Results tagged ‘ World Series ’
I thought I might not hear that familiar wail or whine in this series. I was hoping it would be the wind and not some fan shoving doubt into people’s minds, but sure enough I heard the words I have been expecting from bandwagoners’ for about 3 months now. “we are done, stick a fork in us.”
I would love to stick a fork in the bandwagon fans and people about to jimup off the boat becuase things are not going your way. I would really like to be alone in a room with some of them and s cold them like a little chid for being so fake, and so unreal for younger fans to see. This is the time in a series, and in your lives that you stand tall for what you believe and hope, prays, meditate, whatever gives you good karma to send the boys’ some luck.
Some of the guys have been suffering during the season, others have been playing and hustling like it was still Spring Training. But tonight is the night. As the expression goes, “It’s all or nothing.” The White Sox have ebbn in this spot this year, the Red Sox still believe the series is playing in their heads and they are winning, but Tampa Bay fans now have to believe.
Even if the worst happens tonight, we have to be focused and know that the boys’ did their best and that there will be more chances in the future to secure the prize. This season opend alot of doors for the Rays and we will see them in the poststseason again in less than 330 days. The winning spirit is new in this part of the baseball world, but the true fans will be the one still wearing Rays gear tomorrow. And the true fans will be the ones counting down the days until pitchers’ and catchers’ reposrt in the Spring.
But best of all, true fans will be wondering how the boys are doing.
Four Blind Plays
You have to admit, the umpires have been pretty colorful in this years Wotld Series. They have been animated behind the plate and have made some unusual, and down right incredible calls. But, the ones that stick out on our minds are not the calls over the corners of the plate, or even seeing through a play and calling out a baserunner, they are the wild and zany plays that were missed by replays and by fans all over baseball.
Every game has had its own one play that has defined the game. Take Game 1, when Cole Hamels apparently went towards home, but threw to first base. His foot was not facing the plate, but his momentum was shifted forward, not to the side……….Balk or great play? Or how about the play in Game 2, where the phantom bat did not break the plane for Rocco Baldelli and we strooled to first…………checked swing, or did he break his wrist on the play?
And then you get to the really fun ones up here in Philly. You know, rain on Sat. night blurred the vision a bit just 6 feet from the bag. In Game 3, it must have been the mist that made the umpires miss the pplay where Jamie Moyer was sprawled on the wet turf and uses his glove like another appendage to twirl the ball to a bare-handed Ryan Howard to ctach speedy Carl Crawford a nano second before he hit the bag. I will admit that one got me. I was expecting the hammer to come down for an out, then the umpire just threw the safe signal and the Phillies bench went bananas.
Then there was the play in the 1st inning of last night’s game. Jimmy Rollins camped at thrid base and a ball gets hit into the infield and taken by the pitcher, Andy Sonnanstine. Everyone in the ballpark thinks the ball is going to 2nd, but he twirls around and catches Rollins mid stride between 3rd and home. The chase is on and Sonnanstine gets him to within about 6 feet of the bag and throws the ball to Evan Longoria.
Longoria pops Rollins on the booty and leaves a red clay mark on the poor guys butt. We then hear the words that will reverb in our heads for a week……..”safe”. Are you kidding me, did you not watch the ball, or were you watching the hand go towards the bag and not the ball and the possession and progression of it to the posterior of Mr. Rollins. It has been a small upgrade nightly into the insane and the blind that has led people to wondering about the state of the umpire world. Last night’s blight was an oversight and an embarassment to umpires everywhere..but maybe there was a raindrop still in his eye from Sat night.
Top of the Lineup
There has been talk this entire series of guys trying to force things to happen for the Rays. That the firsy 4 guys feel it is their duty to carry this team. Some of the top 4 have done a great job getting into position to score or even pop the occasional needed blooper or double to get some action going in the game. Others have just had a slump from which there will be no exit this poststeason.
Carlos Pena was getting into a great groove when the ALCS ended. He seemed to be fianally seeing the ball and finding his storke at the right time for the Rays. It looked as if the series would be his playgorund. But instead it has become his own personal hell into the slight adjustments and overswining of the post injury Pena who’s timing and stride were lacking. He might find his way, but will it be in time to save his young team’s dream of hoisting the Commissioner’s trophy this year.
Evan Longoria is another story. I do not think there has been another rookie who has had so much pressure on him in the poststeason to lead his team into the promised land. I know he has won 2 championships at Double-A, but this is far more pressure and far more talented pitchers’ than he ever saw at Montgomery.
For the World Series, Longoria has a dunkin Doughnut, a gooseegg, and “o” for offensive. Evan Longoria is the second rookie to go hitless in his first 16 at-bats of a World Series. The only other rookie to begin a World Series with an 0-for-16 streak was Flea Clifton of the Tigers in 1935. (Clifton was 0-for-16 for the entire series.)
