Results tagged ‘ celebration ’
You could feel the moment beginning to pulsate within the Teflon roof of Tropicana Field. It was the top of the ninth inning with Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano heading to the hill. With the sound of the sledgehammer hitting pure steel, your heartbeat synched solely with that one loud clang for several moments before someone shook you and you were forced back into this realm of reality.
Rays starter David Price had done his job for eight solid innings, and now the Rays All Time saves leader was not out there to collect another save, but to be one with a moment that will be in Rays fan’s minds for a long, long time. Soriano did not have to be inserted into the game with a 5-0 score and no chance of a save opportunity, but somehow, it just seemed right that the guy who anchored the backend of the Rays success this year should get a front row seat to the celebration carnage.
And even before Home Plate Umpire Joe West got a chance to throw a vocal note to the final pitch thrown by Soriano past Baltimore Orioles hitter Adam Jones, the Rays dugout and Bullpen were half way to the pitcher’s mound. Celebration was in full force in St. Petersburg that night with veterans like Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford taking special moments to collect all the sights and sounds of this cherished event.
With a scheduled Team meeting at the pitcher’s mound, the entire team collected and embraced, high-fives all around brought the evening to its ultimate climax, but there was a second act yet to be played out upon the turf of Tropicana Field. As the Rays employees were herded into their own special corral just to the west of Home Plate to be a part of the celebration, the first bottle of champagne was open by Rays First Base Coach George Hendricks who then made sure Rays Manager Joe Maddon, who was being interviewed in full view of the entire stadium at the time, got the first taste of the bubbly.
Sweet nectar of the God’s streamed down Maddon’s fresh new Rays playoff cap and upon his Carolina Blue plaid lettered T-shirt to commemorate the moment. Just as quickly, players began to filter out of the Rays clubhouse holding their own bottles of Domaine ste Michelle champagne looking to celebrate and salute a moment 161 games in the making. B J Upton and Crawford were the first to rise to the top of the Rays dugout and spray the home crowd while others looked for family members or friends to celebrate this historic Rays moment.
Then slowly, but surely, the team made its triumphant march down the First Base sidelines with bottles in hand spraying the crowd and offering a few swigs to those special fans and friends assembled to bring a final end to the first primary goal of this Rays team. I took my usual photo space down by the Rays Bullpen secondary clubhouse entrance and began to shoot the impending celebration stampede heading my way. I had to put down my camera as player after player came by and let me have a small slice of that moment with them.
Willy Aybar immediately doused me with champagne right after I congratulated Upton and Grant Balfour and then I saw the biggest smile on the faces of both Evan Longoria and David Price who earlier that day were going through some personal damage control after some unusual comments by the pair.
I yelled at Longoria that “this was the first of five celebrations” and he looked at me and said” I truly believe that.” Price then shook my hand and I told him I was proud of his actions today and every day he has been here.
Suddenly, the players sea seemed to part for a moment and one of my oldest baseball friends on the team presented me with a ¾ full bottle of champagne and quickly he disappeared in the exuberant posse. I quickly took a long and deep swig of that nectar and immediately passed it to a friend who took her own dose of delightful bubbly and I thrust the bottle to the air. A few players saw this and also cheered and pointed to me as I took in this second celebration, and immediately remembered just how far this team had come in 2010.
How only one National Media guru had predicted the Rays to be in the post season at all, and a shot at getting the divine prize of another American League East title was still sitting on the mantle waiting for the Rays to claim it for themselves. That celebration will have to wait until Kansas City, but tonight we were toasting to the success and the finalization of putting the Red Sox out of our rearview mirrors knowing that the New York Yankees were the only foe in our sights of another A L East crown.
And there was something soothing about this second time. Something that did not have me nervous or pacing like in 2008. Maybe it is the pure fact we have been here before. That we have scaled the mountain in recent times and could again hike it with the ultimate result this time…winning it all. Tonight was the symbolic starting point to that journey. A celebratory exclamation point to the 2010 season, but the Rays still have some walking to do along this dark path.
Tomorrow might be the last home game, but the team still has one more goal in mind, one giant moment yet to savor and enjoy…One more celebration before the season ends. But that is for us to ponder tomorrow, tonight is the time to celebrate, enjoy and totally let the pressures of the last few weeks pour down your body like the droplets of champagne.
