Rays Moving On Up to the East Side

And the deluxe apartment comes in the form of the Rays’ first ever playoff series victory.  In their very first postseason appearance, they shut down the Chicago White Sox three games to one to earn their spot in the American League Championship Series, starting this Friday on TBS.  The first two ALDS home games reportedly sold out in 25 minutes, proving once again that there is indeed a Rays fanbase and that just about everybody else was wrong.  But we’re not bitter or anything.

In fact, it’s one big jubilee in the Tampa Bay Area.  The Rays are being celebrated with team apparel and merchandise being sold in droves and proudly displayed in public.  This is a first for any team not called the Buccaneers.  (Notable exception: 2004 Lightning.)  The team and its group of loyal fans stayed up and positive after the game three Matt Garza loss to John Danks.  Persistence eventually paid off at U.S. Cellular Field when Andy Sonnanstine, who has always been strong against the White Sox, far outpitched 17 game winner Gavin Floyd en route to a 6–2 victory.  B.J. Upton’s 2007 power swing reappeared as he hit a home run in the loss, then followed it up with two more off Floyd — whom he faced in high school — in his first two at–bats of the fourth game.  I want to see him next season when his torn labrum is repaired.  I think he’ll be universally feared then.

It was Grant Balfour’s strikeout of Ken Griffey, Jr. that finally sealed the series win for the Rays.  As Don Orsillo, whose regular job is TV commentary for the arch rival Boston Red Sox, called it, “Struck him out… the Rays, their first time in the postseason, are going to the American League Championship Series.”  He did add a little enthusiasm into that call, and most of the series.  He actually did better than I feared he would, given the idea that he may be a little biased.  But if Brewers announcer Brian Anderson could remain impartial calling playoff games on TBS featuring his own team, then Orsillo could pull it off.  I thought he was very good on last year’s Rockies–Phillies coverage, and he has done it again.  Even though you’re a Red Sox guy, nice job Don.

Harold Reynolds was just mediocre old Harold Reynolds.  Kazmir intentionally hit Orlando Cabrera?  Garza needs to challenge hitters with fastballs, then it’s suddenly the worst thing he can do?  Be a little more familiar with the facts and back up all those rants.

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox for overcoming expectations and squeezing into the postseason ahead of supposed juggernauts like the Indians and Tigers.  They gave us a good series and a fair share of bats to be afraid of.  Thanks to those White Sox bloggers who congratulated the Rays and ended their season with dignity.  Good luck in 2009.

The Rays await the eventual winner of the Red Sox vs. Angels series, currently being played out on TBS.  Soon enough there will be a winner, hopefully a beaten down one, that the Rays can face off with starting this Friday night.  Maybe the Rays will make a little ALCS history (and then some) next.  Until then, go Rays.  And I would recommend reading Carlos Pena’s blog for some player news and reactions.

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