Archive for the ‘Tampa Bay Rays’ Category

Don’t Come Around Here No More

The following is a guest post by long-lost and much-beloved thefoulline.com contributor, Dylan.

The 2013 fan experience for any sport is like no other that we have seen before. 20 years ago, and even 10 years ago, the act of going to a game beat out the experience of watching it on TV at home any day of the week. Nowadays, I can’t help but wonder why someone would want to leave their house to attend a sporting event. (Unless, of course, that game is a windy spring training game with thefoulline.com crew.)

At home, I can keep up with my fantasy roster, stream the game to my iPhone if I need to take a nature break, and pay less than $10 for a beer. Gone are the days of kids begging Dad to drive an hour into the city so that they can get a glimpse of the players they read about or heard radio announcers applaud. This is the 21st Century!!! No longer is a guys’ night out held at the game, but rather a local sports bar that has a TV the size of a wall. Ownerships need to ask themselves what would draw someone back in for the fan experience.

Two teams that equally need new stadiums are the Tampa Bay Rays (obvious) and the Boston Red Sox (gasp!).

The Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium more than any team in any sport at any point in history. This is a team that, love ‘em or hate ‘em, has performed very well the past five years and has a marketable cast of players and a unique and popular manager, along with a seemingly intelligent ownership group. So why can’t this team break out of the bottom third of MLB fan popularity and stop having attendance in the gutter year after year?

The stadium.

An absurd contract with the City of St. Pete has the Rays staying in the Trop until what I believe is the year 2095, but I’m not too good at contractual facts. The City of St. Petersburg commissioners are making every attempt to hold the Rays hostage to their contract, and by doing so are slowly eroding away at any chance the Rays have at climbing out of the attendance cellar. Last time I checked, the dukes and duchesses of St. Pete will not let the Rays ownership speak with Hillsborough County officials. If the Tampa Bay region wants to be part of the baseball world, then talks need to open up across the bay in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Rays need to be in Downtown Tampa. Tampa has seen a revitalization of sorts, with the Seminole Heights District attracting the middle-aged hipster crowd to its 1920s houses, and Cigar City Brewing helping build a Portland-esque artisan crowd. The Rays ownership could capitalize on the renaissance that Tampa is experiencing by placing the team smack in the city, along the water and near the business of downtown that so desperately needs an attraction within reach. A downtown stadium with a view of the bay would celebrate the waterfront that Florida is known for, could spark a new crop of bars and restaurants in a downtown that is a ghost town after 5pm, and could once and for all start a freshening up of inner-city Tampa that has been forgotten to the ugly urban sprawl outward.

Now, to the more controversial topic. The Red Sox need to get out of Fenway!!! In 1998, I too got caught in the hype of Saving Fenway Park when talks first began about tearing it down and building a new stadium. I hated the idea and I couldn’t stand to see Fenway go. Memories were there for me and always will be. The first time someone walks up the ramp and sees the bright green grass and dark green walls, and feels the intimacy of Fenway, it gives goose bumps. The amazing thing about that feeling is it never goes away. No matter the amount of times someone walks into that stadium, the feeling is there. But what I think tied so many to that stadium was the shared feelings of hurt and letdown that bonded all of New England together. Blame it on the blue-collar spirit of Boston, but pre-2007 (no, not 2004), Red Sox fans knew there was unfinished business and couldn’t let the stadium go away until the job was done.

The Red Sox HAD to win the World Series while playing out of Fenway. It wouldn’t have been right if done otherwise, and they had to do it twice. 2004 may have broke the curse, but 2007 cemented the Red Sox atop the heap in baseball. ’07 proved that ’04 wasn’t a fluke and the Red Sox were to be taken seriously. I wrote a piece about how after 2007 I felt different as a Red Sox fan. At the time I thought the piece was a little ridiculous, but looking back I think I was spot on. The Red Sox did change after 2007. No longer was this “the idiots” or the days of reverse the curse. Boston was all of the sudden a town of winners, that for decades had been lovable losers. The persona that so many Red Sox fans, and to some extent, I think, the players took on was over. Things really did change in 2007.