I have been watching his at bats the past few games and the kid is pushing his strikezone outward. Players et their own personal strikezones as to what pitches they feel they can smash or take to the oppositie field. Right now, Longoria is searching for that one flare, blooper or even a ground ball with eyes to make his mind free up and play more relaxed. He had better find his spot soon, or not only is he going to have all Winter to profect it, he might be on the bench for Game 5 to relfect and waork in the under the stands cages for a few inning tomorrow.
C C Has Found the Power Button
When you are known for your speed sometimes you get a gift out over the plate and you just have to jump on it. That has got to be the mindset of Carl Crawford right now. The baseball are becoming bigger and bigger every game, and yet he is hitting the cover off the ball and stealing bases. Last night he might have only gone 1-3, but that one hit sparked a few smiles in the dugout.
In the 4th inning, with 2-outs in the inning, Crawford took an 1-2 count hanging high fastabll into the rightfield stands to put the Rays on the board. The run pulled the Rays to within 1 eun, 2-1 at the time. It was Crawford’s second homer of this series since he hit that game 1 blast off Cole Hamels in Tropicana Field/
Akinora Iwamura’s Wild Ride
When you only committed a handful of erros all eyar at your new position, and have solidified the position for your team, you never expect a night like this can happen on such a huge scale. Aki has been one of the most consistant infields’ this season for the Rays. You could count on him day and night to make the plays and get the outs without hesitation.
But what happened to him on Sunday night is not suppose to happen to Iwamura. Chase Utley was at the plate to lead off the 3rd inning for the Phillies. Aki was back in his role in the shift used all series long against Utley for the at bat. Utley hit a nasty ball that took a bad hop on the clay and came up and hit Iwamura’s glove on the heel and rolled into rightfield. Aki was charged with an error, only his 1st of the World Series.
Then in the top of the 4th inning, Jimmy Rollins hit a hard ball up the middle and shaded a bit to right that caught Iwamura flat-footed and popped in and out of his glove wihtout a throw to first. Another error for Iwamura.
And it did not matter that he made an impressive and outstanding play on a hard liner hit right to him by Carlos Ruiz in the 7th inning. That Iwamura turned and fired to Carlos Pena at first and Pena had to go crosshand style and get the ball to double =up Pedro Feliz at first and end the inning for the Phillies. It was na amazing play, but it was also an inch away from another disaster of heading to the Phillies dugout and another error get charged to Iwamura.
The Mind of Joe Maddon
You have to admire a guy who can quote and attribute so many lines and sayings in his daily life. Rays Manager Joe Maddon is an intelligent manager to say the least. But what he did Sunday night can not go unnoticed either. He sent up three pinch-hitters on the night, and 2 came away with hits, one of them an exciting moment for Maddon and Hinske.
Eric Hinske was told as few days ago by Cliff Floyd to be ready to play. He was not sure why he was told this, but being the pro he is……he worked hard to get his timing down in the batting cage. On Sunday, the Rays made a move on their 25-man World Series roster taking off Floyd, who had a bad shoulder, and putting on the hard-hitting Hinske.
Hinske saw no action while on the ALCS roster, and he did nor expect anything different for the World Series roster. But in the 5th inning he came on to hit for Sonnanstine and hit a monster deep into centerfield. The ball was hit so far it hit the ivy-covered centerfield wall beyond the playing field. This wall was about 20 feet further than the wall where Shane Victorino stood looking up at the blast. Iy started a upward slow rally for the Rays.
Then in the 7th inning, Willy Aybar came up to pinch-hit for Edwin Jackson and hit a nice single into rightfield. He was stranded on base for the inning, but it made Maddon 2 for 2 tonight with his pinch-hitters. Maddon pressed his luck in the 9th inning when he sent up Rocco Baldelli to pinch-hit for Trever Miller, and Rocco struck out to end the game for the Rays.
Andy Was Not Dandy Tonight
Coming on and pitching with alot of pressure can work both ways in a baseball game. Sometimes it worls to your advantage and it pumps you up to the point of giving you some extra speed on your pitches and makes you believe more can happen on the mound.
Then sometimes you have what happened to Andy Sonnanstine on the mound tonight. You can have your stuff tonight and just get rocked by a team that is well scouted and prepared for you that night. you are not pitching any better, or any worse than normal, they just have your number that night.
Both of the above could be found in Sunday nights game, but the end result is that the Phillies exploited Sonnanstines weaknesses to their advantages. They set him up on a few pitches and the result was the umpire giving Andy a new ball while they made their ways around the bases for homers. Pair that with a reduced strike zone and you have the firm recipe for disaster on your hands.
