Results tagged ‘ postseason ’
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 Rays are on the everge on something truly “magical” this afternoon. After 890 games in the dome, after countless sodas and buckets of ribs digested this team will see and feel something no other Tampa Bay Rays team has encountered…………..A Sellout that did not involve a top attendance team. By the time I get this posted today, the Rays would have sold out the remaining 5,000 tickets for today’s contest on Fox.
That’s right, for the 12th time this season the little Rays that could will be featured on the Big show of Shows on Saturday. Not only are the Rays going for their first step into their destiny, but they will be sitting pretty from this moment on in the playoff picture. But the final step is being taken today to insure that the Rays can, and will sell out those first 3 dates for the American League Divisional Series come next week.
Do not forget to register on www.raysbaseball.com by tomorrow night to get your chance to buy individual tickets to the postseason. You could find tickets on Stubhub next week, but why pay the extra charges and hassle of waiting for your postman like a dog with rabies. Oh, and the Rays have a chance to put their magical number to make the playoffs away until next year.
Did I forget to mention that after this game, the enitre Tampa Bay area will say they were at this game. That the stadium will hold not 36,000 plus, but 3 million today. I remember when the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup. I had a few dozen friends say they were at the final game, until I asked about the ticket stub. Then somehow it got wet, they dropped it, or they did not think it was important to keep.
Seriously folks, you want people to believe you were there, get a small picture frame tomorrow and put it in there. It might be odd for a visitor to your home to see a ticket in a frame sitting on your bookcase, but it will be your proof of “being there”.
I will be there as usual basking in the glow of the moment, chatting with the Bullpen guys, and truly letting the bad energy finally flow from my body. That is right, after watching 10 years of Rays team try and hit this mark, this team will be the squad that walks through the curtain into endless posibilities. I can think of no better crew to give this kind of gift to, they are one of the best skilled and most team oriented squad we have ever put on the turf. And you know they will celebrate it as a team, and wait to celebrate it as individuals at home, or with friends tonight.
I will find my usual little hideaway to have a few bubbly beverages and celebrate this day of recognition in Tampa Bay. The Rays will have finally gone through the threshold of wannabe’s, to playoff contenders. It has taken a long time, and there have been a few headaches and misery in the past 10 years. But all that will flow away in the next few hours as the sounds and the energy in that building will trasnport all of us to a magical place.
Winning is a contagious. So if you have not gotten your ticket yet for today, you might just have to get a TV fix, bacuase Sunday’s game is an official sell out. Either way, the Rays will be able to celebrate on National television on either day, but it would be great to have it happen today when the area will have so much extra time to celebrate this event. Of course you can celebrate on Sunday too, but with the NFL now going full bore, I do not want your attention diverted by guys hitting each other and odd shaped balls flying through the air.
Saturday is the perfect day to finally have a celebration perfect for the Rays. It is also the day that the faithful Season Ticketholders can relax, think about the future, and finally see that the future is now.