Wether you believe it or not, Joe Maddon is the reason the Rays are tied in this Wild Card race with 2 games to play. I have already wrote about how Maddon’s unconventional style of baseball makes him one of the best skippers in the game. But there is one specific thing he does that fuels this team’s miraculous comeback. It’s the approach that the Rays have before every single game; that every game is an important game. The truth is, that a team that feels panic and pressure can never pull off a comeback like the Rays have. When the Rays play, they focus only on the game they’re playing and never about the future or what other teams do. For the Rays, they could care less about the multiple playoff circumstances and the status of their competitors. That brings up one of the main reason for the Red Sox’s Wild Card collapse.
The Red Sox have done the complete opposite. Boston doesn’t have the same kind of mental focus throughout every single game, like the Rays do. Once they lose a string of games, their low confidence-level hurts them. That’s been the story of Boston for the whole month. The pressure has got to them to the point where they forgot how to play quality baseball. It’s something that happens to teams every season, and Boston is making it historical this year. So how does this make coach Maddon an important factor in this run? This is because Joe Maddon is basically the mind of the team. The whole thinking process that I mentioned before, is all Maddon’s influence. His calm demeanor rubs off on the young players the Rays bring up every season, which puts them in the right direction. That’s why I think Maddon really defines the manager role, and is a perfect representation of how important managers are in this league. “The Comeback”, which I will label the Rays late run from now on, is a collective team effort. But if you had to pick one guy- or the X-Factor”- off all this, it would have to be Joe. If the Rays can pull off this remarkable comeback, it would just be the icing on the cake for his great reputation. It’s safe to say at this point that he’s definitely deserving of the AL Manager of the Year Award. Let me know if agree or disagree, click this link to vote.
You don’t want to miss 2011′s last Power Rankings on The Rays Rant. See where Boston ranks in the midst of their collapse, and where the Rays rank in the tight Wild Card race. Click on ‘Power Rankings (Week 15)’ under ‘Pages’ on the sidebar to your right. Rate the page from 1 to 5 stars, saying how much you agree or disagree with the rankings. Feel free to leave a comment on how you think the rankings should be, I always love a good argument on the Rays Rant.
Carl Crawford was the face of the franchise for the Rays for nine long years. He was a fan favorite in Tampa Bay, with his ridiculous speed, acrobatic catches, and clutch hits. The inevitable transfer came during the offseason this year, when Crawford was signed by Boston for a mammoth $ 142 million contract through 7 years. Crawford did a lot to prove that a 30-year old ballplayer could be signed for a gigantic contract like that, by having a tremendous 2010 season. Things were looking up for CC until the season actually started. Crawford started horrendous in the first two months, and still has disappointed Red Sox Nation hitting .259 in late September with a very low stolen base total. Crawford was aware of the poor season more than anyone, and recently started an ‘apologetic diary’ to Red Sox Nation. Something tells me that the $142 million contract had a little bit to do with his idea to start a diary.
The diary, which is written at ESPNboston.com, basically states ‘Sorry for the year I’ve had’. But when Carl tried to elaborate, things didn’t exactly go as planned. From a reader’s standpoint, it seemed as if he was attacking Rays fans while praising Boston fans. Some controversial quotes included: “If Tampa makes a miracle comeback and takes the wild card from us, I will be devastated. I definitely wouldn’t want to lose to those guys and watch them get into the playoffs while we go home. That would just be devastating to me.” Really? It’s devastating when the team that made you who you are succeeds, but when the Angels or Yankees beat you it’s fine? That wasn’t all though. Crawford also called out Rays fans: “It was a bunch of haters in left field, pretty much.” But Crawford also had some words for the Red Sox fans who apparently never do any ‘heckling’: “You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that.” Tell me this guy isn’t the MVP suck-up of the year. Just the fact that Crawford decided to make an ‘apologetic diary’ makes him suck-up. When Crawford said “I just want to say I’m sorry for the year I’ve had”, I don’t think that’s ‘just’ what he had to say.
The truth is that the only way he is going to win over Red Sox Nation is by playing better. Sucking-up just doesn’t work in Boston. Unfortunately, it looks as CC has tarnished his reputation in Tampa. He may have got the filled seats and fan energy he asked for, but he won’t welcome anymore in the “empty seats” of the Trop. It’s just sad what money does to good people.
