October Classic Starts Tonight

Tonight marks the start of the 2013 World Series pitting the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals against the American League Champion Boston Red Sox.

With the American League winning this year’s All-Star Game, home field advantage falls to the Red Sox which means that Fenway Park will be host to yet another Opening Game of the Fall Classic.

The fact that the Red Sox made it to the World Series and have home field advantage should not be that big of a surprise to anyone who paid attention to the standings this year.

For most of the season the Red Sox were the most dominant team in the American League. And as champions of the American League East they played one of the toughest schedules in all of baseball with numerous games against the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees.

It should almost be a given that the winner of the American League East goes directly to the World Series each year since the competition in the division is that tough year after year.

After winning the East the Red Sox still had to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series.

While the Red Sox were the best team in the American League for most of the season the Cardinals were setting the pace in the National League.

So while many times the best teams do not always make it to the World Series few could argue that the most dominant teams from the past season made it to the ultimate championship round this year.

And while I pretty much gave up watching baseball this season when the Rays lost in the Playoffs, I will likely tune into the World Series.

That is the magic of the World Series where people watch the games for the history and the excitement regardless of what teams they follow during the regular season.

And while I will watch the World Series I have yet to decide who I will be rooting for.

Nothing against either the Cardinals or the Red Sox but they really just are not teams that I can get excited over. I do not have ties to the New England region or the Midwest so there is no geographical link that would pull me one way or the other.

Also, can I in good faith root for the team that eliminated my team from the Playoffs? There are some that say that rooting for the team that eliminates your team allows you to say that your team lost to the eventual champion so that is a good thing.

There is another school of thought that says to root for the team that did not beat your team since one doesn’t want the team that knocked out their team to be crowned champion.

Of course there are other factors at play that would have some conspiracy theorists saying that the fact that the Red Sox are in the World Series has less to do with them playing better than the other 14 teams in the American League and more to do with the Hollywood element of what happened in Boston a few months back and the need to wrap things up with a pretty little bow.

For those who may have forgotten there was an attack during the Boston Marathon this year.

Following the attacks, the Boston Red Sox became a symbol of the region’s resolve and determination to fight back against senseless attacks.

Throughout Major League Baseball teams showed their solidarity for the people of Boston by among other things playing Sweet Caroline, a Fenway Park eighth inning staple in their ballparks as well.

As if that weren’t enough, there were even live performances by Neil Diamond pretty much everywhere you looked.

And of course there was David “Big Papi” Ortiz standing on the field at Fenway reminding people whose town it was with colorful language that any other time would have garnered a fine from the FCC for obscenity but was deemed okay as heat of the moment impassioned speech.

So with all of the factors listed above some would have just said then and there that the other American League teams were foolish if they thought that anyone other than the Red Sox would be in the World Series.

In fact I mentioned to several friends at the time how I figured that the perfect ending to the season in most people’s minds would be a Boston Red Sox Championship.

The only question remaining was which parts would Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck play in the inevitable movie about the Red Sox bringing the people of Boston together.

Of course the last time the Hollywood ending was put in play during the World Series it did not really go to plan.

Following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the Yankees made it to the World Series with even the biggest of anti-Yankees fans pulling for them since they represented the region and carried the memories of both those who had perished as well as those who were trying to rebuild their lives. The Yankees were even given permission from Major League Baseball to wear special caps honoring the fallen police and fire fighters.

In the Hollywood version of the 2001 World Series the Yankees would win in four games and the nation would rejoice and start the healing as Major Rudy Giuliani declared it Yankees day.

In the actual World Series of 2001 however the Arizona Diamondbacks were victorious in seven games proving that the Hollywood ending does not always happen the way people expect it to.

Fast forward to this year and the stage is once again set for a Tinsel Town take on the Classic. Of course there is still the whole matter of needing to play the games first to see who comes out on top.

So, time will tell whether the 2013 World Series ends with a Red Sox victory and ensuing Hollywood treatment or if it is another example of the underdog team winning against the will of all of those proponents of fate.

The only thing that is certain is that there will likely be mentions of the Boston Marathon attack tonight and there will be Neil Diamond; lots and lots of Neil Diamond.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some baseball to get ready for.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Advertisements

Rays Earn Boston Tea Party Berth

The Tampa Bay Rays never seem to do things the easy way.

But, based on recent results, the hard way seems to suit them just fine.

Playing in their 39th game in the past 41 days the Tampa Bay Rays claimed the American League Wild Card title Wednesday night with a 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The Rays have been winning away from home for over two weeks. They finally will come back to the Trop on October 7th. Photo R. Anderson
The Rays have been winning away from home for over two weeks. They finally will come back to the Trop on October 7th.
Photo R. Anderson

For the second time in three nights the Rays went into a hostile environment faced with a win or go home elimination game only to arise victorious and celebrate on the field while the home team’s fans looked on with sadness.

Of course the showdown in Cleveland was just one of many stops on the Rays’ late season whistle stop tour.

The Rays have been on the road since September 24th, when they opened a three-game series in New York against the Yankees.

The Rays swept the Yankees.

Then it was off to Toronto, where they lost two games to the Blue Jays before winning the regular-season finale to force a one-game tiebreaker with the Texas Rangers.

The Rays beat the Rangers with a complete game pitching effort from David Price in front of a sellout crowd at the Ballpark in Arlington.

