Tag:Red Sox
Posted on: September 29, 2011 5:44 pm

This Just Happened - Rays Historic Comeback

This just happened. Less than 24 hours ago, the two biggest September collapses in baseball history came to their dramatic conclusions. Three of the four games played Wednesday night were decided in the final inning. The exception; the Cardinals detonation of the Houston Astros. The Phillies eliminated the Braves in the 13th, the Orioles rallied against the Red Sox in the 9th, and the Rays walked off into the Wild Card in the bottom of the 12th.

All kudos go to the Cards for reeling in the Bravos, but I'm here to talk about the other series; the one that was 1/2 a game more epic in the stat book, but infinitely more epic when examined. 

The Sox and the Rays absolutely hate each other. No, this isn't the Yanks and the Sox, but let me be very clear, THESE TEAMS HATE EACH OTHER. Got it? Good. We can go back to 2006 where the two brawled in Spring Training after Julian Tavares threw the ball at then-Ray, Joey Gathright (interestingly enough, Gatright was on the Sox roster for their epic collapse). Fast-forward to 2008 and things just get even meatier. 

James Shields hits Coco Crisp who charges the mound. Shields throws a knockout haymaker that Crisp dodges Matrix-style, and once again, the two teams are brawling. As the year went on, the teams kept their battles to within the confines of actual baseball. Going into September 9th, 2008, the Rays had hit a rough patch. Their 3 game lead over the Sox was down to 1 with Boston up 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox's dynamite closer took the mound to finish this one off. 

Dan Johnson, a little known journeyman had woken up that morning a Durham Bull. Little did he know he'd end the day a cult-hero. Mid-afternoon came and the two teams penciled in their starting line-ups. Johnson was supposed to play first. Having been a huge fan of MLB 2k8, I knew him as the guy with the Oakland hat in the game. That always confused me. Anyway, he had decent power in the game and so I was excited to see what he'd do at the Major League level. Well, his flight was delayed and thus he did not get to start. It wouldn't matter.

Johnson was called upon as a pinch hitter to start the inning. One swing of the bat later and the game was tied. Just like that, the Rays were alive again. They weren't going down without a fight. Keep this name, keep this scenario in the back of your mind.

The Rays would win the East and the Sox would scoot in as a comfortable Wild Card. Both teams would take 4 games to get through their respective American League Divisional Series matchups and would meet up once again in the American League Championship Series.

7 games later, the Rays were on the ropes again. In a text-book pitcher's duel, Jon Lester and Matt Garza put up performances any coach would be thrilled at. However, with the bases loaded with 1 out in the top of the eighth, Joe Maddon called on rookie phenom David Price, to close things out. Four outs and one final grounder to Akinori Iwamura, and the Rays were on their way to the World Series.

Once again, hop in that journalistic time machine to Carl Crawford signing his 7 year, toomanymillion dollar deal with the Sox this past winter. Crawford, the original Devil Ray. He'd spent the first 10 seasons of his professional career in Tampa Bay giving the fans too many memories to count. Now, he bucked the pundits who thought he'd go to Los Angeles or Houston, and signed with Public enemy number 1, Boston.

Crawford had an awful start to the year. So did his Sox. So did the Rays. As the season went on, the Sox recovered and the Rays settled into their third place role they were expected to hold in a rebuilding year. Well, then September came.

The 9.5 game lead the Sox held on September 1, that was down to 7 when the Rays started a 4 game series against the Sox. They'd also have a 3 game series at Fenway a week later. 7 games back, 7 games against Boston. Do the math. The Rays controlled their own destiny. They almost pulled off the impossible taking 6 of the 7. Their one loss, a James Shields stinker on the road. 

The lead was down to one game going into the final series of the year for each team. The Sox had a 3 game trip to Camden Yards to face the Orioles and the Rays were to host the New York Yankees for a 3 game set. Going into the respective game 2's, the two teams were tied. The comeback was complete, but could the Rays take the lead?

