Tuesday, September 9

Oh What Could've Been...

I was close to starting my post for tonight's game early....I had plans of using "The Red Sox Steal One and Take Control of the AL East"....glad I didn't get that far. Tonight's game had all the makings of a demoralizing loss for the Rays, one that would send the young team to second place for good. Jason Bay pulverized a pitch over the left field wall in the bottom of the 8th to put the Sox up 4-3. There was a curtain call, there were multiple calls by me yelling to brothers, friends, fiances etc. This was going to be one of those nights where I was so excited it took an extra hour or two to get to sleep. I assumed a morally defeated Rays team to go down 1,2,3 in the 9th against the best closer in the game. Well the Rays made an ass out of all of us.

Dice-K was far from effective tonight, going only 5 innings, walking 4 and giving up 8 hits. This was one of those frustrating outings by Dice-K that keeps him outside of the serious Cy-Young candidates. Oddly enough, our middle relief held up (Lopez, Delcarmen, Oki), but our all-world closer gives up three hits and two runs, including a home run by Dan Johnson (who??...exactly). Perhaps there really is karma surrounding all of New England after I relayed NESN's great Papelpon stat on last night's post (I'm kidding of course....kinda). His 5th blown save of the season came on a night when he was throwing a majority of fastballs and was not able to control his splitter.

The Rays continue to look like they're ready to crumble, but somehow stave it off and find someone it their lineup to provide a spark. Tomorrow's game now becomes much more important....not from an overall playoff standpoint, we're almost a lock, but for the division, home field advantage, and the possibility to play the Whitesox instead of the Angels standpoint.

It could have been a great one, one of the handful of games during the season that you point to as defining and memorable. It could have been the Red Sox going for the sweep tomorrow with their ace on the mound. It could have been Boston in first....the Rays in second...and the Yankees in fourth. It could have and should have, but that doesn't mean that ultimately, it won't.


harold said...

Oh don't you remember the saying about not counting your chickens? Or the one about its not over till its over?
It going to be a great month and Boston is going to have to do more than win tomorrow to "lock it up"
Dont forget the little trip to "the pit" the Sox have left. Yes Boston is the more experienced team. Yes they have better offense. But they are Still 1 and half out

Amanda said...

Geez, you guys never make it easy on the Rays, do you? Had a knot in my stomach the whole game. Of every team the Rays play during the year, nobody scares the crap out of me more than the Sox.
Now, as far as annoying the crap out of me? Yanks get the honors on that.

hodesworthe said...

Hey great blog, I live near the Rays stadium and I'm ready to see some exiting playoff baseball here! After 10 years of sucking the suckiest any team has ever sucked, it's time. Hang on, baseball fans!

Derek Vicino said...

Harold....the Rays stadium is called "the Pit"?? Interesting. If they think that a "packed house" of 20,000 fans will rattle the Sox they're wrong.

In all seriousness, what's the deal with the lack of attendence for the Rays? I've heard everything from the Stadium being a dump, to the demographic argument, to people in Tampa won't travel to St. Pete. I can't imagine it's the ticket prices.

The long and short of it is that the Rays surprised me again last night. It could have been a demoralizing loss, and time will tell if it was a wake up call-like win for them. I think it's pretty safe to say both teams are headed to the playoffs, which is good for the East. Especially with the Yanks in 4th.

Amanda said...

