Results tagged ‘ World Series 2008 ’

World Series Tidbits……….The Friday Edition

 

 

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, Philadelphia, the cradle of American Democracy, the town that has as much history in it’s streets ans it does in the Mummer’s Museum. To the Rocky statue, to the outskirts of King of Prussia, the City of Brotherly Love is about to embrace our Rays.  But I must warn you if you are going up for the 3-games in Philly. You will not find another town in this country that will attack your moral fiber and make you question the world’s sanity than Philly during a sports weekend.

The people up there work hard for their wages, and they play just as hard to enjoy their lives. Sports is their salvation. And we are coming up there trying to take something that is special and meaningful to their fans. They are hungry for a sports championship in any terms.

 And to make matters worse for Rays fans, the Eagles have a home game 7 hours before our first pitch. That means as many as 110,000 fans will travel that small section of the lower city seeking and destroying themselves and others. With that in mind, I have a few thing to tell you to keep you out of the mouth of the lion while in Philly.

If a group of fans do beging to badger you or prod you with insults, just move towards a safer crowd or near a police officer. The Philly policemen might not be totally impartial, but they are fair and they will calm the unruly fans and get you to the game in one piece. You can wear your jersey inside the stadium, but outside the park, you might want to cover it up with a jacket, or just put it .. you get into the ballpark.

The reason is that it makes you a simple target for harrassment and possible mischief.  the town is full of amazing people, but becuase you have a 1 p.m. kick-off for the Eagles game, the crowd will swell to large numbera about 4 p.m. Between the times of 4 p.m. and when the gates open, you will be in a sea of green and white (Eagles) and red and white ( Phillies).

I have found that the baseball fans are the modt forgiving of the bunch, but I also can see them all getting a bit tense in this close quarters on Sunday. Most of all, watch what you say, and to whom. The basic move in Philly is one guy is the antagonist, but he has a huge group behind him. Mob mentality is big in this town. They make the Red Sox boosters on Yawley look like boy scouts.

 

Cheesesteak Empires:

But if you are going to truly go and have the best Philly experience, you will have to first pick out what kind of Cheesesteak you want to eat in town. Both of the best storefronts for this Philly concoction are within a few hundred feet of each other. And each has it]s own loyal fans who swear by their food. It is more of a personal choice in ingredients, as both places put their own twist on this great meat sandwich.

First there is World Famous Pat’s King of Steak: Who makes the best cheesesteak? Pat’s Steaks is a perennial heavyweight in the battle for the ultimate title among Philly cheesesteak makers. The thin steak strips, Italian rolls, hot peppers, onions and Cheeze Whiz (playfully called “whiz” or “cheddar” when ordering) are very popular anytime of the day or night. It’s all outside seating, which can be a bit chilly in January. Most people order and then drive to a warm building to eat.

Then there is a quaint little storefront with the neon so bright and hot you do not need a coat in the dead of winter, Geno’s: Geno’s Steaks has been a key member of the famous Philadelphia Cheesesteak triad (Geno’s, Pat’s, Jim’s) for as long as memory serves. A typical topic of conversation among Philadelphians is which one of these masters of the rib eye reigns supreme. Some say Geno’s sandwiches are bigger but Pat’s are better. Truth be told, any of the three do justice to the city’s signature sandwich. Located across from arch-nemesis Pat’s in South Philadelphia near the Italian Market. Outside seating only.

there is a third shop in the trio of meat conglomerates, but by now you are either hungry for one of these two, or you are going the opposite way to the Sinapore Kosher Chinese restaurant down the street.

 

 

The Sports Complex

 

Mapping Out the Philly Sports Complex:

 

COMPLEX COULDN’T BE a better term to explain what it will be like this weekend to negotiate the streets around the stadium complex in South Philadelphia. What already was a weekend packed with events took on a new dimension once the Phillies made the World Series, with Games 3, 4 and 5 at Citizens Bank Park. That sets up the following scenario:

Tomorrow: Flyers vs. Devils at 4 p.m. at the Wachovia Center; the Celtic Thunder dance troupe at the Wachovia Spectrum at 8 p.m.; and Game 3 of the World Series at the ballpark at 8:35.

Sunday: Eagles vs. Falcons at 1 p.m. at the Linc; the Who performing at the Center at 7:30; and Game 4 of the World Series at 8:35.

Monday: Game 5 of the World Series at 8:29 p.m.

Can the schedule-maker who has the Phantoms on a five-game road trip please take a bow? That Flyers game already was moved from 7 at night to 4 in the afternoon to try and ease congestion tomorrow. It will a bit, although a 1 o’clock start would have helped a lot more. But a NHL Players Association rule restricts two teams that play the night before from playing too early the following day. The Flyers and Devils play at 7 tonight at New Jersey before heading to Philly to complete the home-and-home series.

To help alleviate some of the crush on the roads, SEPTA has said it will run Broad Street Line “Sports Express” trains from 6:25 to 7:35 p.m. all 3 days. That means that trains will operate from Fern Rock every 10 minutes and stop at Olney, Erie, Girard, Spring Garden, Race-Vine, City Hall and Walnut-Locust. Local service also will be running. That puts the last express train down at the ballpark around 8:05, giving fans plenty of time to settle into their seats and see some of the pregame festivities. Express trains will leave the stadium complex after the game.

Express service also will be implemented Sunday morning to handle the throng headed to the Eagles. Those will run from 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Service on the Market-Frankford Line also will be upgraded starting at 6:30 p.m., but you are reminded that shuttle buses will replace regular El weekend train service between 30th Street Station and 69th Street Terminal because of construction.

 

Game 3 To Have Wind, Rain and Possible Cold Weather

Scouting is an important part of baseball, but it is not limited to what happens on the field. Even before the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays played Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night, Major League Baseball officials were monitoring the weather forecast for this weekend in Philadelphia. Rain is expected tomorrow when the teams are scheduled to play Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park.

A Saturday rainout of the first World Series game here in 15 years would change the effective date of more than 125,000 tickets. Currently, Games 3, 4 and 5 between the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights at Citizens Bank Park.

A storm system heading north from the Carolinas, however, is expected to bring six or more hours of rain to the Philadelphia area on Saturday, with a 90 percent chance of evening showers, according to the National Weather Service. The rain could be heavy at times, with thunderstorms possible, said Gary Szatkowski, chief meteorologist at the service’s Mount Holly office.

The thunderstorm activity is most likely in the afternoon, and the rain is expected to be lighter here than in Central and Western Pennsylvania, he said. Forecasters should have a clearer picture on Saturday morning, though predicting might still be tricky around game time. Major League Baseball officials, who make the final determination, will monitor the situation using a private weather service, said spokesman Pat Courtney.

A postponement of Saturday’s game would bump all three local games back a day, making Game 3 tickets good on Sunday night, Game 4 tickets good on Monday, and Game 5 tickets good on Tuesday, Courtney said. Every ticket-holding fan, whether going to one, two or all three games, would have to revise at least two dates on his or her calendar.

Many fans would have to reschedule flights, hotel stays, or long car trips. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would still be played Wednesday and Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Forecasts have been wrong before, of course.

A lingering nor’easter with periods of heavy rain was predicted for the last weekend of the season, especially threatening the night game of Friday, Sept. 26. That game was played without a rain delay. The following afternoon, a 4-3 win clinched the division title.

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee and Rays manager Joe Maddon declined to speculate about possible adjustments to their teams’ rotations.

Phillies ace Cole Hamels is scheduled to pitch Monday, which could wind up being Game 4 instead of Game 5. That likely wouldn’t change his being unavailable to start a decisive Game 7 – unless a second rainout postpones that matchup past Thursday.

