Thought processes and conversations started under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. Someday everyone will know the Rays play in St. Petersburg, Florida, not TAMPA, or the fictitious city of TAMPA BAY.
Within the next three hours Sports Radio from Manhattan in New York City to 9th Street North in the borough of St. Petersburg will begin their suggestive superlatives surrounding this upcoming weekend in Tampa Bay. Comparisons and similarities will be analyzed, scrutinized and media savvy sanitized to try and drum up any emotions still left dormant among followers of both teams. No matter if you are a card carrying member of the Pinstripe Platoon or the Rays Republic, this weekend will set the stage fully towards what might happen at the end of the 2010 seasonal journey.
This weekend will put one team in a small, but substantial advantage of having a numerical edge on their closest competitor, and the team that wants to take their dream away of October glory. No matter if you side with the Evil Empire , or the Rebel Alliance this weekend, the battle lines have been drawn, and the fun is just about to begin. In less than three hours, when the Rays Fan Hosts open the outer doors of Tropicana Field, a large segment of the baseball viewing World will be focused on this hamlet off the Gulf of Mexico eager not only for the First pitch, but the last.
This series will do more than give a little breathing room to a possible Playoff berth, it could be the difference between the Wild Card and the American League East crown. Each team thinks they are fighting the “good fight”, the fight that will deem them victorious, but the reality is that just as the Highlander, Conor McCloud once said, “There can be only one.” With the home team boasting a winning streak and the visitor’s holding onto the climax runaway game fresh in their minds, both teams approach this game as pivotal and a “must win” situation.
With both teams separated by only a small slip of the offense and pitching, this series, even if it is only 3 out of the remaining 10 contests between these two Major League Baseball giants. Those pesky Rays who the Yankees have not been able to get out of their rearview mirrors for most of the season have two 3-game series left in their “Pit” while the Yankees have only a 4-game slate in mid-September to their advantage. You want to give the immediate advantage to the Rays, but these are two titans who will not go down without a messy and bloody fight. No matter if it is a one-run game or a blowout, every inning, every movement, every sound could play a convincing role in the outcome of this series.
You wanted something magnificent Tampa Bay……Well, you got it this weekend. For the first time in the Rays 13 seasons, this series will be sold out, with possibly only Standing Room Only selections still left to buy at the Rays Box Office. The enveloping ticket scalpers that circle Tropicana Field will be eager and willing to project their price upon you if you did not choose wisely and pre-purchase your chance to see these giants collide. Boosted by the fact the Yankee faithful can see one of their own possibly hit a Major League milestone only adds fuel to the inferno already encircling this series. You wanted a showdown of epic proportions…..Well you got that too Tampa Bay.
Out of the loop this weekend will be attendance concerns, stadium issues and even the Trade Deadline may take a backseat to the living and breathing beat this is this American League East collision. Someone will come out of this whole series with bruises, battered emotional scars and maybe even a few less protractors. But there is also a good side. And that side is that for once this season, no matter what team you root for, the Tampa Bay area will be the center of the baseball World…period.
Two best teams in the game stroking it out mano-on-mano with the victor getting a leg up on their competition. This series can end only two ways. Someone will win and put a bit of distance or overtake the other, or someone will see their confidence rattled and have to rebound quickly to stay hungry for the home stretch. As always, I have my front row seat to seeing these titans battle it out just feet in front of me with each squad eager and willing to lay down personal sacrifices that go way beyond those committed using a maple bat.
This weekend will either be fulfilling another step towards a destiny, or establishing a dominance needed to secure, insure and procure a chance again to fight for the golden chalice with 30 MLB flags upon it. To say this is for all the marbles is too cliché`. To say this series will define a team is too vague. But to say the winner of this series has an edge….Well, that is just the Rays and Yankees ways of doing things in 2010.
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