On the ropes in game 2, Evan Longoria pulled up a remarkable triple play to get the Rays out of a jam. Matt Joyce would later hit a go-ahead 3-run shot that would hold. The Sox would win as well setting up yesterday, arguably the greatest day in baseball history.

Fittingly, David Price and Jon Lester would be on the mound again tonight. Lester, like '08, pitched pretty damn well and had his team up 3-2 going into the Bottom of the 9th. Price on the other hand, gave up 6 runs and didn't make it out of the 5th. 

Going into the 7th innings, the Sox had a lead and were ready to turn the game over to their dynamic trio of Aceves, Bard, and the previously mentioned Papelbon. Down in St. Petersburg, the Rays faced a 7-0 hole and had accumulated all of 1 hit. Clock was about to strike midnight.... yeah no, because Boston sucks and the Trop Boys went H.A.M.

The floodgates opened up both literally and metaphorically. It rained like all hell in Baltimore and play was suspended. At the Trop, facing the 10000000th Yankee pitcher of the night, the Rays started getting on base. Hits, walks, and hit batsmen; it didn't matter. The bases were loaded and no one was out. The one run scored, then two, and a sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton brought home a third. Evan Longoria, with the greatest late inning walk up song ever, stepped up to the plate. The Major League leader in RBI's since the all-star break smashed a 3-run shot over the left field wall. It was 6-7 now and the Rays had life.

Around this time, the skies cleared up at Camden and play resumed. A whole lot of nothing would occur until the ninth so let's go back to St. Pete. Two outs into the bottom of the ninth, Dan Johnson (yes THAT Dan Johnson) was back up to bat. Did he have one more miracle left in him? The Rays' version of Robert Horry stood up facing former AAA teammate Corey Wade, facing a 2-2 count. One pitch later, the 31-year old ginger was trotting around the bases fist pumping like he was from Jersey. Tie game.

Back up in Baltimore, Papelbon had taken the mound. He struck out the first two Orioles batters with his high heat and his sinking splitter. A double down the line and a ground rule double in the right field gap tied the game up. Robert Adino stepped up to the plate and blooped a liner into shallow left field. Who was there to play it? Carl Crawford, the gold glove left fielder who the Red Sox had signed from the Rays the off-season before had a chance to give the Sox a chance to fight back in extras. Poetically, he couldn't make the play. An errant throw home and the Orioles started celebrating.

Evan Longoria was at the plate in the bottom of the 12th while this was occurring. Real time, folks. You can't make this up. There was the first applause with Evan on deck. The game was tied. In between pitches came the second; the Orioles had won. Three minutes after that second round of cheers, Longoria connected on a Scott Proctor fastball and sent it over the low fence in left field; time to start the party.

So let's recap.

The Rays were down 9.5 games on September 1.
The Boston collapse was capped off by a blown save.
Carl Crawford, a former Ray dropped the inning ending ball to give Baltimore the win.
Dan Johnson, hit game tying HRs in 2008 and 2011. 
The Rays were down 7 games starting their series with the Sox.
The Rays were down 7 runs after the 7th inning.
A 90 minute rain delay allowed the Orioles and Sox to scoreboard watch the Rays come back.
3 minutes after the Sox lost, the Rays won.

As the drugged up kid coming home from the dentist once asked, "is this real life?".

Ha, you bet your ass it is.
Posted on: August 5, 2009 2:54 pm

Top 10 Sporting Events I've Attended

Ok, so last night I was at the Rays/Red Sox 13 inning circus that included 4 solo home runs. An MVP grounding into a double play with a man on 3rd. One team leaving the bases loaded with no body out TWICE, fan interference, and last but not least a walk-off home run. It was a great game, and maybe even the best baseball game I've ever been to. So, it got me thinking. What are the top 10 sporting events I've seen live? Here's my list.

