Results tagged ‘ Mark Buehrle ’

Superman Would Have Been Impressed

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This image just speaks for itself. The mire thought of a Major League Baseball player getting to a ball finely threaded into the Rightfield corner, just a inch upon the warning track and it being caught by a rookie player just in his 8th game for his new franchise. The words “Cosmic fate” blaze into my mind. 
Heck, we are 8 games into the 2011 Major League Baseball 162-game season and for some reason the cosmic energy within U S Cellular Field might have already served up the best defensive play of 2011. Ironically, this is the same site of the 2010 Best Defensive play when White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle tossed a ball backwards in foul territory between his legs to nab a speeding base runner.

Could this once parking lot, now amazing baseball palace be built upon a unexpected fold of the Universe that seems to produce plays that defy the laws of physics and gravity, to produce moments we will talk about forever. Could Ozzie have secretly brought Criss Angel in to help magically transform this place into a haven for the unexpected?

Could Soxman be channeling his inner Jobu to bring a karma and destiny to this place that celebrates white sox and a Manager with more personality than Monte Hall. Whatever the conclusion, yesterday’s play by Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, who himself defied the laws of averages to just get a 25 man roster spot has to have some paranormal or celestial origin.  Maybe we should call the Ghost Adventures crew?
 

History Will Not Repeat Itself Tonight

 

 
Jim Pershing/AP

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.
 
 
Jim Pershing/AP

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.

 
Mark O’Meara/AP

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.

Competitive energy goes Haywire

 


Jim Presching / AP

I am a very competitive person. I at times insanely dedicated to playing football and baseball as a kid growing up as I am now as an adult doing something at home like video games with friends. It is a mild personality defect that has been drilled into me since I was just about 4 feet tall. I was always told to hit harder, sweat more and push myself to the  outer limits of my body. That sort of routine after awhile gets ingrained into you and it becomes a part of your basic personality.

It doesn’t matter to me if you think it is a bad or good trait, it is there for everyone to see  and I do not think it can be reversed. And at my age now, my body and my mind are finally playing tricks on each other. For years I have still been able to match up against the neighborhood kids in some street football, but over the last year, my body has decided that is for the young, and not the guy who beginning to show gray on his temples and get winded after 15 minutes playing the game.

And I take that same sort of insane passion with me into my Fantasy sports and even with my  Rays Renegade team. None of this was more evident yesterday afternoon than when I saw my Fantasy guys go belly-up.  I saw my team, which has 6 Tampa Bay Rays players on it begin to take a free fall towards a final 1 for 37 mark last night, or a miserable .027 batting average for the day. You see, I can not longer play the game like I did in college, professionally, or even in the backyard, so these simple games of skill and have now become my battlefields.

And it is hard for me to sit there and hope for a rebound effect, or even simply just take deep breathing as a relief for the pain. My mindset for so long has been fine tuned to want more than the usual. It has been primed for confrontation and geared towards defeating any enemy, friend or foe.  Heck, I do not even go to a friend’s card games at his local tavern because I am afraid of my competitive streak.

So yesterday while I was watching a two-fold implosion, one on Sunsports/FSN-Florida, and the other on my small laptop screen I was venting some extreme clouds of fire from my belly. Smoke was clouding my judgment, and small embers of rage and disappointment ravaged my stomach. I had never seen such carnage before with my team in the crosshairs, and I frustrated me to the extremes.

Anyone who was on Twitter yesterday knows I was within a fine hair of melting down and imploding myself online. Oh, I do not get nasty and go all four-letter words or even attempt to curse, but the pent up frustration did make me re-write my Tweets about three times before I sent them. But this was a different competitive edge.


Jim Prisching / AP

It had a different feel to it for me, or so I thought at the time. I guess all those years of playing and scrambling had finally gotten me to this point. I was so upset by the end of that game that I knew I could not take phone calls, could not take emails, and especially could not encounter people who would rehash the game with me. I put a huge sign on the fridge door to leave me alone or there would be a firestorm of Nerf products coming at you that would rival a  Confederate cannon bombardment during the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

I was in no mood to celebrate one of the biggest pitching accomplishments because it had happened to my team. And with that I sat in the dark for about an hour and thought, and thought and thought, hey I forgot to bring food and drinks into the room. So I wandered out the back door and drove to the grocery store. There I got a few Pepsi products, a Cuban sandwich and a few things to nibble on later that night.

And wouldn’t you know it, the two guys in front of me were chatting about the Perfect game. It was at this moment that I finally came to the realization that I had a problem. I still had the fire in my belly and that pain in my head from losing. That the lessons learned a long time ago might be mis-guided now and out of date. And that is a hard thing to admit. I am older, but not wiser in this area. And I know I am not the only one. I think about friends of mine who still play competitive softball or coach Little League and wonder if they still have that acid belly pain and yearning to smell the win and avoid the bitter aftertaste of losing.

I began to wonder as the two guys were starting to put down the failing efforts of the Rays in that game, and were laughing at the Rays efforts. The little devil in me wanted to throw down and take them both out with vengeance..with authority… with angry power.

