Thoughts on Boston/Tampa Bay, Game 5 of the ALCS

I’m trying to still care about the baseball playoffs. I’m a baseball fan first and a Cubs fan second (I think), so I feel like I still should be following the LCS games and the World Series, but it’s been tough.

Believe me, it’s been tough, real tough. Especially when just a week after looking like Cy Freaking Young against the Cubs, the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley looking like Kevin Foster (may he rest in peace) against the Phillies.

Anyway, here are some thoughts and observations as the Tampa Bay Rays figure to work their way into the World Series. 

From Game 5 of the ALCS:

Can anybody get B.J. Upton out? He now has six home runs in the playoffs — and it’s only the first inning in Game 5 of the ALCS here. Tampa up 2-0 already. And to think, this was a guy Rays manager Joe Maddon benched like 247 times this season for not hustling.

The Rays have Dice-K laboring through two innings. He’s thrown 47 pitches already. Can this one be over already?

Not with Scott Kazmir on the mound, who’s thrown 46 pitches and escaped trouble in the first and second. What’s happened to him? Anyway, the Sox have stranded four already. Still 2-0, Rays.

The answer is no on Upton, who singles with one out in the third.

And then Carlos Pena lofts a homer around Pesky’s Pole in right. 4-0, Rays. Even Kazmir should hold on to this one.

And then Evan Longoria — a.k.a. “The Second Coming of A-Rod” — belts a solo shot over the Monster. 

Goodbye Dice-K. Goodbye Sox.

Oh shut up, Sox fans.

David Ortiz weakly grounds out to first in the third to fall to 1-for-16 in the series, and hears a chorus of boos.

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

Seriously.

Shut up.

How do you boo Big Papi? How? Ever? He helps you long-suffering fans to two championships since 2004, and you boo him?

That may end the blog for tonight.

That’s bush league right there. Bush.

OK, I’m back. Still mad, but back. Just remember who you once were, Sox fans.

Anyway, how ’bout Kazmir? This looks like the young ace Mets fans were so angry about giving up for Doyle Alexander, or whoever it was. (Oh yeah, Victor Zambramo.) Two hits through five innings, and you can start to chill the champagne.

Right there in front of all those long-suffering Sox fans. It’s been 350-plus days since they last won a title. Woe is them. 5-0, Rays.

OK, I see my buddy and fellow Cubs die-hard Mike has commented on the Rays’ “fans,” so let me interject as Tampa continues to cruise toward the World Series here in the seventh.

I admit, I haven’t been as wrapped up in the “what a great story the Rays are” for obvious reasons, what with the Cubs’ demise. Call it jealousy, call it envy, call it sour grapes — and you’d be right. And I’m not ashamed of that.

That said, I give all the credit in the world to Rays GM Chuck Lamar and manager Joe Maddon. Tip of the cap, boys. Great job. You’ve built your team the right way, it’s a fantastic club, and you deserve it.

NEWSFLASH — and again the question is answered — Upton blasts a two-run double off the Monster in the seventh, making it 7-0.

As for the fans? Whatever. A fanbase that can’t fill its ballpark in mid-September while its team races toward a division championship isn’t a fanbase at all. It’s a collection of people coming out to watch the occasional baseball game.

And remember, this was a ballpark that couldn’t sell out after 10 years of dismal baseball EVEN WITH A TARP OVER MANY OF THE OUTFIELD SEATS!!!!!

Now, the owners say, the tarp is off and the tickets are bought. Well good for you. You get to see the World Series. You there, in the brand new Rays hat and Longoria jersey that’s so white it could be used in a Downy commercial, where were you when Greg Vaughn was wasting your team’s money? Heck, where were you when your team traded for Matt Garza in the last offseason?

So yes, good for the Rays organization, and good for baseball. 

But if the owner threatens to leave in five years because only 11,000 people are still showing up for even a relatively a competitive team, don’t complain.

Ever.

Because then you will be as shameful as those Sox fans who booed Big Papi tonight.

Yes, they booed him.

He was doing nothing for them, past his prime, those boos said. And then Big Papi delivers with a two-out, three-run bomb to spark the Red Sox to a seven-run comeback in the eighth and ninth, and he’s a hero again.

You don’t deserve this, Sox fans. Not this time.

But you might get it. You probably will get it. Because Papi is due up in the ninth.

Unbelievable.

Big Papi got them in it, J.D. Drew got them closer and then Coco Crisp tied it.

And then Drew again, winning it in the ninth. 8-7, Sox.

On to Tampa we go, and the Sox have life.

All year long, baseball fans have wondered when and if the Rays might fold. Nine outs from the World Series, it may have started.

We’ll find out in Game 6.

Or maybe in Game 7.

Or maybe in the World Series.

But for now, the Sox are breathing, and the team that stunned the Yankees in 2004, came back from 3-1 against the Tribe in 2007, may be doing it again.

Back in 2001, Derek Jeter talked of the ghosts in Yankee Stadium, about how they emerge in the late innings to lift the Yanks to glory.

We are watching the Ghosts of Fenway. We can see them. We know who they are.

And to think, one of them, the most important of them, was booed on the night of the second largest postseason comeback in baseball history.

The biggest? Eight runs. In 1929. In the World Series. The Philadelphia Athletics.

Against the Chicago Cubs.

Of course.

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1 Comment

Filed under ALCS, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Designated Hitter, Major League Baseball, Manny Ramirez, MLB playoffs, NLDS, Sports, Sports columns, Tampa Bay Rays, The Sanford Herald, World Series

One response to “Thoughts on Boston/Tampa Bay, Game 5 of the ALCS

  1. Mike

    I gotta say that there is absolutely no justice from the baseball gods if the “fans” of Tampa Bay are going to get to experience a World Series.

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