Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays: 2008 American League Champions (no, it's not 1 April)

(With apologies to Joel Sherman)

Joe Maddon almost made the same mistake Buck Showalter made in 1995.

Just in the nick of time, as though defusing a bomb right before the counter reached 00:01, Maddon remembered the lesson that he was supposed to have learned last week, and now the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the World Series.

In 1995, Showalter, you will remember, hadn't realized the talent he had in Mariano Rivera, so when the ALDS was on the line in Game Five, he didn't use Rivera.

In 2008, Maddon almost made the same mistake with David Price.

It took a bases loaded situation in the eighth inning for Maddon to finally realize that Dan Wheeler, JP Howell and Chad Bradford could not get it done, but, as the Rays fans are probably thinking, at least he came to his senses.

Now, the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to their franchise's first World Series.

The ALCS, of course, should have never gotten to a game seven. Had Maddon used Price at perhaps any time in the eighth or ninth inning of game five, the Rays would have likely clinched in Boston.

However, the Rays were lucky--game five was not an elimination game and afforded them a very important lesson: 27 outs in a baseball game and you have to play all of them. There's no clock to run out.

Now, going into the World Series, the Rays know what it's like to choke, and to face elimination, and more importantly, how important to get over it and put it in the past.

Congratulations to them, though Boston shouldn't lose heart--they gritted through it and gave baseball a game five that will enter the pantheon of all-time greats.

There will be a Rays-Phillies Series Preview up sometime before Game One.

Remember, get your entries in for the Monumental Trade Proposal Contest!

1 comment:

  1. Good connection with Price and Rivera - I remember watching the Yanks-Mariners series thinking that if Buck had just one more guy he could depend on out of the pen (there was no way he was using Wetteland again) then Coney never has to face Strange with his arm hanging off... Same thing yesterday, I'm wondering which guy that got beat in Game 6 was he going to turn to for Game 7, thinking he might as well give Price the shot. Funny how Maddon went from genius to moron to genius faster than a 3-6-3 double play ;)