#10: March 17, 2006 (not actual video. Just highlights)
  • I was on Spring Break when my dad and my friends and their dads decided to take a trip up to Orlando for an Amp'd Mobile Supercross event in the Citrus Bowl. It was and still remains the only supercross/motocross event I've been to in my life and it was a great experience. Going in and really still to this day, the only rider I'd ever heard of was Ricky Carmichael. Unfortunately, Ricky didn't win this race sending me home less happy. A rising star at the time, James Stewart was the winner. We had left the stadium a little bit early to avoid traffic on the hour or so drive back down to St. Pete, but I remember listening to the final call announcing Stewart's victory. I'm not a supercross/motocross fan by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a unique experience in itself and definitely deserving of the top 10.

#9: August 4, 2009
  • Well, this was last night. Rays vs Red Sox. What a game this was. It was probably the most exciting game I've ever been to, but it fails in comparison with the baseball games that made the top 8. Anyways, it was a re-match of the ALCS, where Tampa Bay closed out the Red Sox in a fantastic game 7 with David Price shutting the door. And speaking of that Game 7, we had the same pitching matchup. Jon Lester from the Sox and Matt Garza for the Rays. Once again, they did not disappoint. Garza went 7 innings and gave up 2 earned. Both on solo shots. One to Kevin Youkilis and the other to Dustin Pedroia. Lester gave up one earned in 6+ innings of work. His final act was a pitch that hit Carlos Pena. Pena turned into the Rays first run on a Jason Bartlett infield single. Evan Longoria tied the game up in the 8th with a solo shot off of the center field Restraunt to tie it up at 2-2. After leaving the bases loaded twice, Longoria final struck again in the bottom of the 13th with 2 outs and Joe Dillon at third. A two run bomb to left field sent the good guys home happy.
#8: August 8, 2007
  • We were in San Francisco on vacation. Earlier that month, I had been on stub hub or some other ticket site looking for seats to a Giants game. We were about purchase tickets to the August 7th game. We'd have been sitting in right field. Try and guess which section (wink, wink). However, a friend called and said that he was going to be in town at the same time so we decided to wait an extra day. Needless to say, Bonds hit 756 the day we were supposed to go into the section we were supposed to sit. Bummer. Haha. Anyways, we went the next night and sat down the 3rd base line in the outfield. On that night, Bonds became the first person to break the new home run record as he lifted his 757th HR into McCovey cove. The game was quite forgettable as I don't really remember who won. I believe the Giants did, but to be there when Bonds hit 757 was quite special and easily in the top 10.
#7: January 1, 2008
  • New Years day. A college football fans Thanksgiving. So many bowl games with so many great matchups. The Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida was no exception. It was my first bowl game and the atmosphere was great. 50-50 crowd, Lloyd Carr's last game. The Heisman trophy winner. All in all, it couldn't have been better..... but Florida lost. In a great shoot-out, the under-dog Wolverines, led by Chad Henne, upset the Gators 41-35. This is a game where a lot of people say it could've been worse, but Michigan kept turning the ball over. What people miss is the fact that Florida would start their drives after the turnovers inside their 3 yard line where it was really try and avoid a safety then punt. After the punt, Michigan would score anyway, so all was what it should be. Even with the Gators loss, it was still a great day.
#6: May 22, 2004
  • First, I would like to say I do not consider myself anything but a fairweather hockey fan. However, number 6 on my list needs to go to the NHL. May 22nd marked the day where the Tampa Bay Lightning clinched their first Stanley Cup Finals berth. I was there, and it was crazy. Ruslan Fedtenko started the scoring in the first period to make it 1-0 Lightning. Early in the second, Mr. Slap Shot, Freddy Modin made it 2-0, a lead the Lightning would never give up. With 9:54 left in the period, the Flyers' Kim Johnsson made it 2-1, but that's as close as the Flyers would get. I can still remember the end of the game. The Flyers relentlessly attacking the Lightning goal trying desperately to get themselves back in it. Luckily for the Bay area, they didn't and the Lightning went on to win their first and only Stanley Cup against the Calgary Flames in 7 games.
