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Changing of the guard

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff May 27, 2008 09:17 AM

Memorial Day serves as a day to rightfully honor those who served their homeland with the ultimate sacrifice. On a personal level, though, it stands as a landmark for the sacrifice I unknowingly realized I'd have to make for the next two decades when it came to enjoying a ballgame on the tube.

May 30, 1988. It was the day I realized that Joe Morgan was a boob.

It was during a telecast of ABC's Monday Night Baseball when the revelation hit, Morgan telling booth partner Al Michaels that Memorial Day was about the time in the baseball calendar when the standings looked just about how they would at the end of September. I was 14, a gullible age indeed (I have a Bradlees receipt somewhere that confirms a Stryper CD purchase), but even then I recall sitting in front of the TV, saying to myself, "Well, that doesn't make very much sense."

It didn't. It doesn't. Twenty years later, Morgan is still spouting this sort of nonsense, pictures of God knows who hidden deep in his briefcase.

Of course, later that summer the Red Sox came from 9˝ games back in the AL East to win the division (with 89 wins nonetheless), back in the days when we settled things solely on an East-West basis. Boston finished a game over the Tigers, two games over the Blue Jays and Brewers, and 3˝ games ahead of the Yankees. Morgan had them cooked back in May.

The point here is not to needlessly pound Morgan's ineptness (others do that far better), but to illustrate just how volatile each baseball division is this season as we hurtle our way toward June. In no division does a first-place team have a lead greater than 3˝ games (Arizona). In only two divisions (AL and NL West) do teams face deficits of double digits, only four teams in all. On this date a year ago, twice that number existed, four of them in the AL East alone.

In 2007, Morgan's theory would have proven correct as far as the AL is concerned, the Red Sox, Indians, and Angels all in first place in their divisions on this date and in October as well, but he would have been 0-4 in the NL, and short on the AL wild card. In 2008, good luck convincing anyone that what you see now is what you'll get come fall. The Red Sox would be your wild card, and Tampa Bay would have home-field up through the World Series (pending outcome of the All-Star Game, of course).

Boston would face their traditional ALDS opponent Angels, while the White Sox would travel to St. Pete. Who had that in their preseason predictions?

In the NL, it would be Diamondbacks-Cubs, Cardinals-Marlins.

Last season at this time, four of the six division-leaders had cushions of 4˝ games or more (11˝ in Boston's case). Nobody has that sort of lead a year later, a direct result of there being a multitude of emerging contenders. Tampa Bay, Florida, the Chicago White Sox, and Oakland are a combined 32 games over .500. There comes a point during the season when you no longer chalk that up to a fast start, and consider them in for the long run. Not that this is that point, but it's a pretty good place to start.

Oakland: Great pitching, as we witnessed over the weekend in a three-game brooming of Boston. But an OPS of .706 doesn't instill a great threat of what the A's can do over the long run offensively; and is Jack Cust (.422 OPB, .860 OPS) really going to keep this up for another four months? Fade.

Florida: Dan Uggla (1.092 OPS, the fourth-best in baseball) and Hanley Ramirez can battle it out for the NL MVP, but Mark Hendrickson is the Marlins' ace. Fade.

White Sox: Carlos Quentin leads the team in every offensive category. Mark Buehrle has morphed into Casey Fossum. And sooner or later they'll likely have the Tigers and Indians nipping at their heels. Fade.

Then, we have the case of the Rays, baseball's longtime joke who are enjoying their best-ever start to a season and aren't relenting as the weather heats up. Today, at 31-20, Tampa Bay has the best record in Major League Baseball. Really. Many expected Tampa to be good. But this good? Wild card contention, yes. At no point over six months did I expect to say "best record in baseball." But there you have it.

According to the Tampa Tribune, "the Rays became the first team in modern baseball history, dating to 1900, to have the best record in the game through Memorial Day after finishing with the worst record among all teams the previous year."