The American League Wild Card race is usually a battle of the East division, but a team from out West has now joined the picture. The Angels from Anaheim just yesterday tied the Rays in the Wild Card, with 2.5 game gap behind Boston. Like the Rays, the Angels have made a late run to give themselves a chance to make the postseason. The Halos did not look like a playoff team for most of the season, but are playing a lot more like it in the past two months. All season long the Angels weren’t in the national spotlight, mainly because the AL West team to watch was the AL-champion Rangers. Texas has already clinched the division for the second straight year and the Angels are trying are trying to join them in October by doing the impossible. It’s really amazing how both the Rays and the Angels have a shot at the playoffs with just a week to play. Both teams have gained a remarkable amount of ground on Boston in the last three weeks and have stunned baseball fans across the nation. Although the Rays may of had the tougher schedule with the AL East, the Angels schedule wasn’t so easy either with multiple matchups against the Rangers. The Angels pitching is the reason they stand where they are today. Besides ace and CY Young candidate Jered Weaver, 3-time All-Star Dan Haren and rookie closer Jordan Walden have pitched great for the Halos all season.
If it wasn’t for these three guys, the Angels would be far below .500 right now. Speaking of rookies, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout have supplied most of the offense in addition to veteran Torii Hunter. The question for discussion here, is who has the better shot to make the playoffs? It’s a really tough answer when you go by the schedules. Both teams have a strikingly similar schedule for the final 7 games. The Rays and Angels each play a mediocre team over the weekend and then finish off the season against their respective division champions. At the end of the day, the team that is most concerned about the new company is the Red Sox. The reeling Boston team has already been playing in fear of Tampa for weeks, and now they have another surging team on their tail. Although my first wish is that the Rays make the playoffs, I would love to see Los Angeles in the playoffs instead of the Red Sox. Even though it would be upsetting knowing that the Rays should be there, anything’s better than having Boston beat out the Rays to the playoffs. I think having another team makes the race more exciting.
The Rays are really only preventing themselves from a better chance, having dropped two winnable games in a row. Rays Republic is now cheering for the Yankees to unleash their wrath against Boston this weekend; they’re going to need all the help they can get.
So what do you think about the subject:
As of early May this season, it seemed like a new legend may have been born in Tampa Bay. Although there was plenty of talent expected out of the Matt Garza trade, Sam Fuld wasn’t exactly a highlighted name when the trade was publicly announced across the nation. For a matter of fact, Samuel “Sam” Babson Fuld was many times given the title of “….and a minor league player”. Going into Spring Training, Fuld had a lot to prove. Although Fuld wasn’t a big name, the expectations weren’t so low. Without Crawford the Rays didn’t know who their left fielder would be. They knew they had options, but they were also aware that it was very unlikely they were going to have a close replacement to Crawford in the near future. Crawford was a big blow to the Rays at first, no Ray outfielder could potentially do all the things Crawford did in the previous year. Fuld took this opportunity, and made the best out of it. Although he only batted a mild .277 in Spring Training, Maddon liked what he saw and Fuld became the Rays Opening Day starter out in left. Fuld responded to this by starting of the season with a bang, exactly the opposite of the team. As the Rays continued to struggle in April, Fuld went on a tear with a 28-hit month. His name started to grab national attention in a heart-beat, and the Rays had another young player rise up in the baseball world.
His name really started to get notice when he made a nearly impossible catch against the White Sox in Chicago. In didn’t take long at all before he was dubbed “Super Sam”. Amazing catch after amazing catch was made across ballparks in America, and it was clear that his glove was going to be his signature tool in the big leagues. As his career was building, so was the Rays win column. The Rays would keep on winning, but Sam Fuld average was rapidly dipping. Fuld cooled off offensively in May, hitting a low .157 average. But his speed on the basepads and his glovework in left field kept him in the lineup, and his legend alive. Although these things continued through the season, Fuld was just not getting it done at the plate. Maddon was pretty much forced to remove him from his everyday-starter role, and the legend began to slowly disintegrate. Then there were injuries and things got even worse for Fuld. Then phenom Desmond Jennings was called up, and ultimately took over the job in left field.
Jennings’ call-up was a big boost for the team, but Fuld was almost totally forgotten at that point. Here we are in a tight race in mid-September, and Fuld is out with a hurt wrist and hasn’t played a game since late-August. Desmond Jennings is now the everyday-starter in left field, and Sam Fuld’s legend has virtually disappeared. Fuld still has a bright future ahead of him, and I truly believe that he will eventually restore the legend. Although his bat wasn’t so great in ’11, his glove and speed was still impressive. It wasn’t a bad rookie year at all, not many can light up the highlight reel like that guy. Hopefully he’ll be a Ray for a long time, and we’ll always have a fearless outfielder to count on. Wether he’s crashing in to walls, warming up on the mound, or wearing a cape; Sam Fuld was meant to be a Ray.
