Here we go again

I’m in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to be a Florida Gator, but I’m not sure my fragile nerves can take another deep run in The Show. Tell me, how many sleep specialists do you suppose recommend staying up past your bedtime with a sleep disorder?


How many of those fine specimens of medical know-how would recommend engaging in stressful activities right before trying to go to sleep?


The Gators made it to the Great Eight tonight. I’m a little scared. I’m worried I might misplace my sanity. I’m troubled what this might do to my productivity at the office.

Now, which sentence in this post do you think is a lie?

Billy D, what are you doin’ to me?

Gators in a close one

I’m used to UF winning football games, but not by three points, and definitely not with less than 15 seconds left on the clock.

I needed that like I need elective oral surgery.

Why do we do this to ourselves? I tell people I’m not the biggest sports fan, that my life doesn’t wax and wane on the outcome of a game. I prefer to think of it as a half-truth rather than half-lie. Come to think of it, I can’t recall the last time someone said “half-lie.” Why is that? Don’t tell me everyone else is as delusional as I am. In either case, it used to be easy to read my tell – or hear it (down the street). It’s one of the first behaviors Cheryl modified after we got married.

There’s no more shouting, unintentional spitting, or veins popping out of foreheads in the Kauffman household. No sir!

Now I’m more subtle: fist clenching, teeth gnashing, back going rigid, head thrown back – kind of like I’m having a seizure.

I suppose in a way it was good. Make that two ways: the Gators did win. Plus, it was nice to get the ‘ole ticker running again. Or was that sprinting?

Hurts to say it

The Phillies were the better team. I’m not going to qualify that statement in any way. At best, the Rays starting pitching was equal to the Phillies (but I don’t think they were), and the Phillies bullpen was much better.

Folks talk about the Rays having the potential to be good for a long time, but it’s hard to buy now. Not because they’re suddenly a bad team, but because no matter how good you are there’s no telling if you’ll ever be able to get back.

Sometime tomorrow I’ll feel good about this season again.

1 Comment

Punch-line no more!

Maybe that was true months ago, but tonight added the exclamation point.

I wasn’t really confident going into tonight. No Rays fan should have been. I spent four hours of my life repeating to myself: “it’s just a game… it’s just a game,” but if you put a finger on my wrist you wouldn’t need a stopwatch to know I was having trouble convincing myself.

Listening to Andrew Friedman speak, I’m going to say something that a lot of people are (and should be) saying: trading Delmon Young for Matt Garza looks really smart right now. The Rays gave up a phenom… a tremendously talented, number one overall pick in Young – who doubled as a cancer in the locker room. The picked up a pitcher with tremendous stuff, but one who often couldn’t keep his head on his shoulders. Not only did Garza keep his head in the second half, he took the ball twice in the ALCS, including game seven, and pitched lights out.

Yeah, folks rightly point to the other guy in the trade (Jason Bartlett) as a key addition, and I don’t mean to take anything away from his contributions this season – which were considerable. But watching Garza tonight I saw a guy who could contend for Cy Young awards.

Now I just hope the Rays aren’t on the verge of being fed into the chipper by the Phillies. I’ve never paid much attention to the National League, but they sound a little scary. The Rays’ bullpen is going to have to find their way really quick. They may not have allowed any runs tonight, but anyone who says they looked good was watching a different game.

They’ve got until Wednesday. I’ll tell you what though, seeing a little more David Price might do the trick.

In the mean time, AL Champs sounds pretty good.

Favorite Rays moment

An Australian relief pitcher who doesn’t just talk to himself on the mound, he yells… after every pitch? My favorite moment after seeing the Rays first two playoff games was Grant Balfour inviting Orlando Cabrera to sit his ass down (after a Cabrera tried to egg him on).


Yeah, Longoria’s home runs in his first two at bats in the playoffs – as a 22 year-old rookie (the first coming on the first pitch he saw) was cool… but I didn’t see it. Curses! I was at work listening on the radio. Damn you TBS!

I hope the Rays make a habit out of this playoffs thing.


I am all that

I never make predictions. I’m well known in the office as a sports pessimist. I always think my teams are going to lose. It’s easier that way. But I got a little ornery this spring when a couple of my coworkers started the annual bit of Rays bashing (sure to be followed by a large dose of indifference). I did that thing I never do. I made a prediction. (Not that I want to rub it in or anything, but it was March 31st.) I said the Rays would have a winning record this September. They said it was easy to make predictions that no one would remember, so I picked up my friends beloved desk calendar, flipped to my birthday (which is coming up on the 18th – it seemed lucky at the time), and wrote: “The Rays have a winning record – JK.”