The trouble is, the Rays are going from nice, little story to major thorn in the side of the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and anyone else with designs on the AL East or wild card. Scott Kazmir made his first start off the DL in Boston earlier this month, allowing three runs over four innings. Know how many he's given up since then? Two, over 26 innings. Two He's only given up 13 hits over that same time span. Yesterday against Texas, he allowed three hits, one run, and struck out 10 over seven innings, walking nobody. Nobody in the division is pitching even close to as well as the lefty has come out of the gate in 2008.

Mix Kazmir in with a nice No. 2 in James Shields, a decent start by Matt Garza (3-1, 4.06), an offense that should land a handful of All-Stars in the Bronx (B.J. Upton has a better OBP and batting average than any Red Sox player), and a much-overlooked improved defense, and it's evident that Tampa Bay is not going to be labeled with the erroneous "fluke" tag much longer.

They seem too balanced, too determined to fade anytime soon, which probably means an unexpected nuisance for the Red Sox to deal with all summer long.

As the season progresses, sooner or later the surprises start to thin out and come back to the rest of the pack. But every year, there is also a team of emerging talent for which it all comes together. See Colorado, 2007. Detroit, 2006. Florida, 2003. Atlanta, 1991. Etc., etc.

If you had to choose one that's in it for the long haul, that's Tampa Bay, the only team to have a winning record vs. its brethren in the AL East (21-12). The Rays have won four in a row and have the best record in baseball at the Memorial Day marker. One year ago today, they were 13˝ games behind the Red Sox.

Today, they are 13 games better than they were last year.

Joe Morgan has them in the World Series. We don't, of course.

Not yet, anyway.

25 comments so far...
  1. Wow - I knew they were playing well but hadn't paid that close attention.

    Wouldn't it be refreshing to see (assuming they get there, that is) the Sox play the Rays in an ALCS instead of the tired, re-treaded "rivalry" series people have over-blown to cosmic proportions in recent years?

    I noticed you didn't mention "them" by name, so I'll oblige... I have to say, I'm somewhat rootin' for the Rays this season. If for nothing else but to distract "the nation" from a contrived rivalry that only Fox Sports could love.

    Posted by Ed Sweeney May 27, 08 10:40 AM
  1. What's wrong with a Stryper CD? I saw them live twice, in 1987 and 1988, and I caught a bible - well, my dad caught it. Hey, I was 11. Maybe I shouldn't even mention this...

    Posted by Mike May 27, 08 11:27 AM
  1. Wilbur, surely it was a Stryper cassette tape not a CD...I too had one too but it was from Ames and I stole it

    Eric says: Was I the only one who had a CD player in 1988? Chrismas, 1987. Nifty little boombox number.

    Posted by RMC May 27, 08 01:01 PM
  1. I have to say, I'm very happy for Tampa and the Rays. I have felt guilty too many times watching sox fans treat the Trop like their Fenway away from home. It's nice to see some of those young Tampa players that have endured so much embarrassment over the years for the teams dismal performances. I agree with Ed that this is an extremely refreshing change. (and its nice to see the Yanks in LAST place for a change!).


    Posted by Nate May 27, 08 01:58 PM
  1. Although the guys at FJM do a terrific job of proving without question that Joe Morgan is one of the worst broadcasters in American sports, it's a fact that cannot be overstated. So I forgive you, Eric, for belaboring the point.

    Posted by SJB May 27, 08 02:32 PM
  1. You land that many early first rounders in a row and eventually you're going to be pretty good.

    Good for the Rays though - they've managed to lock up several of their big name guys for the next several years, so hopefully this will become the start of a good rivalry and maybe soon they'll be able to replace the Trop with a real stadium.

    Posted by J.P. May 27, 08 03:05 PM
  1. THIS IS UNBELIVEABLE YOU THINK THE rays ARE GOING TO STAY LIKE THIS THE HOLE SEASON HAHAHA THEY WILL EVENTUALLY FALL APART

    Posted by red May 27, 08 04:24 PM
  1. Yes, J.P. - that's the design of the draft order... but don't just assume high draft picks translate to a good team. Look at the Detroit Lions in the NFL !