The Al East, unlike any other division, has a three-headed monster: the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. And then there are the Blue Jays and the Orioles; the typical 4th and 5th place of the division in the past four years. Toronto and Baltimore are usually a team that quickly finds themselves out of the pennant race with the tough division. Although the Rays, Yanks, and Sox are a better baseball team than both Toronto and Baltimore, the Jays and O’s do one thing better than all three. Like many mediocre teams in MLB, the Jays and Orioles play “spoiler” in the month of September. These two teams have the biggest ‘spoiler’ job in all the MLB, being in the AL East. While some teams (like the Rays and Red Sox) are competing in tight race to the playoffs, the Jays and Orioles are playing their hearts out just to put a huge dent in the competitive team’s chances. As pesky as these ‘spoiler’ teams get, I truly believe that all teams should be putting in a 110% effort everyday even if they have no chance of making the postseason. It is the true sign of a hardworking team, that really takes pride in their job. The Rays were in this situation for a long 9 years, so they definitely have played this role before. This year the Jays have been the team helping out the Rays, and the Orioles have been the team giving them issues.
Toronto has won four of their last six against Boston, helping the Rays get back into the conversation. Quite frankly, the Rays wouldn’t even have a chance at this point if it weren’t for the Blue Jays. Toronto has fought to the death against Boston; winning two resilient comeback victories and displaying full-out effort in close games. This is a team that all teams should look up to as a role model. They might not win that many games or have a stacked roster, but they know that every game is a big game. As for the Orioles, this role has become a routine September for them. Unfortunately, their main victim this year so far is the Rays. Baltimore won the series two out of three at Camden Yards, which cost the Rays important ground in the battle with Boston.
Baltimore’s job is just getting started though, with all of their final 14 games of the season against playoff contenders. Hopefully they are just getting warmed up, as half of those four games are versus Boston. As for the members of Rays Republic, good job Jays and good luck O’s!
The Rays Triple-A affiliate- the Durham Bulls- were once again in the International League’s playoffs in 2011. Unfortunately, their race to the Governor’s Cup only lasted a brief three days. The Indians minor league club, the Columbus Clippers, stunned Durham with a clean sweep. How does this affect the Rays? Well it could mean some early september call-ups from the talent-rich Bulls. Already two players were called up to join the Rays in their quest for the postseason. The IL’s MVP Russ Canzler and right-handed reliever Dane De La Rosa.
The Rays hope that Canzler can give the Rays an offensive boost, after his monster season in Durham. He could be the last piece to the October-quality lineup the Rays need to make the playoffs. Now that Farnsworth is having elbow problems (http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?topic_id=8877450&c_id=tb), De La Rosa could be very important to the bullpen if he can pitch well. It looks as Farnsworth is very likely to hit the DL, having dealed with this inury for a while. As you probably know, the Bulls have some more big names that are likely to be called up in the next few weeks. Phenom Matt Moore and starter Alexander Torres could be canditates to pitch in a big series in the Bronx.
That would result in an abbreviated 2011 for Canzler ad De La Rosa in the big leagues. Another possible name is catcher Jose Lobaton who was recently activated off the DL. He could be a third catcher for the Rays squad in September.
For a recap of last night’s epic walk-off win against Boston, click this link: http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=19082107&topic_id=8879208&c_id=tb
The Rays and Yankees have been fighting it out for the past three years looking for a spot in October. Now this rivalry has something in between it; the Boston Red Sox. Boston stands in second-place 2.5 games behind the Yankees, with 20 games to go. The Rays are just looking for a Wild Card spot in this AL East frenzy. The reason why the Rays should want New York to win all of their games (except against them), is because the Yankees come to town in the final series of the regular season. If the Yankees have already clinched the division by then, that would mean that the series would be pointless for them. If that’s the case, the Yankees will not play many of their everyday starters and give their friends from Triple-A Scranton some playing time.
If the Rays will have any chance of making the playoffs near the end of the season, those last three games are going to be crucial. So the more games the Yankees win, the better for the Rays. Even if the Yanks will win all their games and lose all their games to the Rays, the Rays would still need to play great baseball. They play the Sox 7 more times and they’re only 6.5 behind, so they definitely have their chance to gain ground. Winning at least 6 out of those 7 games would be ideal, and the mission starts tonight. Rays need a sweep with Dome field advantage! The Rays still have a shot, never count them out!