Rainouts seldom happen in the World Series. The postponement of Game 4 in 2006 was the first washout since Game 1 of 1996, Courtney said. A few games, though, were rained out multiple times, including Game 4 in 1911 in Philadelphia. The A’s were hosting the New York Giants, and the game was delayed “a ******** six days,” according to Major League Baseball’s Web site, mlb.com.

 

 

World Series Tidbits……….The Thursday Edition

 

 

You ever wonder how all those baseballs get rubbed down and ready for the games. Well, there is an attendant that works in the Umpire’s room who duty it is to put the old Delaware River mud on the World Series Rawlings baseballs and get them ready for the umpires to use for the nightly games.

 

 

I am not sure, but he probably starts during that night’s games getting the next batch ready for the following night’s contest. At least that is what I would do.   Think about all the man-hours used to press and massage that mud into the balls with an even consistency. You would think they would have developed a machine to do that job, but I am told nothing does the job better than a good set of hands and a constant massage on the old  balls.

 

 

I remember back in June of this year there was an article about a pizzeria in the state of Colorado that was going to give out FREE pizza if the Rays won the World Series. In the little town of Lakewood, a small suburb right outside of Denver there  is just such a place where magic is said to happen to any event, or team goal put on their estuarant’s window.

John Keiley isn’t really that big of a Rays fan. It’s more that he likes a good story and a big underdog — and a little publicity — as much as he likes making a good pizza. And, oh yeah, he hates the Red Sox and the Yankees.

So that’s how he came to make this offer, and paint it on the front window of his Johnny’s New York Pizza & Pasta shop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood: Free pizza for the world if the Rays win the World Series.

He made his first such deal in June 2007, offering free pizza in the unlikely event his hometown Rockies swept the Yankees. They did, and Keiley gave away 2,500 pizzas — at a cost of about $12,000.

As football season kicked off, he figured he would do it again: Free pizza if any NFL team went 16-0. The New England Patriots did. So on a Sunday in January, Keiley gave away about 1,500 pizzas. A few weeks ago, he was impressed watching on ESPN as the Rays rallied to beat and sweep the Red Sox. He called a childhood buddy from New York (they were Mets fans), George Vricos, who now lives in Clearwater. The more he heard about the Rays, the more he liked. So he made his latest offer.

I’m rooting for the Rays,” he said. “And if the Red Sox and Yankees don’t get in the playoffs, that would be heaven.”

 

 

You might be wondering, since there was a stolen base in tonight’s game, do we now get 2 free  crunchy, spicy beef  tacos from Taco Bell?

 

 

The unfortunate answer to that puzzling question is NO. Even though Carlos Ruiz stole second base in the 7th inning of Game 2 of the Wrold Series, the promotion will deliver one free taco to everyone in America if there was a stolen base in any of the games from Game1-4.

There will be another chance to get another FREE taco when they get to Game 5, which will be played in Philadelphia on Monday, October 27th. If someone steals a base from Game 5-7, then they can redeem their FREE taco on November 3rd from 2-6pm at a participating store.

 

Odd Facts and Tidbits on Last Night Game

The Phillies were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday night. That’s the most at-bats without a hit with men in scoring position for any team in any game in World Series history. The previous record was 0-for-12, done four times, most recently by Kansas City in Game Five of the 1980 World Series.

 

Chase Utley‘s two-run home run in the top of the first inning gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead. It was the first time in 42 years that a player hit a home run in the top of the first inning in Game One of a World Series. That last happened in 1966, when Baltimore’s Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson hit back-to-back home runs off Don Drysdale at Dodger Stadium.

Utley added two stolen bases to become the first player in major-league history to hit a home run and steal two bases in a World Series game.

 

Ryan Howard is only the second player in major-league history to strike out three times and commit an error in his first career World Series game. Dodgers’ pitcher Preacher Roe did that in Game Two of the 1949 World Series, but he threw a complete-game shutout to beat the Yankees!

 

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard were a combined 0-for-9, with five strikeouts in Game One of the World Series. In their five seasons as major-league teammates, they have never before been hitless in nine-or-more at-bats with five-or-more strikeouts in the same regular-season or postseason game.

Cole Hamels allowed a home run to Carl Crawford in the fourth inning. During the regular season, 12 of the 28 home runs allowed by Hamels were hit by left-handed batters (42.9%), the highest percentage against any left-handed pitcher in the majors who allowed at least 15 home runs in 2008.

Cole Hamels is the fourth pitcher to win Game One of the Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series in the same year. That was also done by John Smoltz (1996 Braves), David Wells (1998 Yankees), and Josh Beckett (2007 Red Sox).

 

Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir, both 24 years old, were only the third pair of starting pitchers in Game One of a World Series each under the age of 25. The previous occurrences: 1912 – Smoky Joe Wood, Red Sox (22) vs. Jeff Tesreau, Giants (23); and 1970 – Jim Palmer, Orioles (24) vs. Gary Nolan, Reds (22).

 


 



World Series Tidbits……….The Weds. Edition

 

FREE TACO PROMOTION

Everyone in America must send a Thank You note to the Tampa Bay Rays’ shortstop Jason Bartlett for stealing second base in the 5th inning of Game 1 of the 2008 World Series. As you might know. If a player steals a base during any of the 2008 World Series Games, the public can steal a taco on Taco Bell. Well, in the first game tonight, America can get it’s Mexican food fix in a few days. Read below for the time and date you can go to your local Taco Bell location and get your freebie.

 

 

As you might know by now, everyone in America  will get a FREE Taco Bell Crunchy Spicy Beef Taco on Tuesday October 28th, between the hours of 2-6 p.m. 

Here is how to obtain your FREE Taco.

 If an eligible base was stolen during the Games, Taco Bell will make an announcement through selected media channels, including a press release and its web site (www.tacobell.com), that eligible consumers can obtain their free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 (if base is stolen in Games 1-4 on October 22, 23, 25 or 26) OR Monday, November 3, 2008 (if base is stolen in Games 5-7, October 27, 29 or 30) (“Redemption Date”) only. To obtain the Free Taco, consumers must visit any participating Taco Bell® restaurant in one of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. (local time) on the Redemption Date only and request a Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco. Free Tacos will not be offered on any other date or time, regardless of circumstance. Limit one (1) Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco per person. Participating Taco Bell restaurant manager reserves the right to deny Free Taco to any person he/she reasonably believes has already received a Free Taco or has engaged in any other fraudulent activity. All eligible consumers: Everyone in line at a participating Taco Bell restaurant before 6:00 p.m. local time will receive a Free Taco, even if it is provided after 6:00 p.m. Free Taco offer is subject to store availability and Taco Bell reserves the right to substitute an item of equal or greater value if due to unavailability. All restaurant managers’ decisions are final regarding to Free Taco offer. As a condition of the offer, each consumer agrees: (a) to release, and hold harmless Major League Baseball Properties, Inc., Major League Baseball Enterprises, Inc., MLB Advanced Media, L.P., MLB Media Holdings, Inc., MLB Media Holdings, L.P., MLB Online Services, Inc., the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, and the Major League Baseball Clubs, and each of their respective shareholders, employees, parents, directors, officers, affiliates, subsidiaries, representatives, agents, successors, and assigns (hereinafter, “MLB Entities”), Sponsor and each of their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, retailers, sales representatives, distributors and franchisees, and each of their officers, directors, employees and agents (“Promotional Parties”), from any and all claims, demands, losses, promises, causes of action, injuries, damages and/or liabilities, that may arise, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from the participation in this Promotion or from the receipt or use or misuse of the Free Taco, or any travel or activity related to the receipt or use of the Free Taco (b) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and participant hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, incidental, special, consequential, or any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses; (c) all causes of action arising out of or connected with this Promotion or any Free Taco or any advertising, marketing, promotion or publicity materials in connection therewith, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; and (d) any and all claims, judgments, and award shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, excluding attorneys’ fees and court costs. By participating, each consumer agrees that all issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Terms and Conditions, consumer’s rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsor in connection with this Promotion, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of State of California, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rule

After reading all of that I was hungry for a Triple steak burrito too.