Now, in 2013, the team is coming off a terrible year and the image of the Sox has gone from the lovable idiots that wouldn’t give up in 2004 to spoiled grown men that eat chicken and drink beer. This is why Fenway needs to go. The era of the Curse is over. The story of 2004 will live on forever but it’s time for the Red Sox to build a new image, a cleaner image, one that celebrates what Boston is now and embraces a new era. A move out of Fenway could mean a new stadium on the waterfront by either Pier 4 or Long Wharf. A new stadium that could incorporate the North End, Fanueil Hall, the waterfront, and the growing pop-culture popularity of South Boston. Red Sox fans don’t need to look toward a past filled with curses and a broke-down stadium anymore, it’s time to celebrate the team, and to a greater extent, the City of Boston.

You Complete Me

I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m a guy that enjoys talking about baseball and sharing my opinions with a group of educated baseball fans. During the baseball season, I read every article I can get my hands on, and I follow a bunch of baseball writers on Twitter. Of all the writers I follow, there are a handful that are a must-read every day. Pete Abraham & Nick Cafardo with the Boston Globe, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian with ESPN. But my favorite of all is Buster Olney.

Buster Olney is everywhere… Baseball Tonight, Twitter, Podcasts, SportsCenter, and ESPN’s baseball telecasts. He also writes a daily article on ESPN.com in which he links all the baseball news for all the MLB teams. It’s always a good read. He really is the hardest working guy in baseball.

I had planned on going to the Rays practice today with my buddy Trent (RedRays) and a couple of friends from work. While making our plans, I noticed on Twitter that ESPN and Buster Olney were going to be in Port Charlotte. I relayed this to Trent, who replied, “We gotta get a pic with him for thefoulline.com!” This became our mission.

We arrived at the stadium at 9:30 to a capacity crowd of twenty other fans. The gates opened and we made our way to the closest field to watch the Rays stretch, run 20-yard dashes, and play catch. We were able to score a prime fence-line position in front of the immortal Shelley Duncan (who promptly shouted “Nobody likes you!” to an annoyingly obnoxious fan that has some sort of personal vendetta against Jose Molina) and the enigmatic Yunel Escobar, who for some odd reason got along great with the loud obnoxious jackass. He even tossed the loudmouth a ball. That sounds about right.

We worked our way around the park checking out the different fields. No sign of Buster.

We watched Matt Moore throw batting practice. I know it’s early, but he was all over the place. I only saw him throw a handful of strikes the entire session. We witnessed James Loney making a SportsCenter top-10 catch during fielding drills, and a bewildered Jeff Niemann having trouble keeping the ball down in PFP.

Practice was winding down, and still no Buster. I was receiving texts from thefoulline.com headquarters inquiring on the status of the Buster meet & greet. I had nothing to report.

But as the clock struck 11 am, who do I see walking down the center sidewalk, notepad in hand? It’s Buster Olney!

I walked up to him and told him I was a big fan and enjoyed his writing. He seemed taken aback by this and maybe a little embarrassed. Maybe he doesn’t have many lunatic blog writers bum-rush him at spring training practices? I asked for a quick picture with him. Redrays was Johnny-on-the-spot and snapped a keeper. I thanked Buster for his time and said it was nice to meet him. He replied, “Any idea which field Wil Myers is on?” I just happened to know exactly where he was. “Sure, I’ll show you.” As we walked to the field, we had a quick Q&A:

Buster: so are you a Rays fan?
Me: Nope… I like the Red Sox. This park is just so convenient to watch practice.
Buster: How do you think they’re going to do this year?
Me: They have to be better than last season, right?
Buster: It’s hard to say… They all really hated each other last year. The guys they brought in may make a difference.
Me: They were hard to watch. Hopefully their mojo is better at least.
Buster: Well, gotta go… Good luck with your Sox this year!
Me: You complete me!
Ok, that last part didn’t happen, but this encounter with Buster Olney confirmed my thoughts about him. He’s engaging, friendly, and professional. It was worth the trip to Charlotte County Stadium.

