History Will Not Repeat Itself Tonight
It has not even been a year since the Chicago White Sox and pitcher Mark Buehrle stuck the first Perfect Game against them in Tampa Bay Rays history upon the team back on July 23,2009. And it was not the first venture into the No-No business for Buehrle, he also got a No-hit wonder back on April 18,2007 against the Texas Rangers. But if you listened real close to the hotel lobby chatter already starting to escalate about tonight’s first meeting since “The Perfecto”, and about “The Catch” by former White Sox Dewayne Wise, you have to instantly wonder why the Rays even show up with all this hype and pomp going on even before the beads of sweat have been wiped from White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen’s forehead last night.
I can only imagine what kind of quick and witty dialogue will unfold the second after the White Sox’s open the turnstiles to U S Cellular Field today for a classic rematch of finesse over accuracy pitching versus the Rays crafty base running abilities and omnipresent power hitting potential of this line-up. The real question might actually be that this game can not, in realistic terms, even come close to the last meeting by Buehrle and the Rays offense because of their changed outfield alignment, a weaker defensive core behind Buehrle, plus the additional personal knowledge of the Rays squad as to Buehrle’s pitch selection, and the possibility of their last meeting’s game video drilled into their cranium over the last several days.
This game might be more about redemption, the Rays redemption over an extremely evil moment in their team’s history that only a great (lucky) catch by Wise secured for their immortality. Seriously, the White Sox have designated and painted a small “The Catch” lettering upon the CF outfield fence to symbolize this one moment into their team history. If you remember the after the game comments of Wise that day, this whole episode could have gone either way if he had moved his glove in another position as he was coming down off that wall with the ball perched towards the end of his glove like the top of an icy white snow cone.
Jerry Lai/ US Press wire Wise exploded up and into the Centerfield wall and his momentum seemed to bounce his catching shoulder violently into the wall, but somehow he retains his grip on his glove and makes his way down towards the outfield warning track clay and the hands of the unseen Baseball Gods mysteriously kept that ball from leaving his glove looking more like a fresh chicken egg. And the chicken and the egg metaphor truly fits here because if Wise had missed that ball, it would have fallen between his legs like a white orb leaving his chicken mothers…Let’s just say he would have laid a big egg.
Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune
But it was a 5-0 game at that point, and the Rays might not have secured the win no matter what had happened, but the “Perfecto” and the “No-No” would have been el gone-o at that point. It would have been a moral victory, but you got believe Rays outfielder Gabe Kapler who also made an amazing diving catch for an out in Rightfield in the same game felt a bit in the dark shadows today.
But it is great to get this kind of National attention focused towards an April night game that doesn’t involve inner divisional foes, but two teams that kind of do not like each others style of play, but respect the winning traditions. But this White Sox team in 2009 had a Rays huge chip upon their shoulders because this same Tampa Bay team thrust them out quickly of the 2008 Playoffs like a redheaded stepchild, then went all the way to the World Series. You know deep down within them each member of that 2008 White Sox Playoff team thought they had the mustard to confront the Phillies, rain or no rain and bring back another shiny heirloom for the trophy case.
And Buehrle is an amazing pitcher, I will truly give that to him. And he does possess that one demonic element that has haunted the Rays for most of 2009 and even early on in 2010. He is one of those crafty lefties like last night’s White Sox victor John Danks who can pick and choose his pitching moments to entice you with outside pitches or throw one high and tight and make you ultimately sweat like a pig at the plate. But like I said before in this post, the Rays have had a period of time to let that game fester within them, to go back over again and again changes and adjustments they would have personally done to make the outcome different.
So I am forecasting a huge barrage of action tonight. Not only will one of the aces of the White Sox be countering the Rays rookie Wade Davis on the hill tonight, but the team confidence and the team unity this season is miles ahead of the mid-July Rays team of 2009. This year’s team has an air about them that there is unfinished business in front of them, but another of their early tests will come tonight against Buehrle. Just like M C Hammer said so eloquently a few years ago, “When you take the “Devil” out, the wins come in.”
Well, the Rays have a demon on the mound tonight who has enticed and sliced and diced them into chopped Italian Beef sandwiches. And with the Rays currently showing a .151 Batting Average against Buehrle in 2009 it might seem like an uphill climb the size of Mount Everest. But the cosmic potential of this 2010 Rays squad is massively greater than the 2009 squad that did not find success against this crafty leftie. Maybe tonight the Rays write a new chapter into this classic match-up against finesse and power.
Maybe this time the outcome will be based on people crossing the plate and not about hard breaking backdoor cutters or an extremely well-placed change-up. Maybe the Baseball Gods this time will shiner upon the Rays and give them their first “W” against Buehrle since 2008 when they scatter 25 hits against him and posted a yearly .316 Batting Average. Maybe it is time for the Rays to play a perfect example of their style of offensive game tonight. New season means the slates are clean , and we are eager to get into the Batter’s Box.