Moral Imperative, More Cowbell versus Red Sox!
You knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the bashing began. You knew it was going to take just one commercial like this one, or even one sentence from someone like me to get this rivalry kicked off again right. I have always been labeled an instigator, but in this series, I am but a fly on the wall. This series doesn’t need to be hyped up, it doesn’t need my help, it is a monster among itself ready to pounce and destroy. But this series seems to be starting on a timid mark, and right now it surely doesn’t need a fire lit under that keg of dynamite under either teams fan base.
Why try and put any exclamation points on this series? Why even try and promote it as a “Must Win” time of the year? If the Rays fan base has not already circled these dates on the calendar back in April with red ink would it still be important to people? So as we venture into Tropicana Field tonight hopefully the 14,000 unsold seats will be overtaken by local fans wanting to show support or fight for the home team. Armed with loud voices and other pesky cowbells, we shall overtake the senses of the Boston Red Sox and gain a small, but vital advantage at least on their minds.
My only answer to that is the fact that there are “Still good seat available” according to the Rays commercials both on the television and the radio concerning this series. And that pisses me off big time! That this region can not even fathom something of this major sports importance this late in a season and correspond with ticket sales is beyond me. I know we are new at this postseason rally stuff, and the excitement might not be as consistent as we all would like it to be, but even if it is a Tuesday night, and the worst night of the week for Rays ticket sales this season, it is beyond me that people are not behind this quest for the playoffs.
Hey, DVR Rescue Me and come on out to the Trop. and support this team like there is no tomorrow. Because if this series starts to go south in any way, it will could change our role from hopeful to spoiler in a matter of innings. For this team to get back into the playoff race they will have to start the longest winning streak of the season. And that is possible, but only if everyone, including the Rays community are on the same page. Because in stark reality, if the Rays fall short in this series, the playoff bubble will burst and the Rays will be fighting to mess up the seedlings for the playoffs instead of playing in them.
For years people around the Tampa Bay are asked for a competitive team and then they will decide to show up at games. Well it is “put up or shut up time” to the Tampa Bay community. This is your moment to make the fans back in Boston know who owns this town. This is our time to show the baseball world and those collective talking heads in Bristol that this town does have baseball fire in its belly. To show indifference or even spot vacant seats in the lower bowl is to give the Red Sox some ammunition to count out the Rays fans. It also gives credo to the MLB that maybe this region, or at least where the stadium is now is a deterrent to attendance.
This is time for everyone to “Feel the Heat!” All season long people have been pushing back Rays losses saying it is “not important at that moment” to consider that one loss important. well, that thinking has gotten us to this fragile point in the season where every loss is so critical it hurts deep to the team’s post season plans. How important is the Rays fans coming out to this series? Why should they venture out into the dark night and support this team right now? Because this team needs you!. Plain and simple, black and white. People have asked for this kind of atmosphere and now that we have it, the Trop is still half empty at the start of the game.
This team needs to show the Red Sox Nation and the collective baseball world that the road to the playoffs still have to come through Tropicana Field. But also has the plain white reality that the Rays are against the invisible brick wall right now and that should be double motivation for people to want to get on board and come out and support this team.
Sure the Red Sox will still have their legions of fans here even if we sold out the Trop. because some Boston fans were smart and bought their tickets back early in the season knowing that the Rays last home series between these teams could be a the deciding factor for either of them to rise into the playoff race. But now it comes down to the basics that even a single loss in this series is going to damper more than the possible playoff picture. A simple loss in this series puts all the pressure straight on top of the Rays to keep winning, or the Red Sox to begin winning.
And it doesn’t matter if the Red Sox are currently on a 3-game winning streak, this is a whole different set of parameters, and a different set of rules when you play the Rays. Nothing is taken for granted, and nothing is guaranteed to you. So let’s consider this for a moment. Just what does this series really mean to Tampa Bay?
***If they sweep the series with the Red Sox, they get within striking range of the Wild Card lead, but are still two games out of the lead.
***If they lose this series, it is the essential nail in the coffin because at 7-games back, the Red Sox would have to go into a huge tailspin for the Rays to consider a spot again this season.
***Even taking 1 out of 3 is not an attractive option right now since that would pop us back another 2 games with just over 30-ish to go in 2009.
So as you can tell, the optimal goal is to sweep the series and gain some control in this Wild Card race. Straight, to the point, all cards on the table. The Rays have not been under the gun like this in 2009. This is the time to see what they are truly made of, and if they have the fortitude and the mustard to sprint back into this playoff picture, or fall behind the leaders and be bystanders for the rest of the season.
And if you think the Red Sox have any plans of letting this team get close again to them, you got another thing coming to you. They will do anything and everything to crush this Rays opposition right here and right now in front of their home fans. And that would be a crushing blow to this Rays team, who praise and thank the fan base all the time for their efforts. The Red Sox have fashioned their rotation to basically resemble a 3-game playoff format and have stacked it in a way to secure as many wins as they can before leaving town.
And believe me, the guys in that Rays and Red Sox clubhouses both know what is at stake tonight. Each player on either team knows the importance of a win. And if you remember what has happened here at Tropicana Field between these two teams in 2009, you see a wide variety of conclusions. You can go onto both ends of the spectrum and see a 1-hitter thrown by Matt Garza that dazed and confused the Red Sox, to a extra inning affair highlighted by a errant catcher’s equipment bag making a firm voice in the game.
Expect the unexpected in this series. I am really thinking that a few well-called well-planned trick moves will be the difference in this series. It could be a double steal, it could be a hit and run that ends up in one of the outfield corners. It could even be a steal of home plate by someone. My expectations of this series is easy. I want to see each team sweat, get dirty and play until the last out….period. The outcome of each game I am hoping will come down to one moment that will define that game. I am not asking for a grand slam or even a complete game shutout, but one singular moment should define each game.
And that above everything else will define this series. Who do I think will take the prize? Well, if you have to ask, you have not been reading between the lines here. I would not be surprised if there are brooms here on Thursday night, but I also would not be surprised if there are not any here. This is a critical series in a critical month with results that will echo all the way to next February. One team has to want this more than the other. One team wants to defend their title and regain some respect from the National League. And the other is in attack mode. Knowing that a single defeat can dent their armor and maybe produce a crack that can not be fixed in time.
But the great thing about baseball, besides no time limit is the fact on any given day, anyone can come home with the victory. Both teams are hungry. Both teams have something to prove, but if we also do not come out here and produce noise, cheers and support this team, they could fold like a house of cards. So get those cowbells ready, get those vocal chords wet and ready for some screams and cheers, but mostly get out here for some September pennant action.
This is the last chance in 2009 to make your feelings known to the Red Sox faithful here and at home in Boston. Believe me, Red Sox fans hate those cowbells almost as much as I hate Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. But now is the call to arms, legs and fingers to those that claim to support this team. This is your teams silent request for you to show up and be loud and proud the next three days.
For if we are not loud and proud and showing our passion and excitement for playoff fever, then we might as well pack away the bells for another season, sit on our hands and watch this season slip away from us and the Rays players. But that is not an option here. So your presence is requested within the confines of Tropicana Field for one of the next three game against the Red Sox. And be sure to either wear your favorite Rays gear, or dress in anything not including the color red. Let’s see if we can make the Trop a sea of white and blue and only view a small patch here and there of Red tide.