 
And then I wondered if they even knew about Dewayne Wise’s late inning substitution and if he was not there, these guys would not even be talking like this. I wonder if they knew that 5 times in that game Rays hitters got 3-2 counts on Mark Buehrle and he made his magic happen. That even into the Rays last at bats in the ninth inning, that they were still trying to find a way to win. That Rays catcher Michel Hernandez got Buehrle behind in the count 3-1 before taking a strike looking, then swinging at a pitch for the second out.

Three outs before Buerhle and the White Sox were to celebrate, an outfielder had to make the play of the game to save his masterpiece. Two outs from the end he had to show he was the skilled pitcher we always knew he was by prying a walk out of Hernandez’s hands, and in the end, he dominated one of the better hitters in the American League by getting Jason Bartlett to hit a ball to short for an easy third out and end the game.


Jim Prisching / AP

The entire last inning or so people on Twitter saw my responses, and I think they saw the aggression and the frustration come to a boil, or maybe they thought I was playing. Here is just a few of the rambling out of my collective soul during that final bunch of outs:

RaysRenegade Pat ‘the Faucet” Burrell almost ended the suspense. Game of inches with that drvie down the 3rd b line. Perfectly turning my stomach rotten.

RaysRenegadeWhere is my lighter fluid? Neidermeyer dead, Marmalard, dead, DTX Death Mobile gassed up. White tube sox…….flaming as we speak! Imperfect


RaysRenegadeMark Buehrle is no Billy Chapel. Sorry this is not a re-make of “For the Love of the Game.” Kapler, Hernandez, Bartlett..my $ is on Bartlett.

RaysRenegadeHoly Crappo! Dewayne Wise just came off the bench and goes up over the wall to steal Kapler’s HR.

RaysRenegadeI am not going to act like those NY fans in the movie..I am pissed! I saw Derrick Lowe throw the first no-hitter against the Rays. No No NO!

RaysRenegadeThank goodness I do not have a dog! It might be the 18th Perfect Game in MLB history, but the TV is off! Shut the door,I am not in the mood.

RaysRenegade@MLB I was tweeting like a canary. Kudos to Dewayne Wise for saving the special gift. But it will take me a day to congrats to Buehrle.

RaysRenegadeSeacrest out!

And here is the last Tweet I saw before I left Twitter last night:

RSBS@RaysRenegade i assume it’s just sleep for you now

You have no idea what was venting through my ears at that time. People who have never played at a high level of sports think that a coach comes into a locker room calm, cool and collected after a game like that. Well, most do not.  At least mine never did. From Coach Charlie Pell in college to Coach Kush while I was playing ball in Indy, losing was not an option, it was an excuse for not winning.

I really do not think that New England Patriot Head Coach Bill Beleichick strolled into the locker room after an 11-5 season, and missed the playoffs and sent his team off with a hardy ” we just missed boys” speech. If he did, that will be the end of that dynasty chatter. 

This evil energy gnawed at me for about 4 hours last night while I watched shows I had on the DVR saved from Monday and Tuesday night. Competitive spirit and  a yearning for the best and the top shelf do not just transcend sports, they support it.

I am wondering if there is a support group of former athletes or competition junkies that meets in my little town. I am not upset by the Rays losing this game, I am not so angry because it was the Chicago White Sox, or much less a great pitcher like Buehrle, the final essence of all of this is that it was a Perfect Game. 

I mean I was in Boston  on that cool April night when Red Sox starter Derrick Lowe no-hit the Rays and I was upset, but not to this level. It did bother me for the rest of the night, but not to the extreme this one is clawing at my heart. Maybe I have finally hit that wall, that invisible part of life where reality beats up the image of my team. 
Maybe it is finally time for me to seek professional help to combat the effects of this over-competitive libido before it kills my love of the game(s).

Nah, that is just crazy talk.  I will be fine until the next time we have this sort of performance from the Rays. But I am confident it will not happen to them again in my lifetime. There have been only 18 Perfect Games in the history of the game. To be a part of one of them was great, but thank god it did not happen at home. You do not know what kind of reaction you might get from the bandwagon faithful.

Do I still feel the same about the Rays….sure. And my Fantasy team will rebound. I might get popped out of first place this week, but I will fight back and regain my spot by the time the playoffs come around.

But this one did hurt. All the way down to the middle of the core of my competitive spirit. It fractured my perception and  ultimate foundation of my team, but they will be fine and will fight on. No one died. No one was injured, the games will start again tonight. I will again be on Twitter ready for tonight battle and post a few, or more snippets during the game.


Jim Prisching/ AP

I will again be full of the competitive fire in my belly to support my team. I guess what really got to me was the fact that this was it for our games against the White Sox this season unless we both meet in the playoffs. No chance at redemption, no chance to try and duplicate the feat again in 2009. But what might have been the epicenter of all the anger and rage might be as simple as this team did not deserve to go down like this, but you can not stop history, you can only contain it.  

But then again, I think I need to make a call right now to  a Rays support group. I need to go to a place where people like me can go to grow again and get rid of these ugly feelings bottled up in my belly. I hear they have just that sort of group down at the Red Room in Largo, and the leader of that support group wears a big blue wig and serves cold Coors Light.

I think I need an infusion of other Rays fans right now. I think I need a spirit transfusion stat before I melt into the carpet. Maybe they are meeting tonight at 7 pm. Maybe I can get help during the Rays versus Jays game tonight……..just maybe. Hopefully Roy Halladay did not watch this game and wonder…….


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