The Rays' empty stadium is due to a number of reasons (however, I'm not one of them!). Alright, this is going to be long...
First are two minor reasons. One is Tampa folks being stubborn. They hate the drive to St. Pete. We in St. Pete hate the drive to Tampa for Bucs and Lightning games, but we go anyway, so that whole situation is causing a lot of bitterness. As far as the Trop (aka "The Pit") being a dump, it was. For a long time, it really was. They've made VAST improvements to that place. It's still not great (no dome stadium really can be, and we're working on a new one either outdoors - bad idea with the thunderstorms almost every afternoon during the summer - or with a retractable roof - great idea but we're looking for the financing on it), but it's a hell of a lot better than years past. But people have the old image stuck in their minds and won't give it another chance.
Here's one of the two major reasons. Very few people in Tampa Bay area are actually from here. It's estimated that over 50,000 people migrate to the Tampa Bay area each year, and most of them adults. Most of those people come from the North/Northeast; a place with a long tradition of baseball. They grew up cheering for the Yankees, or the Red Sox, or the Tigers, or the Cubs. It's extremely hard to get someone to switch from a team they've lived their whole lives cheering for. Not only that, but they bring up their kids cheering for their old home team instead of the Rays. How are we supposed to get fans when everybody is from somewhere else? People say "Oh, Tigers attendance was horrible and then as soon as they got started winning the fans filled up the stands. Why isn't that happening for the Rays?" Well, the Tigers were founded in 1894. They won titles in the 30s, again in the 60s, and again in the 80s. Think those were brand new fans flocking to the stadium when they got good again in the 2000s? No, those were the old fans, the ones who were there for the World Series in 84, whose parents were there for the Series in 68, whose Grandparents were at the Series in 45. They have history with the team. The team had been good at one point and had won their devotion. We've never been good. We don't have 100 years of generational fans. We have 10 years of being really, really bad. People say, "The Red Sox hadn't won a Series since 1918 and we still packed the stands." Yeah, you hadn't won a Series, but you were still GOOD. You won pennants, you won divisions, you made it in the playoffs through wild cards. You couldn't seal the deal, but you didn't suck. You brought hope and excitement every year. We got lies and failure every year. It's hard to build a fan base that way. What makes someone who our old ownership made so cynical suddenly believe that this isn't just a fluke? How can we convince the hundreds of thousands of people here who grew up somewhere else to suddenly switch to a team with a short and losing history?
The second big reason is really an extension of the first one, but I have to include it separately because it applies also to the minority who are actually born and raised here in the ares. It's simple: the Rays have sucked for the past ten years. We've had scheming owners who lied to the fans through their teeth, brought up farm talent just to trade it away for nobodies, spent millions on players who didn't care or want to be here (Vinny Castilla, Tino Martinez, Jose Canseco), and basically treated us like dirt. For years people kept coming back, but how long can that last? It wasn't just the losing. It was the lies, the deception, the greed. So now we have new owners and management, and so far they've been great. But people are still wary. If one dog bites you enough times, you're not going to trust any dog.
One thing all the attendance bashers have to remember is this: as pathetic as it is, attendance this year is up 30% over last year. It was even worse last year, but there was no national spotlight back then to show how bad it was.

Dale Sams said...

Yeah...that bridge between TB and St.Pete's is a nightmare. Imagine drivers in Miami.....all packed tightly together on that bridge going 85+mph....weaving back and forth. White-knuckle time.

Derek Vicino said...

Thanks Amanda for the insight. Up here in Boston we only get the national news as to what's going on down there and the lack of attendence. Glad to hear I wasn't way off though.

To hear attendence is up 30% this year is surprising....good, but scary at the same time.

We've got a good one going tonight again.

Harold from St pete said...

I think Amanda said it all.
You cant change peoples attitudes in one season. Not only that, the Bosox Fans and yankee fans have always outnumbered the Rays fans and the attitude of management was to cater to those fans since there wer more of them. I had an instance where I was warned not to shout because I was disturbing the Boaton fans. Im not making that up. There was no profanity I wasnt shouting in anyones ear I was yelling at Youk to throw his helmet and some Bosox fans got upset and the usher came and told me and my son to be quiet. We ended up getting the supervisor of security to settle the situation and the usher was moved. in the past if fans started pounding on the walls as is common in Boston they were told to cease and desist. Thats what the fans of TB have had to deal with. ANd Frankly many of them are expecting the team to deal the young talent away next year as has happened in the past. Myself and others are now believing that the new owners really are in it for the long run. The real story will be told by season ticket sales for next year.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear all the comments from TB / St. Pete. It's hard for us to get any real news from down there, and for me at least it's a lot of fun. Great job on the blog.

As to the end of Harold's comment: what are the contract situations for the young TB guys? Who's locked up? I thought I remembered reading about a few extension negotiations earlier in the season that seemed pretty savvy. I was sort of expecting TB to be around for a while.

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