 

Handheld Camera Guy Rocks

By now, you’ve probably noticed those mobile close-up shots during the TBS telecasts when a player trots toward the plate after a home run. It’s the handiwork of veteran cameraman Matt Cunningham, 44, of Kansas. Cunningham lugs a 35-pound camera in his right arm as he follows alongside players, a gimmick approved by Major League Baseball three years ago. He makes many of the decisions on who to follow, and when, on the spur of the moment.

“It’s hard and takes a lot work,” said Cunningham. “I look down at the viewfinder occasionally, but I’ve got to be aware of not running into players and umpires. I can’t step into the field of play, all kinds of stuff.”

Cunningham has become a master of running with the camera over the past three seasons, always keeping track of who’s at bat or on base. “When (B.J.) Upton and (Evan) Longoria are up, I don’t want to be out in the crowd,” he said. In Game 6, he was getting a shot in the Red Sox bullpen when Jason Bartlett homered and he had to dash a good 40 yards in order to follow the shortstop to the plate. Players occasionally get annoyed with him. “Some have an attitude,” he said, “but most are pretty good about it. It’s a moment of glory for them anyway.”

 

Bad 1990’s Flashback

I was sitting there at the game and got a really bad 1990’s flashback when the Public Address Announcer told us that the Back Street Boys were going to do the National Anthem. Now I was never a huge fan of their music, but I did dance to it if a woman I was trying to date was shaking herself on the dance floor.

They got out there, and thank goodness they looked older. You know how sometimes you see a band 20 years later and they still try and do the tight leather pants and red bandana (Wonder what Band that was at the Trop?), but are about 40 pounds heavier and more winded after one song.

Anyways, they started out with a really unique redition of the National Anthem, with a few a capella moments and harmonies thrown in for good measures. I actually thought it was a great rendiation, but please do not tell me at tomorrow game that I can download the recording on Itunes.com, or that it is availiable for sale in the Rays store.

 

What City Do We Play In Again?

Just because this area was called Hillsboro Point before the city of St. Peterburg was incorporated by John Williams many. many years ago should we even be considered a Tampa location. I am getting sick and tired of seeing my hometown blown away by the “Tampa” label. Rox Basbeall Announcer, Tim McCarver twiced called the area the”Tampa Rays.”

And someone who used to manage the Clearwater Threshers called this area and the team the “Tampa Rays” when he was announcing the Philadelphia Phillies lineup for the night.  It got so bad at one point that another Fox Announcer, Joe Buck,  put the Phillies  Class-A , Florida State League team on Clearwater Beach instead of their current site right off US 19 and Drew Street in Clearwater.

 I know mistakes happen, but can we at leats admit we made a mistake so we know you see the error in your ways.  This area is a proud area and we do take offense to the multiple errors in geography and miscalculations on the distance between us and the Tampa skyline. I saw two backgrounds of the skyline off the Hillsborough River tonight, when we were about 20 miles to the west of that location.

At least get a picture of the St. Petersburg Pier, or the sailing academy on Demens’ Landing sending those little crafts out into Tampa Bay. The worst part is the assumption of people who live either south, north or east of us to think that this area is not a metropolitan zone. Did you know that over 921,482 people living in Pinellas county. That makes it the 3rd largest county in the state of Florida. We are also the most densely populated county in Florida. Can’t we at least get the National media to know we have out own identity in this stadium.

 

Corporate Slinging Here and There:

1B Carlos Pena wiping his brow with a Gator­ade towel. Rays’ Manager Joe Maddon drinking from a Gator­ade cup. Players digging into Gatorade coolers for bubble gum and sunflower seeds on the back of the dugout benches. Huge orange coolers’ sitting on the Bullpen benches in plain sight of the camera as it pans the crowd or follows the ball down the foul line on the ground

Talk about getting your brand out.

If you look in the dugouts and on the postgame interview podiums, the Gator­ade logo will be the only brand seen in the major-league playoffs. Gatorade — created by a group of UF medical researchers — maintains exclusive rights to the  MLB postseason.

In both dugouts, the labels of water bottles have been ripped off, and Gatorade cups — sometimes they are empty — are strategically placed in the postgame interview room.

Interesting enough, the unidentified water bottles are from Aquafina, the official MLB water that is also owned by Gatorade’s parent company, PepsiCo.

I know having been a Pepsi Sales Representative. for the  Tampa Bay Rays for over 5 years that the presence of a certain energy drink has gotten more exposure than they deserve because of Pepsi Bottling Group’s  lack of  enforcement to rid the stadium of the rival beverage.

The local saleman of this rival brand bring caes upon cases into the Rays clubhouse for distribution, and none of the Pepsi branded energy drinks are provided for the players or the fans in the Trop. I could see if the local vendor did not offer an energy alternative that they would allow it to be distributed in the stadium. Pepsi Bottling Group has over 6 different versions and sizes of energy drinks that can be sold at concession stands, or even the imported beer stands in the stadium.

You see players on the bench and coming from the Bullpen bathroom areas with small silver and mlight blue cans sticking out of their pockets and pouring them into cans on the bench area. I know that you can also purchase this beverage in the Budweiser Brewhouse at anytime during the game, or after it and can mix it with Vodka to become a drink called, “The Cowbell.”

I just find it a bit moronic that you can purchase a drink that can give you wings in a place where the top soda provider does not have at least a sampling of their wares to entice or at leats give an alternative to this one drink. It might be more job pride than anything here, because I know we can sell alot of this type of drink during the Rays games.  Maybe I should just go back and sit in the Budweiser Brewhouse and drink another Coors Light and think about all of this for a while.

 

World Series Matchups…..Starting Pitchers’ and Bullpens’

 

This World Series will probably come down to the effectiveness of these two pitching areas of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. Most people know that there is going to be a high scoring offensive juggernaut put up on certain nights, but a pitchers’ duel here and there might also set up a Bullpen matchup to either lead to a meltdown, or a shut down of an opposing lineup.

I am going to matchup the first 4 games with the respective pitchers going on the mound for the teams. In this way I can point out the positives’ and negatives’ of each member of the pitching staff. I will then  seperate the Bullpen by righties and lefties and summarize the chance of success or failure of the segment. I will then look at the closers’, and what effect they might have on the outcome of the series.

 

 

Game 1 Starters :      Cole Hamels ( L ) versus   Scott Kazmir  ( L ).

Cole Hamels comes into the World Series with an 3-0 record and a 1.23 ERA in the postseason.  He has thrown a total of 22.0 innings and given up 6 walks while earning 22 strikeouts in the National League playoffs.

Hamels is a great fastball/changeup pitcher. His changeup is rated as one of the best in the game. He has great arm action on his pitches and it dies as it nears the plate. He can also drop in curve balls on unaware batters close up in the box. Lefties tonight will have to be aware of his late break on his curve on the outside corners.

His fastball is usually in the 87-96 m.p.h. range, while his changeup sits steady at around 77-85 m.p.h.  His curve is breaking at around 73-80 m.p.h. with a great arch at the end of the pitch.

 

Scott Kazmir has been the Rays young gun for several years before the emergance of this pitching staff in 2008. Kazmir is the All-Time Rays leader in ERA, Strikeouts and Innings Pitched at 25 years of age. In the 2008 playoffs, Kazmir is 1-0, with a 4.02 ERA and has thrown 15.2 innings and given up 10 walks while earning 18 strikeouts.

 

Kazmir has a common repertoire, but has amazing stuff. He is not afraid to throw inside, particularly with his low-mid 90’s fastball. He uses it to put hitters’ on their heels before popping his slider off, or using his changeup outside fading it away from the plate. Kazmir prefers to use the slider against left-handers, and the changeup against right-handers. Kazmir has already led the American League in Strikeouts, and threw 4 straight no-hitters in Texas as a high schooler.