Rays-centric Quick Hits:

  • How does Dave Martinez not have a managing job? When he was asked this today by a fan, he replied, “I want to win one in Tampa before going anywhere else.” He’s a class act.
  • Luke Scott is crazy. He hung the boar’s head that he killed with a spear in the Rays clubhouse. He talks to everyone – players, coaches, fans, security guards. Is he the new Jonny Gomes in Tampa?
  • I watched Chris Archer throw some serious cheese. He has an easy, effortless delivery that pops the catcher’s mitt on every throw.
  • Speaking of impressive performances… Juan Sandoval had quite a crowd around him during his pitching session. He looked good, throwing strike after strike. What made this even more impressive? He’s blind in his right eye.
  • I saw Super-GM Andrew Friedman walk into a port-a-potty while chatting on his cellphone, then walk out while still talking. I’m guessing he didn’t wash his hands.
  • Watched super prospect Wil Myers take BP today. He didn’t rake like I had hoped, but RedRays and I both noticed he doesn’t wear batting gloves. This led to RedRays asking, “Do you think he pees on his hands like Moises Alou?”
  • It blows my mind that the Rays don’t have more fans. They have a quality organization, great spring training facility, and legitimate superstars in Price and Longoria, and they compete every year. They deserve better.

We finished the day at The October Boys’s restaurant, Bocca Lupo in Port Charlotte. It’s the best pizza around. It was a perfect ending to a fun day. Check it out when you’re down here for spring training!

Perfectly Clear

I wrote a post Monday stating that the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball and are poised to finally land their 27th World Series title. I didn’t get into a lot of the details on why I felt this way, because I thought I was pretty much stating the obvious.

After reading some comments that disagreed with the post, I figured the thing to do was to plug all the players, stats, and information into thefoulline.com’s supercomputer and find out for sure which team is the best. So, I’ve ranked the positions of the three teams that are the cream of the crop in the AL East: New York, Boston and Tampa Bay.

If I were a General Manager, these are the guys I would want.

First Base

  1. Mark Teixeira
  2. Kevin Youkilis
  3. Carlos Pena

This position was pretty close. All three guys are Gold Glove-caliber players with some pop in their bats. Teixeira has more power than Youkilis, Youkilis has a better batting average than both guys, and Pena grew up in the next town over from me. Each guy brings a lot to his respective team, but if I were starting a team and could pick a prototypical first baseman, it would be Teixeira.

Second Base

  1. Dustin Pedroia
  2. Ben Zobrist
  3. Robinson Cano

Pedroia is the reigning MVP and has emerged as a team leader for the Red Sox. All-Star, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year – this guy has already had a great career and he’s only been around for three seasons. Zobrist has emerged this year as the all-purpose All-Star for the Rays who delivers big hits in the clutch. Although he doesn’t have much of a track record, he’s reliable at any position; I’m still waiting for this guy to play catcher. Cano has had an up-and-down last couple of seasons, but this enigmatic Yankee can hit for average with above-average power. What knocks Cano to third is his inconsistent defense and mental lapses on the basepaths.

Shortstop

  1. Derek Jeter
  2. Jason Bartlett
  3. (Distant 3rd) Whichever has-been SS Boston has thrown out there this year

Derek Jeter wears his pants too tight, but the Yankee captain always delivers in tight situations. Just when I thought Jeter was on the decline, he puts up a monster year and is the AL MVP. Speaking of MVPs, Jason Bartlett was the St. Petersburg Devil Rays Most Valuable Player in 2008. He provides the Rays with solid defense and is among the league leaders in batting average, and he’ll be a top 5 shortstop in 2010. As for Boston: Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Alex Gonzalex, Nick Green… enough said.

