I’m taking a break from my normal topics (babies, writing, et cetera) to congratulate the Tampa Bay Rays! From before the start of the season, all the “sports gurus” who supposedly know this stuff bashed the Rays. It’s a rebuilding year, they don’t have a prayer, etc. When they started out with a 0-8 record, the naysayers said, ‘see, we told you so’.
These same gurus said that this year, the Boston Red Sox would go all the way to the World Series. Even when they got off to an absymal start (almost as bad as the Rays), they were just working out the bugs. And eventually they swooped to dominance, swapping the first-place title with the Ska…er, Yanks… on a regular basis, with the Rays toodling along in the wake of the big boys.
Then came September. At the start of the month, the Rays were “out of contention”, a whopping 9 games back. Once again, naysayers pointed out no team had ever overcome a deficit like that to emerge victorious. The Sox collapsed. The Rays surged. It all came down to one GLORIOUS night of America’s favorite past time, to see who would go to the playoffs and who would just go home.
Early on, it seemed the Rays were doomed, down 7-0 to the Bronx Bas, er, Bombers, early on. It seemed like the Sox would win. They were playing the Orioles after all, and the Orioles constantly battle to get out of the American League East cellar. Bottom of the ninth, two out, down by one run. Dan Johnson, he of the miracle hit in a post-season hunt of yesteryear and holder of current .108 batting average, came to the plate. Strike. Strike. DOwn to their last hope, their very last strike, CRACK went the mighty Dan’s bat. TIE GAME.
Long rain-delayed play resumed in Baltimore. The Red Sox expected to win. After all, the Rays were down, so if the Rays lost and the Sox won, playoffs were at hand. Bottom of the ninth, two out, two strikes. CRACK went the mighty bat of some player (whose name I don’t recall, b/c I don’t pay attention to names). Ultimately…Orioles won.
Four minutes later, south in St. Petersburg, Florida, the rising star Evan Longoria (whose 3-run homer earlier had put them at least in hoping distance of making it a game) came to the plate, took aim and slammed a home run. Game over, Rays win.
Some will dismiss their win, saying the Yankees pulled their best players to rest them for Friday’s start. Certainly the Red Sox fans are crying foul (or so the comments on assorted msn articles showed), saying the Bombers would rather lose to the Rays than allow the Sox into the playoffs. But the facts remain. The Rays had a fabulous September. The Red Sox did not.
Good luck, TB Rays! Here’s hopin’ we have a long post-season (unlike last year).