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.

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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 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.

Good to bad

As much as I felt good for Edwin Jackson the other night, I felt bad for Jason Hammel and Jon Switzer last night. Although I didn’t see the game (it wasn’t on TV here), Hammel and Switzer apparently didn’t pitch very well… continuing a trend on the big league team. Both (particularly Switzer this season) have been lights out in the minors. It’s really too bad it hasn’t carried over.

A feel good game for Edwin Jackson and the Rays

Edwin Jackson’s ERA is under 3 in his last six games. Coming after a really bad start, he’s got reason to feel good about himself. After a 3-0 shutout in Texas… here’s to hoping he can keep it up. If so, the Rays could have three pretty good starting pitchers… with several promising prospects still working their way through the minors.

With an offense that’s already pretty good, I think the Rays (as a whole) could be really good next year.


I read an article from the Orlando Sentinel recently (around the time the Rays were playing a series against the Texas Rangers in Orlando), which pointed to the lack of attendence at Rays games as evidence that Tampa Bay was “overextended” as a region with professional sports franchises.

Then I noticed that the Marlins drew a whopping 11,525 for today’s game against the Rays.

So then I decided to see how well the Rays attendance figures were when the Marlins were in town. I couldn’t find the numbers, but I did find something else that was interesting…

In 2003 the Marlins won the World Series… and they averaged 16,290 in attendance per game. In 2006 the Rays finished with the worst overall record in baseball, qualifying them for the first overall pick in the recent amateur draft… and they averaged 16,901 in attendance per game.

I could really tear into the Sentinel column, but I’m too tired right now.