Sunday, June 29, 2008
Red Sox, This Can't be Serious, Can It?
Before a highly anticipated playoff game between the Lakers and the Portland Trailblazers, a sportswriter was crowing about the blazers to Magic Johnson: Magic replied, "We know they're here." Its a different sport, but the Tampa Bay Rays don't need anyone announcing the whereabouts of the defending world champion, Boston Red Sox. On Monday night, they'll be anxious to crack the Rays brittle pennant hopes with Manny's big black bat. For much of the season, the Rays have been Boston's pigheaded fatal attraction. Tampa refuses to go away, and now the homely looking Rays have a chance to rip the heart right out of the Red Sox. Tampa's success, meanwhile, has been a boost to small market teams building through the draft rather than free agency. The Sox, nevertheless, are deep, experience, also talented; yet one has to wonder about their recent implosion: consider this: following a blow up with first baseman, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez shoved long time Red Sox travel attendant, Jack McCormick, for not having enough tickets for Ramirez's family. The Bosox , furthermore, lost two out of three to the resurgent Astros. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, couldn't win Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their pitching staff was so maligned, they had to beat the Rays with a hurler just called up from triple A. If Tampa is for real, they'll have to prove it against arguably the best team in baseball; but don't count out the Rays, there's something special about a team winning consistently with pitching and defense. At the halfway mark, both teams are separated by percentage points, and they'll be throwing their best pitchers. The Rays, James Shields, tossed a two hit shut out when the Rays swept Boston, however he was shellacked 7-1 after the Red Sox returned the favor last month. If Tampa Bay is for real, this will be the series to prove it.