Results tagged ‘ American League East Champs ’

ALCS Celebration…………My Third Choice of Rays Memories in 2008


I was sitting here today trying to figure out which one of the over 320 blogs that I have done in 2008 might even be in the top 3 when it finally occurred to me that it is rather simple. I guess i am going to use the next three days to select  a few of the blogs that meant the world to me in 2008.  From the moment I saw the guys come out of the Spring Training complex field house for the last time, to the meeting of the buses’ at Tropicana Field after the last game in Philadelphia, it has been a wild and truly unforgettable ride for the Rays in 2008.

For me to even try and fathom 3 moments that could be included in a listing is beyond my comprehension for a bit here. But I have decided that the third one has to be the wild and crazy celebration right after the Tampa Bay Rays clinched their first ever American League East title. It was one of two picture blog entries I popped online that night, but it was the one I also felt a part of while the rest of the team celebrate a few feet away from me. It was a night of believing in yourself and your team. Of realizing that miracles and faith can have a huge push towards achieving and obtaining your goals.

It was also a night for the long time fans of the Rays to point to as the reason we sat in those stands for the past 11 seasons and took the abuse and the catcalls from Boston and Yankees fans. It showed why we cheered and clanged those pesky cowbells to show the team we were behind them late in the game, or even when those other team’s chants began to ring through the stands. It was a night where the past and the future meshed so well. Gone was the loser moniker that the Rays had fought so hard to overcome. In front of them was a frontier of new beginnings and unlimited potential to strive for the best and the highest goals obtainable in the sport.

It was a night of redemption. A moment of clarity in a sea of doubt for a lot of people in the Tampa Bay area. It showed that even a small market team like the Rays could upend the status quo of the league and strive to be great for that one moment. So I hope you enjoy this first look back into what I think was a huge point in the Tampa Bay Rays 2008 historical run and clinch of  current dreams and future aspirations.

A fan-tastic day


I swear this is the last Photo
blog of the American League Championship Series I am doing this year. I
had too much fun last night and still can not find my car keys. But
anyhow, here are the last few photos that I have gotten since I got
home from a vastly unprepared road trip to Tampa with some people who
felt like it was 1999.


I am glad there is not a Game 8,
because I know a few people who will not be awake until almost 6 p.m.
tonight. This is something that will change this town forever. Some
people have called my hometown a “Sleepy little hamlet”, “God’s waiting
room”, and my new personal favorite, “Where Bums and Benches meet in
perfect harmony”.


But to be a part of a World Series
against a fellow Spring Training site-mate is spectacular and  will
make the area more energized than usual. So enjoy my little photo fest
and I will see you all on Wed. night when the champagne stains should
be out of my new ALCS Champs cap, and my brain is ready for another
exciting series against the Philadelphia Phillies.



Akinora Iwamura and “Big” Cliff
Floyd. Cliff has been here before, but you can tell it never gets old
for the veterans either. I saw people like Dan Wheeler and Floyd, and
even Trever Miller acting like kids in the candy store
tonight……………and I like it. It was the leadership of such players like Floyd and Carlos Pena that the Rays clubhouse began to gel early in the season and reached its boiling point tonight on the turf at Tropicana Field.



I am starting to believe that Rays
Rookie David Price is starting to like all the celebrating in the
clubhouse this postseason. He deserves the save tonight, and he will
surely be on the World Series roster when it comes out in a few days.
Price became the first rookie pitcher in MLB history to get a win and a save in his first post season action. Amazing how far this guy has risen in one season. He began the season down in low Class-A ball, and rose through the system to get to the major league level at the September mark in the season.



I can tell by the broad shoulders
that this is Rays Bullpen catcher Scott Cursi getting the crowd into
the celebration tonight at the Trop. Scott is a huge reason these guys
are psyched and ready to go every night coming out of the Bullpen.  He
is the Enforcer. Cursi surely got either a share or a monetary bonus from the Rays for his work this season, and he rightly deserves it and more from the team.



James “Big Game” Shields is also
known as the true master of champagne bursts and celebrations. Shields
is one of the big 4 starters that will try and bring home the Rays
first World Series title. Sheilds will end the season ranked as one of the top 20 pitchers in baseball. He made great strides in 2008, and further cemented his cahnge up as one of the best in the league



Scott Kazmir is becoming an old
professional at this celebration stuff. He is now known as one of
the true cork popping experts in the Rays clubhouse. Kazmir is also one the
premier lefties in the game today. Kazmir might have had a down season of you lokk at his statistics, but he was there when the team needed him and was always up for the challenge for the team. Even at his young age, Kazmir showed why he is the most experienced on this staff, and the “go-to” guy in the future for the team.



Edwin Jackson is cooling down the
“Old Man” on the Rays, Carl Crawford. He was here during the lean years
in Tampa Bay, and to see a winning team and a playoff berth was a dream
to Carl before this season. Now the Rays can go beyond any of their
wildest dreams and contend for a World Series title starting on Wed.
Edwin Jackson has been maligned and beaten up in the press this year as not being the great pitcher for the Rays. But in the end result, he tied for the team lead in victories, and inproved throughout the entire season. He still hit rough patches, but he fought through them and became a extremely aggressive pitcher in 2008.