Third Base

  1. Evan Longoria
  2. Alex Rodriguez
  3. Mike Lowell

As much as I love Mikey Lowell, this is obviously a two-horse race. Longoria is going to be a Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best third baseman of all time. Meanwhile, A-Rod is a steroid-using, Madonna-dating douche bag that can also play some ball. Not to mention, A-Rod is still owed a billion dollars on his contract and is playing with one hip.

Outfield

  1. Bay/Ellsbury/Drew
  2. Crawford/Upton/Gross
  3. Damon/Cabrera/Swisher

Carl Crawford is the best all-around outfielder out of all these players, and Upton is the best defender, but BJ is still living off his amazing ’08 postseason and has done absolutely nothing all year. The fact that Gabe Gross has a Major League job blows my mind. Boston’s triumvirate is superior as a whole; all three Red Sox outfielders are all-around solid players with base stealing ability. J.D. Drew drives me nuts and is overpaid, but he has the tendency to come up big when it counts. I love to watch the Yankee outfielders play. Johnny Damon makes every routine pop-up an adventure, I’m certain that I have a better throwing arm than Nick Swisher, and who the hell names their kid Melky? New York will upgrade this position in the offseason with either Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.

Catcher

  1. Victor Martinez
  2. Jorge Posada
  3. Dioner Navarro

Martinez is a great hitter but a defensive liability behind the plate. Posada can still hit, but he’s getting old and dinged up. Navarro is hitting .221 and has fallen off considerably in 2009. This is the weakest of all the positions. I’ll take V-Mart.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Josh Beckett/Jon Lester/Tim Wakefield
  2. James Shields/Matt Garza/Jeff Niemann
  3. CC Sabathia/A.J. Burnett/Andy Petitte

This was the toughest choice for me. I ranked this one on who I thought I would want to pitch in a five-game series. I’m obviously unsure who would be in each team’s rotation, but I’m guessing that this is pretty close. Boston has the best big game pitcher in baseball in Josh Beckett, the best left-hander in the the AL in Jon Lester, and an oft-injured 50-year-old knuckleballer in Wakefield. I would have felt better if Dice-K had been better this year, but I like this threesome. As for the Rays, Shields has the “big-game” moniker but has taken a step backwards this season. Garza was lights out last year in the playoffs but has become average. Jeff Niemann is a rookie, but he shows the poise of a veteran and has been Tampa’s best pitcher. If Garza takes his psychiatric medication and Shields regains his form, these guys could be tough. New York has the most money committed to their pitchers, but with the exception of Andy Petitte, no one has had post season success. Until CC and A.J. can prove themselves in the playoffs, they’ll bring up the rear.

These three teams are going to beat each other up for a long time. But with the playoffs right around the corner, I think Tampa will be odd man out. It’s close, but here’s how I rank them:

  1. Yankees
  2. Red Sox
  3. Rays

Congratulations, I Hate You

I took the family to the Tampa Bay Rays open house in Port Charlotte today to check out the beautiful new Charlotte Sports Complex.

What a difference from the old Charlotte County Stadium. There’s a boardwalk that goes around the entire field that allows you to watch the players in the bullpen. There’s a playground for the kids to climb on. Non-traditional grass berms line the field for families to enjoy the game. There’s even a tiki bar in left field.

Beautiful fields, friendly people, tasty hot dogs.

Too bad the Rays still suck.


Don’t Stop Believin’

OK, now this is getting crazy. Boston looked lousy during games 2, 3, and 4 and 2/3 of game 5. Meanwhile, Tampa was playing like a team on a mission, trying to make up for ten years of futility. Suddenly during game 5, the switch was flipped, and like a modern version of Freaky Friday Boston began playing loose, youthful, carefree baseball, while Tampa turned into a  cautious, conservative baseball team that’s playing not to lose, instead of pushing the action and trying for the win.