His fastball comes in at around 88-95 m.p.h., and his slider is timed at 80-84 m.p.h. with a sharp late break. His change up is a great out pitch for him at around 75-80 m.p.h.

 

ADVANTAGE:    Toss Up  This will be a true pitchers’ duel as both can take over a game fast and make it their own, or get into a bind early in the contest. Whoever gets to the 5th inning without alot of collateral damage will probably win this contest. I am taking Hamels if the Rays left-handers get behind early in the counts.

 

 

Game 2 Starters:            Brett Myers ( R ) versus James Shields ( R )

Brett Meyers might be known more this season for the Spring Training prank pulled on fellow Phillies’ pitcher Kyle Kendrick. He was told he was traded to a Japanese team by the Phillies. But in the 2008 playoffs, Meyers has gone 2-0, with 12 innings pitched and has issued 7 walks while strking out 10 batters.

Meyers was really struggling early in 2008, enough to get a rehab assignment in the minors. Since returning, he is improved dramatically. He still has a moving fastball and a hard overhand curveball, and had relied on this combo in the 2nd half of the season. During his career he has changed from a splitter and a changeup as his off speed pitch. He currently uses both sparingly in games. He also throws a slider that has more action like a cutter than a traditional slider.  

His fastball is hitting the gun at between 85-92 m.p.h. now, and his curve is breaking at 73-78 m.p.h. His slider is moving at 82-87 m.p.h.. When used, his changeup is topping out from 78-83 m.p.h., and his splitter is hitting 78-83 m.p.h. on the guns

 

James Shields was the Rays Opening Day starter in both the playoffs and during the ruglar season. In his second year, he has fast developed a reputation as being a big game pitcher. During this years playoffs, Shields is 1-2, with a 3.72 ERA. He has thrown 19.1 innings and giving up 6 walks to posted 13 strikeouts for the Rays.

 

Shields has been a huge surprise for the Rays in the last 2 seasons, quickly turning into one of the best pitchers in baseball. He throws hard, mixing his 90+ m.p.h. fastball with a razorblade cutter that breaks bats.  However Shields money pitch is his sinking changeup, which is considered one of the best in the game. He also has a huge breaking curveball with good command, making him a true 4-pitch starter for the Rays.

His fastball has been clocked from  90-94 m.p.h., while his changeup tops out between 80-85 m.p.h. His cutter has been known to hit around 87-91 m.p.h., with his curve topping out at 76-77 m.p.h.

 

ADVANTAGE:   The do not call him “Big Game” Shields for nothing. This right-hander has the kind of stuff that could hold the Phillies offense in check in Game 2. If he is in control in the first 3 innings, the night will be over quick for the Philly batters.

 

 

Game 3 Starters:             Matt Garza ( R )  versus Jamie Moyer ( L )

Everyone in baseball knows about the June incident in Texas with Garza, but since that time he has shown more control and been a shut-down pitcher for the Rays. His improvements showed his true abilities as he won the American League Championship Most Valuable Player award for going 2-1, with a 3.32 ERA in 19.0 innings. He gave up 10 walks and got 13 strikeouts in the playoffs to date.

 

Garza has the stuff to be the next great starting pitcher in baseball. He will throw a hard fastball in the mid -90’s to go with his duo of breaking balls. He has a plus slider in the low-mid 80’s that gets great drop. It looks like a hard curve, but is deceptive in motion. He can then change up the pitch by slowing the ball down into the mid-70’s making a great 12-6 break on his curveball. His 4th pitch is a straight changeup in the low 80’s.

His fastball comes in at 90-95 mph, while his slider hits the gun at 84-88 mph. His great curve is clocked between 75-78 mph, and his changeup sits between 82-83 mph Jamie Moyer began the season in the American League with the Seattle Mariners. He is one of two members of the Phillies staff who has faced the Rays in 2008before the World Series. Moyer got his only start against the Rays at the Trop during the Rays’ first homestand of the season. He comes into the series with an 0-2 mark and a 13.50 ERA.He has had a bit of a control issue, giving up 10 hits in his 5.1 innings of work in the post season. In those innings, he has also issued 3 walks and gotten 5 strikeouts.

Moyer throws a four -pitch repertoire. He has a fastball/cutter combo that he will use to any hitter ,on both sides of the plate. His velocity on these pitches sits around 80 mph. His breaking ball is a curve that he spikes with his index finger. His fastball hits the gun at 79-83 mph, while his cutter breaks at 77-80 mph. His deceptive changeup comes over between 73-75 mph, and his curve breaks at 67-71 mph.

Advantage:  Garza. There is a reason he is the ALCS MVP. He has learned to hit his spots and take no prisioners’ at the plate. He is not afraid to pitch inside and if his emotions stay in check, it will be a long night.

 

 

 

Game 4 Starters:      Andy Sonnanstine ( R ) versus Joe Blanton ( R )

Andy Sonnanstine comes into the World Series having pitched the Rays into position to try and take the series in 5 games. He is a great pitcher who uses his off speed pitches to fool the competition. For the 2008 playoffs,Sonnanstine has a 2-0 record, with a 3.46 ERA. He has thrown for 13 innings and given up only 2 walks and gotten 5 strikeouts for the Rays.

Sonnanstine uses a cutter as his primary fastball pitch, mixing in the occasional 2-seamer to fool batters’. Both of these pitches come in approximately the same velocity, around the mid-80’s. Sonnanstine will throw the cutter over the top, giving it a slight drop, or drop his arm angle down to 3/4 which give the pitch more horizontal movement. Sonnanstine also uses a standard slider, a slow 12-6 curveball and a sinking changeup. He has the ability to throw strike with all his pitches, which keeps his walk totals extremely low and keeps him in the games.

His fastball comes in at between 87-90 mph, while his cutter hits 86-90 mph. The huge curveball breaks between 74-76 mph, and his changeup drops to around 81 mph. His occasional slider hits the gun at 80-82 mph.

Joe Blanton is the second member of the Phillies who has pitched against the Rays in 2008. He was a memeber of the Oakland A’s at the time. Blanton comes into the series with a 1-0 record, with a 3.27 ERA. He has thrown 11 innings and issued 4 walks and gotten 11 strikeouts in the postseason.

Blanton throws the four basic pitches. His round frame delivers a straight fastball. To lefties, Blanton perfers to work with his changeup as his second pitch. To righties, he uses a fastball/slider combo. He will deviate from this, but not often. Blanton’s 4th pitch is a 12-6 curveball. He prefers to work quickly and doen’t shake off his catchers. his fastball comes in at 86-91 mph, while his slider breaks the plate at 80-84 mph. His changeup come over at 80-83, and the curve is timed between 73-76 mph.

 

ADVANTAGE:  Sonnastine. He has kept the Rays in every game he has pitched in the 2008 playoffs. He uses his deceptive arm motion to fool the batter into a lull, while working quickly. With both Blanton and Sonnastine on the mound, we might have one of the shortest games in World Series history as both do not shake off their catcher alot and want to pitch quickly to the plate.

 

 

Phillies’ Bullpen

JC Romero

Romero is your standard lefthanded reliever. He has an average fastball, and relies on his junk to get outs. He has a big slider and a soft changeup. The slider primarily thrown to lefties, will sweep across the hitting zone. Romero will save change up for the righties, and attempt to fade this pitch off the plate. He seems to lose more velocity each season, but has put together a couple of decent seasons with the Phillies.

Ryan Madson

Madson is a fastball/changeup pitcher, but seems to be using his cutter more and more. the cutter can get some huge movement sometimes, sliding across the hitting zone. Madson’s changeup is still his best pitch, often diving down just as it reaches the plate. His fastball is very straight and hittable. He does have a slow curve as his 4th pitch.