Now is the time to show the emotions and the feelings that have been bottled up waiting for this glorious moment. I think it is time for me to finish this bottle of champagne and then look to the heavens knowing this is the first of five celebrations.
The City of St. Petersburg and your hometown Rays held a celebration yesterday in waterfront Straub Park to salute and welcome home the Rays after an impressive run at the playoffs for the first time. The team went farther than even the biggest optimist could dream this summer, and they are hungry for more in 2009.
The adventure left several Rays wanting to make a run again and again at the elusive World Series title. With skipper Joe Maddon in tow, four Rays came out to be sure that Tampa Bay knew the love and admiration these players have for the bay area.
Lost in all of this was the shuffle of season and off-season for alot of these players. Some needed to get home to loved ones, or had committments already in the books before the city announced the rally to the public. Some people have griped about the date of the rally, because Halloween was for the little ones, and 6 pm gave them little time before dark for candy wrangling.
I did see a few dozen kids dressed as their favorite Rays, and even saw a few goblins and princesses’ wandering through the park during the event. The city did a great job basically throwing this event together in less than 48 hours.
Bay area sports guru, Dick Crippen acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the event and truly again showed why he was one of the best sports broadcasters for so many years. He kept the crowd energy high and the event rolling with his great tone and enthusiasm in his voice. The event went quickly and was a nice celebration of all the Rays success this season. It started with a new St. Petersburg Times video on the past years’ top moment for the Rays highlighted with their first appearance ever in the World Series.
Some people, included members of the Rays had tears in ther eyes as they saw just how far they came in that short, but beautifully mastered video. Rays skipper Joe Maddon was seen sneaking a peak from behind the stage trying to catch the moments again that he had a front seat for….. that will be some of his best memories of his life.
James Shields, Ben Zobrist,Grant Balfour and Carlos Pena attended the event and seemed a bit surprised at the large turnout of the event. The event did not attract the 5,000 plus that the Playoff celebration pulled in right before the first game of the ALDS, but the true Rays fans came out and showed their colors and love for the team.
Not lost in the event was the fact that several members of the team wanted to be here, but had to put some things on hold at home for the playoffs, and could not postpone them any longer for fear of upsetting family members. But the hear and soul of the entire team was on display both on stage and on the video screen.
Maddon talked of the love and the committment of his squad and how they are still very hungry to pursue the prize again next season. He talked about the pride and the admiration he had for everyone on his roster, from Rocco Baldelli contributing, to Eric Hinske hitting that clutch pinch-hit homer in the World Series.
Every player who attended the event will be back in uniform for the Rays in 2009. Player Rep., Carlos Pena made sure to remind the fans that they will be shooting for the stars again next year, and that the goals were now raised high for sucess in 2009. The event was a great event to jumpstart the 2009 Rays eason. It showed the arly committment and early dreams of the next season.
The event ended with all four players’ and Maddon singing a redition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” the smiles and the enthusiasm showed by everyone on that stage bodes well for the future of the Rays. Think about it, you had “Big Game James” Shields representing the pitchers’. Grant Balfour was the voice of the Bullpen, Ben Zobrist was the players not starting, but contributing huge in the playoffs. The you had Carlos Pena, who has been elected “Spiritual Leader” of the Rays way back in Spring Training.
If you have ever met Pena in person, you know that the enthusiam and the pride just flow off him like water. that he is the perfect representative for the Rays now and in the future. He is smooth, clean and can swing a mean bat.
The future of the Rays is bright in 2009. the unfortunate thing is they will not be able to snaek up on people anymore in the MLB. The word is out about the Rays, and they will be have to earn it next year. No more are they going to be taken lightly. From this moment on, the Rays will be the hunted in the American League. And by the look on Carlos Pena’s face, he doesn’t want it any other way.
As the event ended there were several kids rushing up to meet their new idols and wanted autographs, and in one case, a hug from their new heroes. Then one by one they were off for the Snickers and Milky Way treats given out by the local businesses before hadin goff for home and more treats.
I saw one little guy with his bat and glove walking away and asked who he was dressing as this year, he said, “I am dressing as the Rays, the whole team. They are special and I know they will get me more candy this year.” I guess that is one way to get community support, dress as the Rays and see just how much candy and love the area has for the Tampa Bay Rays.