So this brings us to game 7. Which version of these teams will show up?

thefoulline.com quick hits

  • Jon Lester vs. Matt Garza, game seven, winner goes to the World Series. This is the match-up Boston fans were wishing for and Rays fans were dreading.
  • Regarding the TBS technical difficulty that caused first-inning coverage of last night’s game to be preempted by The Steve Harvey Show: According to a theory by thefoulline contributor Dylan “Conspiracy Theorist” Hamilton, TBS, concerned that the Rays’ current losing streak has reminded much of the Tampa Bay fan base how much they prefer Steve Harvey to baseball, did it on purpose.
  • The Sox bullpen has looked fantastic. Okajima gets better every time he pitches and looks like the Oki of 2007. Masterson looked absolutely scared shitless out there, and then he proceeded to shut down the Rays 1-2-3 hitters. Then there’s Papelbon. Tired, sore, gassed from pitching two tough innings in game 5, he goes out throwing 90 MPH fastballs with good location and gets the save. In a word… awesome.
  • High definition television is not kind to Kevin Youkilis.
  • Coco Crisp is doing his best 2007 Jacoby Ellsbury impersonation. Coco did more damage to James Shields last night than any punch would ever do.
  • Dan the #1 Rays Fan: Hang in there. This is still better than watching the Rays of the past. There’s still a lot of baseball left.
  • Jason Varitek saved his job with the Sox next year with a huge home run and an even bigger throw out of Dioner Navarro. That’s why he’s the Captain.
  • Terry Francona is the best manager in Red Sox history. Although the 78 pieces of tobacco wrapped in Double Bubble that he is constantly chewing during the game is pretty disgusting.
  • Josh Beckett dug down deep last night and pitched his ass off for 5 innings. This guy is a competitor.
  • James Shields is a tough pitcher with a promising future, but his “Big Game” nickname may have been a little premature. Names like that get invented in the postseason.
  • Dustin Pedroia is going to blow up tonight. He lives for moments like this, and he’s been too quiet for too long.
  • During the 6th inning of game 5 in Fenway Park, did anyone really think we would be watching a game 7?
  • There is no moment better in sports than the MLB playoffs.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Thursday night’s come-from-behind win for the Red Sox was amazing, series altering, life changing and whatever other hyperbole that the national media is throwing around these days. So why is it that I feel like Teddy KGB, so unsatisfied?  Boston’s win to force a game 6 was dramatic, but it’s not like they just won the series. Tampa Bay still holds a 3-2 series lead with the next two games at Tropicana Field. Don’t get me wrong, I feel infinitely better that Boston was finally able to string a few hits together, and David Ortiz had some resemblance to his 2004 version, but there is a lot of baseball left to be played.

Going into tonight’s game, I really wish that Josh Beckett’s ERA was sub-10.00 this postseason. I also wish that James Shields threw his shoulder out in June when his left cross missed Coco Crisp by three feet. But I guess we’ll just have to deal with this match up. Shields is the one guy on the Rays staff that scares me. He didn’t get his “Big Game” moniker from his deer hunting ability. This guy is a stud that rises to the occasion and relishes the pressure.

Shields is going up against some guy that has a striking resemblance to Josh Beckett, but without the 96 mph fastball and the pinpoint control. There is obviously something wrong with Beckett. He’s going to need to channel his inner Curt Schilling and make the adjustment from strikeout pitcher to a control pitcher that keeps the hitters guessing. But Beckett is a fierce competitor. Whichever version of him shows up tonight is going to be pissed off and spitting nails. This will be fun to watch.

As for the hitters on both teams, now that Boston has seen how productive it can be when they get consecutive hits, I really hope that they try and do that again. It was fun to see them scoring runs again. The Rays, on the other hand, are obviously taking steroids and corking their bats. There is no way that they can hit that many home runs. I’m calling for George Mitchell to reopen his investigation.

But seriously. Rays players have to be thinking that they have just woken a sleeping giant. They had Boston on the ropes and let them back in it. It will be interesting to see if the Rays hitters are squeezing their bats a little tighter and trying for the long ball tonight while playing in front of the home crowd.