One last photo of Rookie David
Price getting a cold shower to go with his first professional save
tonight in the game against the Boston Red Sox. Price has a huge future in front of him in baseball. The guy was one of the final picks in the “Next competition for ESPN in 2008. No matter what the magazine decides, you can truly see that he is one of the bright spots for baseball, and not just the Rays in 2009. We saw just a small bit of the talent and the ability of this young pitcher late in the season ans during the playoffs.  In 2009, he will get a change to claim a spot on the Rays rotation as a starter, and from there…..the sky is truly the limit for him.


Okay, that is the end of all three
blogs, I swear.  But I truly hoped you enjoyed going into the picture
world of the Rays celebrating their first American League Championship
tonight.  Be sure to tune into FOX starting this Wed night at 8 p.m.
when the Rays take on the National League Champs, the Philadelphia
Phillies in the best-of-seven series for the World Championship.


Also, if either team steals a base
during a World Series game, Taco Bell will be rewarding every American
a spicy beef crunchy taco for FREE the next day. Considering that the
Rays stole 10 bases in the ALCS, we all might be eating tacos for a few
days.  Go to for more information.



How cool is that, a rookie like
David Price comes in and set down one of the best lineups in the
American League and now he gets to hold the AL Championship Trophy.




Aki again among the Rays faithful
who stayed beyond 1 a.m. to help celebrate another Tampa Bay Rays
victory and their first run at the World Series. Something I found truly remarkable about this guy in 2008, is his interaction with the fans and his love for both this area and our style of baseball. I do not even remember what time I got home that night because I did not sleep a wink as I got into traveling mode after Game 2 of the World Series.




I had to add one more photo of
that world class dog pile that David Price and Dioner Navarro are on
the bottom of here. I know it hurts, but it also feels so good guys. 
Congrats again to a great team, and a great set of human beings. You
are our heroes and our inspirations guys. By the time that the Rays had won the ALCS, they had celebrating on the field down to an artform. So many times this year the team had late innings rallies and walk-off victories that just added up to the final prize of winning the American League Pennant tonight.


Shop Now!

I have not even left the ballpark
yet and they are almost out of the Rays American League merchandise
sent in the first wave by MLB. How crazy is that.  I am so glad the
fans are excited about the World Series. I hope at least 25 percent of
them come back to the ballpark in 2009 and fill the stadium.  Oh, news
flash here people………..We play the Phillies in Philly next season
as part of the Inter-League schedule.  How cool is that!!!!!  




The entire team getting some personal personal time with
the AL Championship trophy. Do they pass it around and can keep it for
one day like the Stanley Cup? I hope at some point either in the off season or during 2009, the Rays Season Ticket holders and Maddon’s Maniacs can pose for photos with our first real trophy in franchise history.  It was all a total effort of the Rays Republic and the team and staff to secure our place in history tonight.




This Photo is going to be firmly
planted in my mind for a long, long time. This is the final out of the
game…………a force out of Jason Bay by Akinora Iwamura to seal the
deal for the Rays. If there was one photo to show the joy and the celebration of winning the pennant, it has got to be this picture right here.



Carlos Pena getting ready to do
that dance he loves to do at celebration.  Maybe Carlos can teach the
entire Tampa Bay area that dance some time.



Tell me that is not one proud
owner. He promised us a winner and he delivered ahead of
schedule…………he could run for President right now and get
elected on the Rays ticket.




Carlos and Ben Zobrist a few
minutes after the final out of the game. This team is more like a
family than the Pittsburgh Pirates teams in the
1970’s……………..We Are One Team!!!!!   Tell me the marketing
department is not proud of that slogan now!



This is what the Trop. looked like
2 minutes after the last out. Rays players running everywhere looking
for a teammates to hug and slap some fist bumps on them.

St. Petersburg Celebration Small, but Full of Energy



The City of St. Petersburg and your hometown Rays held a celebration yesterday in waterfront Straub Park to salute and welcome home the Rays after an impressive run at the playoffs for the first time. The team went farther than even the biggest optimist could dream this summer, and they are hungry for more in 2009.

The adventure left several Rays wanting to make a run again and again at the elusive World Series title.  With skipper Joe Maddon in tow, four Rays came out to be sure that Tampa Bay knew the love and admiration these players have for the bay area.




Lost in all of this was the shuffle of season and off-season for alot of these players. Some needed to get home to loved ones, or had committments already in the books before the city announced the rally to the public.  Some people have griped about the date of the rally, because Halloween was for the little ones, and 6 pm gave them little time before dark for candy wrangling.

I did see a few dozen kids dressed as their favorite Rays, and even saw a few goblins and princesses’ wandering through the park during the event. The city did a great job basically throwing this event together in less than 48 hours.




