One of the greatest things about being successful is that you can create a buzz about your team from sea to shining sea in the United States. After we disposed of the Chicago White Sox in 4 games, the Tampa Bay Rays have set their sights on an old nemesis, the Boston Red Sox.
In years past this was not a rivalry, much less a lamb to the slaughter type of series. But with the Rays having claim to the American League East as the only team NOT from the Northeast to hold it since 1997, it will be sweet and delightful on the palate.
I am not saying this will be a one-sided, you lay down now type pf series. Both teams have alot of pride and their character will be tested early on in this matchup. Boston has to bring its Chowderheads into the sunshine and deposit their faithful in the new horror of the American League. There have been hundreds of comments on the cowbells and either you love them, or you hate them.
I am a card carrying, latin percussion cowbell guy, and I got the broken cowbells and bell-beatened cowbells to prove it. I am one of the first of the Maddon’s Maniacs group and I stand tall in the use of this musicial phenomenon to pulsate and deafen the Boston cheers. You can say you still hear them from time to time in the Trop. Well, we might let them have a little to make them think they can do more, then shut the door on them with the clanging and the slapping of our little noisemakers of choice.
We do not have the 7th inning staple of singing Neil Diamond yet, but I would not sing Neil Diamond for World Series tickets …………sorry. We have had a few rap and local bands produce theme songs this year, and you know we will have a musical mentor by the end of the series. It will not be Journey and their classic “Don’t Stop Believing”, it is already been done and is a bit cheesy at best to me.
But then again, we will not go totally retro or even modern by pronouncing a rap or hard rock act as our mentors in this series. Just becuase we adopted the cowbell from a Blue Oyster Cult track does not mean we will play “Don’t Fear the Reaper” 2 million times over the next few games. We will also not be a Loverboy mark and over play “Working for the Weekend” until your ears bleed.
We are a team that is still searching for it’s musical voice. But you can be sure that if we hit the big stage at the World Series, we will have a song and a prayer in our corner to hop aboard the big train and ride baby ride.
I have ebbn curious about what the local and national media hounds think about the series starting tonight at Tropicana Field. I have gathered a few snippets and really odd predictions from the media masses from coast to coast. Enjoy as you see local and Boston journalists’ pick the locals and the visitors’ as victors in this war for the right to represent the American League in the World Series:
Boston Globe: Dan Shaughnessy, Nick Cafardo, and Amalie Benjamin pick the Sox in seven, while Adam Kilgore and Tony Massarotti like the Rays in six.
St. Petersburg Times staff: Marc Topkin and Gary Shelton pick the Rays in six. Joe Smith and Dave Scheiber go with Rays in seven. Brent James and John Romano both like the Sox in a series to go the distance.
Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post: Red Sox in seven. “There’s been no stopping the Rays, but Boston takes it up a notch in October.”
ESPN.com staff: Jason Stark and Jerry Crasnick pick the Sox in six, while Steve Phillips goes with Boston in seven. Rob Neyer and Buster Olney both pick the Rays in six.
Tim Kurkijan, ESPN: Red Sox in seven “The Rays averaged only 3.7 runs per game in the 18 games against the Red Sox this year. Boston did a really good job on B.J. Upton, who went 5-for-39 (.128). Lester was dominant against the Rays, as were Boston’s two primary left-handed relievers, Hideki Okajima and Javier Lopez, who did not allow a run in 15 1/3 innings. The two pitchers the Rays did hit hard were reliever Justin Masterson and starter Tim Wakefield, who combined for four losses and 19 runs allowed in 29 2/3 innings.”
CNNSI.com staff: Jon Heyman and Ben Reiter pick the Red Sox, while Tom Verducci, John Donovan, Ted Keith, Albert Chen, Lee Jenkins, and Gennaro Filice all toss their support Tampa Bay’s way.
Ken Rosenthal, FOXsports.com: Rays in six.” The Rays are more athletic, and their offense is at full strength now that Carl Crawford is back from his finger injury. The Sox’s vast edge in experience cannot be dismissed, but the Rays are a more complete team. By the end of this series, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton could be major stars. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but everything adds up.”
Danny Knobler, CBS Sports: Red Sox. “They won’t back down against Boston, either, and they won’t be intimidated by Fenway Park. They’ll run on Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek when they can, and they’ll keep coming at the Red Sox all the way through. Still, the prediction here is that they’ll fall just short. The young Rays are good enough to win, but the Red Sox are just a little bit more prepared to come out on top when it really counts.”
Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun: Rays in six.
Jose Mota, Yahoo! sports: Rays.” The Rays seem like the Team of Destiny, circa 2008, and with the young and talented weapons they possess, the baseball culture is already changed in Florida.”
Yahoo! sports staff: Steve Henson and Gordon Edes pick the Red Sox in seven, while Tim Brown likes Boston in six. Jeff Passan goes with the Rays in six.
Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News: Red Sox in seven. “Tampa Bay has played excellent baseball since the start of the season and stared down the Red Sox and Yankees to win the AL East. They have home-field advantage and won the season series 10-8. But it’s impossible to argue against the Red Sox’ postseason experience. The bullpen is in better shape. And there is no telling what kind of madness the Rays are going to experience at Fenway Park in October.”
Ron Shandler, BaseballHQ.com in USA Today: Red Sox in seven. “The Red Sox need a healthy Beckett, or Lester to pitch every game, to guarantee their third trip to the World Series in five years. Failing that, this is going to be a very close, possibly high scoring series, and may simply come down to experience.”
Ryan Fagan, The Sporting News: Red Sox in seven. “Francona’s postseason resume with the Red Sox is impressive (two World Series titles), as is his ability to keep his team on an even keel when trouble arises. He kept his team focused when down three games to none to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and again last year when the Sox trailed the Indians 3-1 in the ALCS. Even against the Angels, when Lowell was hurting and Beckett and Matsuzaka delivered subpar efforts, the Red Sox still lost only one game.”
My pick: Rays in seven.
Say what you want about the rotation being set up the way it is, but ultimately, it’s a game that is won and loss most night in the first 6 innings of the game. I think that the Rays, if they get ahead early and establish a consistant pitching performance from their big 4, it will be lights out for the Sox. The Sox do not want any part of our Bullpen streaming the game along after 7 with setting down the batters one by one until the Rays celebrate the win.