J A Happ

Happ shows some promise. He is 6 feet tall. lefthanded and throws a 90 mph fastball. He has consistently posted good minor league numbers and looks like he might translate it to the major league level. Happ owns a tight slider that he uses often. He likes to try and go inside on righties with it,burying it at their ankles, or throwing away from lefties. Happ will also show a changeup to righties and mix in a very slow curveball.

Scott Eyre

Eyre is your typical leftie reliever. He throws  a 90 mph fastball, a sweeping slider, and an occasional changeup. He has bounced around 5 different teams and issues too many walks to stick around anywhere.

Chad Durbin

Durbin has been a reliable member of the Phillies Bullpen in 2008. His stuff looks average, but he is been getting outs. He will throw 2-seamers and a straight 4-seam fastball. He will throw alot of tight sliders in the upper-80’s.  Durbin finishes his 4 pitch selection with a  standard curve and a changeup.

Clay Condrey

He deals with a sinking fastball with a big slider, He also mixes in a sharp cutter at high velocity, and fades a change up away.

 

 

Phillies Closer:                             Brad Lidge

Lidge still throws it in the mid-90’s with a sick slider. He uses these two pitches, and that’s basically it for him. The fastball rises as it approaches home plate. Then he breaks off a hard downward breaking slider that misses bats. Lidge has experiemented with a changeup in the past, and with a cutter early in 2007. Neither pitch produced great results, but he can rack up the K’s as a closer.

 

       

 

Rays’ Bullpen:

 J P Howell

Howell throws with alot of movement on all of his pitches. His fastball sinks, tails and/or cuts on its way to the plate. It only reaches about 88 mph, but it looks much faster these days. He mixes in a changeup that he tends to overthrow and it ends up only about 5 mph slower than his fastball. Howell’s breaking ball is in the upper-70’s and may touch the low 80’s. It has become a real weapon against all hitters’. especially lefties.  The imporvement of Howell’s pitches from 2007, to 2008 is dramatic.

Trever Miller

Miller is a lefthanded specialist that has a simple selection of pitches. He throws a fastball in the mid-upper-80’s and a weak slider off of that. His changeup doesn’t vary more than 7 or 8 mph from his fastball. However, he will never give in to hitters’, preferring to walk a batter before throwing one down the middle of the plate.

Chad Bradford

Bradford has a very slow sidearm delivery. His fastball barely touches 80 mph, but since his hand almost scrapes the mound at his release point, hitters find him difficult to pick up. He also throws a sweeping slider and shows a changeup.

 Edwin Jackson

Jackson throws a hard, straight fastball in the low-to-high 90’s, and a slider to counter it. He throws a straight changeup and has added a curveball in 2008. Jackson seems to be continuing to improve as a pitcher every outing for the Rays.

Grant Balfour

Balfour is an intense dude. He throws hard, challenges hitters, and swears at himslef on the mound even if things are going well. He owns a tight slider and a curveball, but he will go multiple outings without throwing anything but fastballs.

David Price

The 2007 1 overall pick, David Price has reached the major leagues in his first season of professional baseball. Price dominated the NCAA ranks with his mid-90’s fastball and tight slider, two pitches that have easily translated into the pro game. David has been working on his changeup for years, and is still in the development stages with it. He could be the secret weapon for the Rays this postseason because no teams have a book on him and he will be pitching a limited amount of innings in the playoffs.

Dan Wheeler

Wheeler has never had dominant velocity, but is still able to produce as a setup man every year. He has a 90 mph moving fastball and mixes in alot of breaking pitches. His slider has slowed over the years and now site somewhere around 80 mph with a good drop. Wheeler will mix in split-fingers to lefties,  a pitch that can cut  drop bats. In the past, Wheeler experimented with a cutters,changeups and may still mix in the occasional 12-6 curveball. He is hittable and prone to allowing the long ball.

 

 

 

Rays Closer:                     Closer by Committee

 

Rays Manager, Joe Maddon has decided to go with a closer by committee aspect until someone shows they want to position. In the last game against the Red Sox, Maddon used 5 relievers in 1 inning and then gasve the ball to the rookie, David Price to save the game for the Rays. Price might be the sentimental favorite of Maddon right now. Dan Wheeler has the only other save for the Rays in the 2008 playoffs.

 

Advantage:    Phillies by a nose.

Philadelphia has a designated closer, so they have someone who knows his role every game, every night. With the Rays going by clsoer by committee at this time, they will have to adjust their prospective nightly on who is fresh, and who has the good stuff. I am giving this solely on the merit of a closer for the Phillies.

I feel that the games will come down to the Bullpens’ to either win or lose in the World Series. If the Rays can establish and hold at least two leads for wins, that will put all the pressure on the Phillies Bullpen from then on to shut down the Rays’ offense. A single mistake could open the floodgates for either team in this series.

 

 

World Series Predictions From Around the MLB in 2008

 

 

Here are some of the predictions from the Third Ward. You know, those guys who know sports so much better than some of us who either played them, or even starred in them in college or above. I always find it interesting that a guy who enver played baseball can make a comment on hitting a slider when he has never even taken an at bat, or been in the box with a guy throwing 96 m.p.h. at him in a game situation.

But I guess it could be worse. My banker could have given me my mortage paperwork written on beverage naps from a local tavern, or styed at the Holiday Inn Express the night before signing day. So enjoy some of the pundits picks and reasons below. I will make my predictions on the bottom of the blog.  Enjoy reading some of the recpas on their picks:

 

Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 6: They don’t know any better to be intimidated by the stage, and their homefield advantage will leave the Phillies hearing cowbells all winter.

John Romano, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 6: Too much depth, too much flexibility, too much heart. The team that wouldn’t quit finally reaches the finish line.

Gary Shelton, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 7: What could be more dramatic than winning a Game 7 at home against the Red Sox? How about winning a world championship in a Game 7 at home?

Joe Smith, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 7: Every time you count them out, they make you pay. And with starters like Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir getting back on track (and David Price a not-so-secret weapon), their pitching depth will carry them through.

Brant James, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 5: The Rays should have their way if they keep Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino from creating too much chaos on the bases and Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Chase Utley in the ballpark.

Dave Scheiber, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 6: A relaxed Rays team rides the emotional wave from beating Boston, benefiting from their high-decibel homefield advantage and a surging pitching staff bolstered by rookie phenom David Price.

Eduardo A. Encina, St. Petersburg Times

Phillies in 7: Door closers Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge shorten the game and end this year’s run of late-inning Rays heroics.

Tom Jones, St. Petersburg Times

Rays in 6: The Bucs won their first Super Bowl. The Lightning won its first Stanley Cup. The Rays will win their first World Series. It’s karma, baby.

Tim Kurkjian, ESPN the Magazine

Rays in 7: They have speed, power, pitching and four games at home.

Peter Gammons, ESPN

Phillies in 7: I had the Rays in the first two series. I have the Phillies in this one and the biggest reason is the last two innings of the Phillies’ bullpen, Madson and Lidge.

Tracy Ringolsby, Rocky Mountain News

Phillies in 6: Lidge makes the difference.

Harold Reynolds, MLB.com and TBS

Rays in 7: The key will be the bullpen. David Price and Edwin Jackson will play a big role.

Ken Rosenthal, Fox and FoxSports.com

Rays in 7: The AL is a stronger league and this is a strong, deep team.

Gordon Edes, Boston Globe

Rays in 5: No stopping them now.

Gerry Fraley, FoxSports.com

Phillies in 6: After a season in Philadelphia, playing in Tropicana Field seems like a no-stress holiday to the Phillies.

Dave Sheinin, Washington Post

Rays in 4: They steal Game 1 off Hamels and that’s it. They have better pitchers in the next three.

Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News

Rays in 6: I think Hamels is the only pitching matchup in (the Phillies’) favor at all.