Bay area sports guru, Dick Crippen acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the event and truly again showed why he was one of the best sports broadcasters for so many years. He kept the crowd energy high and the event rolling with his great tone and enthusiasm in his voice.  The event went quickly and was a nice celebration of all the Rays success this season. It started with a new St. Petersburg Times video on the past years’ top moment for the Rays highlighted with their first appearance ever in the World Series.

Some people, included members of the Rays had tears in ther eyes as they saw just how far they came in that short, but beautifully mastered video. Rays skipper Joe Maddon was seen sneaking a peak from behind the stage trying to catch the moments again that he had a front seat for….. that will be some of his best memories of his life.



James Shields, Ben Zobrist,Grant Balfour and Carlos Pena attended the event and seemed a bit surprised at the large turnout of the event. The event did not attract the 5,000 plus that the Playoff celebration pulled in right before the first game of the ALDS, but the true Rays fans came out and showed their colors and love for the team.

Not lost in the event was the fact that several members of the team wanted to be here, but had to put some things on hold at home for the playoffs, and could not postpone them any longer for fear of upsetting family members.  But the hear and soul of the entire team was on display both on stage and on the video screen.




Maddon talked of the love and the committment of his squad and how they are still very hungry to pursue the prize again next season.  He talked about the pride and the admiration he had for everyone on his roster, from Rocco Baldelli contributing, to Eric Hinske hitting that clutch pinch-hit homer in the World Series.

Every player who attended the event will be back in uniform for the Rays in 2009. Player Rep., Carlos Pena made sure to remind the fans that they will be shooting for the stars again next year, and that the goals were now raised high for sucess in 2009. The event was  a great event to jumpstart the 2009 Rays eason. It showed the arly committment and early dreams of the next season.




The event ended with all four players’ and Maddon singing a redition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” the smiles and the enthusiasm showed by everyone on that stage bodes well for the future of the Rays. Think about it, you had “Big Game James” Shields representing the pitchers’. Grant Balfour was the voice of the Bullpen, Ben Zobrist was the players not starting, but contributing huge in the playoffs. The you had Carlos Pena, who has been elected “Spiritual Leader” of the Rays way back in Spring Training.  

If you have ever met Pena in person, you know that the enthusiam and the pride just flow off him like water. that he is the perfect representative for the Rays now and in the future. He is smooth, clean and can swing a mean bat.




The future of the Rays is bright in 2009. the unfortunate thing is they will not be able to snaek up on people anymore in the MLB. The word is out about the Rays, and they will be have to earn it next year.  No more are they going to be taken lightly. From this moment on, the Rays will be the hunted in the American League. And by the look on Carlos Pena’s face, he doesn’t want it any other way.


As the event ended there were several kids rushing up to meet their new idols and wanted autographs, and in one case, a hug from their new heroes. Then one by one they were off for the Snickers and Milky Way treats given out by the local businesses before hadin goff for home and more treats.

I saw one little guy with his bat and glove walking away and asked who he was dressing as this year, he said, “I am dressing as the Rays, the whole team. They are special and I know they will get me more candy this year.” I guess that is one way to get community support, dress as the Rays and see just how much candy and love the area has for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rays Win First American League East Title


American League East Title Belong to Tampa Bay Rays


Complete Worst-To-First Season With First  AL East Division Title 






They had to wait a day, and did not get it the way they might have dreamed about, but the Tampa Bay Rays can now lay claim to the American League East Divisional Championship. With the Rays loss against the Detroit Tigers tonight 6-4 in front of 39,617 fans in Comerica Park. The Rays thought they might have to get it done on the field again on Sat. night against the Tigers.


But a Boston Red Sox, 19-8 loss against the New York Yankees clinched the title for the 11 year old Rays. Manager Joe Maddon and a few of the players remained in the clubhouse at Comerica Park to watch the Red Sox game. Others watched it at Detroit’s MGM Grand and back at the team hotel.



Players and coaches, some of whom had left the park and then returned in anticipation of the party they had been awaiting, sprayed champagne and beer to commemorate their achievement.


The scene in the clubhouse at Comerica Park suggested the Rays didn’t mind at all that they couldn’t clinch on their own terms. The early morning party more than made up for the way the Rays met defeat Friday night.


Tampa Bay, which had never won more than 70 games in a season, became the first team other than Boston and New York to win the division since Baltimore did it in 1997. The Rays also became the first AL team in the divisional era to finish with the worst record in its league then win its division in the following year, according to Stats, LLC. Atlanta in 1991 and the Chicago Cubsin 2007 also accomplished the feat


The Rays’ Division Series playoff opponent will shake out in the final weekend of the season. Winning the AL East assured the Rays they will begin the playoffs at home against the winner of the AL Central — either the Twins or the White Sox — while Boston, the Wild Card winner, will head to Anaheim to play the Angels, who will finish with the AL’s best record.


I will get some photos in the morning from the news sources and update this blog. But as of right now at 1:32 A.M. I have only the result for you, and no photos.