#5: October 22, 2008
  • Another loss for the good guys here. This was game 1 of the 2008 World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. Now, I know what you're probably thinking. "How is the first World Series game in Tampa Bay history only number 5?". Well, It's because A)we lost and B)the atmosphere wasn't as intense as the top 4. In this game, we had Cole Hamels facing off against Scott Kazmir. Kazmir's last outing had been the biggest collapse in ALCS history. But, let's not talk about that, ok? Haha. Kazmir gave up 3 earned in 6 innings of work while Hamels gave up only 2 earned in 7 innings of work. The Phillies first two runs came off of a Chase Utley two run homer. The last on a Carlos Ruiz grounder. The Rays runs came on a Carl Crawford homer and an Akinori Iwamura RBI double. Even though the Rays lost, the fact that it was our first ever World Series game here in St. Pete., it deserves to be mentioned in the top 5.
#4: January 12, 2003
  • This here was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the San Francisco 49ers in the 2002-2003 NFL playoffs. This game itself wasn't the greatest thing ever as the Buccaneers had control from the very beginning on their way to a 31-6 route of the 49ers and Jeff Garcia. The Buccaneers top rated defense crushed Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens and company on their way to 4 turnovers and only allowing 227 total net yards (some of which were gained in garbage time). The Bucs went into halftime leading 28-6 on two Brad Johnson touch down passes and two Mike "A-Train" Alstott touch down runs. Derrick Brooks picked off one Garcia pass and also recovered a fumble forced by sack machine Simeon Rice. Martin "Automatica" Gramatica added a field goal to make it a 31-6 ball game. This was the Buccaneers last home game of the season. They next went on to dump the Philadelphia Eagles. That game being clinched on the Ronde Barber interception return. After that, the Buccaneers travelled to San Diego where they made mince-meat of the Oakland Raiders and their top ranked offense. The Buccaneers brought back 3 Rich Gannon interceptions for touch downs. Two by Dwight Smith and 1 by 2002-2003 NFL DPOTY Derrick Brooks. Dexter Jackson, who intercepted two earlier Gannon passes was named Super Bowl XXXVII MVP.
#3: October 2/3, 2008
  • I combined two events into one right here so call me a cheater. The reason being is that game 1 was important because it was the Bay Area's first MLB playoff game. However, it was game 2 that got the excitement really going. In game 1, the Rays were given a gift by the touted young Rookie/All Star, Evan Logoria. Longoria became the second player EVER to hit home runs in his first to playoff at bats. James Shields went 6 and a third innings giving up 3 runs. All of which were on a Dwyane Wise 3 run homer. When Shields left, the bases were juiced and obviously, only one out. Grant Balfour, who had been the Rays "stopper" all year came in and struck Juan Uribe and then Orlando Cabrerra out to end the threat. In game 2, Scott Kazmir battled control issues early but still managed to give up only two runs in 5 and a third innings of work. Grang Balfour came in again to hold off a threat. In the 7th, J.P. Howell came in to settle Balfour's mess. Going into the 8th, it was 3-2 Rays. Akinori Iwamura had hit a home-run to give the Rays a lead. In the 8th, the Rays scored 3 runs. It was a 6-2 game, but what made this game special was a record set that was totally unrelated to baseball. In this 8th inning, Tropicana field set the record for second loudest stadium ever. Ask anyone that was there, it was mayhem...good mayhem. The Rays would lose game 3 but finish off the White Sox in game 4. This set up one of the great ALCS of all time against the Boston Red Sox.
#2: January 8, 2009