Mel Antonen, USA Today

Rays in 6: I love their pitching and defense.

John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News

Phillies in 6: They’ve got to be patient at the plate and make the Rays starters throw a lot of pitches to get to the bullpen.

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe

Rays in 5: Rays will destroy the Phillies’ pitching after Hammels.

 

 

I know that all of America are anxious on my picks here. I am actually going to pick the winner of the World Series and the World Series MVP in this blog. It might be no surprise what team I am picking, but the person who I am picking for the MVP might be a no-brainer too.

 

I am taking the Tampa Bay Rays in 6 Games to win the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. I am holding alot of faith and respect for the left arm of our secret weapon out of the Bullpen , reliever extrordinaire, David Price.

I am also going to make him a candidate for the MVP, but he will lose out to teammate B J Upton, who will set the new record for homers by and individual in the playoffs this year. He is one away noe from tying the record, and I think in a 6 game series he will expolde at least twice to push the new record to 9 homers total in the playoffs.

This along with an outfield assist on a throw to home to peg  Shane Victorino some time during the series will seal the deal for Upton. The earlier the better for the Rays.

 

So with that all done, let’s get to doing what we do best here in Tampa Bay and get our cowbells primed and ready for a shootout in the old Trop tonight. I agree that if the Rays steal a win tonight, it puts more pressure on the Phillies to come up big in their home ballpark. And the Rays have become road warriors this postseason.

 

 

 

World Series Matchups…………………Field Players’ and Bench.

 

 

Okay, now that we are a mements away from the biggest game in  the Tampa Bay Rays history, we have to select and disect and rumble under the hood to see what team maight have a “leg up” on this series. you can look at it in a million different angles, toss the cliche’s out the window, and book the champagne for almost anytime after the 4th game. This series is about the under-30 stars of Major League Baseball.

 

I do not know if this is the youngest accumulated age on a World Series roster, but it is one of the most exciting to me, and not just becuase the home team is involved in it. This series might just be the stepping stone to one of these two teams going on a spree of a few years of domination in their divisions. Time will tell if this hold true, but for now, let’s match these guys up and see where they fall:

 

Catchers:

 

Now I know that the Phillies have gotten alot of great contributions from their starting catcher, Carlos Ruiz in the regular season and in the playoffs up to tonight. He  hit .313 with 5 hits in the NLCS, and has hit only .200 in the entire playoffs this year. Ruiz  has been a constant plus behind the plate for the Phillies.

 

But you have to admit that the Rays Dioner Navarro has risen from the ashes to become one of the up and coming catchers in the MLB. He started his journey after the All-Star game last year by improving his plate discipline and taking more chances at the plate. In the off season, he went back to Venezulea and worked out and even played some Winter ball to get into the best shape of his career.

 

He came back to the Rays in Spring Training leaner and meaner than any other time in his brief career. This was his pitching staff to lose, and he went about his job with confidience and a renewed vigor that translated to the young staff. He may of only hit .268, with 5 RBI’s in the playoffs so far, but his leadership behind the plate, and his cannon on his arm lead to the Boston Red Sox only getting 2 stolen bases the entire series.

 

 

ADVANTAGE:   Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

First Basemen:

 

Ryan Howard is a superstar in the league at a young age. I compare the pressure on him to the amount thrust upon a young Ken Griffey Junior when he was in Seattle. Howard has risen to the challenge more times than not this season. In the regular season, he hit 48 homers, with 146 RBI’s while striking out 199 times at the plate. He is not a liablity at first base as a defender, but he did post 16 errors this past season.

 

Carlos Pena has been one of the cornerstones of the Rays offense for the past 2 years. This year an injury in Boston took him out of the flow early and he is just getting his stroke back now in the playoffs. Some people believe if you are going to peak as a hitter, it a gift to peak in the playoffs. I think Pena, who hit .245 for the year with only 31 homers during the regular season is just getting started after stroking 3 homers, with 8 RBI’s. Pena has also posted a .333 average in the playoffs so far for the Rays.

 

The one thing Pena has going for him over Howard in a big way is his defense. For the season, Pena only committed 2 errors in 991 put outs. Pena has made the Rays defense better by being a Gold Glove caliber fielder on a team with high-throwers like Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett. Having Pena at first is worth 1 earned run a game.

 

        

 

ADVANTAGE:   Howard on Offense…………………….Pena on Defense

 

Second Basemen:

 

This is another position where on the Phillies it depends on which hitter shows up for the series. If the Chase Utley shows up who was a MVP, then it is a no-brainer here.  He had an off year by his standards by hitting .292, with 33 homers in the regular season. He also committed 13 errors at second this year. In the playoffs,  he had caught fire and hit .363, with 6 walks  in the NLCS to give the Phillies a  boost in that series.. This series will depend on if the same Utley that sparked in the NLCS comes to head, or the guy who was just a bit above average in the regular season.

Akinora Iwamura had to learn the entire nuances of playing second base in the off season this year.  He came nito camp invigored and willing to put his best foot forward at the position. For the year he made the transition look easy and the smoothness and grace when he makes the double play pivot is ballet in motion.

He had struggle a bit at the plate this year only hitting .274, with 172 hits in the regular season. But he has been a reliable lead-off hitter for the Rays this year. He is one of the hardest players to produce a double play against in the league again this year, and committed only 7 errors at his new position. But his numbers during the playoff have slumped a bit, only hitting .277, with 6 walks after a hot start in the ALDS.

 

 

ADVANTAGE:    Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies 

 

Shortstop:

 

Jimmy Rollins has always been the sparkplug of the Phillies. It is common to think that as Rollins goes, the Phillies go this year. He is the primary base threat on the team, having swiped 47 bases and only been caught 3 times this past regular season. During the playoffs, he has hit only .243, with 5 stolen bases.

 

Jason Bartlett has been a cog pin for the Rays this year on defense. Even though he is the team leader in errors with 16, it was his range and his committment to making the defnese better that has gotten Tampa Bay to the playoffs. The team’s defense is anchored by his play at short this year. Bartlett is hitting only .243 this playoff season, but his solo homer in Game 7 against the Boston Red Sox was a key moment in the game for the Rays.  

 

 

ADVANTAGE:  Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies

 

Third Basemen:

 

The Phillies have had a third baseman by committee outlook most of the season, with Gregg Dobbs holding it down offensively while Pedro Feliz  is the  better man on defense for the Phillies. Dobbs has gone 6 for 11 in the postseason for a .545 average, while Perez has hit a lowly .192 for the Phillies.  Feliz has seen action in 9 postseason games, while Dobbs has been at third in 6 games for the Phillies. Feliz has committed no errors in the playoffs, while Dobbs has been hit with 1 this playoff year.

 

Evan Longoria did not play with the Rays for the first 12 games of the season. He is  a rookie in the league this season, but he has not played like it in the field or at the plate for the Rays. During this playoff season, Longoria has committed 3 errors at third on rushed throws, but his countless stops behind the bag and on liners to the hole have kept the Rays in games this post season.

 

Longoria has hit .262, with 6 homers and 11 RBI’s. He is the clean-up hitter for the Rays as a rookie. A huge honor and responsibility, and had shown great maturity and patience at the plate this year. Longoria is by far the class of the rookies this year in the American League, and should win the Rookie of the Year honors fater the playoffs are completed.

 

 

 

ADVANTAGE:  Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Leftfielders;

 

The Philies have relied on  Pat Burrell most of the year in left for the team. He is working on tired knees, but has been a hustling ball of enery all year for the team. He has hit .300, with 3 homers and 7 RBI this post season, and is coming off a .333 average during the NLCS.

 

Carl Crawford is a two-time All Star for the Rays and missed the enite month of September after surgery to repair a tendon on his right hand. He was expected to take a few weeks to get up to speed, but Crawford had a 5 for 5 night in Game 3 against the Red Sox during the ALCS, that boosted his average to .302 for the playoffs with 6 stolen bases.