    E.W. - Had a CD player in 1986; first ever CD I bought was 'Licensed to Ill', Beasties...

    Posted by Ed Sweeney May 27, 08 04:24 PM
  1. I think it is nice that the Rays are playing well. Do I want them to beat the Red Sox...of course not. Do I feel sorry for them because there are more Red Sox fans in the stands than Rays fans...Hell no. Play better, stay consistent, then maybe your own fans will fill the stands and all us Red Sox fans won't be able to get tickets. If they don't win, or their fans don't fill the stadium I, as a Red Sox fan living in Florida, sure the hell will!

    Posted by Eva Chatfield May 27, 08 05:04 PM
  1. They were a fun and exciting team to watch last year too. Lots of hustle. They just didn't have the pitching.

    Posted by Kerry May 27, 08 05:13 PM
  1. You are right they have a very good team. However their biggest problems are their top 3 HR guys are only hitting 250 and 260 and 240. They have 2 guys over 300 and one is the catcher Navarro at 369 and I don't see that continuing after June. Considering his career ave is 261 and the first yr as a #1 catcher he hit 227 other than that he's been a career back up in the NL.

    Right now it's all about their pitching. They are winning a bunch of very low scoring games. Like the RS series in Tampa. I just do not see Troy Percival continuing all yr at the age of 39 the way he has so far. He has 14 saves. Many of their loses are becaus eof the BP and I just do not see the Starters being able to keep up pitching into the 7th inning all year to get wins.

    I live down here and would love to see the Rays do something but I still believe they are 2 years away.
    They have good SP below ave RP better than average INF & OF defense. Despite every one down here loves Pena and Hinske with the game winning HRs a 250 & 240 ave is not going to carry the team anywhere.

    This team is not anyone of the teams mentioned nor are they the 67 RS. This team needs more consistent hitting winning low scoring and 1 run games tends to cause teams problems later in the year.

    Posted by Jim Chandler May 27, 08 05:57 PM
  1. The Rays are a good team and a threat to the Yankees. They may finish 2nd to the Sox. At least ten games out.

    Posted by georgie May 27, 08 06:21 PM
  1. As a Jays fan, I have to agree that two of the AL playoff teams will come from the AL East and that the Yankees will not be one of them. As the Jays have the best pitching in the division, they will make the platoffs. Will they be joined by the Rays or the Red Sox?

    Posted by Paul Martin May 27, 08 06:36 PM
  1. Yeah the Rays are winning. And the local yahoos who have been saying for several years that if they (the Rays) win people would come. Well they haven't yet. That's because all of the baseball fans are in Boston, New York, Chicago, etc. And the local team does nothing to promote baseball. If you lived here you might notice that the local announcers are forbidden from givng scores other games in either league. So much for baseball fans.

    Besides the vast majority of yokels would rather watch cars race around an oval enclosure ad nauseum.

    R

    Posted by Russ S May 27, 08 07:05 PM
  1. Further on the draft point, draft order is less important in baseball than any other major sport. The absence of a rookie salary cap prevents some teams from drafting the player they truly want (see Craig Hansen in 2005), and the reliance on (and necessity of) minor league service time means that development is typically as important as pure "talent" on draft day. Only one player on the Rays' roster was a first-round pick of the franchise--Upton. The Sox, with all their young talent, have only two, Ellsbury and Hansen. Kudos to the Rays (and Sox) for developing their young talent.

    Posted by Evan May 27, 08 09:42 PM
  1. Correction to previous post: Evan Longoria was also a first-round pick by the Rays. Make it two, just like the Sox.