I am one of those lucky people who got a ticket to game 1 and 2 of the ALCS games. I did not get them from the Rays, or from a corporate sponsor. I got them because I was a Season Ticketholder for the Rays. So why is it I get an email telling me I cheated to get my tickets. I got them the same way most places got them……….from ticketmaster.com. I did not have the pre-playoff ticket package, but have gotten them per series and I was online also on Monday.
The problem with the ticket system is that some of the websites pay people to pre-register for the tickets and give them either tickets or incentives for the emails. This is the form of capitalism that founded this grest country, and even if it is not to our liking, it will not go away. This is the problem with finally getting big in the world. We now see the problems with tickets and getting seats that Bosotn, New York and Chicago have felt for years.
Success breeds greed. Season Ticketholders buy the maximum two tickets when they first register in August for tickets, then in October, before the first game we get another option to buy 4 more tickets anywhere in the stadium. I saw a ticket in the Whitney Bank club going for almost $ 600 dollars today. I expect if it is not sold today, it will go up in price by 9 a.m. tomorrow.
The Rays have no say in this system. It is generated after years and years of success at the MLB level. They are just pawns in the system and have to play by MLB rules. Since Stubhub is a major sponsor of MLB, it might get a pre-arranged share of tickets in a certain region of the stadium.
But what is more annoying is the fact that even Rays’ fans are jacking up the price on Craigslist, Stubhub, or even the local papers classified section. Do not be surprised on Friday night to hear a Upper Deck seat going for $ 400 dollar or more. With need come greed……..and it will not be settled in time for all of us to enjot them game.
I will be the first person to tell you that I thought Andy Sonnanstine might be in the Bullpen and not starting during the ALDS. I had on my 25-man roster as the number 4 guy, Edwin Jackson because of his power pitching. I was wrong. Sonnanstine has been a role model on consistant pitching for the last few weeks. He might have been stuck on 13 wins, but he has thrown some great games and not gotten the decisions.
But tonight was his greatest pitching performance to date for the Rays. It might have only been his 1st post-season win ever, but he did not pitch like it on the mound. Andy might have only threw 5.2 innings tonight, but he left with a 5-2 rays score that gave him his first win. He threw only 75 pitches and got 4 strikeouts on the night, but his pitches were working most of the night and kept the White Sox batters’ puzzled at the plate.
But all was not perfect for Sonnanstine tonight. He had a few moments in the game that had both pitching coach Jim Hickey and Rays Manager Joe Maddon wondering if this game might break wide open. Sonnanstine had minor trouble with the White Sox until Paul Konerko connected on a high breaking pitch and sent it over the wall for a solo home run in the 4th inning.
Then Sonnanstine came back out in the 5th and got the White Sox down in order on 7 pitches. That is right s-e-v-e-n pitches. Amazing job to make a point to the Sox. In the 6th inning, after getting 2 quick fly ball outs, Jermaine Dye hit a ball up in the zone to right for the second solo shot of the night by the Sox. That put the score at 5-2, and Sonnanstine was done for the night.
B J Upton
I have to tell you. I am loving the power coming off his bat right now. For the ALDS Upton only batted .278, but it was his homer outburst in the last 2 games that is making people wonder what he could have done with a good shoulder this year. I think we are seeing just how good he can be if he is totally into the game and winning.
Upton went 2-4 on the night with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, but he hit 2 bombs to basically again take the White Sox out of the game. In the 1st inning on the 4th pitch he saw he hit the ball about 2 feet beyond the leftfield wall for a solo shot. But Upton was not done for the day. In the 3rd inning, he again hit a breaking ball up in the zone and deposited it beyond the centerfield fence for his second homer of the game. In this at bat, it took him 8 pitches until he got the one he wanted and hit it a ton to put the Rays up 2-0 at that time.
Gabe Gross getting the start in right becuase of the right-handed batter made it cear early on in this game that he was going to do whatever was needed to win tonight. When A J Pierzenski hit a slow moving breaking ball out to right in the 1st inning, Gross threw himself up high and above the yellow line to bring the ball in and turn a sure homer into a fly out. It was an early indicator of the type of night the White Sox were going to have at the plate.
A J Pierzenski = Controversy
I have to tell you there were two issues in the game and before it that could have also been major turning points for both teams. Before the contest, it was rumored that the White Sox might have been stealing the Rays signals last night because all 3 stolen bases were on breaking pitches by Matt Garza.
Considering that Garza was throwing mostly heat last night, it is a wild bit of timing that every runner guessed right all three times in the game. So the Rays went to a body, hand and motion signal set to make it a little more difficult to try and steal the signals tonight.
