Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who Is Joe Maddon?

Joe Maddon is just like many other people. He goes to work, works hard, enjoys what he does, and is very well liked. He is a family man but what makes him different from others is that he is a major league baseball manager who has taken his team from worst to first. Now he has the team in the World Series.
But if you were watching ESPN this morning around 9:15 AM, you learned of a Joe Maddon that many of us don't know...yet.

John Challis loved baseball. When he was diagnosed with incurable cancer two years ago, he stopped playing. This Western Pennsylvania prep school senior decided that he needed to get over his fear of injury because of his illness. His baseball coach agreed and allowed John to play. John developed his own outlook on life and he called it, "Courage + Belief = Life."

John Challis caught the attention of many sports teams and sports figures during his heroic battle with cancer.
John believed that God had given him this disease because he was strong enough to handle it and could help others by spreading his message. His message is "It is not how many breaths you take, it is what you do with each breath you take."
Joe Maddon was one of the many sports figures to be touched by John Challis. Joe brought John to the Tampa Bay locker room for a game in June this past season.
Joe was so taken with John that he stayed in touch with John and his family through the season as John finally lost his battle with cancer on August 19th.
Joe Maddon is involved in the John Challis Foundation that provides Life Encouraging Sporting Experiences and Community Support for High School Athletes with Life Threatening Illnesses.
Hats off to Joe Maddon and all of the athletes that go the extra distance to reach out to help others and their families that are suffering through these life threatening illnesses.

"The Rain, The Park, And Other Things..."

On a night that started out sloppy...

Things got sloppier...

Still, down 2 games to 1 is certainly not the end of the world.
Joe, get MAD and win the next 2 to go back home with a 3-2 advantage.
Today, your young team needs a day of basic drills to get over last, this morning.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Slow Ride, Take It Easy!"

When the Rays are at bat tonight, there will be an energy savings as they can turn off the radar gun.
Just how slow is Jamie Moyer?
Below are some methods that may be used tonight to measure his pitch speed...

All kidding aside, the match up tonight between Jamie Moyer and Matt Garza will not be nearly as interesting as the match up between Jamie Moyer and the Rays hitters.

Look for the Rays to jump on Moyer early and often. Not to say that Moyer couldn't turn in an excellent performance. After all, he was 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA this season. But it has been the post-season that has been his undoing so far as he is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA.

Is he tired?

He is 45 years old.
Well, we will see tonight if he has one more great game in him.

Predictions anyone?

How about Rays 7, Phillies 2 and Moyer goes 3 innings!

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Well, You Can Call Me Ray..."

" But ya doesn't have to call me Maddon!"
Joe "Ray" Maddon got his troops fired up and received the results all Rays fans were anticipating.

David Price was not as "mystifying" last night, but he got the job done.

BAM! Hard play at the plate! Baldelli is out, but this is more like it!

Things got a little close in the 8th but the Rays prevailed, 4-2.

Now it's on to Philly for games 3, 4, and 5 beginning Saturday night with the series tied 1-1.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

What, Me Worry?

Game 1 is history...If you are a TB fan, are you concerned?
I am. I like that this team is laid back but once again, just like game 1 of the ALCS, these guys almost went to sleep...or put me to sleep.

We better see a more focused and inspired group tonight.

Hey, look at the aerial view of home plate!

Because it is crooked, is it wider than 17"?


Well, it's wider for both teams, but fix it! And please get a new stadium!!!

Come on Rays, get hot tonight!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Life Immitates Art, Once Again!
"This is the out you've been waiting for all your life!"

Bottom of the 8th inning, bases loaded, 2 outs, and J.D. Drew at the plate. In comes David Price in his biggest career moment. So it was reported, Evan Longoria drops the ball into Price's hand and says something to the effect of the quote above from the movie, "Major League."

You gotta love these guys!

At approximately 8:35 PM tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays match up with the Philadelphia Phillies in game #1 of the 2008 World Series. Neither team was given much of a chance to reach this point. That's what makes this such a special series.

My heart is with the Rays! I love where they came from and I love how they got to where they are tonight. (Just please build a new stadium in a better neighborhood!)

Both the Phillies and the Rays should be proud of what they have accomplished. Look for this to be a great series and may the best underdog win!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hoo"ray" For The Underdogs!

Unless you live in New Yawk or Bawston, Americans love an underdog!
We have so many famous underdogs, real or fantasy, like...



How about "The Miracle on Ice?"....The '69 World Series - Mets over the Orioles?...The Giants beating the Pats in Super Bowl XLII?

Harry S. Truman was a total underdog to Thomas E. Dewey in the '48 Presidential election...even the newspapers incorrectly reported the results!

Who can ever forget Bill Murray's speech as private John Winger in the movie "Stripes" to his fellow basic trainees?

"We're all very different people. We're not Watusi. We're not Spartans. We're Americans, with a capital 'A', huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! Here's proof: his nose is cold! But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I'm sure. I cried my eyes out. So we're all dogfaces, we're all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We're mutants. There's something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us - we're soldiers. But we're American soldiers! We've been kicking ass for 200 years!"

