Results tagged ‘ champagne ’
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.
I have to give it to Bud Selig and his committe last night. After the top of the 6th inning the infield and the surrounding foul area were beginning to look like a quagmire of dry-all and clay. I commend the fact that the took in consideration the players and the fans in the decision to suspend the game in the bottom of the 6th inning last night. As Philly shortstop Jimmy Rollins could have told you, looking up into that rainsoaked sky was like letrting daggers hits your forehead and eyes. Something could have happen to a player, and that would have been the worst thing for baseball.
So we have to wait another day to see Philly either throw it’s hats or celebrate. The extra day might be a blessing to teams. I am seeing a set of long relievers from both teams come out and start the bottom of the 6th inning as a start. My guess is that David Price will take the mound for the Rays and just go out there and get the business done tonight.
Worst thing is that FOX will not be able to premire “Fringe” tonight. Bummer, I like that show and was looking forward to a night of paranoraml instead of baseball. But I will take more baseball, do not get me wrong. When this World Series ends, I will not see any until Feb 2009, so let’s play 16 more if we can. Still the best thing about Selig’s decidion was that it showed some moxie considering what city he was in at the time.
Phillie fans might not be into this decison as much as Selig, but in the end, it was the right move for everyone in that stadium that night. So bundle up tonight and start the hot cocoa machine early, we still have baseball to play in Philly.
Kazmir, Lightly Squeezed, Not Stirred
To say that Rays starter Scott Kazmir was being squeezed at the plate by Home Plate Umpire Jeff Kellogg would be an understatement. Several times the FOX Broadcast showed the ball breaking the box for strikes in the inning and nothing was called by Kellogg. I understand that Kazmir will be facing some backlash to his argument earlier in the year to Darryl Cousins, but not during the biggest game of the year by his club.
It is a disgrace if that is the intention of Kellogg. Of course, he is the only one who knows the truth here. But you have to admit, at least he is calling the one over the heart of the plate.
Kazmir got into trouble early tonight by walking Jayson Werth and hitting Chase Utley with a pitch. This gave the Phillies 2 men on base with only 1-out in the inning. After striking out Ryan Howard, Kazmir then walked Pat Burrell on 5 pitches to load the bases for the Phillies.
Shane Victorino then hit a soft liner into leftfield that scored both Werth and Utley to put up an early 2-0 lead for the Phillies. After issuing a single to Pedro Feliz, Kazmir calmed down and got Carlos Ruiz to fly out to Carl Crawford for the 3rd out of the inning.
The 2nd inning went smoother for Kazmir as his only blemish was a single to Werth to left before getting Utley to pop the ball up to Evan Longoria for the 3rd out. Kazmir got the Phillies to go down in order in the 3rd, with 2 strikeouts.
Kazmir then had a bumpy 4th inning after striking out Feliz to start the inning. Ruiz got a single to left, and Cole Hamels hit inot a fielder’s choice that forced out Ruiz at second base. Kazmir then walked both Rollins and Werth before getting Utley to hit a grounder to Akinora Iwamura who quickly threw to Carlos Pena at first to end the inning without incident.
Kazmir came out in the 5th inning and got into early trouble as he walked both Howard and Burrell to start the inning with 2 men on base and no outs. He was the replaced by Grant Balfour who quickly got 3 fly out to get out of the inning. Balfour was the pitcher of record when the game was put under a rain delay on the field by Umpire Crew Chief Tim Welke at 10:31 p.m. last night.
Balfour can resume his position on the mound in the bottom of the 6th inning if Rays Manager Joe Maddon wants him to finish out the contest. I think he will take the mound and be replaced immediately by Maddon for another pitcher at that time
Another Umpire Miss?
In the World Series this year there have been a number of plays that have passed not only my eyes, but the Fox boradcasters’ as a bit of funny plays. They showed a short montage of the susepcted plays and some evn had close-ups to suggest the calls might have been blown by the umpires.
During last night’s contest, there was a play involving Rocco Baldelli in the 5th inning. After getting on base on an error by Rollins, Baldelli was running to second base in front of Utley when he lunged out and mysteriously tagged Baldelli on the bottom of the shoe for a tag-out, throw to first double play. The replays showed that Baldelli’s stride did not change, he showed no chane in direction or motion on his way to second base. It was inconclusive by the video angle if he did indeed touch the shoe of Baldelli, but a good indication might have been Rocco breathing heavy on second base looking back towards first in amazement at the call.
Pena’s and Longoria’s Coming Out Party
Finally there is joy in Mudville, because the mighty two did not strike out. How wild was last night’s game after the change in the lineup by Maddon putting Pena and Longoria back one slot and moving Crawford to the 2-hole for the Rays. Earlier in the season, Crawford was hitting out of that hole alot, but since his injury, he has been behind Longoria.
It was a gutsy move by Maddon, but it sparked a great response out of his sluggers as they both ended their hitting holes and contributed alot to the Rays comeback. In his first at bat, Pena put down a ill-timed bunt towards first base and did a head-first slide, but was still out by a matter of inches. It showed that he was trying to do anything to get the ball rolling for himself and the Rays last night.
Longoria came up and hit a long fly ball to victorino for an easy fly out. Then in the 4th inning,Pena again came up and hit a monster shot off the rightfield wall that had Werth plastered against the wall facing. Pena did not immediately sprint to first and had to settle for a double on the play. If he had sprinted to first, he would have easily gotten to third without sliding on the hit.
Longoria then came up and hit the seond poitch he saw from Hamels into centerfield to score Pena and erase their scoring drought as a duo. Longoria did get doubled up on Navarro’s grounder to Rollins, but the Rays were only down one at the time 2-1 to the Phillies.
In the 6th inning, the duo again got to make a contribution to the Ray’s cause. After B J Upton singled and stole second base, Pena hit a nice crisp ball through the hole at short and third for a single to score Upton. With the score now tied at 2-all, Pena and Longoria were a combined 3-6 on the night with 2 RBI’s. Pena and Longoria might have a combined average of .125 and .053 respectfully, but they were contributing again, and that could be trouble for the Phillies.
Rain, Rain Go Away
If you have never played a sport with a consistant rain coming down you will never know the pain and the concentration needed to just catch a ball in it. The rains pelts on your skin and eyes and forces you to re-adjust all the time to the elements. During last night’s game both teams had a incredible time just seeing the ball off the bat during the downpour.
The Phillies Rollins even had an error charged to him on a fly infield ball hit by Baledelli that he could not see in time to get firmly into his glove. the ball ended up dropping to the wet clay with Baldelli on first after the error. In the 5th inning, Pena made two fly ball plays in the infield that saw him sway and move with the ball before they finally popped into his glove for outs. Peering up into the rain was difficult for infielders and outfielders alike last night.
Here is my personal prediction for tonight’s game. I think that Maddon starts David Price and let’s him finish off the game if there is not trouble. This will free up the Bullpen for a possible Game 6 at the Trop on Wed with a fully rested Bullpen ready for anything. I think the game will come down to the 8th inning, and then the game will turn for the Rays. Ryan Madson will probably be on the mound for the Phillies and a few runs will score to force a Game 6 in St. Petersburg.
We shall see.