Up a touchdown in the 7th inning. Champagne on ice. The smell of the World Series in the air. Only to blow it.  This has the potential to crush the confidence of a young ballclub. This is a must-win game for Tampa. With a potential game seven match up of baseball’s best story, Jon Lester, vs. headcase and chronic spitter Matt Garza. This is the biggest game in the history of Tampa Bay baseball. Again.

The Rays are still in the driver’s seat, but they have to be keeping a close eye on the rearview mirror.

An Honest Mistake

On March 14, 2008, I may have made the worst mistake of my life. I went to a spring training game in St. Pete featuring the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, this was obviously a mistake, but it was not the grave mistake that I made that may have changed the baseball world forever. Let me explain.

Three friends and I went to the above mentioned game. When we arrived at the field, it quickly turned overcast and the temperature dropped. Soon after, the rain started. Dressed in only a t-shirt and shorts, I quickly ran to the nearest souvenir stand to find something of the sweatshirt variety. Unfortunately for me and, as it turned out, all of Red Sox Nation, all that was available was Rays gear. Opting to prevent possible hypothermia, I plunked down thirty bucks for a Rays long-sleeve shirt.

What has happened since has been a whirlwind. First, Evan Longoria hit a homerun to win the game for Tampa. Since then, the Rays have done their best 1927 Yankees impersonation and steamrolled the league.

After that fateful day, I put the shirt in my dresser and forgot all about it. Today I came across it again, and I made the decision to change history. Today I exorcised the Devil.

I burned my Tampa Bay Rays shirt because I hate the Rays

I apologize to all Red Sox fans for this unfortunate event and for all the trouble I’ve caused.

I Believe

364 days ago I wrote a post called “Keeping the Faith, Part 2.” At that time Boston was in a 3-1 hole to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, and they were getting ready to face CC Sabathia in game 5. One year later, I find myself in a similar position, full of hope and optimism and sitting in front of my laptop. Can Boston make another comeback and crush the hopes and dreams of Rays fans everywhere? I not only hope so, but I’m going to give the reasons why.

  1. Scott Kazmir is pitching tonight. Why would Joe Maddon do this? He is either hoping that Kazmir rebounds from his last several poor performances and pulls out a win, or he’s that confident that “Big Game” James Shields will be money in game 6 at Tropicana Field to win it in front of the home crowd. Whatever the reason, I giggled a little when I saw Kazmir as tonight’s starting pitcher. This series is at least going back to St. Pete.
  2. The Red Sox have played horrible baseball. This the all-or-nothing, backs-to-the-wall scenario that shows a team’s character. Like Gene Hackman said in The Replacements, “winners want the ball.”  The Red Sox are the defending World Series Champions. Let’s start acting like it.
  3. 1986, down 3-1 to the California Angels in the ALCS. 2004, down 3-0 to the NY Yankees in the ALCS. 2007, down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. They’ve been here before and have won. They will do it again.
  4. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. There is no way in hell that these guys throw another crappy game like their last time out.
  5. Big Papi actually got an extra-base hit last game. The offensive flood gates are officially open.
  6. There is no way that the Rays can keep up with their 8 home runs a game pace. MLB is going to start charging them for lost baseballs.
  7. Dice K is a ninja. The Rays won’t know what hit them.
  8. Jason Varitek got the hole in his glove stitched up, so no more inning-extending passed balls.
  9. The Sox only have to win three measly games. A three game winning streak is nothing. They’ve done it 16 times this season.

So now you can see how obvious it is that Boston will rally back and win this series. I almost feel bad for the Rays…

Go Sox!

Love to Hate

Let me start by saying that I hate the Rays. With the exception of Evan Longoria, who is obviously a superstar, and Carlos Pena, who goes unnoticed as the Rays’ team leader, I hate every player, coach and manager on that team. Is it sour grapes because they’ve won the season series with Boston? Maybe. But unlike the national media, I do not see these Rays as the darlings of the league. I find them utterly unlikeable, and I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.