Sonnanstine started out by giving up the first bases loaded walk of his career in the 1st inning to score Rollins, who should have been sitting on the bench becuase of an earlier blown call by the umpire at thris base, Tim Welke. So he gave the Phillies an early 1-0 lead, and the Rays never got close again. He went pretty smoothly from there until he watched as Utley was on base because of an unsual error by Iwamura behind the first base bag.
Then Ryan Howard got a single to right to put 2 Phillies on with no outs in the inning. Feliz the hit a RBI single to left that scored Utley cleanly and the Phillies had a 2-0 early lead on the Rays. The 4th inning started with Rollins again getting a single to rightfield to lead off the inning. Sonnanstine then walked Jayson Werth, but got a quick out on Utley.
Howard then stood in the box and smashed a 3-run shot to right to put the game out of the Rays hands at that point.Sonnanstine got through the inning with no more damamge, but his night was ended with the Rays down 5-1 at that point. Sonnanstine went 4 innings and gave up 5-runs on 6 hits and only 1 home run to Howard.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Bullpen Blues
For the most part of 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays Bullpen has been the linch-pin to a majority of their wins. they have ebnt and not broken and have been a consisitant cog in the Rays victory machine. In the Wrold Series, this part of the Rays magic has been tarnished a bit by hitters getting the bestter of the unit.
In tonight’s game, Edwin Jackson came on the in t 5th inning to releieve starter Sonnanstine and threw 2 inning of ball for the Rays. During his time on the mound, Jackson gave up a homer to newly found blaster Phillie starter Joe Blanton to leftfield. For Blanton, it was his first major league homer and came on his last at bat of the season. Blanton actually bookmarked his season getting a single in his first at bat, and now a homer in his last 2008 at bat for the Phillies.
Dan Wheeler came on to pitch in the 7th inning and did not fare any better for the Rays. Wheeler was the recipient of the amazing play by Aki at first in doubling up Feliz to get Wheler out of a jam in the inning. In the 8th inning, Rollins hit a double off the rightfield wall to put a man early in the inning in scoring position for the Phillies.
Werth then hit a 3-2 count hanging breaking ball out if the ballpark for a 2-run homer to futher put the Phillies ahaed, 8-2. Trever Miller came in to relieve Wheeler and walked Utley before giving up a colossial shot to left by Howard for a 2-run shot of his own to put the score at 10-2 Phillies
Tonight’s game might not have been the best weather for a baseball game of this magnitude, but it did live up to each teams’ strong points. the Rays have used the small ball philosophy to score alot of runs this year. the base bstealing and the timely hits came for the Rays, but in the end, a well placed ball did them in last night.
Nothing to ashamed of here. This is the time of year where lucky is as good as a .300 hitter. The Phillies did what they do best last night, they sent 3 balls into the stands and posted 3 runs on them. The Rays almost had a loong ball fo their own, but the baseball gods in Philly did not want Longoria to post one up tonight. That ball seemed to swirl up the air for a bit before Burrell took it into his mitt for the 3rd out of the inning.
The real winner is the fans of both teams who saw a pitcher almost my age post the game of his life. The Phillies needed Moyer to come through in a big way, and he delivered on the mound and in the field. Okay, okay, he did get Upton in time with that amazing toss from his glove, but big old Ryan Howard also blocked the barehanded catch. If the umpire was placed in foul territory, it would have been a no-brainer call.
Case in point, the umpires have made alot of great calls in this series so far, but we all only remember at least one a game for a sheer fact of it either being a bad call, or a judgement call in a nano second. Give me a break, the baseball umpires have gotten it right more times than not in this series, so let’s stop bringing them into the eqation every night.
Pujols Slams Another Award Home
For each of his first 8 years in the majors, Albert Pujols has produced more than 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. That already is twice as many as anyone in MLB history. But he said what happened at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night will bring him more gratification than anything in his storied career
The Cardinals’ star first baseman received the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award before the start of Game 3 of the World Series in recognition of the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team. As part of this year’s presentation, Chevy is donating $30,000 and a 2009 Chevy Traverse to the Pujols Family Foundation.
As is customary before every Game 3 of the Fall Classic, Commissioner Bud Selig made the announcement on Saturday at a news conference that included the recipient as well as Vera Clemente, the widow of the great Roberto Clemente, who died in a 1972 plane crash while attempting to transport relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua. This award was first bestowed by MLB in 1971, and was renamed in Clemente’s honor in 1973.