  • Anyone care to try and venture a guess as to what this game may be? I know, It's obvious. January 8th, marks the day that Florida defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14 in the National Championship game in Miami, Florida. In a dead-locked first half, neither team really could get anything going offensively. Oklahoma was stopped twice at the goal line. Once on an interception by Major Wright, and the other a 4th down stop by Torey Davis. Tim Tebow struggled mightily. He threw two terrible interceptions. One to Nic Harris and the other to Gerald McCoy. The trademark play of the game took place on Oklahoma's first drive. Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford flung a ball deep to WR Manny Johnson. Safe to say, I highly doubt Johnson remembers this play and he was highly ineffective the rest of the way. The second half was where it really came together for the Gators. Although the scoreboard doesn't say so, this game was over in the 3rd quarter. Mid-way through, it became Tebow-Time. It seemed like every play was a QB draw, designed or not. And every time he got good yardage and/or ran over a OU defender. There was a sense of "awe" in the crowd that this game was done. A Jonathan Phillips field goal gave the Gators a 17-14 lead. On OU's next possession, Ahmad Black made the game changing play (at around 1:55 in that video). Florida took the ball. After driving down to the goal line, Tebow and the Gators put the dagger in the Sooners with the famous Tebow Jump Pass. This time, 6'5 Carl Moore was the target. After OU failed to score again, Florida ran out the clock in Good Ole' Gator Fashion.
#1: September 28, 2007
  • I really don't expect anyone to agree that this should be the number 1 moment in a GATOR fan's sports attending life, but this really was a "you had to be there" moment. It was a beautiful Thursday night in Tampa, Florida. The 5th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers were coming in to face the 18th ranked University of South Florida Bulls. This was the first time in Bulls history that the upper-deck at Raymond James Stadium (also home of the Buccaneers) had been opened up for one of their games. It's also the only sell-out in USF history. Needless to say, this game was a big deal for the Bull faithful (I am not. Outside of Grothe/Selvie, I can't name many more). Walking up to the stadium, there were countless "Grothe > insert great QB" shirts and "Go home couch burners" shirts. It was a fantastic atmosphere. We sat to the left of the endzone (if you're facing the endzone from the other) and on the Pirate Ship side. For those of you that don't go or have never been to a USF game, we were right next to the student section. The Bulls started the game off with a bang. Pat White dropped back and threw an interception to Bulls middle-linebacker and then though of as model citizen, Ben Moffit. Moffit ran left (towards us) and returned the interception for a touchdown. The crowd went ballistic. The only songs that I can remember them playing on the stadium PA was "Party Like a Rock Star" and "Crank Dat Soulja Boy - Travis Barker Mix". It didn't matter though. Whenever the songs would play, the bass was going and the student section was rocking. In this game, Matt Grothe may have made the play of the year. Somehow avoiding a sack, Grothe does this. A Jamar Taylor 19 run score made it 21-3 and the rest is history. The part of this game that was most exciting had to have been the aftermath. During the 4th quarter, the stadium made the mistake of "asking" fans to celebrate in the stands. All that did was give them the idea. When the final seconds ticked off, the stadium emptied.....on to the field. This gave us one of the more memorable images of the college football season where Grothe surrounded by fans waives up at a camera right above him and gives the "number 1" sign. USF would ride this momentum to climb all the way up to number 2 in the polls at one point becoming the fastest school to ever do so. However, the second half of the season wasn't as kind to the Bulls as they struggled down the stretch and got pummeled by Oregon in their bowl game.
Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed.
Posted on: August 16, 2008 11:51 pm

History doesn't mean sh*t!!!

History doesn't mean sh*t. I'm about to have a really light hearted blog, so I thought I'd get a little serious with this one.

Again, history doesn't mean sh*t. I'm sick of hearing viagra taking old farts talking about the history and how much it means now adays. Well guess what, it doesn't mean sh*t.

The Phillies have 10,000 losses in their history. The only team that has that "achievment". Nowadays, they're in the middle of a pennant race. Those 10,000 losses don't mean sh*t.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only team in NFL history to go winless in and NFL season. They won the Super Bowl in 2002, and were a playoff team last year. That history doesn't mean sh*t.

The Tampa Bay Rays had 10 losing seasons in their first 10 seasons. This year, they have the best record in arguably the best division in baseball. That history of 10 losing seasons in a row, it doesn't mean sh*t.

The Boston Red Sox went 86 years without a WS. Correct me if I'm wrong. They've won 2 of the last 4. That 80+ years of failure and the curse of the bambino; It doesn't mean sh*t.

The New York Yankees have 26 WS championships. They've made the play-offs 13 straight times. The last time the won the WS was 2000. This year, they're 9.5 games out of first. That rich  history they have doesn't mean sh*t.

History doesn't matter. It's what you're doing in the here and now. So, all those people that want to say how, oh the Rays have been losers their whole history and will crumble because the Yankees always come back, shut your mouths and enjoy being in 3rd.


Category: MLB
Posted on: August 6, 2008 4:07 pm

2/3rds way Play-Off Predictions and Award Winners


MVP: Josh Hamilton. There really isn't any debate. The guy is the best offensive player on arguably the best offensive team. He has a substantial lead in the RBI department, and hits for average too. He set a new single round HR derby record, for what that's worth. He has been the most feared hitter in baseball this year, and his numbers make him the run-away MVP

Cy Young: Francisco Rodriguez. Cliff Lee has had a great year ERA and wins wise. However, he is on a totally irrelevant team. I'm not one to hold that against someone, but in a race as close as him and K-Rod. K-Rod is the best closer in the game now, in my opinion. He's going for Thigpen's single-season saves record, and I think he'll reach it. If he does, it should be a wash for him. If he doesn't I think he'll still win the award.

R.O.Y.: Evan Longoria. There really isn't any competition here. Evan was a member of the AL all-star team. He was in the HR derby. He's a gold glove candidate. Did I mention that this kid has become the face of the franchise, and has been on almost every major television or radio show? His hitting is solid with a 280 average and 22 HR's, with 66 RBI at this point. His glove is even better. He has 6 SB too. Longoria is head and shoulders above any other rookie


MVPRyan Howard. Ryan is leading the Phillies to the lead in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. He does strike-out way too much, but his power numbers are phenomenal. 31 HR's puts him second in the NL, and second in the entire league. 96 RBI's puts him 1st in the NL, and 2nd in the majors. Ryan Howard wins his 2nd MVP in 3 years.

Cy Young: Carlos Zambrano. Carlos is the leader of the Cubs and has been for a while. He has a 2.76 ERA. He's the best player on the best team in the National League. This one was also a close race, just like the AL. Dan Haren is a very, very close second. Zambrano has the edge because he is on the better team.

. Giovanni Soto. Just like the AL, this is a run-away. The Cubs have a good pitching staff which makes his catching abilities a little more shined, but his hitting is what makes this so slanted. He's batting 280, with 17 HR's and 62 RBI's. Those a very solid numbers for anyone, but especially a rookie catcher. Soto, like Longoria has been the head of his class.


AL East: Red Sox - They have a much easier schedule than the Rays and experience will give them a very slight advantage at the end of the year.
AL Central: Twins - The Twins pitching staff is now stronger with Liriano being called up. The hitting is solid, and I believe they have the highest team batting average.
AL West: Angles - They play in a garbage division where the A's have thrown away the season and the Rangers don't have the pitching
AL Wild Card: Rays - They have a tough schedule, but I think they have the talent to hang on.

NL East: Phillies - They have too much hitting, and I think the Marlins will have a SMALL fall-off
NL Central: Cubs - They have too large a lead and too solid of a pitching staff. If Feukodome can get back on track, this team could be the favorites.
NL West: Dodgers - Man-Ram puts them over the edge. I don't like Ramirez, but he's a great player. He seems to be playing a lot harder in LA than in Boston.
NL Wild Card: Brewers - They have a good line-up and arguably the best pitcher in baseball in C.C. Sabathia. If this team makes the play-offs, then they could make the WS. You only need 2, maybe 3 solid pitchers in the play-offs.

Red Sox beat the Twins in 3.
                                                     Rays beat the Red Sox in 6
Rays beat the Angels in 5.
                                                                                                            Rays beat the Cubs in 7
Brewers beat the Phillies in 4
                                                     Cubs beat the Brewers in 5
Cubs beat the Dodgers in 3

A little biased towards the Rays, but whatever.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com