Let me be perfectly honest: If someone told me back in March that come sometime in May, Baltimore would boast the best record in baseball, I would have smiled and nodded before trying to change the topic to something a bit more sane.
And yet, here we are. The Orioles are 19-9. The best of the bigs. Our Rays are 19-10 and second-best.
Yesterday, when the Rays were down 8-5, I chose to escape to poolside with a drink in my hand. You see, I was in the middle of my laundry day. The combination of that and Tampa Bay giving up a four run lead could have ruined my good mood, so after the fifth inning, I decided to check in on the game only when I had to move a load from the washer to the dryer. The Rays lost 9-5. Personally, I made the right choice.
But it’s Monday. This days tends to stink all on its own so that’s enough about losses. Keep reading for some happier Rays related things.
They’ve taken us on an emotional rollercoaster, but the Rays took their first series of the season with wins on Friday and Saturday. Today, they’ll go for the sweep against the Yankees.
At 1:40 this afternoon Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year, will take the hill for the first time in 2012.
Fingers crossed Helly won’t suffer a sophomore slump.
[I do get a little kick out of the fact that a guy sometimes referred to as Hellboy not only gets the first Sunday start of the season, he gets the Easter Sunday start.]
-Rays Index broke down last night’s game in their morning hangover post.
-The Minor League season is underway and you can catch up with what went down on the farm on Saturday at DRaysBay.
-Y’all, I love Twitter. I’ve dialed back on my use of Twitter this offseason, but I’ll be Tweeting as often and my little fingers, and “real” life, allow once we get to Spring Training. (BTW: PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS.)
I am far from being the only young professional to embrace the land of thoughts expressed in 140 characters or less. John Gregg of Rays Digest has a rundown of the team’s Minor Leaguers who can be found behind an @. Consider yourselves followed, guys. In the Twitterverse, I’m known as SarahSeesSports.
-Guess what? David Price can dunk. I’m not terribly surprised by this, but I still enjoyed watching the video on Rays Index.
-I am not currently paying to be an ESPN Insider, but luckily it looks like some people are! Keith Law wrote a piece for Insiders in which he ranked the farm systems of Major League teams. The Rays were ranked second, behind only the San Diego Padres.
It’s just that time of the year. We think so much about the things that this new calendar year will bring, but we can’t help looking back at what we experienced in the last one.
No, the Rays didn’t win the World Series. They didn’t make it to the World Series either. But my, oh my, 2011 still wildly exceeded my expectations as far as the Rays were concerned. I think I may have to watch game 162 on a loop the weekend before the 2012 season begins.
MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince recently wrote about how the Cardinals and the Rays defined last season. I won’t see shiny new rings on our players’ hands next year, but I will always have the satisfaction of remembering the role the Rays played in one of the best nights of modern day baseball.
Over at Rays Index, Cork Gaines is looking ahead. His “12 Days of Raysmas” series is almost over. If you haven’t checked out the posts about what he wishes Tampa Bay will give to their fans next season, I recommend that you take a look before it ends on January 6.
On New Year’s Day, the Tampa Bay Times (wow, it’s going to take a little while for me to not type St. Pete Times instead) ran an article called “What’s the resolution?”
Sandwiched in between the question “After a tumultuous year, will voters decide to change the county commission?” and “How will Pinellas County confront homelessness?” was the query “Can we expect anything to happen on the Tampa Bay Rays issue?”
It’s me. I just moved from one bay area residence to another.
Other teams are making moves. The Rangers have won the bidding rights to Yu Darvish which means, as Steve Slowinski points out, that we won’t have to deal with Yu in the AL East. Of course, now we may have to see him in the postseason.
The Reds added a starting pitcher to their rotation in Mat Latos. Cork Gaines of Rays Index talks about the impact of that trade (it sent Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, and Brad Boxberger to the Padres) on the Rays. Cincinnati was one of the only teams truly looking for a starting pitcher and now that they have one, will the Rays be able to find a market for one of theirs?
Rays Digest has part two of an interview with Rick Brogna, who was recently hired by the Rays as a scout, posted. You can still access part one.
-Oh…the days of experiencing the Shoppacopter and the brief, but thrilling, Shoppachalypse that we witnessed during the 2011 ALDS are over. Catcher Kelly Shoppach has agreed to a one-year, $1.35 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, his original team.
Shoppach tweeted yesterday, “I’ve been saving tweet #1000 for this…I’m excited to be going back to Boston. Thanks #Rays twitfam. I hope we can still be friends.”
On the bright side, now at least there’s one Red Sox player who will give an interview I want to hear. Fare thee well, but not too well, especially when you plays the Rays, since you’ll be on the wrong team now, Kelly.
-What real-deal rookies do I speak of? Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings, of course. They were each named to the 2011 Topps All-Star Rookie team. With the way their Major League careers have started, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the MLB All-Star game sooner rather than later.
-Jim Holland, general manager of the Princeton Rays, Tampa Bay’s Rookie Affiliate, gave an interview to Rays Digest. It’s worth a read if you’d like to learn a little bit more about where some of our guys get their start in the Rays’ organization. If you’re the tweetin’ type, you can give the P Rays a follow on @PrincetonRays.
-Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos is the odd man out. He was the only coach who did not receive a deal for next year. Stan Boroski, who filled in for Ramos while he was sick for a good part of last season, will take over the ‘pen. Skipper Joe Maddon has one year left with the team and I am praaaaaying that he signs an extension.
-Speaking of the ‘pen….James Phillip Howell might be the odd man out of that group. DRaysBay takes a look at the recent disappointing years we’ve seen from JP. Please note: The graphic to the right represents how JP might feel about this. Watching Howell made me so nervous last season, I’m inclined to agree with DRaysBay.
Just when I’m getting into the swing of the offseason, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and friends decide they’d like to see what it would look like if my head exploded.
Two months ago, Foster said he had a “detailed plan” for the Rays but he decided to keep those details to himself. I shook my fist. But, I still had Rays baseball to keep me going. That’s not the case anymore.
Yesterday, reports regarding the latest St. Pete City Council meeting surfaced. The article in the St. Petersburg Times about the meeting included so many lines about people speaking over one another or walking out of the meeting that you might believe you were reading about a reunion special for Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise.
Council member Leslie Curran was the person who pushed for the special meeting to discuss the Rays and Tropicana Field. Just a few paragraphs into the Times article, your eyes will fall upon this:
Curran had hoped that Thursday’s meeting would give council members a chance to press Foster about the city’s options and plans for keeping the Rays.
But it was not to be.
Somebody, help me.
At one point, council chairman James Kennedy said:
“I’m reluctant at this point to open it up for council questions to the mayor, because it might deteriorate and we won’t meet our objectives.”
I'm writing about postseason Rays baseball. You better believe I'm happy.
-They like us, they really like us! Well, some of them anyways. Bob Matthews of the Democrat and Chronicle out of Rochester, NY says what we already know: The Rays are easy to root for.
-Tonight’s 5:07pm game at Tropicana Field is sold out. This might come as a surprise to some, including Jim Caple of ESPN.com. Regarding Games 3 and 4, Caple wrote after Tampa Bay’s loss to Texas on Saturday:
A sellout is even expected. And they might not even leave early this time.
Ha. Ha. Ha. Say what you want about the regular season attendance, honestly, I can’t fight that battle every day because I have to save some of my energy for cheering, but know this: The Rays have sold out all 11 playoff games that have been held at the Trop.
Some tickets are still available for Tuesday’s game and MLB did their darndest to keep it that way. I’m still shaking my fist about the 2:00 start time. When Tuesday rolls around, I hope I’ll be fist-pumping like a regular cast member of the Jersey Shore after watching Tampa Bay take the ALDS title.
Shoutout to Rays Index for including the link to the ESPN article this morning.
-RHP Kyle Farnsworth has had a “little bit of a setback” with his right elbow. He would not have been available to pitch Saturday even if the Rays had been looking for a save. He’s day-to-day, but skipper Joe Maddon is “kind of encouraged” that he could pitch tonight if necessary. Before we, the fans, meltdown over this I’d like to point to another Joe Maddon quote on the issue.
If Farnsworth is unavailable, the Rays will use an “all hands on deck” approach. Farnsy has filled in beautifully as a closer this season, but to get to the postseason, Tampa Bay relied on having all hands on deck all year long.
-And now, for your daily moment of Double M. That’s LHP Matt Moore for those of you who don’t know that I’m at the point where I have pet names for this kid. This video is just one example of the great stuff that Rays Index has posted this morning. Double M debuts around the 36-second mark.