    Posted by Evan May 27, 08 09:46 PM
  1. As a Sox fan in Sarasota, I have gotten my share of exposure to the Rays over the years. If Carl Crawford was playing in the Bronx, they'd be deifying him by now. A tremendous talent. Better than Melky Cabrera! But I digress. Upton and Longoria are going to dominate for many years as well. Some very slick moves by the TB front office, starting with the rescue of Pena, the theft of Kazmir, the development of Shields and Sonnanstine, and surehanded Bartlett and Garza for the very tradeable Delmon Young. They built a nice bullpen featuring Wheeler and Percival, they deserve tremendous credit. Throw in a dirt dog like Johnny Gomes (I always picture him in Fenway with that swing) and versatile Iwamura, and you have a nice team. They are for real, and Maddon is the perfect guy to steer that ship. Will they fade? I would guess yes, because a key injury or two would devastate them, but I'd love to see them get into the playoffs. They deserve it, and they are fun to watch. Not to mention how PO'd Hank Steinbrenner will be! It doesn't get any better.

    I may actually go to a non-Sox game or two at the Trop. While I hate watching baseball in that oversized gym, the Rays play it the right way.

    Posted by Ken in Sarasota May 27, 08 09:49 PM
  1. We've seen strong starts by Baltimore and Toronto in the past, but they fade before August. The most recent year that a team other than NY or Boston finished first in AL East? 1997. Don't be fooled by Tampa's little spark. The Al East is about NY v. Boston.

    Posted by H. Anderson May 27, 08 10:07 PM
  1. GONZO BLOGGING IN THE SAFE

    Last night––Mariners against the BoSox––I was on my way up to my third deck nose-bleed seats right behind home plate. On the first landing, I saw the door: Press Suite. I stepped behind a woman with a credentials card around her neck as she was going through the door. When the security gal checked her, I took an immediate slow left turn into the press cafeteria. Gonzo time! My thought was to see if I could say a quick hello to Geoff Baker, thank him for the good work on his stellar M’s blog, let him see a face behind a name. Not that he would care that much, but, hey man, I was in.

    To avoid the $8 pints inside The Safe, I’d had a few Guinnesses at that triangular, once-a-brothel-now-just-a-pub on First Street. I was feeling a touch like Hunter S. Thompson must have felt on his savage journey to the heart of the American Dream. Maybe this was fear and loathing in Seattle instead, a bona fide mission to see behind the scenes of our American pastime. And hey, if that drug-addled author could name a whole literary genre for his writing, I could make him share the label: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of Gonzo Blogging. HST was a totally drug-blitzed journalist in Vegas in 1970 trying to cover a Prosecuting Attorney’s National Convention on Drug Abuse; I was just a feeling-a-bit-boozy-baseball-fan stumbling onto my first Gonzo beat.

    When the security gal was preoccupied again, I walked from the cafeteria and down the hall. Stay cool, I told myself. On my right, the hall opened into the big room for the press corps. Incredible location right behind home plate and tucked below the broadcast suites that were on the level of the luxury boxes. Avoid eye-contact. Especially, don’t look at anyone who looks like they work for The Safe. Security paranoia cuts both ways.

    Didn’t see Geoff there. Maybe he would arrive when it got closer to game time. Maintain control. No, that’s not what you think. Look closer, Dude. That’s no gigantic bat swooping in behind home plate. No, that’s the blonde Fox Sports Northwest chick with all the make-up. She’s wearing a black cloak and fluttering between the dugouts. What’s with the black-n-white tennis shoes that we’d never see on camera? Someone take charge––McLaren, Bavasi, Armstrong, Jose Guillen––tell her that those zebra Reeboks ruin her batgirl look.

    Carefully, cautiously, I went to the far side of reality in the press suite and sat in a seat reserved for NHK. Never heard of them. Forty percent of the journalists, more on this side of the suite, were Asians. They didn’t talk to me; I didn’t talk to them.

    Better look like a reporter. I pulled my 2008 At-A-Glance day timer from my wallet and started writing notes; I started from the back––December 31st. Most everyone else had laptops. The Celtic-Piston game was on a few monitors. Nice digs. A desk running a hundred feet along the front against the open air. Good cushy chairs. Three stair-stepped rows. There’s New York Vinnie down the way looking around at who he could nod to. Coffee, tea and popcorn in the corridor behind. Make a note. Walk confidently. Where’s the Geoffster?