I could go on and on but, you get the picture. The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the lowest payrolls in MLB, #29 out of 30! They are in a small market advertising region of the country. But they just defeated the reigning world champion Boston Red Sox, the team with the 4th highest payroll and they are in a major advertising market!

Ohhhh, this is good for America! This is good for every person who ventures out on his or her own, for the immigrants who still come to this wonderful country in droves, searching for the land of opportunity, for the inventors who go up against established industry or retail, for the small businessman who doesn't want the entire market, just a piece to make a good and decent living. Is our country perfect? Of course not but I dare you to name one better!

It's too bad that it takes an underdog victory to grab us and shake us to remind us, "You live in the best country in the world, the true land of opportunity...reach out, fight for it, be proud of it!

To the Tampa Bay Rays...Thanks for reminding me who we are and what we are all about!

To our service men and women across the world...Thanks for preserving it!


David beats Goliath!
For every stiff down on his luck, there is a new hero, the Tampa Bay Rays!
Worst to First!
What greater American story is there?
Small market, small payroll beats large market, over-spent payroll...Man, that is the American way! At least it used to be and it's back...just when we need it most!

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays on advancing to the 2008 World Series. This young team put it all together, beat all odds, and followed their dream. All was not easy and there were moments when they looked as if they may fold, but they didn't as they hung tough and gave every American a reason again to say, "Yes we can!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008


No doubt about it...
The Rays have got to get RABID!
What is Joe Maddon telling them...right now?
"In about an hour, the young men on this team will be playing the biggest game of their lives, of their franchise history. No one expected you to get this far. You have accomplished so much and you should all be proud. Is that enough? Are you satisfied? If you are, tell me now and you can watch this one from the clubhouse. I want unstoppable passion in this lineup. I want extreme desire in this lineup. I want my best never quit guys to take the field in sixty minutes. I want the guys who want what I want, the guys who will never quit until they get it, the guys who fought so hard to get this far, the guys who believe that winning the 2008 World Series is their destiny. Those are the guys I want to take a step forward, shake my hand, and line up at the clubhouse door to go out and grab the championship that awaits us out on that field."
To the Tampa Bay Rays:
Control your destiny and take what is rightfully yours!

You Gotta Be ######## Me!

Say it ain't so!

Stock market bringing our country to it's knees, McCain vs. Obama, the Bail-Out, and now, the Red Sox are on the doorstep of their second consecutive World Series appearance. The American Dream is being threatened again. How much more can we take? I don't mean all those political or financial issues, I'm talking about the good guys winning, the underdog pulling a passionate upset to give hope and fuel the dreams of all of those down on their luck.

The Rays have made an emotional trip from lovable losers, to attention-catching underdogs, to the best team in baseball, and now, they have regressed back past underdogs to whimpering puppies. Their only chance tonight is to get a huge case of rabies and start frothing at the mouth at game time.
If they need a true lesson in winning attitude, they only have to look across to the other dugout. Down 7 runs to none with 7 outs to go, the Red Sox score 8 unanswered runs to avoid elimination and carry it out as if it was their plan all along. Instead, the Rays get down by 2 runs in the 1st and 6th game each and look at each other as if the odds are completely insurmountable. OK, have it your way. Wanna borrow 3rd base coach Joel Skinner tonight to put up a stop sign with the tying run 90 feet away? Then you will really look like the 2007 Indians as you accurately demonstrate the proper international choke sign.

It wouldn't be nearly as bad if it was another team that didn't buy a championship in the opposite dugout.

The Rays had a fabulous season. Thanks for the ups and downs, mainly ups until lately.
But, you're done. Unless the Rays get over their pity party early today and decide they want this more than the Red Sox do, look for Boston to put a huge hurtin' on the Rays tonight and advance to the World Series.
Too bad we have to suffer through the same old same old when it was more than within reach.

During their post-game interview early this morning, Pedroia and Youkilis discuss how they will take apart the Rays one more time tonight.

Wrong finger, Johnathan! We think you are #1 too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again?

October 16th, 2008...

Game #5 of the ALCS

Final Score: Boston 8 - Cleveland, Tampa Bay 7.

J.D. Drew hits the game-winner off of J.P. Howell in the bottom of the 9th!

With the Rays ahead by 7 runs and 7 outs away from a trip to the 2008 World Series, the Boston "Faithful" were clogging the exits of Fenway Park. J.D. Drew delivered the game winner that broke the 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 9th inning with two out and two on. Kevin Youkilis scored the winning run and all of a sudden, Boston is down 3 games to 2 again.

What a shame as Scott Kazmir pitched a beauty of a game, allowing only 2 hits and 0 runs in 6 innings. When the Rays seemed to relax a bit, all got out of hand. Grant Balfour, doing his best impersonation of "Rain Man" gave up 4 runs on as many hits. What was that he was saying to himself after each pitch? "I'm an excellent pitcher! Oh, yeah, I'm an excellent pitcher!"

In comes Dan Wheeler and temporarily stops the bleeding by getting Youkilis to fly out for the 3rd out of the 7th inning. But come the bottom of the 8th, Wheeler gives up 3 runs on as many hits to allow the game to be tied and get charged with a blown save.

