Monday, October 20, 2008

Zen Dayley: Tampa Bay was never reeeeeling, really; Rays defeat Red Sox, clichés

For probably not the last time, momentum in baseball is the next day's starting pitcher.

There's been some spur here to write a rant about how there should be a moratorium on TV talking heads saying that any team who's lost their last few games is reeeeeling. It's become the insta-cliché of the last couple years, a bit of faux-authoritative, dollar-store psychology used by people who want to pass themselves off like they have been there and know what it's like to be a pro athlete. It's an industry thing. If you have't been there, you should always be Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything: "I know that I don't know." Hey, it worked on the young Ione Skye.

The Rays, as you know, lost Games 5 and 6 before winning the real World Series American League pennant last night behind Matt Garza's two-hit pitching over seven-plus innings and phenom David Price phenomenating to get the final four outs. A truth is Tampa Bay had a much firmer grip on this series than the Cleveland Indians did before blowing a 3-1 lead to Boston in 2007. One can a hazard a guess that a common hallmark of instances when teams have come back from a two-game deficit to win a best-of-7 series is the first few games flattered the other guys. That did not happen here. Tampa Bay was better through the first four games and the first 6½ innings of Game 5, when the Red Sox made that epic eight-run comeback. They had an evenout over 12 innings of baseball, but were good enough to get through it, thanks to Garza showing his worth as a big-game pitcher and Price nailing it down at the end,

Miked Up offered a pretty good window into some of his colleagues who had the mindset. That's not a media-bash; a lot of people no doubt felt that way after the Rays blew it in Game 5 and somnabulated through Saturday's Game 6.

For the Series, the first knee-jerk thought is that the Rays have a huge advantage in starting pitching. The Phillies starters beyond Cole Hamels aren't much to look at and their home stadium is a launching pad.

At times like this, it's good to be reminded of the thin threads the larger glories hang off. Rany Jazayerli pointed out that Price became a Ray by virtue of the Kansas City Royals winning on the final day of 2006 season, giving Tampa Bay the No. 1 overall pick the following season. Ouch.

Anyway, getting back to the main point, there is some momentum in baseball. It's just more subtle.


  • It looks iffy that Canada's own Matt Stairs will DH for the Phillies in either of the first two games at Tropicana Field. The Rays, going by the way they set up their rotation in the ALCS, would start lefty Scott Kazmir on five days' rest in Game 1. Stairs can't hit lefties. He has also hit .213/.303/.331 in 155 career plate appearances in Tampa Bay, not a great omen. It's more likely that their best pinch-hitter, Greg Dobbs, would be the DH.
  • Rogers Sportsnet, in the future, should consider having Mike Wilner in the studio for its playoff coverage instead of the man who gives new meaning to square peg, jamiecampbell. Goodness knows that he's earnest as heck, shucks, he really tries his darnedest. This probably needs a bit of context, but during the wrapup the last night, he had this stilted moment:
    "Evanka, Jim, how does this sound: The Tampa Bay Rays are in the World Series: Are you kidding me?"
    Campbell (or as a journo friend calls him, Captain Obvious) set it up like he had a clever and original line -- only to rip off one of Chuck Swirsky's catchphrases. This really happened.
  • The latest on the Seamheads Historical Sim League (name that will seem clever at first but will seem less funny the more you hear to be named later) is that the teams will be grouped by their start date. The Jays will be in a division with the Seattle Mariners, the Rockies/Diamondbacks (Diamond Rox?) and Rays/Marlins (Raelians?). That bodes well for their chances, or it would if their GM was not an idiot.


Duane Rollins said...

Let's not lose sight of the most important thing here.

The Red Sox will not win the World Series. Everything else is gravy.

eyebleaf said...

Amen, Duane, Amen.

And where was Hinske celebrating for the Rays like he actually did something? It looks like Johnny Gomes is the new Hinske.

Rob Pettapiece said...

At least jamiecampbell didn't bust out a Fauldsian WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

Also: whatever "the new Hinske" is, it's not Jonny Johnson Gomes. I'm not really sure there was an old Hinske, for that matter.

Keith Borkowsky said...

The Philadelphia Phillies, sometimes known as the Phils, will play the Tampa Bay Rays.

In a related note, the New York Mets saw the trend and have applied to have their name changed to the New York Dons.