Pujols, 28, had been the Cardinals’ nominee for the 4th year in a row. He was selected from a list of 30 nominees, one from each MLB club. A panel of dignitaries, including Selig and Vera Clemente, selected the overall award recipient. Additionally, fans were able to log on to MLB.com and cast a vote for one of the 30 nominees. The winner of the fan vote was tallied as one vote among those cast by the selection panel.
Wild Happenings in Citizen Bank Park on Sat. Night
The Phillies had only 2 previous walkoff wins in postseason play: Game 4 of the 1981 N.L. East Playoffs against the Expos (George Vukovich homered in the 10th inning) and Game 1 of the 1993 NLCS against Atlanta (Kim Batiste singled in the winning run in the 10th inning).
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit consecutive home runs for the Phillies in the 6th inning last night. They were the first pair of teammates to hit back-to-back homers in a World Series game since the Giants’ Reggie Sanders and David Bell in 2002 (Game 2, second inning) and the first teammates to do that from the 3rd and 4th slots in the batting order since the Yankees’ Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson in 1977 (Game 5, eighth inning).
( Utley and Howard hit back-to-back homers only one other time: June 13 this year in the first inning of the Phillies’ 20-2 win at St. Louis.)
Ryan Howard, who led the majors with 48 home runs this season, had been homerless in 42 at-bats in the postseason this year until he went deep in the 6th inning of Game 3. The only other player to hit at least 40 home runs in one season and then have a home-run drought of at least 40 at-bats in the postseason that year was Manny Ramirez in 2004 (43 home runs, 49-AB postseason home-run drought).
The Rays tied the game in the 8th inning when B.J. Upton stole 2nd and 3rd base, and scored on a throwing error by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. Upton was only 4-for-9 when attempting to steal 3rd base during this past regular season. Upton was the only player with more than three attempted steals of 3rd base this season who was caught more often than he made it.
The Rays premier basestealer, Carl Crawford is now 7-for-7 in steals this post season.
Matt Garza was the first pitcher to allow three home runs in a World Series game since 2002, when the Angels’ Jarrod Washburn (Game 1) and Kevin Appier (Game 2) both did that.
I remember a couple of years ago I went up to Cleveland for a series against the Indians and the weather turned ugly during the night. A rain system decided to drop over the Great Lakes and dump a bit of rain on the city during the night and at 1 pm that Sat. afternoon it was still coming down pretty good.
I came to the stadium decked out in my Rays outerwear that I got from Jesus Colome when he was still with the club and was running through the stands like a chicken with my head cut off. I always loved playing in the rain in college, and I was one of the crazies who braved the rain during that Tampa Bay Rowdies/ Ft Lauderdale Strikers game back in the early 80’s that left Tampa Stadium a waterfall.
So you know I was anxous when I saw the same type of system come up from the south and blanket the Philly area for most of the day. I was some tight rain that came down in buckets for a long time, but it was followed by the chilly wind that kid of went straight down to your bones. I am too old now to run like a chicken, but I did look like a turkey gobbling to the Bullpen guys as they came out to get some throwing in before the game.
Rain is the great equalizer. It can take a fast team and make them slow, or it can make a homer-happy team become the best small ball hitters in the league. I was watching the crew throw down a ton of wet-dry all over the onfield and on the warning tracks beofre the game. I was curious if the added granules would make the ball do funny things when it bounced on an infielder.
I know it was not like the kitty litter type dry compound I used to put out at accident scenes, but wondered if it was slick on top of the clay infield. I guess all was well, becuase no one seemed to have abad hop, or an ill advised ball start to go right and turn left on them. Guess I have a lot to learn about a stadium without a roof.
Top of the Order
The Rays came into the World Series knowing that they needed more production out of the top of our batting order. In the first few games of the series the top of the order had some impact, but most of it was on ground ball RBI’s and not clutch hits or drives to the deep parts of the ballpark for sacrifice flys.
In tonight game, the top 4 batters went a combined 2-15, with 7 strikeouts. To make matter worse, Evan Longoria, who is mired in a terrible batting slump had a sure thing home run brought back into the park by Mother Nature tonight. you could see the expression on Phillies’ starter Jamie Moyer’s face that he also thought the ball was into the stands and the Rays would have been ahead at the point in the game.
Instead, the ball was heading out and did a swift drop about 3 feet from the wall into Pat Burrell’s glove for the last out of the 6th inning. To make matters even worse, the Phillie crowd was on Longoria early chanting “Eva” to him on every play and at bat. For the entire night, only 5 balls from the top of the lineup even left the infield. 2of those were singles by B J Upton. Akinora Iwamura hit to long drives to right, but Jayson Werth was under the ball with ease.
B J Upton is a Speed Machine
After the last couple of series for the Rays, no one has questioned the drive and determination of Upton. Funny how a few months agowe even wondered if he wanted to play baseball, and now we would be a totally different, and maybe not even in this World Series without him.