OK, so the Rays lost. What did you expect, for them to come into Boston and take all 3 games? Come on, they are still ahead 3 game to 2 and going home to their own cozy little house of pain.

Once again, they need to show what they are made of Saturday night and get this done. You can't let up on the Red Sox for a second and you can't get caught up on borderline pitches that don't seem to be going your way. All year long this team has been tough under fire, keeping the pressure on the opposition for 9 innings. That's what it is going to take, an all-out, don't budge, never give an inch performance to make these Red Sox join their "Faithful" heading for the exits and putting their butts on their couches for the remainder of the 2008 playoffs.

Come on Rays, show us what you got...

Better yet, show the Red Sox what you got!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Rays Will Take the ALCS...But When?

As the Rays are poised to take the ALCS from the Red Sox, the question is not will they, but when? Ahead 3 games to 1, the Red Sox are again in a familiar tough spot, facing elimination. The Red Sox came roaring back against the Indians last year, but don't even think that the Rays will let this get away from them. They certainly have shown the killer instinct that my beloved Indians so desperately lack (not "lacked"...still present tense).

Has Joe Maddon positioned his team to win it all tonight in Boston or has he made a blunder? He has opted to go with lefty starter Scott Kazmir over James Shields for game #5 tonight. Maddon likes Kazmir's chances in Fenway Park better than he does Shields. Shields is 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA lifetime at Fenway. Kazmir is 4-4 with a 3.02 ERA lifetime at Fenway.

Hmm, but there may be more. Let's dig a bit deeper.

On June 11, Kazmir had a run-in with plate umpire Derryl Cousins in a 4-2 loss to the Angels. Kazmir and Cousins criticized each other to reporters after the game. Cousins is scheduled to be behind the plate Saturday for Game 6, which originally would have been Kazmir's start.

Well, that's why Maddon is the manager, to make these decisions and take calculated risks.

It reminds me of Sparky Anderson's decision in game 6 of the 1975 World Series, ahead 3 games to 2, he opted to start Gary Nolan over Don Gullett. Anderson was criticized for not going for the win in game 6 by holding back the ace of his staff. Game 6 had been rain delayed for 72 hours. Everyone knows the outcome, after utilizing Nolan and 6 relievers, 7th reliever Pat Darcy gave up one of the all-time most famous home runs to Carlton Fisk in the bottom of the 12th inning.

The difference here is that Maddon appears to be going for the win based on the two pitchers' probabilities, but he also is no fool because memories are long, at least back to June 11th and he could lose the effectiveness of his starter on Saturday if Shields couldn't win it all tonight. Then where would they be, staring at a game 7 that could certainly change momentum.

I like the gamble. I look for the Rays to finish this tonight, in Boston, sticking the fork in these guys in their home town.

The Rays have fought too hard to let up for one minute now on the Red Sox.

The keys to victory are clear;

Figure out Dice-K and get to him early and often.

If the game is close, they must finally get to Papelbon.

(Don't let us ever suffer through another Papelbon victory dance!)

Get 'er done tonight!

Congratulations to the Phillies on defeating the Dodgers to advance to the World Series. Although I was pulling for Joe Torre's Dodgers, it is good to see ex-Indians' manager Charlie Manuel finally get to the level he just couldn't bring the Indians to.

After the Rays dispose of the Red Sox, the 2008 World Series should be a dandy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Comsee Comsa...

You win one, you lose one!
Last night, the Tampa Bay Rays held the Red Sox at "Bay." They defeated the Sox 9-1 to take a series lead of 2-1!
The Rays jumped all over Boston starter John Lester for 8 hits and 5 runs (4 earned).

This picture pretty much says it all for the nightcap!

Brad Lidge earned the save as the Phillies defeated the Dodgers by a score of 7-5. I wonder if it was a good game? Because the Cleveland Browns were home on Monday night, Fox affiliate in Cleveland channel 8 decided to broadcast the Browns and throw the NLCS playoff to WUAB, a junior station in town that was to carry the Fox feed. Unfortunately, my cable company was not made aware of that and blacked out the game, thank you very much! Well, the Browns won big but the Dodgers took a lickin' and are down 3-1 in the series.

Pat, can we buy a win?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thank You Sir, I'll Have Another!

What got into these guys last night?...Besides teeing off on Jamie Moyer!

Just what the team needed to secure win #1 in the NLCS and perhaps 3-in-a-row at home?

Great stuff! Can't wait for tonight's game!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Home, Sweet Home!

Ahhhhhhh! The Rays take one of two at home! With their backs against the wall, the Rays took 11 innings to do it but they came out on the victorious side at 1:35 AM this morning. It was a back and forth game all evening and into the morning. With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, B.J. Upton hit a short sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Fernando Perez to win the game.

Now this scene looks a lot more like it as the Rays celebrated in the wee hours of the morning. If you listened to the telecasters of last night's game, you would know that I was not the only fan that thought that the Rays quit on Friday night. However, there was no quit in them last night as they battled back and forth with the world champs.

Next up for the Rays is a pleasant 3-game stay in Beantown where they must take 2 games!

Now, if we can just get this bunch to get hot and get back on track.....