But the Rays also got a little piece of controversy for themselves during an at bat by Carlos Pena. In the 7th inning. During the at bat, there was questionable call with the count 0-2 and Pena let a high pitch come in without trying to foul it off.
When the TBS crew pulled up the strikezone indicator on their screens it showed it was a ball plain and simple, but White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen did not see it the same way. He shouted out to his pitcher Gavin Floyd who did not nod to him when he asked if it was high. So with the count now 1-2, Pena fouled pff the next 2 pitches before singling to rightfield to score Jason Bartlett and give the Rays a 6-2 score.
This caused Guillen to come out and and chat a bit with Floyd, but when home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg came out to see what is going on, Guillen made sure to give him an earful before going back into the dugout. If Pena had struck out in that at bat, it would have given the Rays 1 outs in the inning.
The Rays first 3 batters went a combined 7-13 on the night with 3 runs scored and 4 RBI’s. Akinora Iwamura went 2-5 on the night, with a single to right in the 3rd inning, and scoring on Pena’s single to right to put the Rays up 5-1 at the time. Aki then hit a 1-hop double to the wall in leftfield down the line to get in scoring position for the Rays.
Upton , of course went 2-4 with his 2 homers, and also had a great night in the field saving several balls from falling to the turf or going over his head in the game. In the 5th inning, Alexi Ramirez hit a hard liner to center that Upton took like a wide reciever over his shoulder for an easy out.
Carlos Pena had a great series going .500 for the series and getting 2 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases for the Rays. In the game, Pena singled to right on the first pitch he saw tonight. he then stole second base to get into scoring position. In the 5th inning, he again hit a ball to right, he trie again to steal second base, but Pierzenski threw a bullet to nail him at second before the slide. Pena again got another RBI single to right in the 7th inning. In the 9th inning, he was Intentionally walked so they could get to Evan Longoria who went 0-5 on the night.
Alot of people were questioning if Carl Crawford was healthy enough to play in this tough series. I think after tonight’s game you do not have to question that again this season. Crawford went 0-2 on the night, but when he got on base via 2 walks, he made the White Sox pitchers pay for it. In the 4th inning Floyd walked Crawford on 5 pitches.
Then when Cliff Floyd hit a double to deep leftfield, Crawford sprinted around the bases and got into home before the wild throw went pass Pierzenski and Floyd advanced to third on the throwing error. Then Crawford walked to lead-off the 6th inning and was a constant pest to White Sox reliever Clayton Richard who threw numerous times over to first to keep Crawford close to the bag.
After 2 quick out, Gabe Gross came to the plate for the Rays. Crawford stole second easily on the 1st pitch to Gross and then stole third 4 pitches later. It ia actually pretty amazing that Crawford even played in the game. During Batting Practice, team mate Dioner Navarro actually hit Crawford in the midsection with a full swing by accident while stretching before hitting in the cage. Crawford was okay but a bit winded during B.P. after that episode.
Rays Set-up Duo
You know that the White Sox are happy to not have to go up and hit again this year against either Grant Balfour or J P Howell. Both have combined to pitch 7.2 innings of scoreless ball this series. Combine that with the statistics of Chad Bradford, and all three have held the White Sox scoreless in 10.2 innings and have given up only 8 hits in their appearances.
Howell came on to relieve Sonnanstine after the homer to Dye and pitched 1.1 innings and threw 24 pitches. Only Ramirez got a single off him in the 7th inning as his only hit allowed in the appearance tonight.
He left in the bottom of the 8th and Balfour took over for the rest of the game. Balfour gave up a walk to Pierzenski to give the White Sox hope in the 8th inning before striking out Dye looking to end the inning. In the 9th inning, Balfour got 2 quick outs on a grounder to short and a fly ball to Gross in right. With one out left in the game, Balfour hunkered down and got behind to Ken Griffey Junior 0-2 before rattling off 2 straight strikes to end the game for the Rays.
Ken Griffey Jr.
With this maybe being the last game in Chicago for Griffey Jr., he made sure the Chicago fans would remember that even tho he has lost a step or two in the outfield, positioning can save you every time. In the 4th inning, he took a sure extra base hit away from Jason Bartlett on a dying quail to shallow centerfield. It is just another eason why this guy is worth the price of admission to watch work his magic at the plate and in the field.