Tampa Bay Rays Advance To American League Championship, Defeat White Sox

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays, who continue to prove that small markets teams need not complain about their lack of resource and get busy developing home grown talent.

Tampa Bay had never won more than 70 games in their previous 10 seasons and possessed baseball’s worst record a year ago. This year’s Rays aren’t quite finished, but it’s already an incredible story. 97 wins, the AL East title over the big bad Yankees and Red Sox. And now, a trip to the American League Championship Series which they may very well host if Boston wins one of the final two games.

The turning point for the organization was in 2005 when Stuart Sternberg took control of the team and made the bold move to appoint Matt Silverman as team president and Andrew Friedman as the general manager, both of whom were under the age of 30.

Silverman and Friedman didn’t draft all these young stars, but they’ve contributed significantly to their development along with manager Joe Maddon. Not to mention trading away some draft picks for key contributors in this 2008 campaign

2002 — BJ Upton
2003 — Delmon Young (sent to Twins for Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza)
2006 — Evan Longoria

The 2007 top draft pick David Price will have his impact soon enough. Not a bad use of draft spending, what do you think?

While all the young talent deserves plenty of credit for their growth amid a mundane baseball environment in Tampa, it’s Joe Maddon who has convinced everyone that they too can win and why not now. Plus, Maddon just seems like a damn cool guy which is a bit of a unique description when it comes to baseball managers.

Since the Cubs are out — likely forever — I must jump on another bandwagon for the remainder of these playoffs to maintain interest. So, why not the Rays? An LA-Boston World Series would be intriguing, but you can’t beat a Cinderella story like the Rays.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Advertisements

Grant Balfour Is Awesome, Owns Orlando Cabrera

This is a day late, but it goes without saying that Grant Balfour is my current MLB Playoffs MVP.

Rocco Baldelli Helps Tampa Bay Rays Win ALDS Game 2 vs. White Sox

You can’t help but jump on the Tampa Bay Rays bandwagon, but truth be told, I’m still keeping hope alive that both Chicago baseball teams advance.

Yes, even as a Cubs fan I’d like to see the White Sox advance. But trumping my rooting interest for Ozzie Guillen is that of Rocco Baldelli.

Baldelli, who has been battling reports of this week of muscular dystrophy, drove in a big 8th inning run in Game 2 tonight adding onto the Rays lead and putting the Sox out of reach.

Perhaps it’s the product of fantasy sports, but I’ve always been rooting for Baldelli who has demonstrated his exceptional baseball skills amidst his continual injuries.

Baldelli insists it’s not muscular dystrophy holding him back, but another issue

“I don’t have muscular dystrophy,” Baldelli said. “I have mitochondrial myopathy.”

Either way, he’s battling more than most major leaguers at the plate and you can’t help but root for him. He and the Tampa Bay Rays are the ultimate underdog and are now just one game away from the ALCS.

Rays 6, White Sox 2 [Box Score]

Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers Game 3

Wrigley Field Before The Comedy of Errors

A backbone is a terrible thing to waste.

It seems only fitting that I’d return to my own personal blogging days on the afternoon following what could ultimately become one of my most disappointing days as a sports fan.

Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS vs the Los Angeles Dodgers was supposed to be a fun night in Wrigleyville. Surely the 2008 Chicago Cubs were above past choke jobs. Right?

Wrong.

Viewing the 2nd inning comedy of errors across the street at Bernie’s, I couldn’t help but reflect upon my first visits to Wrigley Field as a young child. I wasn’t concerned with wins or losses. I just loved baseball, loved Wrigley and loved the Cubs.

Living through the Will Clark home run in 1989, the miserable years between then and 1998, and of course, Steve Bartman, I figured that I’d been subjected to enough abuse that 2008 would finally deliver and sports fans ultimate prize.

Silly me.

It’s not over yet, but as the Ryan Theriot, Mark DeRosa, Aramis Ramirez and gold-glover Derrek Lee each took turns committed inexcusable errors in Game 2, it’s almost time to once again wait until next year.

Truth is, all sports fans wait until next year… it’s just Cubs fans who LIVE for next year.

Wrigley Field Before The Comedy of Errors