, that stuff works, and it actually doesn’t taste too bad. I don’t blame you if you think I’m a little bit crazy for doing this, but I don’t regret it for a second. When my response to “Why do you look like a zombie today?” was “Oh, I was in Tampa last night”, I got some strange looks. If I can’t bring the Red Sox to myself, I’ll bring myself to the Red Sox.  

I’m kind of upset that my school wouldn’t let me rearrange my finals though. They let other people do that if they were leaving on vacation, or going to their brother’s graduation… but they wouldn’t let me rearrange my finals for this? This is my life. It disappoints me that some people just cannot accept that this is more than just a game for me.  Who are they to decide what has more merit? Going to a baseball game or going to a graduation? It’s completely subjective! Passion is relative.

This is beyond dedication; this is beyond baseball.

Thanksgiving Dinner Consisted of… classic baseball games?

Even though baseball season is over, MLB.com/Live helps the baseball fans who are suffering withdrawal, cope with the offseason. Today, they showed Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, a classic game. curt-schilling-bloody-sock.jpg

It was the bloody sock game, where Curt persevered through seven amazing innings; 

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it was the game where A-Rod knocked the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove, and then claimed that he didn’t do it; and it was the game where Mark Bellhorn hit a controversial three run homer. The umps had to confer twice, once when Mark Bellhorn hit the home run because it was originally ruled a ground-rule double, but replays showed that it bounced off a fan. They conferred again after A-Rod knocked the ball out of Arroyo’s glove, and replays once again clearly showed that A-Rod was guilty. As Arroyo said when he was asked to comment about the situation: “It was desperate measures, during desperate times”. If these calls hadn’t been overturned, the entire series could’ve been completely different. But that’s the beauty of baseball right? I wish I had MLB.com/Live, that would’ve been a great game to watch. 
It was after Thanksgiving dessert, which consisted of apple pie or chocolate cake, and we were just looking through the TV Guide for something to watch. My dad and I were absolutely thrilled when we found out that Sun Sports was broadcasting a Tampa Bay Rays Encore game. It was the game from April 27, 2008, a Red Sox vs Rays game. It was Josh Beckett vs James Shields, one of the best match-ups in the game. You guys might remember this game if you saw the highlight of Beckett’s error on a pick-off attempt, and seeing the ball roll slowly into right field, and then JD Drew’s throwing error. Both errors combined to allow Jason Bartlett to score from first base. Mike Lowell was on the DL, although I don’t exactly remember why, and JD Drew was healthy because he was playing in right field. The way that you could really tell, that it was young in the season was that a) the Orioles were in first place, and b) Manny Ramirez was still on the Red Sox. They skipped through innings, which was kind of annoying, but it was just so cool to watch Pedroia bat and think, wow, that’s the future AL MVP right there, and he doesn’t even know it yet. And to see Jason Varitek behind the plate and be thinking, Theo’s got to re-sign him, no matter what. I didn’t even look up the score of the game, because that would’ve ruined the beauty of baseball a little. The Sox ended up getting swept but it didn’t matter. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t a huge playoff game, the fact of the matter was, it was baseball, and that’s all that matters. 
Wednesday night, I had watched the Ken Burns baseball movies, 1970-1994 edition, and it was absolutely incredible to watch. Game 6 of the 1975 World Series… Carlton Fisk’s home run. It was so beautiful. And of course, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. I hadn’t seen “the play” in a really long time. But it was absolutely heart breaking. God do I feel bad for Bill Buckner, but to be honest, it probably would’ve taken me a long time to forgive him, I wasn’t even alive during that time period, so I don’t know how it felt live. Red Sox agony is tough, as Burns put it. Cubs agony is never even getting there, but Red Sox agony is getting so close, but seeing it slip out of your hands. 
Thanksgiving was great here in South Florida, we drove up to see my grandparents in Stuart, FL and we had a huge dinner. We didn’t even have turkey ironically enough, we had a great pot roast, and some apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert. In a way, my thanksgiving dinner consisted of some classic, heart breaking, baseball games as well. 
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, filled with plenty of food, and plenty of things to be thankful for. 
-Elizabeth

ALCS and NLDS predictions/overview

Even though I am an avid Red Sox fan, let’s try and analyze as objectively as possible the division series. As October Gonzo says, we’re down to the “final four” and he’s made some predictions, but I have plenty of my own.

ALCS: Red Sox vs Rays
Lots of people have been talking about experience, and if you’re talking about that, then the Red Sox have it, but not necessarily in the best of ways. We’ve won the world series seven times, but think about all the times that we didn’t win. It’s a lot. Then again, the Sox did make the biggest comeback in major league history in the ’04 ALCS. But we’re not talking about the past, we’re talking about the present, and the future. The Rays have ultimately represented the “Cinderella Story” of baseball, they were dead last in 2007 and they won the division in 2008. What a turnaround. The question is, when do they run out of gas? As for the Red Sox, well, we have continually been plagued by injuries (as you can see in my first entry). Now we’re playing with an injured JD Drew and an injured Beckett (and his Game 3 ALDS performance was not satisfactory). Mike Lowell isn’t even eligible for play until the World Series, but as of now, he has no range of motion and his hitting is anything but stellar. Regardless of the injuries (which were evident in the ALDS), we just beat the best team in major league baseball, the Angels (100-62). The Rays have a lot to do. 
My prediction: Red Sox in 6 or 7 (just because we like to make it difficult for ourselves in the ALCS)
Dodgers vs Philles
To be honest, I don’t really keep up with the national league as much, but I’ll give you what I can. It is clear that the Dodgers have a renewed sense of spirit since their acquisition of Manny Ramirez, a future hall-of-fame man and a menace in the post season. It’s not much to say that they beat the Cubs in the ALDS because the Cubs just looked horrendous. Unfortunately, that’s just about all I can give you. The Philles on the other hand have been consistent throughout the season in a tough division. They have a scary offense too, look at Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell. I am no expert on predictions but I’m still going to make one. 
My prediction: Dodgers in 6 
Let’s take a look at the other teams who are no longer in the post season and what made them crumble.
Brewers: C.C. Sabbathia did not come through, and if he can’t come through, then I honestly don’t know who can. Against a strong Philadelphia pitching staff (assuming there…) their offense could only produce one win. They did have a nice run going for them though.
Cubs: It now marks 100 long years that the Cubs have not won a World Series, and watching that series, I wondered where the goat was. Their pitching was actually decent but their offense was just horrendous. Alfonso Soriano going 0-5? There’s definitely something off right there. They were so consistent throughout the year too, Cubs fans must be devastated. 
Angels: They had the best record in baseball, and last year, the team with the best record (the Red Sox) won it all. So the question is, how could they not win it? They have Vladmir Guerrero, Torii Hunter (SEVEN gold gloves), Chone Figgins, and the infamous K-Rod. On the one hand, they snapped a long drought of losses against the Red Sox in post season play, but they still failed to pick up more than one game. Virtually every game was close though since both teams are so strong. People like Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew and of course, Jed Lowrie really did come through. Games 3 and 4 were undoubtedly the best. Game 3 lasted 12 long innings and Game 4 quite literally, went to the bottom of the ninth. This series, truly represented the beauty of baseball. Numbers don’t really matter, anyone can do it. 
White Sox: Their record was not as good as Tampa Bay (or the Red Sox for that matter) and the White Sox only won one game against the Rays… THE RAYS. What a crazy story that is. It’s not that they played horribly like their fellow Chicago team, they just could not matchup against the Rays. 
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