 

He is one of two big threats on base for the Rays this post season. He is also one of only 4 outfielders’  to get a triple in the playoffs. The other 3 are also in this World Series.

 

 

ADVANTAGE:   Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Centerfielders':

 

The Phillies have  Shane Victorino in centerfield. Victorino is one of the fastest outfielders in the National League and cover alot of ground that normal outfielder let fall into the gaps. His home stadium of Citizen’s Park is made for a guy with his speed. Victorino has been another offensive star for the Phillies in the playoffs. He has a .281 average with 3 stolen bases and 11 RBI’s.

 

B J Upton is closing in on the all-time homer mark by a single player in the post season. Not even the legendary Reggie Jackson has had a year like Upton this years playoffs. He was truly the offensive MVP  for the American League during the Rays playoff push this year. He currently has a .302 average, with 7 homers and 15 RBI’s. He is also a threat on the basepaths swiping 2 bases during the playoffs.

 

 

       

 

ADVANTAGE:  B J Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Rightfielders:

Jason Werth of the Phillies has been a godsend to the team this season.  He is not a guy they wrote into the lineup early in the year, but his offensvie number got better and his outfield arm is second to none in the National League. For the playoffs, he is currently hitting .243, with 4 doubles. It is his defense that has kept the Phillies in games this postseason.

 

The Rays have done a rightfield by pitching matchup this season. Against lefties, Rocco Baldelli has gotten the call this post season for the Rays. After taking time off to conquer a medical situation, Baldelli came on late in the season to sparkplug the Rays rightfield hole. He is hitting only .214, but his 1 homer during the ALCS, and his 5 RBI’s have been huge for the Rays.

 

Gabe Gross has been the player-designate during the righties this year for the Rays. Gross came into the World Series on a batting slump and is currently 1 for 16 in the playoffs. With his bat, his outfield confidence had been ahken and recently he has been replaced in late innings by Ben Zobrist.

 

 

ADVANTAGE: Jason Werth of the Philadelphia Phillies most nights    

                           Rocco Baldelli  of the Tampa Bay Rays against Lefties

 

Bench and DH’s:

The Phillies actually have a great DH on their bench in Matt Stairs. I actually think that the Phillies traded for him with the hope that they would make the World Series and use his experience as a key to their games in the American League parks.  Stairs is also a bit of a Rays-killer, having hit 3 homers and 5 RBI’s off the Rays while with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the season. He will be used primarily against the Rays tough right-handers in the series.

 

The Rays have used Cliff Floyd  as their Designated hitter this season against right-handers. Floyd has shown some excellient leadership and set a great postive example for the young Rays. Floyd has hit only .200 for the playoffs with 1 homer and 1 RBI.

But the real star for the Rays has been the play of super-sub Willy Aybar for the team. Aybar, a switch-hitter has come in late in the game as a DH for the Rays, and has been a constant threat at DH against righties this postseason. In Game 3 against the Red Sox, he had a 5 RBI night.

 

Aybar is hitting an impressive  .421, with 2 homers and 6 RBI’s. He has been the Rays secret weapon all  year long off the bench for the team. Rocco Baldelli has also been used as a DH this postseason against left-handers when not stationed in rightfield. The Rays also have a speedster on the bench in Fernado Perez, who was called the “Fastest man in the International League” by Baseball America this season as a pinch-runner.

 

        

 

ADVANTAGE:    The Tampa Bay Rays Bench

 

So with the matchups done for the field players’ you would think I was going to give the edge to the Philadelphia Phillies. I actually think this area both teams are a push in the series. Each team will give and take on defense with the Rays winning the majority of the battles on defense.

 

I would put B J Upton’s arm against anyone in the league, much less anyone on the Phillies. The corner outfielders for both teams will have a say in who is the better team. Both squads hit alot of balls into the gaps and down the lines. How they respond to the plays will be critical in this series. An error in the outfield during this series will cost a team runs.

 

Offensively, I think it is the Phillies strength on offense that gives them the lead right now. They have an explosive lineup that could be crippled a bit by the hard throwing righties of the Rays later in the series. Tonight’s game will go a long way in decididng the winner of this year’s World Series.  I do not think either team will or can win this series based on their fielders’ only.

 

This series will be decided by the next group I matchup later in the day…………..The pitchers’ and the Bullpens. I will post that after 4 p.m. today E.S.T.

 

 

 

World Series Tidbits……….The Tuesday Edition

 

          Tji_trophysnapshot_420

 

The biggest prize in baseball made a visit to City Hall in St. Petersburg, Florida today so that local fans can see and experience the sight of the Commissioner’s Trophy live and in person.  The beautiful piece designed by Tiffaby & Company, went on display at 11 a.m. today for picture and posing from a short distance.

The only person who has touched the Trophy since it arrived was a DHL employee and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker as they put ot on the podium today for the fans. It will only be on display today, but will probably make an appearance tonight at the Vinoy hotel as  Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will hold a World Series party near the pool deck tonight for MLB officials and local dignitaries.

When you first look at the trophy you are taken aback a bit by the sheer beauty of the member teams flags on the spool of gold plated flagpoles around the structure. Then you just dream of hoisting it up yourself and parading it around the Trop like a champagne bottle and taking in all the history around it.

 I was lucky enough to see the Stanley Cup trophy after the Tampa Bay Lightning won it several years ago at a fundraiser this season. Just the thought of the stories that Cup could tell if it had a voice would have been worth a lifetime to me.  And this trophy has just as many memories and stories. Hopefully someday someone will try and toss all those mystical tales together and issue a premiere coffee table book about the life of the award.  Hmmmmm, I do have some free time on my hands?

 

 

I just got a text that the Rays World Series roster will probably stay the same except for 2 changes that are a being thrown up in the air right now. The Rays will stay with their infield and starter combos’ from the ALCS, but might insert Rays catcher Shawn Riggans into the 25-man roster.

Riggans is healed from a Bursa Sac incident where an infection took him out of the Rays plans for a bit near the end of the season. He has now healed, and if his jumping during the celebration is any indication, he is feeling fine enough to pop down behind the plate for the Rays.

Another decision being tossed around is the switching of outfielder Gabe Gross for Eric Hinske. Gross is a great defensive player for the Rays, but has hit a patch of unusual doubt and bad timing at the plate.

His defense is superior to Hinske’s, but Hinske does have magic in his bat this year for the Rays. Eric has also not been on the last 2 rosters for the Rays and might be due for a big series with the extra time to get into sync at the plate. I expect Hinske to get the nod more for the offensive power he can bring to the plate. We can always use Ben Zobrist or Fernando Perez in the late innings as a defensive replacement for Hinske.

 

 

The Rays are also doing some soul searching as to how to assign their starting rotation for the World Series. Do you start with Scott Kazmir, the longest running member of the rotation against Cole Hamels, or do you put James Shields up front with a possible Game 5 slate to start in the future in the series. Also in consideration is the way you are going to use number 4. Andy Sonnanstine.

Do you start Andy in Game1 and give the Philadelphia Phillies a  one-time look at Sonnanstine, then put him in the Bullpen as a long reliever from that point on in the series. Or do you adjust the series with Kazmir starting Game 2 so the Bullpen can be totally at the mercy of the game, with an off day for travel on Friday.

Decision, decision, decisons……..I would put the rotation as, Kazmir, Shields, Garza Sonnanstine, then  repeat the big 3 again until the 7th game if needed. But then again, I do not have the flowcharts and the graphs Rays Manager Joe Maddon has at his disposal for analysis.

 

 

Congradulations to Chris Westmoreland and the entire Clubhouse crew for again getting the Rays into another round of the 2008 Playoffs. The locker room scenes are incredible with the shower curtains and the protective gear keeping the lockers and the floors dry and without a huge amount of alcohol absorption. 