    I look around. Most everyone has credentials hanging around their necks. Oh crap. No one’s wearing baseball garb. I forgot. These are highly-trained professional journalists. I was going to show Geoff my tiny Erik Bedard campaign button I won from the Seattle Times. Sixteen games under .500 on Memorial Day, so I think this team has already lost the election. I take the cap off my head and carry it. Can’t let my “peers” think I’m a fan. Objectivity. Who/what/where/when/why? The why gets tricky.

    I go into the corner and sit in the second row. Looks inauspicious. Roll the dice with this spot. Sit down. The card on the table says “NHK, Reserved for the 2008 Season.” I start writing. Look professional, baby. Take off my Seattle-style parka jacket. I don’t wear any Mariner jersey, or other fan regalia except for the cap. I set it beside me. I act real busy and don’t pay attention to the Japanese journalists beside me. They ignore me until I accidently unplug the laptop next to me. Oh crap. Sorry. Sorry. I get down in my knees and hand him the plug. We go back to ignoring each other. Their desk spot has TBS on it. Do these Japanese dudes know Ted Turner? Game starts at 7:05 pm. Make note in daytimer: “6:35. NHK. Please don’t show up. Please.”

    I’m beside a thick pane of plate glass on my left. On the opposite side is a fancy luxury suite. Along the back wall of that room is a buffet line, and on the far side is a fully-stocked bar. Cool. What if I mosey on over there and ask for a Greyhound, double shot of Absolut? Oh crud. Right behind me, enclosed in glass is one of The Safe guards. Stay cool. These security cats are everywhere. It’s like a lion’s den. Where’s the Geoffmeister? 6:51 and no sign of our blog guru. Maybe he’s downstairs getting an exclusive with Sir Erikkkkkkkkkkk, asking the sagely question: “what DO the M’s DO, to turn this mess around?”

    There’s a patriotic look to the crowd tonight with as much Bean Town red mixed in with the Mariner sea of blue. Pushing 40,000 in attendance, I’m guessing. I start reading the press packet. Man, these reporters are pampered. There’s a sheet about getting All-Star Game media credentials and hotels. Apply no later than May 30th. Hmmm. Yeah, that’s what I’ll submit: “I’m a Gonzo Blogger for Geoff Baker’s feature in the Seattle Times. I’d like you to comp a room for two at the Waldorff-Astoria, open bar, and limo service to Yankee Stadium.”

    Where is Geoff? It’s 6:56. Better yet, where are the guys from NHK? Oooh, please don’t show. I turn around. Three feet behind me, The Safe guard is looking over my head. Look away. S-l-o-w-l-y. Keep writing.

    Maybe, maybe, maybe, this perch will work. Best seats in the house, baby. I gave my extra ticket to some guy in the brothel bar and told him he could buy me a beer when we got inside. Wondered what he would think if I never showed up, upstairs? I read the game notes, chock full of arcana and statistical overkill to keep the journalists happy. “Party like it’s 1,999.” No, not Prince, just a pre-made headline on Manny Ramierez. He will be the 210th major leaguer to play in 2,000 games. Seven full pages on Bartolo Colon, including the cologne he wears. These journalists are pampered, but whomever is occupying the Press Suite suite beside us has access to the good food and booze. Luke warm popcorn and quickly emptied pots of coffee are all that’s comped to the press corps. Yeah, but if I were upstairs I’d be paying for my peanuts.

    7:04 pm, and no one shows. Not NHK. Not Geoff. I’m thinking these seats are mine. Sixty-eight degrees at game time. The press corps stands, but no one in here sings along with the National Anthem. Right. These Japanese reporters surrounding me wouldn’t know the words. I looked around. There were about a dozen seats empty in the press suite. Maybe GEOFF gets a private suite directly above us. Maybe, while he posts our blogs, he’s elbow-to-elbow with Hall-of-Fame voice, David Niehaus. A soldier throws in the first pitch. Big applause. We’re safe in The Safe. King Felix is on the mound. Many think he’s only a crown prince, but the M’s are desperate for someone to halt the team’s six game skid. This losing streak is from a team that was supposed to be in the hunt for the playoffs. Won’t happen at twelve-and-a-half games back before summer even starts.

