Nothing Beats That Walk-Off Rush
“Walk off wins are fun no matter if it’s pre-season, regular season, post season, duck or wabbit season”
– Elliot Johnson (@ElliotJohnson9)
I swear there has to be a sign by now that Tampa Bay Rays Third Base Coach Tom Foley has perfected to call for the “walk-off” magic. Seriously, how else do you explain a squad that posted not only a Game 162 moment for the ages as Evan Longoria’s Home Run came back down the Earth in the Trop’s Rightfield stands, but has produced over 110 regular season walk-off struts and impromptu celebrations/ team meetings at Home Plate.
That’s right, between the Rays first walk-off victory produced off a Home Run by Bobby Smith back on April 17, 1998 to Longoria’s strut into the climatic win history book last September 28th in extra innings, the Rays seem to have some sort of cosmic energy or karma when it goes into extra frames.
Not sure if the Rays do any drills or activities to get themselves into game shape for such a game changing moment, but I have a feeling Rays skipper Joe Maddon has a handle on it. This season there has been a pretty revel ant saying embellished all over the Rays clubhouse: “Fortune Favors the Bold”.
So why would today’s Spring contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates be any different. Seems a bit poetic that Rays C Chris Gimenez who was signed by the Rays after he became expendable by the Seattle Mariners after the Rays shipped C John Jaso to the Emerald City would be the special guest at another
Rays impromptu team meeting after stroking a 2-run double to post the Rays their first win this season at Charlotte Sports Park.
Maybe it was the added karma of Rays 3B Evan Longoria coupled with the “force” surrounding Luke Scott as the pair made their first struts onto the turf in game action this Spring. Sure the Rays total win total only meets Longo’s uniform number at this moment, but could this kind of win, this kind of moment jettison this Rays team back into the winning scheme of things?
Sure Gimenez’s scoring play was not a ball rocketing outside the confines of the ballpark, but a win is a win, is a win, especially when the Rays had gone winless over 4 previous tries on their home field this Spring. Thor wing another “ good vibration on the woodpile is the fact this was only Gimenez’s 3rd hit this Spring, and first extra base knock as he tries to convince the Rays to possibly give him a solid shot at their back-up catching spot.
Gimenez might be making his move to separate himself from the rest of the Rays catching corps seekers of that back-up spot not named Stephen Vogt. Even though the game winning moment did not vault Gimenez’s batting average this Spring ( .167 ) above the Mendoza Line, his action might get him a few extra looks and innings over the course of the Spring before others in the catching fish pond get plucked and sent to the minor league camp or beyond.
Still, there is nothing like a walk-off moment. It brings about a emotional rush unlike anything else in the game, can separate a player who has the skills and who has the drive and confidence to just try and connect and let history take care of the rest. Today that hero in the spotlight is Gimenez. Kind of amazing considering Gimenez was considering signing with this same Pirates club before he inked his name on the Rays contract.