Apparently the Rays were on ESPN Wednesday night. To be honest, even though I've lived in Tampa for the last two years, I've never seen the Rays on ESPN. I even missed this broadcast. You know why?
I was there.
Being that the Cubs and Rays both are among the best teams in baseball this year, to say I couldn't wait for this series was an understatement. I was curious to see how the Cubs would draw in Tropicana Field. I was eager to see this Fukudome guy. And I couldn't wait to talk a little back-and-forth with some my favorite fellow sports bloggers.
So because it is pretty late, I am going with the Readers' Digest condensed point style (kinda sorta like Tiger Style, but not as fatal):
- Before the game the local sports bar was completely covered in Cubbie blue (more on the "Cubbie" thing later). Being that good beer knows no enemies, I chatted for a bit with a few fans. Like I said, I was eager to know who traveled and who was actually from Florida. One guy I talked to came all the way from Des Moines. He said most of the flights to Florida leaving the airport were packed with Cubs fans.
- I'll admit, the Trop isn't even close to Wrigley Field. But it is our home, for now anyway. To paraphrase the ancient philosoph Donnie Rumsfeld, "You play ball in the stadium you got, not the one you want approved in November".
- Looking at the lineup, why was Mark DeRosa in left field? When did he become a LF'er? I thought he was a second baseman? What about the great Thunder Matt, the Mighty Matt Murton?
- Sure enough, DeRosa's shaky outfield defense proved to be a liability early, allowing the Rays to score first.
- In the third, with the Rays pestering Carlos Zambrano with numerous singles, I swear I almost saw smoke coming out of Zambrano's ears. He was not happy. I think I will dub him "Mount Zambrano". Not only is he a big dude, but he looks like he is about to blow at any moment.
- The last two games I've gone to have both been Andy Sonnanstine starts. Although I thought I was jinxing him earlier this season, he is actually not pitching that bad of late with me in the house. His JSIA ERA (Jordi Scrubbings in attendance ERA) is definitely a lot lower than it was.
- In the 6th inning, down 5-3 (maybe 5-2, I'm too lazy to look it up), Lou Pinella finally came to his senses and put Matt Murton in for 84-year old Jim Edmonds. Needless to say, the Redheaded Messiah came through with a single.
- During the seventh inning stretch, I did something I have always wanted to do. I sang "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" with thousands of Cubs fans. Ever since I first saw Harry Caray on TV singing at Wrigley, I've always thought singing with Cubs fans would be fun. Of course, during the part where they say "root, root, root for the Cubbies", I yelled "root, root, root for the Rays". Because if the Rays don't win, it is actually a shame.
- Ok, on to the "Cubbies" matter. Cubs fans have a chant, "Let's go Cubbies". Not the quicker, more aggressive "Let's go Cubs", which might strike fear into the heart of opponents, but "Let's go Cubbies". Cubbies. Hardly intimidating. They sounded like they were cheering for a group of Saturday morning cartoon characters - The Cubbies.
- Before I end, I just want to say I really, really hope in that long list of super prospects the Rays have in the minors that there is a future closer somewhere. Troy Percival scares me.
- Oh, and Cubs fans are a bit weird. They haven't won it all since Teddy Roosevelt was in office, but they remain totally optimistic. Some were even talking about when, not if, they make the playoffs. Shouldn't they be bitter and pessimistic? More power to 'em, I guess.
- P.S. Not that I think he will ever read this, but to the Cubs fan who was talking smack and asking Rays fans "When was the last time the Rays made the playoffs?": keep in mind while the Rays have not made the playoffs in their 10-year existence, the Cubs went from 1945 to 1984 without making the postseason. That's 39 years, if my math is correct.