    But Felix Hernandez was dealing. He breezed through the first. Awesome seats. Smash. A line-drive foul lands ten feet from me. Nearly nails a lady in the next suite. Whew. The ball almost took out the bottles of booze lined up like so many bowling pins. What if it had hit me? KO’ed me in the head. What if the ball itself had busted me for being an insurgent, a blog interloper, blown my cover, revealed me as, not a true journalist, but a gonzo blogging fraud? What if I’d been seriously hurt and removed from The Safe on a gurney, them having no clue who I was, why I was there, except for the cryptic notes in my daytimer: “Bartolo Colon, a Carlos Silva clone,” or “buxom blonde denies Veritek a chance to catch Ichiro’s pop foul,” or “I can see Paul, from the brothel bar, sitting with his cousin in his Grandma’s seats. Ten rows back from home plate. His cousin, mid-twenties, is wearing a white sweatshirt with black polk-a-dots.

    The notes keep coming. Felix and Bartolo are both dealing now, until Felix gives up a bomb to the Big Poppy, David Ortiz, in the fourth. Mariners keep stranding runners as if they’re starting a soup line. The Mariner Moose shows up in the fancy suite and gathers the children for a photo op. I’m right behind them, separated by glass, and stand when the camera clicks. My little wave will be evidence of my underground Gonzo blogging pursuit. I’m wondering if this is the same Moose who nearly killed Coco Crisp of the Red Sox’s the season before while recklessly driving his ATV by the their dugout. How would anyone know if last year’s Moose got fired? There was nothing about this in the Mariner Game Notes. I wonder if Geoff is luxuriating in a better suite upstairs, preparing to ask these hard questions, such as why this team called the Mariners has a “moose” for a mascot? Last year I got even closer to the Mariner Moose. Up in the nose-bleed section he came off the stairs so fast he made me spill half my $8 beer and was gone before I could make him buy me another. He owes me $4. Think of what he almost owed Coco Crisp and the Red Sox. The bar on the other side of the Moose was looking enticing right now, but going for a drink during the game is not professional journalistic behavior.

    Weird crowd. Sometimes hard to tell who is cheering what. Red and blue both cheered the Disco dance moves of the M’s ground crew in between innings. Then there was the Ichiro play, the one that made number one on ESPN’s Sports Center highlight reel. No one had ever seen the M’s Japanese superstar give it up like that before. Full speed sprint to the 405 mark, catch and thump. Thought he knocked himself out. I started to yell. Oops. Journalistic chatter only. No loud whoops or wows. Professionalism. Gonzo bloggers should be able to yell for great plays, but, not here. Absolutely not. Decorum. Low key behavior. None of this fan crap here. At least some of the M’s are playing like winners. Yesterday, Ichiro had refused to dive on, what should have been, a game winning catch in Yankee Stadium. This was his repentance catch.

    It’s getting late in the game. Manager John McLaren says he been watching his player’s body language during this long May-long slump. Says he hasn’t noticed any moping. However, the way he was draping himself over the rail last night, he should look in the mirror. That’s not the body language of a winner, it’s more like the body language of a gonzo blogger trying not to get busted in the inner sanctum of The Safe. Mac starts pacing instead.

    “Call ‘em both ways, Ump,” I wanted to yell, but restrained myself. After a quick peek, I can see that The Safe employee who sits behind the glass a few feet away, is actually the concierge for that suite. I decide I need to check out the press area over my head. Maybe Geoff would be there. These suites have closed doors for KOMO Radio, Fox Sports NW, Spanish Marineros Radio Broadcasts, and others. A couple have no signs on them. I think better than to barge in, say hi to Dave Niehaus, congratulate him on Cooperstown. Not a cool thing to do mid-inning. Gonzo bloggers must abide by professional standards, too. They must not resort to the kind of fearful, loathing behavior that will blow their cover. I made my way back downstairs, away from the broadcasting elite, to the lower class journalists and my appropriated NHK seat.