Upton hit a nice liner into left just over the head of Jimmy Rollins in the 6th inning. Upton then took off on the first pitch to Evan Longoria with 2-outs and stole his first base of the night. Upton was in position to score, but Longoria hit his towering ball to left that was caught at the track by Burrell to end the inning.
Then again in the 8th inning, Upton lead-off the inning with a infield single to short that Rollins could not make a play on in time to get the speedy Upton. With no outs in the inning, it was only a matter of time before Upton tried to steal another base tonight. On the 2nd pitch to Longoria, Upton again stole second for his second swipe of the night.
He then waited 2 more pitches then tried to steal third base, and got in safe, but he kicked the ball towards the Rays dugout and came in to score on the throwing error by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. that knotted the score at 4-4. The play helped Upton steal an amazing 3 base tonight to tie a World Series record.
Last Chance for the Rays
In the bottom of the 9th inning, the score was still tied 4-all, with the Phillies getting the last at bats in the game. J P Howell remained in the game and got a 2-1 count on Eric Bruntlett before he hit him with a pitch. Howell was then relieved by Grant Balfour in the game.
Balfour then had a 1-1 count on him before he unleashed a Wild Pitch that went to the backstop and came right back to Dioner Navarro. He then tried to get Bruntlett, who was heading to second on the steakl, but the ball sailed to the right of Jason Bartlett and bounced into centerfield for an error on Navarro.
Balfour then intentionally walked Shane Victorino. Gregg Dobbs then came up as a pinch hitter and was also Intentionally walked to load the bases. At this time, Rays Manager Joe Maddon came out and instituted his 5-man infield formation with Ben Zobrist manning up the middle of the infield. Upton and Carl Crawford were playing shallow right-center and left respectfully.
Ruiz then came up and took the count to 2-2 before putting a slow moving grounder down the third baseline that Longoria fielded. He then tried to toss it over Bruntlett, who was racing for home, but the ball sailed beyond Navarro’s reach and the Phillies won on that play.
Bruntlett did the right thing by running inside of the baseline towards the plate to take away any possible throw from the infield. the ball would have to have been a perfect lob just over his shoulder to get him at the plate.
Carl Crawford also had Some Magic Tonight
Crawford came into the game wanting to be more of an offensive threat for the Rays. He ended up going 2-4 on the night, with 2 runs scored. In the top of the 2nd inning, Crawford lead off with a blooper single into left that was tailing away from Burrell the enitre time it was in the air. the ball fell a foot from him and Crawford slid into second with a double on the play.
Crawford then made his presence know on the bases by stealing third on the 2nd pitch to Gabe Gross. For the playoffs, Crawford is a perfect 7 for 7 stealing bases. 3 pitches later, Gross hit a sacrifice fly to deep right center to score Crawford and tie the game up 1-all. In the 7th inning, Crawford lead off the inning with a bunt to the right side of the infield that could not be handled by Moyer in time.
Navarro then came up and hit a double to put both men in scoring position with no outs in the inning. Gross then hit a ball deep behind first base that Howard had to stab and Crwford walked in to score for the Rays.
Jason Bartlett then hit a grounder to short that Rollins had to throw to first and Navarro scored to make it a 1-run game, 4-3 Phillies. Crawford and Navarro tonight had 4 of the Rays 6 hits on the night. They also scored 3 of the Rays 4 runs in the game.
Tonight was one of those good news, bad news kind of nights for Navarro. He had a hot bat at the plate, but had a few situations behind the dish that cost the Rays some runs, and put some dangerous people in scoring position. In the 1st inning, there was a Wild Pitch by Garza that darted away from Navarro after hitting the thumb section of his catcher’s mitt. It moved 2 runners into scoring position for the Phillies. the good news is only 1 run scored in the inning, and the Rays were only down 1-0 at the time.
In the 3rd inning, Navarro made a perfect throw onto the glove of Iwamura that he easily tagged out Rollins trying to steal seond base. It came down in the perfect spot to tag his lead hand before it hit the bag. And in the 8th inning, Navarro called for a pick-off play at second on Werth and got him leaning hard towards third base. J P Howell put a strike into Bartlett who got Werth by a foot.
In the 9th inning, Navarro had no chance on the outside pitch by Grant Balfour that went to the backstop. The ball looked like it was about to hit Shane Victorino, but broke heard at the last moment and went beyond Navarro. On the winning play in the 9th inning, Navarro could do nothing but stand on the plate as the ball as the ball sailed a good 5 feet above him for the winning run.