I am just wondering if Westy has thought of auctioning off any of those partitions after the Playoffs for the Rays Foundation, or might be willing to part with a section for a personal collection. I know I would bid for one of those great curtains with the Rays logo and the blue background. Not for my shower, but might make a great window treatment or background on a wall in the Rays collection in my spare room………….Call me Westy, you have my card. 

 

I am putting off my predictions and my profile on the series until tonight or tomorrow to get some more data and to think about this series for a bit. I am a bit perplexed by the Las Vegas odds-makers who have the Rays as the victor on the series, but the payout are a bit odd. Coming into the first game on Wed., the betting line is sitting so tha you would have to bet about $ 1.35 to win a $1 dollar on the Rays winning right now.

Considering the Rays were 200-to-1 odds of reaching the World Series in April, you might be thinking that the Vegas gamblers are trying to get some of their change back after taking bets on the Rays in April and noe haivng to break the bank to payout on the wager. I know I comtemplated putting some big money on the Rays in April, but decided we were a year away from anything big……… That is why I live in Clearwater and not in a house on Snell Isle or on the beaches’. I am not lucky when  it come to financial decisions, and I hate the Hard Rock, but they love my money.  lol

 

 

Case of the Disappearing World Series Tickets………

 

 

Wow, it is almost here. The thing that has been in the dream’s of all Ray’s fans since the team first put on the black uni’s with the black light lettering. We have a chance to be Worlds Champions in about 10 days. The Rays, the team that saw the light but couldn’t grasp it until they put it on our uniform is now only 4 wins away from basball’s biggest prize……..and most fans could not even get tickets for it.

 

I know as a season ticketholder I got  an early chance to get my tickets during the regular season. And those tickets are well in hand, but some people decided to gamble and try and get their in the Rays ticket lotto, or from Rays friends and businesses’. But the webiste last night at 5:03 p.m. for both game came back empty for me.

 

Are you serious here, 3 minutes into the ticket selection period and all the seat were gone, even the Standing Room Only in the Beach area. You have got to be kidding. For this reason, I think that MLB next year needs to put some type of programming on their webisite, along with Ticketmaster to keep large ticket brokers like Razorgator, or Stubhub in the same category as fans trying to get tickets. No computer programs that snatch up 50 tickets in 20 seconds, or  blocks of unusual amounts of tickets.

 

I know MLB and it’s sponsors get a share of the ticket bounty, but do you think all of their seat will be filled?  Hopefully, if not, you not only took the joy and experience away from a fan, you might have lost a return customer in the process. I am very sure there will be an extra 1,000 or more tickets in the hands of sponsors or the MLB after the First Pitch.

 

Missed mortgage for these tickets

                    

Maybe those groups can get one rep to volunteer to go outside the stadium and give the unused tickets to a fan circling the stadium. No scalping, no money changing hands, just great public relations gimmick for the home crowd. I know I went to the Super Bowl a few years ago in Texas on a corporate gig, and 25 seats in our section went unused and were vacant the entire game.

 

Think of the thanks and customer loyalty you could buy for free with just handing a unused ticket to a guy struggling to get one outside the stadium. You could even turn the PR into a press release if you are that shallow and promote yourself until the cows come home. Big time sports needs to check itself sometimes before they get beyond the experience of the average fan.

 

           A fan-tastic day

 

They need to remember that this is a huge investment ($ 175/ seat with Season Ticket advantage) sometimes in the hundreds of dollars by game day. In the Tampa Bay area, the unemployment rate is skyhigh and rising a little more every day. Soon the average guy will be priced out of Season Tickets and will have to buy the lesser half or 40-game package to even get a good deal on seats.

 

But that is also the burden of the beast.  As some go by the wayside, a new crop of fans will take their place, or seats in the Trop.  Corporate America has to remember that the Rays’ faithful might not see this  kind of excitement in the stadium ans in the town again for a while. People have talked about a mini-run of several years at the top of the AL East, but I do not take anything for granted anymore.

 

Been there, done that, and the fact is the World Series is never a guarantee to a team, even a good one.  So think about it bigwigs in the great seat and the All-You-Can-Eats Whitney Bank Club or Suites. If you were joe average and knew this was a once in a lifetime event, would you play $600 dollars for a $ 100 dollar seat in the nose bleed section to be here.

 

Oh, I forgot, your boss gave you your tickets for free.

 

Rays pumpkin

ALCS Celebration Blog………….American League Champions 2008

 

As you already know, this will be a blog in the works all night long as I get more and more photos sent to me of the celebration after the Rays win their First American League Championship over the former World Champions, the Boston Red Sox.

 

So please be patient as I get more and more great photos in the blog tonight. I have a  associate with the media who sends me some locker room photos, so I will get those up as soon as they hit my computer.

 

 You knew Mr . Emotion, Jonny Gomes would be at the top of that dogpile. It might have taken a few extra days, but you know they wanted to enjoy this with the home fans too.

 

 I bet to Jonny, this is better than a “E” ticket ride at Disney, or the last 2 celebrations. By now these guys are getting to be old hats at celebrating the good stuff. Congrats to everyone on the Rays and to the entire organization. I will be phoning a lot of you tomorrow about the great night, and the great future for this team……………Go Rays !!!!!!

                       

 

How about David Price, still a rookie and he just put some hurting on the Red Sox to get his team to a date with the Philadelphia Philles for the World title. I bet this is better than anything that happened to him at Vanderbilt University.

 

 

I think we can safely say that Dioner Navarro does not want to let loose of David Price, because the team was bearing down on them when this photo was taken.  Just remember to breathe before the pile gets on you guys.

 

Go ahead David, yell loud and proud. This entire team deserves this. They are some of the best individuals I have ever met………….and to think, I have a team photo now with the AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONS on my wall.

 

                 

When Stu Sternberg bought this team he said he was going to change the dynamics of this team from losing to winning. I do not even think he thought it would turn around so fast for this franchise.

          

 

If this guy is not the Manager of the Year award winner, we should just pack that award away and never give it out to anyone this year. As a “Maddon’s Maniac”, Joe you are a true inspiration to this community and a thrill to hear talk about baseball………….You derserve every moment of this.

 

 

I hear hear Joe now, ” Um, Stu, You think we can re-adjust my contract now”  just kidding guys. We have until Wed before we have to worry about anything right now.  Celebrate with everyone gentlemen. Tampa Bay is open for you right now.

 

           

What can you say about this guy tonight. He only went 2-0 in the ALCS, with a 1.38 ERA, and he got 14 strikeouts.  Can you say American Leagues Championship Series Most Valuable Player………….Matt Garza.

 

            

You deserve it Matt.  You toppled the World Champions twice in a week, and you also got to celebrate at home.

 

 

Gabe Gross getting some cold bubbly from Rays starter Scott Kazmir in his infamous beer goggles.

 

 

Scott Kazmir getting a direct hit on Rays center fielder B J Upton in the celebration in the Rays clubhouse following the on-field celebration.

 

 

Akinora Iwamura doing his home celebration his own way by coming out and celebrating with the Fans in the Trop.  that is why he is a fan favorite.

 

 

Akinora Iwamura again up on the dugout thanking the fans that are still here and helping the team celebrate their American League title.

 

 

Rays Manager, Joe Maddon visiting with his old bass, former Los Angeles Angels owner Jackie Autry, the widow of the singing cowboy Gene Autry before giving the team the American League Championship trophy on the field.

 

 

Rays First Base Coach, George Hendricks, who got to celebrate like this with the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals as a player, with Rays starter, James Shields getting the cold shower.

                 

 

B J Upton has the goggles in the down position and taking on hostile champagne in the clubhouse.  you know that cork is going to leave a mark BJ?

 

 

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