    In the top of the eighth the wheels came off for Felix Hernandez. The king was still a kid and trailing 5-1 by the time McLaren took the ball from him. Paul and his polka-dotted cousin behind home plate were having a good laugh about who knows what. Beltre turned an incredible diving, double play in the top of the ninth. The popcorn was getting too salty. The coffee for the press corps was long gone along with my pre-game beer buzz. The Red Sox fans were gloating.

    Then, I realized that Monday is Geoff Baker’s day off. The game ends with a too-little-too-late-comeback by the M’s, and I cram into the Media elevator. It disgorges us in a long cement hallway in the bowels of The Safe. Should I try to get an interview with Bedard or Ichiro? My M’s cap is still in my hand. Don’t press your luck, gonzo boy. Instead, I leave the secure confines of The Safe, and walk out into the night filled with happy BoSox fans and befuddled M’s supporters. Another game the M’s could’ve, should’ve won. I don’t know what I’m going to do when December rolls around. Every date in my daytimer is filled up with gonzo scrawl.

    Posted by Gonzo Blogger May 28, 08 04:01 AM
  1. This whole opinion is isolated to the media and sportsationalists like Eric Wilbur. The story is more about the feeling of "finally", not "wow." The Red Sox players have consistently held the utmost respect for the (Devil)Rays. They've always said that they had great players on their team. I've always thought that the Rays played us tough. The fact that this year they're good should not be that surprising. Their building process has been clearly visible. This is more of a testament to a better MLB.

    Posted by Greg May 28, 08 04:25 AM
  1. Gonzo Blogger - nice work. Lots of Thompson-esque details in there, a great overall tone. A bit of an odd place for it, but hey, that's probably the idea; it was unexpected and mostly an interesting read.

    Posted by jchristian May 28, 08 09:20 AM
  1. Wilbur,

    Joe Morgan is the pits..
    He's like Steve Phillips..I wish they both would go away.

    Posted by Moo May 28, 08 10:02 AM
  1. Gonzo - get your own blog.

    Posted by Ed S May 28, 08 12:42 PM
  1. Rays are playing with a lot of pride and they should be proud of their position in the East. Sox bats are whimpering, our SS is erroring and middle relief is suspect. Can we expect to be on top just because of past glory? Base running this year and the heads-up energetic play of next-gen kids makes the SOX fun to watch.

    But the bats have to be consistent. Don't count our SOX in - until they earn it again this year. Some big name, big money players either are hurt, are in a slump, or are going to finish this year with numbers indicating they have peaked and are staring to slide. Keep the youth coming up! They make it fun. NY in the cellar and the Rays charged up with energy is making this a fun year. The SOX inconsistent play on the road and at the plate - is a signal for worry - lots of worry! Rays are a good target for this team. 14 1/2 games in front of the pack is boring.

    Posted by Dave C May 28, 08 09:16 PM
  1. It's good to see the Rays finally coming together--count me among the Red Sox fans who root for Tampa Bay every time they're not playing Boston.

    I think this team is for real, and I haven't seen anything so far that tells me they're worse than the Sox--for one thing, the Red Sox are indestructible at home and pathetic on the road. They can't continue to sport a pop-gun offense and stink on the mound when they visit someone's else's park if they want to be playing in October.

    The Rays have a similar home-road split, but they're more consistent away from home, and they're the only team in the AL East with a winning record inside the division. That's a pretty good way to make the playoffs with an unbalanced schedule.

    I think the wild card will come out of the East this year, but like the guy above me says, don't count the Sox in until they've earned it. It's a tougher road this year than most.

    Posted by Stuck in Arkansas May 29, 08 09:42 AM
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