Matt Garza’s Wild Night
With the rain delay you have to think that Matt Garza might have over-psyched himself for this game. With the 90 minute plus delay in the start of the game, you have to think he was just sitting there with his Ipod on just chilling and maybe getting into his own head a bit.
He did not come out strong as he gave up a single to Rollins on the 2nd pitch of the game to centerfield. He then walked Werth on 5 pitches, and then threw the Wild Pitch 2 pitches later that moved them both into scoring position. He got out of that inning only giving up a single run to Victorino. In the 2nd inning,he got 2 quick outs before giving up a fastball inside to Ruiz who slammed it into the stands in leftfield for a solo shot and put the Phillies up 2-1.
In the 3rd inning, he gave up singles to Rollins and Werth to lead-off the inning before settling down and getting 2 quick outs. In the 4th, it looked like he was under control as he struck out the side on 19 pitches. In 6th inning he ran into his worst problems of the night as he gave up a solo shot to lead-off the inning to Chase Utley.
Ryan Howard then came up homer-less in the series, and he sent the 2-2- pitch into the rightfield stands for another solo shot and put the Phillies up 4-1 at the time. It was the 14th time in World Series history that a team went back-to-back with homers in a game. For the night, Garza went 6 innings and threw 102 pitches in the game. He had 7 strikeuots, but also gave up 3 solo homers in the contest.
Garza did show some moments of brilliant pitching as he was using both sides of the plate well against the Phillies. I truly think the extra time either warming up in the Bullpen or sitting in the lockerrom before warming up might have played a bit with his mind. He did not seem to have that normal sharpness we have come to know from Garza early in the ballgame. But he did fight through it and posted a decent game under the circumstances.
This was one of those games that the Rays sually won during the season. They worked hard all game long to tie up the contest, then sually they go ahead and the Bullpen shuts down the opposition. But tonight the gameplan did not work that way and the Rays found themselves in an unusual position. In the 9th inning, Maddon used a psychological weapon in his 5-man infield, but the plan did not go off without a hitch.
The perfect play would not have been down the third baseline with the runner barrelling down on Navarro without a throwing lane. All Navarro had to do was step on the bag for the force out, but Longoria could not get it to him effectively.
But it is still early in thie World Series and either team can still mount a offensive and take over the series. With a 2-1 series advantage right now, the Phillies do have the upper hand, but the Rays have always been a team to look down the odds and play baseball. I am looking forward to tonight’s contest featuring Joe Blanton and Andy Sonnanstine. Both pitchers like to get the ball fast and rock and fire, so it might be a really fast game.
Considering that tonight’s contests did not get over until way after 1:30 a.m., I think both teams are looking forward to a night game and not an afternoon contest. It will also give the field a few extra hours to drain and dry out in the sun before they re-line it and we play another great World Series contest.
It’s become the norm for Major League players to arrive at their home clubhouse four or five hours early. Some work out, some play cards and others do crossword puzzles quietly in front of their lockers. Rocco Baldelli doesn’t have that luxury. Instead, the Rays outfielder spends the four hours before every game getting various treatments, taking a cocktail of pills and doing everything possible to offset a rare mitochondrial disorder that causes extreme fatigue.
And while his Tampa Bay team may be the best story in baseball, Baldelli’s triumph is that he is suiting up in a Rays uniform at all. The Rhode Island native held a tearful press conference this past spring announcing that he would start the year on the disabled list to try to recover from four years of nagging injuries and mysterious illness.
Five months, two rehab assignments and a diagnosis later, Baldelli defied his own doubts and was reinstated to the Rays’ lineup Aug. 10.
It is a gift the Rays faithful cherish, as every time Baldelli runs out to right field or steps up to the dish he is greeted with thunderous applause. The sixth overall selection in the 2000 June First-Year Player Draft, Baldelli was a coveted young player full of promise before being struck by his illness.
Now he is a symbol of hope, living proof of the powers of modern medicine. After returning to the Rays’ lineup, Baldelli played in 46 games down the stretch, hitting .263 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
One of the runs he drove in came on Aug. 30, when Baldelli delivered a walk-off double to clinch a 10-9 victory over the Orioles. Maybe he hasn’t returned to the same physical condition he was in a few years ago, but on that day, Baldelli was back in a big way. And his teammates — who rushed the field to mob Baldelli following the walk-off — couldn’t have been happier.
Baldelli shies away from reflecting on the magnitude of what he’s done. The unassuming 26-year-old is perfectly content sitting in front of his locker — tucked away in the right corner of the Rays’ clubhouse — and pretending he is just another ballplayer.
But the Rays know better.
Baldelli’s fight is far from over. He isn’t cured by any means and could blow out at any second. The Rays declined his option for next year, and his future is uncertain. But right now, the opportunity to lace up his cleats and help his team in the Wolrd Series against the Phiadelphia Phillies is there. And for Baldelli, that is more than enough.
The following blog is a reprint of a blog I first posted on March 13, 2008, about 3 hours after the Post game News Conference with Rocco Baldelli during Spring Training:
Rocco Baldelli was once called “Joe’s twin,” by professional Scout Al LaMacchia. This of course, is referring to the great Joe DiMaggio. Rocco had been compared to the Yankee great since his prep days at Bishop Hendricken H.S. in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Baldelli was drafted by the Tampa Bay (Devil)rays in the first round of the 2000 Amateur draft. Rocco worked his way up the Rays’ minor league ladder to be named the team’s starting Centerfielder for the 2003 MLB season. Rocco debuted on March 31, 2003 and hit and powered his way to a third place finish in the Rookie of the Year ballot that year.
In 2004, Rocco was the returning Centerfielder and was looking to improve on his 2003 stats. His 2003, .289 average, with 11 HRs and 27 stolen bases was just a glimpse of what might be in store for Rays fans in the future. In 2004, Rocco led all MLB Centefielders in range factor with a 3.3.
Range Factor (commonly abbreviated RF) is a baseball statistic developed by Bill James. It is calculated by dividing putouts and assists by number of innings or games played at a given defense position. The statistic is premised on the notion that the total number of outs that a player participates in is more relevant in evaluating his defensive play than the percentage of cleanly handled chances as calculated by the conventional statistic fielding percentage.
In 2005, Rocco began the year with a ACL tear while playing ball in his R.I. backyard with his younger brother. He was on scedule to be back by the All-Star break in 2005, but he sustained a elbow in jury and was lost for the rest of the season. Rocco had “Tommy John’s” surgery to repair his elbow and rehabbed at the Minor League complex in St. Petersburg,Florida.
Rocco was fired up and ready to roll in 2006, and finally got back on the turf versus the Los Angeles Angels at Anahiem on June 7, 2008. Baldelli played throughout the rest of the season ending with a .302 average,16 HRs, and 57 RBI’s in only 364 at bats.
In 2007, Rocco began his trip onto the DL after pulling his hamstring during Spring Training. the injury seemed to slowly heal, but while on a Minor League rehab assignment, the injury became worse. Rocco spent the rest of the year inactive, but a very important part of the team. He could be seen on the bench either taking down the pitch stats, or intentively watching the opposing pitcher for signs of him tipping off his pitches or pitch outs to first base. Joe Maddon felt that Rocco had an energy and a positive attitude that was beneficial to his young squad and took him on away games the rest of the season.
During this time, Ron Porterfield, the Rays’ Head Trainer, and the medical staff did exclusive tests on rocco to try and pinpoint the situation and maybe finally get some positive results.
During the Spring Training in2008, Rocco was an early arrival to camp. He was out there every day trying to get his body to function correctly so he could get back on the field with his comrades. He was used sparingly this Spring until on March12, 2008, Rocco released the following statement to the press after the last Spring Training game at Progress Energy Field, the Rays’ Spring Training stadium:
This offseason, because of the physical problems I’ve been having, I started along with the team’s help to search them out and go see some doctors and try to find out what’s going on.
I was having a lot of problems the last couple years with my muscles and muscle strains. I think a good way to describe it is literally muscle fatigue and cramping, way before my body should be feeling these things. I would go out there and I was pretty much incapable of doing basic baseball activities as far as running and hitting and throwing.
These were things that I had done my whole life pretty easily and at some point in the last two years – we’re not exactly sure why – these things started to change. It was tough for me to deal with, but with the team’s help, they sent me to specialists, basically flying me around all over the country to try to figure out what was going on.
What the doctors eventually found through all of this was I have some type of metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities. Basically, somewhere along the line in my body – I don’t want to get too deep into the medicine because it’s not really my expertise, but either my body isn’t making or producing or storing ATP the right way and therefore not allowing, apparently, my muscles to work as they should and, especially, recover on a day-to-day basis. So it becomes very difficult to get on the field every day and play.
When I say fatigue, I go out there and my body is literally spent after a very short amount of time out on the field, which makes it extremely frustrating and difficult, but it’s something that’s kind of a reality right now and something we’re dealing with the best that we can.
As far as my baseball career, I’m not here to stand in front of you telling you I’m retiring. We’re still going to pursue every avenue that we can to try to figure out what is going on, have a better understanding of what is going on. But at this time, throughout all of the extensive testing that we’ve done, we don’t have a concrete answer. The doctors’ consensus is that these are the problems that I’m experiencing and there’s a lot of medical proof of these things, but they’ve been unable to specifically identify an exact reason or an exact problem down to a specific name. That’s kind of frustrating, but that’s why we’re going to continue along with the team’s help to find out what’s going on.
