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Remember, They’ve Only Played Two [WMQ]
Apr 9th, 2009 by Dan

If you hate the Yankees and love baseball, I’m sure you’re running around telling everyone you know about how ridiculous it is that the Yankees have lost two straight to a team that everyone expects to sit right at the bottom of the AL East. You might be mentioning to all their friends that it seems that all the money in the world can’t buy baseball skill or pointing to the Rays or Marlins as teams whose low salaries still yield success. You might wanna slow down a bit there.

Listen, I hate the Yankees as much as the next guy, but probably a bit less than your diehard Sox fan, but it’s really not fair to make definitive judgments on the team after only two days of play. Baseball’s a game where the best hitters fail seven times out of ten, many like to say, so it’s not all that surprising for a team to lose more than a few games and still make it to the playoffs. In fact, in a typical year, the best teams in the league will only win two out of every three and some will barely top a .500 win rate.

Calm down baseball fans, the Yankees aren’t down and out yet. They’re a team that you can never just count out and they’re pissed after last year. Who could have ever expected the AL East to be a three team race?

As an aside, I’m really hoping that the Red Sox and the Rays become the real rivalry in the East. After the brawl last year, the close pennant race, and what’s looking like a good series today, I really want that to be the case. It would be really cool to see Florida teams start having some fire and attention from their fans. The Fish had attendance in the upper 30ks on Opening Day. The MASN guys said that the crowd had dwindled by 32k the next day. It sucks to see so few going to the ballpark down there. At least they’re rocking the Nats…

Upcoming matchups to look out for:

Mets at Marlins starting Friday

The Fish have knocked the Mets out of the postseason for two years running. Surely the Mets are a bit bitter after last year and with their rejuvinated bullpen, will give the Fish a run for their money. It’s one thing to pound the Nats, but another thing entirely to try and take on the Mets.

Rays at Red Sox & Orioles today and for the next three games

It’ll be the rubber game of the series for the Sox and Rays tonight and it could honestly go either way. Garza vs. Dice-K. After that the Rays head down to Baltimore, the first game of which I will be attending and my first for the year.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Go Rays!, All-Star Break
Jul 9th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I’m finally in a place where I can get regularly watch SportsCenter and I’m loving it. Along with being able to watch baseball games about three times a week on ESPN and more on other networks like MASN, I also get a chance to watch a lot more sports commentary (read: infinitely more, I saw none before) and learn that the real story of this month appears to be the longevity of the Tampa Bay Rays.

A long-time last place team, the Rays happen to be sitting, miraculously, on the best record in all of baseball so far this season. Because of their players are so young and also due to the team’s lack of playoff experience, there is talk that first place is a fluke for the Rays. I think that’s totally wrong and, thankfully so do the Rays and many other sportscasters and writers. I attribute Tampa’s amazing season to a few things:

1. Change in organization philosophy.

The Rays entered this season knowing they had a great team set up and mentally prepared themselves to do great things this season. It’s no surprise this has yielded results. As I have heard some say, the clubhouse is no longer satisfied with losing one or two if they’ve won one or two, they value every game and are mentally in the right place to make it to the post season in October. Youth may be a big factor in this team coupled with inexperience, but I think they can manage…

2. Youth

Speaking of the youth movement, many of Tampa’s star players, like Kazmir and Longoria, are very young players. This is a team that isn’t about to go down due to injury nor is it one that will be satisfied with anything less than big wins. The players on this team aren’t jaded, know they are winners, and, because they are young, are hungry to go far. Don’t let anyone tell you that a young team can’t win in the post-season. Look at the 2003 Marlins, a young team that beat a strong, experienced, and well-established Yankees squad.

3. Talent

This one really speaks for itself. None of the players on this team are really having career years, yet the team is doing quite well playing what’s essentially National League baseball in the American League. Funny thing is the Florida Marlins are playing AL baseball in the NL…I love small ball and I’m glad to see these guys consistently show the AL that their scrappy young team is on par with their mega-superstars.

That being said, the Rays have still got a tough, long ways to go. They are in one of the, if not the, hardest division in baseball, regularly facing off against the Yankees and Red Sox, and it doesn’t get any easier in the second half. Both the Red Sox and Yankees play considerably better in the second half (historically especially the Yankees), so the Rays had better keep a look out if they want to stay on top.

Quick update: Marlins are still a game back from first as I write this. Come on Fish, you can do it!

The All-Star break is upon us. All-Star week officially begins this Friday with the actual All-Star game taking place next Tuesday. Tune back in next week for a game recap and to see just how many of my early season predictions have come true and which ones need a little adjusting.

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