Maybe it stems from their stupid name. What exactly is a Ray? Does it mean a ray of hope for a team that had sucked for so long? Is it short for x-ray, to describe the transparency of the fair-weather fans that are suddenly so eager to jump aboard the bandwagon? (Dan excluded, of course.) Whatever it means, it’s a stupid name. Sure, Red Sox is not the manliest name, but at least I know what it means.

Maybe it’s because of Jonny Gomes and his endless string of cheap shots. Or Carl Crawford’s gangster neck tattoo. Or maybe it’s because Gabe Gross looks like he should be selling life insurance instead of patrolling right field. Maybe it’s B.J. Upton’s never-ending wad of chew that never leaves his left cheek. Or Dioner Navarro’s stupid kiss to the dugout after every hit. I even hate Joe Magrane and Dewayne Staats. I hope that they both suffer from non-cancerous polyps of their vocal cords.

I may not like these guys, but I am not going to discount their success playing in and winning the hardest division in baseball. These guys just find every conceivable way to win, and it drives me absolutely nuts. I’ve watched a lot of Rays baseball this year, and I’m pretty sure that they have never lost. This team is giving me nightmares.

Now, being the stubborn Sox fan that I am, I still like Boston’s chances to go to back-to-back World Series, and here’s why. First of all, Boston has a ton of postseason experience. Normally this would be a bigger advantage, but unfortunately Tampa has proved to be oblivious to pressure. Secondly, Boston has the best scouting department in the majors. They have consistently prepared Boston for every postseason opponent the last several years. They can pinpoint another team’s tendencies and weaknesses and exploit them. Thirdly, Boston has not played their best baseball… yet. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim handed the Red Sox this series on a silver platter, with their shoddy fielding and ill-advised suicide squeezes.

These guys are ready to fire on all cylinders. Jon Lester is an Ace, Papelbon is pitching lights out, Jason Bay and J.D. are coming up with huge at-bats, and there is no way in hell that Dustin Pedroia has a repeat performance of the ALDS.  I also see Josh Beckett knocking off the rust and regaining his form from past postseasons. This is a team that is ready to take off.

Boston wins this series in 6.

When Love and Hate Collide

Foulliners, there is something I need to get off my chest that I’m not very proud of. I am embarrassed to admit I am a huge New York Yankees fan. After writing this blog for the past year, I felt that now was the time to finally come clean. I love the Yankees.

I love their 26 World Series rings. They’re so retro.

I love the supreme intelligence of Hank Steinbrenner.

I love the rules that they have in place for Joba. Next year he may get to pitch 12 innings.

I love pinstripes. They even make Don Zimmer look slim.

I love their professional grooming policy. Because everyone knows beards don’t win ballgames.

I love that they have a $200 million payroll. Because $190 million only buys 4th place.

I love that they made the playoffs for 13 consecutive years. I love even more that it won’t be 14.

I love the originality of the Yankee Universe.

I love Mantle, Gehrig, Ruth, Berra, Boone, Jeter and Bucky Effing Dent.

I love when Mariano Rivera comes on the field to “Enter Sandman.” Metallica is huge in Venezuela.

I love to watch Alex Rodriguez mash home runs, collect MVP awards, and cheat on his wife with skanky strippers and geriatric pop stars.

I love the Bronx. I can smell it from here.

I love Giambi’s mustache. It distracts from his fat ass and poor fielding percentage.

I love the Yankee fans’ passion, loyalty, and 3rd grade educations.

I love “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. It reminds me of the 4th of July, when they were still in contention.

I love Billy Crystal and Rudy Giuliani. They throw better than Johnny Damon.

I love that the Yankees pounded the Rays last night during game one of their series.

I love that the Yankees have the chance to play playoff spoiler this season.

I love the Yankees. At least until Thursday.