It was a pretty silly thing to do, considering the Rays never won more than 70 games. Sure, folks said the Rays had the best farm system in the majors, along with a nearly unrivaled collection of young talent – but no one was predicting any success for years… if at all, considering they play in the AL East.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the funny farm. The Rays went and made me look like some kind of idiot savant. They’re in a divisional championship race with the Red Sox, a game up after tonight’s walk-off win, and their magic number for clinching a playoff spot is six. Six freakin’ wins and the Rays, who only managed to avoid finishing last in their division once, will be in the playoffs. Man, this has been a fun run.

Can you believe the Rays are one game away from winning 90 games?


Another Rays victim


It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious, otherwise I could never write this post. The Rays… yes, I’m talking about the baseball team, not the UV index… are one quarter of the way through a remarkable turnaround. They’re one game short of thirty wins, and we’re nowhere near August. They drew more than 30k people to the Trop last night, and neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox were in town. Their young starting pitching has continued to grow, and the bullpen looks like it’s staffed by ACTUAL major league players. And best of all, it looks like the defensive infield has remembered to bring their gloves to every game.

So who could possibly have a problem with all of this, besides the rest of the AL East?

Dunkin’ Donuts.

That’s right, the northeastern icon of fried dough is struggling through this winning streak. In ten years, the only promotion safer than the ones tied to wins were tied to attendance, and Double-D is giving away free donuts every day the Rays win.

Well fellow Floridians, the Rays won last night, so go out there and get yourself a creme-filled.

The house that Al Lang built

If you don’t know who Al Lang is, that’s o.k. For most of my life I didn’t know who he was either. It turns out he was a mayor of St Petersburg, FL about 90 years ago. As it turns out there are a lot of people who know Al’s name, and have no idea who he was.

The reason? His name was loaned to a little baseball field that was home to more spring training games than any other… to teams like the Cardinals, Yankees, Mets… and players like Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, and (ah hem) Crawford.

I’m not the world’s biggest baseball fan, and there were a couple of spring training sites closer to home (there’s a total of three on this little sliver of land on the Gulf of Mexico known as Pinellas County), so I’ve only seen a couple games played there. But I do appreciate history, and there are precious few places you can find it in Florida. So even I was a little sad to hear the Rays were leaving it for a new site further south, leaving Al Lang vacant… and a likely candidate for demolition. (It was a little weird being the only team to play spring training games in the same city they played in the regular season… with as many fans, but I digress.)

A great article about Al Lang appeared on ESPN.com late last week. Here’s a few pieces, in case you’re not interested in the whole thing.

ESPN – Saying goodbye to a baseball treasure:

Goodbye to a place that, for some reason, has inspired about a million fewer tears and a billion fewer verses of poetry than Dodgertown this spring, even though the history of this site is even deeper, even longer, even richer…

“Al Lang was sort of like a sperm bank for major league baseball,” said (Andy) Van Slyke. “It was a breeding ground for a lot of good players.

“Put it this way. There’s no other field in the history of the game that produced as many stars as Al Lang. So I think they need to take out a cubic foot of dirt, take it to Cooperstown and say, ‘This is the dirt that produced more major leaguers than any other field in the history of the game.'” …

George Kissell is one of those names that just about no one outside baseball seems to know — but everyone inside the baseball universe worships. He was the brains, the soul, the energizer behind the Cardinals’ player-development system from the late 1950s until as recently as 2004.

He taught a converted catcher named Joe Torre how to play third base. He taught Lou Brock how to slide. He took a minor league infielder named Earl Weaver under his wing and taught him many of the intricacies that made the Earl famous.

And Kissell’s home office, for almost all those years, was Al Lang Field.


The Rays won their opener this afternoon. I didn’t see much of the game due to the early start, but what I saw looked pretty good. Shields picked up right where he left off last season, the bullpen didn’t collapse (even after a terrible error by Wheeler), Aki turned a couple double plays at his new position, and Dioner Navarro went three for four and was complimented on his base running.

It’s only one game, but you’d rather win it than lose.

I got a little carried away at lunch today. One of my coworkers was bad mouthing the home team, and we mixed it up a little (verbally – in a good natured way). It ended with me borrowing his desk calendar, flipping to September, and writing: “The Rays have a winning record – JK.”

Short of putting money down, I thought that was pretty bold… and possibly foolish.