I feel comfortable about this because the team has been so good to me and supported me in every possible way I could imagine. Without that, I don’t know really where I’d be right now, because this is as probably as difficult and frustrating a thing as I’ve ever had to deal with as a person. Like I said, we’re going to do everything we can to fix and hopefully solve this problem, and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.
I put his entire statement here to reflect and hope that a solution or a cure can be found for this promising player. I have personally chatted with Rocco on occasion, and I can tell you there is no better guy in the clubhouse than him. He knows what was expected of him on Day 1, and he has done his best to make it back onto the diamond.
The Rays’ are in a pickle here tho. They were looking for Rocco to be a Centerfield back-up this season to give BJ Upton some needed rest during the season. Maybe the Rays will look at their Minor leaguers in camp, or sign a veteran like Kenny Lofton to relieve BJ, and Jonny Gomes through the year.
Here is a guy who could have rewritten a few passages in the books, and now might be done in because a metabolic nightmare within his body. I hope the doctors’ can find a solution soon, and have a positive prognosis so we can get this great talent back on the field sometime in the not to near future.
I will miss not seeing Rocco out there on another Opening Day in Baltimore on March 31,but his health is more important than the game right now.
Here is a short example of what ATP and the human body have in common. I found this on a website, and I hope it is easy to comprehend and understand.
The entire reaction that turns ATP into energy is a bit complicated, but here is a good summary:
- Chemically, ATP is an adenine nucleotide bound to three phosphates.
- There is a lot of energy stored in the bond between the second and third phosphate groups that can be used to fuel chemical reactions.
- When a cell needs energy, it breaks this bond to form adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and a free phosphate molecule.
- In some instances, the second phosphate group can also be broken to form adenosine monophosphate (AMP).
- When the cell has excess energy, it stores this energy by forming ATP from ADP and phosphate.
ATP is required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. As the work of the muscle increases, more and more ATP gets consumed and must be replaced in order for the muscle to keep moving.
Because ATP is so important, the body has several different systems to create ATP. These systems work together in phases. The interesting thing is that different forms of exercise use different systems, so a sprinter is getting ATP in a completely different way from a marathon runner!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon announced Tuesday that Scott Kazmir will be the club’s starting pitcher in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, followed by James Shields in Game 2 on Thursday.
American League Championship Series MVP Matt Garza will get the ball for Saturday’s Game 3 in Philadelphia, followed by Andy Sonnanstine in Game 4. That would leave Kazmir, Shields and Garza available for Games 5, 6 and 7, if necessary.
Kazmir and Garza will be pitching on five days’ rest, while Shields will be on his normal four days between starts. Sonnanstine hasn’t started since Game 4 of the ALCS on Oct. 14.
The Phillies also officially named their World Series rotation on Tuesday, sticking with the same group and order that was used during the first two rounds of the playoffs. That means that Cole Hamels will pitch Wednesday’s Game 1, followed by Brett Myers for the second game in St. Petersburg. Jamie Moyer, despite his postseason struggles, will remain in the rotation to pitch Game 3 in Philadelphia, and Joe Blanton will start Game 4.
“Basically, [the decision is] based on rest,” Maddon said of the Rays’ rotation. “Kaz is ready to roll. [It] goes a little bit against what we have been doing. But we knew that going into the switch in Boston [when Kazmir and Shields were flipped in the rotation], that it may occur this way. I did not want to bring back Shields short. And theoretically, it puts Shields in this building twice, if it comes down to that.
“You could make a case Andy Sonnanstine [should be] pitching sooner than that. This guy is pitching really well. But I wanted to keep it in that particular order.”
Originally slated to start a potential Game 6 in the American League Championship Series, Kazmir was moved up in the rotation to start Game 5 on Oct. 16 after a disappointing start in Game 2 of the ALCS, when he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, surrendering five runs on six hits. His teammates bailed him out, however, as the Rays won, 9-8, in 11 innings.
The southpaw rebounded nicely at Fenway Park in Game 5, scattering just two hits over six scoreless innings. His effort went unrewarded, as Tampa Bay’s bullpen collapsed. Just seven outs from elimination, Boston erased a seven-run deficit to notch an 8-7 victory.
“Primarily what you’re seeing is his fastball command,” Maddon said. “If you’re around me the next couple of days, you’re going to hear me say fastball command. The other day against the Red Sox, I think you saw more sliders coming back into the mix, which I like. And he’s got a very good changeup. I don’t have a real intelligent explanation, other than I just thought that he got out of his delivery a bit, maybe started overthinking it a little bit. ”