The win in Texas earned the Rays a trip to Cleveland where they once again claimed victory and silenced a sellout crowd.

Fernando Rodney, finished off the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night. Rodney  will look to  shoot some more arrows starting tonight in the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox. Photo R. Anderson
Fernando Rodney, finished off the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night. Rodney will look to shoot some more arrows starting tonight in the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox.
Photo R. Anderson

Alex Cobb took the mound for the Rays and allowed no runs on eight hits a walk and five strikeouts to pick up the win.

Despite missing 50 games earlier in the year after getting hit with a line drive and suffering a concussion, Cobb showed no signs of buckling under the pressure created by the sellout crowd of 43,579 rally towel-waving Cleveland fans.

With the Cleveland win the Rays earned another destination and more frequent flier miles.

The Rays will start the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox tonight.

The Rays and Red Sox are familiar division foes who were fairly evenly matched during their regular season match ups this year.

Matt Moore takes the mound for the Rays tonight against the Boston Red Sox. Photo R. Anderson
Matt Moore takes the mound for the Rays tonight against the Boston Red Sox.
Photo R. Anderson

Matt Moore will look to continue the strong pitching performances by Rays starters in game one of the best of five series tonight at Fenway Park.

The good news for the Rays is that on October 7 they finally get to return to Tropicana Field for a home game and some changes of clothes.

A home game would also occur in game four of the series if needed before a return trip to Boston in the event of a winner take all game five scenario.

The Rays will get to add 2013 Wild Card to their banner collection at Tropicana Field. Of course they are hoping for several more up to World Series Champion this year. Photo R. Anderson
The Rays will get to add 2013 Wild Card to their banner collection at Tropicana Field. Of course they are hoping for several more up to World Series Champion this year.
Photo R. Anderson

Regardless of what happens in Boston the Rays will get to hoist a 2013 Wild Card Champion banner into the rafters at Tropicana Field.

Of course there is room for a few other banners as well as the team has its sights set on a return trip to the World Series.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there is some American League Division Series baseball to get ready for.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

 

Rays Finally Silence Rangers in an Elimination Game

The past two times the Tampa Bay Rays went to the postseason they were knocked out by the Texas Rangers.

So on paper when the Rays and Rangers met Monday night for the tiebreaker game to earn the second Wildcard spot and a trip to the postseason it felt like deja vu all over again.

The Rays had dropped two of three games against the Toronto Blue Jays to slip from first place in the Wildcard standings to tied for the second spot with the Rangers. The Rangers on the other hand had won 10 straight games and were hosting the pivotal 163rd game of the season.

Historically Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has not been kind to the Tampa Bay Rays. Photo R. Anderson
Historically Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has not been kind to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Photo R. Anderson

The Rangers held a four games to three edge over the Rays during their regular season meetings leading to the Rangers having home field advantage for the regular season tiebreaker.

Momentum and home field advantage were clearly in favor of the Rangers, on paper.

On paper the pitching match up also favored the Rangers as David Price, the defending American League Cy Young Award winner, took the mound for the Rays.

Despite being the defending Cy Young Award winner Price had only defeated the Rangers once in his career and in previous meetings the Rangers and little difficulty scoring runs off of him.

Before the game there were many who looked at Price’s past performance against the Rangers and said that the Rays were foolish to put him on the mound in a win or go home type scenario with the whole season on the line.

Rays Manager Joe Maddon made several player substitiutiuons that helped propel the Tampa Bay Rays into the postseason Monday night. Photo R. Anderson
Rays Manager Joe Maddon made several player substations that helped propel the Tampa Bay Rays into the postseason Monday night.
Photo R. Anderson

But Rays Manager Joe Maddon is not one of those people who does what conventional wisdom says and he put his ace on the mound despite Price only having one victory in his career against the Rangers.

Thankfully for Rays fans though Monday night was not like the previous two meetings as the Rays defeated the Rangers in Arlington to return to the postseason for the fourth time in the last six years.

As for David Price, the guy who the Rangers had managed to dominate the past few years, he pitched a complete game and only gave up two runs.

I guess one could say he balled up that piece of paper that said he couldn’t win against the Rangers in big games.

The Rays face the Cleveland Indians tonight in a win or go home Wildcard game with the winner facing the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

Alex Cobb who finished the season with an 11-3 mark and a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts will take the mound for the Rays.

Alex Cobb will look to extend the season for the Tampa Bay Rays tonight when he pitches against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Wildcard game. Photo R. Anderson
Alex Cobb will look to extend the season for the Tampa Bay Rays tonight when he pitches against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Wildcard game.
Photo R. Anderson

On paper the teams are pretty evenly matched.

And once again the Rays will be living out of their suitcases as they face yet another game on the road.

Of course, the Rays seem to excel in the face of adversity and hostile crowds so I will place my money on the Rays winning the game.

While there is still a lot of October baseball to be played I would not be the least bit surprised if the Rays make it all the way to the World Series.

Don’t tell me what the odds are of that happening on paper are.

After all, the Rays have shown time and time again that just because it is the conventional wisdom, it is not the way the Rays play.

The Rays are a different team with a quirky manager that gets the most out of his players in every situation and once again they are in the playoffs.

Regardless of what happens in the game tonight the Rays will be remembered as a playoff contender once more.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to watch.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson