The World According to Keitho

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Tampa Bay Rays’

The dawn of the baseball season

Posted by keithosaunders on April 1, 2016

And so, after a long cold winter, or in the case of the Bay Area, a wet winter, the baseball season begins again this Sunday.  This year, instead of the traditional opening night game, there will be three Sunday games:  The Cardinals vs the Pirates, the Blue Jays vs the Rays, and my Mets will visit the reigning World Series champion Royals.

First of all:  Nice touch by baseball tweaking the opening day schedule.  It will be great to have the triple header to kick things off instead of the usual anti-climactic lone Sunday night game.  Plus, baseball feels better in the day, especially to open the season.  I don’t say this very often but…kudos to MLB!

Not only that, but we have three sexy match-ups.  I don’t know about you, but I loves me some NL Central division teams and the Pirates have long been one of my favorites.  So you have a classic match-up between two of the oldest teams followed by a game between two expansion teams.  The Blue Jays figure to be a lot of fun this year and they have earned their slot in the opening day spotlight.  Perhaps we’ll get a Joey Bautista bat flip which will insight another juicy Goose Gossage rant.

Finally we’ll have the Mets vs the Royals.  This is the first time in 30 years in which I’ve gone into the season expecting the Mets to win their division.  Usually the best I can hope for is for them not to embarrass themselves.  This year, with the signing of Cespedes, and the return of their young, stellar pitching staff, the immediate future looks bright.  By the way, when is the last time the two World Series teams from the previous season opened the season against each other?  Answer:  Never.  Yet another nice move by the schedule-maker: finding a clever new spin on a hackneyed inter-league format.

Play ball!metsbeagle

 

Posted in baseball, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

At last, races.

Posted by keithosaunders on September 20, 2011

Thank you, Boston, for falling apart.  Your late season ineptitude is providing us with the late season intrigue we so craved.  At this writing the Redsox are clinging to a two game lead in the wild card race with the Tampa Rays hot on their trail. 

Good job out of Tampa going into Fenway this past weekend and taking three out of four from the Sox.  The only Redsox win came on a gutty pitching performance by Josh Beckett, who was returning from an injury.  Beckett, by the way, is unwatchable.  He holds the ball at least twenty seconds between pitches.  The only way to watch a Redsox game is to have it on tape so you can at least fast forward through the commercials.

I’ll be rooting hard for the Rays to pull this thing out.  I’m sick of Boston’s act — I have no confidence that they will win a playoff round, let alone beat the Yankees in the ALCS.  (let me take this opportunity to thank my readers in advance for not going into the Keitho archives and checking my 2011 playoff predictions)  Plus, Tampa is such a feel good story — they have built up a good organization through the draft and a few canny trades.  They play in a disaster of a stadium that looks like a prison field, compared to the designer parks of today.  How can you not like them?

And what’s this I see?  Atlanta’s N.L wildcard lead has been whittled down to two and a half games.  Just when I exhibited an unhealthy amount of man-love for the Braves, they have gone into free fall.  They’re in playoff form — choking in crunch time.  The Cards are improbably two and a half back, with the Giants right behind them at three and a half. 

The Braves will face the Marlins and Nationals, before closing the season out against the Phillies,  (who will have nothing to play for)  while the Cardinals play the Mets, Cubs, and Astros.  Between the expanded roster, and delicate-genius LaRussa’s propensity for over-managing, look for the Cardinals box scores to take up entire pages of the sports section.  

It looks like we’ll be in for an entertaining last week and a half of the season.  I know I’ll enjoy it.  Come the first week of October my season of misery begins — suffering through another Yankee post season.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The wild card run amok

Posted by keithosaunders on September 15, 2011

Today’s post will be devoted to my esteemed guest-blogger, and best friend, Jeff Mazzei.  Since he wrote this, (last week) a couple of the races have tightened up, but with only 15 games or so remaining on the schedule, time is getting short. 

The Redsox, with their myriad of pitching injuries, have somehow let Tampa back into the picture; they are four up in the wild card race.  In the NL wild card, while I wasn’t looking the Cards crept to within four and half of Atlanta. 

But enough of me.  Here’s Jeff!

I don’t know why I should be surprised and confounded by this, but with the pennant races evaporating, all I read is how we need another wild card team like the commissioner wants because he’s coming to the rescue of this September’s non-races.  Talk about another knee-jerk reaction!  How long has the current format been in place?  To my recollection, this is the only time in 17 years it may come down to the wire with no race.  And may I point out that were it not for the wild card, there would be an exciting race in the AL East.  And if the Braves were to close the gap on the Phillies, that would be another non-race race.  Oh, but if the American league only had a second wild card, then we could throw the Texas – Anaheim race in the trash as well.  They just don’t get it.  The people who run this are so myopic.

Mr. Selig wants 2 wild cards in each league having a play-in game.  I can see this coming from 3000 miles down the road:  the first wild card is the Yankees or Red Sox with the 2nd best record in the league.  The second wild card is a so-so team—-we’ll call them the Seattle Mariners—-who happen to have a blue chip pitcher—–we’ll call him Felix Hernandez—-who throws a 2-hit shutout at the 2nd best team in the league, and on goes Seattle.  Let the hand-wringing begin and sound the alarms.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A pennant race like it oughta be

Posted by keithosaunders on September 24, 2010

This year baseball fans are being treated to a good old-fashioned pennant race.  With a week and a half remaining in the season the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants have been flip-flopping daily for the division lead, with the Colorado Rockies not far behind.  At the moment the Giants are in front of the Padres by a half a game with the Rockies trailing by 3 and a half.  In addition, the Padres also trail the wildcard leading Atlanta Braves by a half game.

Over in the A.L. East the Yankees and Rays have been involved in a close race which has been rendered moot by the absence of an American League wildcard race.  Barring a miracle finish by the Redsox, who are 7 games out of the wildcard lead, both the Yankees and Rays will be in the playoffs.  What should be a riveting race between two great teams is instead meaningless.

In 1993 there was an incredible pennant race between the Atlanta Braves, then in the western division, and the San Francisco Giants.  On July 20th of that year the Giants were a comfortable 9 games ahead of the Braves.  Around that time the Braves acquired Fred McGriff from the Bluejays, and inserted rookie Greg McMichael into the closer role.  They reeled off 27 wins in 35 games before facing the Giants with their new lineup.  They then swept a 3 game series at Candlestick to move to within 1 and a half games of the Giants.  The teams met for their final series on the last week of August, a series in which Atlanta won 2 of 3.

In September, thanks to an injury-depleted pitching staff, the Giants fell 4 games behind Atlanta.  Improbably, that managed to turn it around by going on a 13-1 tear setting up a final weekend of the season which found the two teams deadlocked in the standings.  The Giants played in Los Angeles against their arch-rival, Dodgers, while the Braves played the expansion Colorado Rockies, whom they had owned throughout the season.  It all came down to the last day of the season, both teams owning identical records.  The Braves won their game against the Rockies 4-3 and retired to their clubhouse to watch the Giants lose a laugher to the Dodgers, 12-1.  (This was a modicum of revenge for L.A.  The Giants, behind a home run from an aging Joe Morgan, had ended their 1982 season in similar fashion)  The 1993 Giants finished with a record of 103-59.    

Because a 100 win team missed the playoffs, baseball felt that they had to do something to rectify the situation.  This factor, along with the enticement of additional TV money, prompted the creation of the wildcard team.

In 1995, when the wildcard system was adopted, baseball sacrificed drama for the inclusion of two additional playoff teams.  While there still are compelling races such as the one this year, having a wildcard team precludes the possibility of two 100 + win teams doing battle.  One or the other will almost certainly claim the wildcard spot since the chance of having a third dominant team is practically impossible.

In the two division format there had been riveting tension that lasted all throughout September.  Compare that with the ennui that has settled into the AL East most of this, and every season.  The divional format existed in major league baseball for 24 years.  In this span 100 win teams missed the playoffs twice.  The only other time it occurred was in 1980 when Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Oriole’s won 100 games yet finished behind the division-winning Yankees.  Imagine how crabby Weaver must have been after having squandering a 3-1 lead in games to Pittsburgh in the 1979 World Series only to follow it up in with a 100 year non-playoff season! 

A good friend of mine, and occasional guest-blogger, Jeff Mazzei,  has long thought that the leagues should be divided into four divisions, thus eliminating the need for the wildcard.  There would be the same amount of playoff series, yet each division would at least have the possibility of a good race.  I can live with a good team missing the playoffs.  What I can’t stomach is too many more close, yet meaningless divisional races.
 
Fred McGriff — Crimedog!

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »