Thought processes and conversations started under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. Someday everyone will know the Rays play in St. Petersburg, Florida, not TAMPA, or the fictitious city of TAMPA BAY.
Rays Hope to Rock, Not get Rolled by the Indians
What is it about Cleveland that turns the Tampa Bay Rays sunny side-up optimism into an instant shade of of impending dread and doom? That somehow this “City by the Lake” can twist any form of Rays positive momentum and watch it simultaneously flush itself into the neighboring Cuyahoga river. That is rusting former manufacturing center can crush a Rays winning streak instantly like an aluminum can just by having the Rays set their feet on the tarmac at Cleveland-Hopkins Airport.
This town has a Indian curse on the Rays. For some reason, Cleveland puts the Rays instantly on your heels. In recent years, the Rays have known Progressive Field/Jacobs Field to be the place where Rays wins go to die. Somehow this scenic downtown stadium has given the Rays multiple chances to come out on the winning end, but just as quickly, the grey omnipresent urban landscape seems to rapidly impose its civic and emotional will upon the game.
This is a town where not only the two-legged creatures who walks its heavily constructed streets cheer for the Indians, but Mother Nature surely has an Indians hat on her armoire. It is a town that has seen known the Cuyahoga river aflame back in 1969, to the baseball Fall infestation of the midgets( insects, not little people) that has borne more imposing urban legends towards the unique mystic of this ballpark.
Combine the above items with the defensive gems by a partisan legion of Indian faithful seagulls who play havoc with the opposing outfield players, and both a human and animal home field advantage.
This locale pulls at your sense of reality by the macabre and unexplained happens that dwell within this stadium. Teams seem to come here with hearty winning expectations, but leave scratching their heads wondering how events unfolded to enhance their demise. But this Blue collar town just seems to find a way to win, especially when the Rays venture into town.
How many of us Rays fans remember the enthusiasm and the excitement we all shared going into the 2008 All Star break with the Rays riding high in the American League East. A simple 4-game stop in Cleveland seemed to be a mire stepping stone towards the Playoffs. But immediately, the Cleveland curse immersed the Rays and they lost all four games by a combined score of 31-8.
Funny how the Rays come into tonight with a 57-37 mark, almost identical to the 2008 mark( 55-39 ) after they left the “Sixth City” at the All-Star break that season.
This is the same ballpark that saw Rays starter David Price back on May 25,2009 last only 3.1 innings after his Rays team built a 10-run lead. But in the bottom of the fourth inning that night, the Indians lead by the tom-tom beats silently took this “assumed” Rays victory away. The Rays went down in defeat after the Indians scored the last 11 runs of the game to post a 11-10 victory. Interesting enough, the Rays scored more runs (10 ) in this first game of the 4-game series than they would in the next three games combined ( 9 ).
Can any Rays fan tell me the starting pitcher of the last Rays win in the stadium nestled near the Cuyahoga? You have to go back a bit into Rays history for that special nugget. Back to a time when the team wore more green and white than Carolina blue or Rays blue.
It was suring the era of “Big Red” Seth McClung who started the 158th game of the 2005 season for the Rays on Sunday, September 28, and threw a 4-hitter for his 7th win of the season, with Rays closer Danys Baez getting his 41st save during that 1-0 win.
The win by McClung also secured the last time the Rays have won both a series (3-1), and the seasonal series ( 5-1 ) within an earshot sounds of the rumbling tom-tom drum. During a previous 2005 visit from August 12-15,2005, the Rays posted their last 3-game sweep of the Indians on their home hunting grounds. In their 13 Major League Baseball seasons, the Rays are a combined 12-38 when they enter the city limits of Cleveland.
Even though the Indians have ambushed and defeated the Rays in their home hunting grounds in 17-straight home games since “Big Red’s” last stand on the Cleveland mound, there has always been a chance to change history and post a Rays victory. Tonight is the first time since last season’s shameful outing that Price takes the Cleveland mound again.
Redemption and revenge might be in the back of his mind, but giving his team a chance to win is firmly implanted in his psyche. Both Price and the Rays have come a long way since that game.
Does the Rays Republic again collectively have to remember that inspirational comedic speech by Bluto in “Animal House” to firmly reminds each and every one of us that “when the going get tough, the tough get going”. Do we have to play that usual ninth inning Raysvision inspirational video segment in our own minds subconsciously before the game to get us in the right mood to again take to the Indians home grounds and produce a winning outcome?
Or maybe we have to remember that streaks come to an end, and that this season’s Rays squad holds a 4-1 advantage already this season against Cleveland, and with a victory we can guarantee the Rays first seasonal series win against the Indians since 2005. In a few hours, we find out if history within Progressive Field will repeat itself, or of the Rays are ready to write a new chapter to book of winning in this Cleveland home field saga. Can’t wait to read the ending.
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