Red Sox At Rays, Coming Soon To A Living Room Near You...Is There Still A Hint Of Bad Blood In The Air?
Yes, it's almost that time. Shortly after 7pm EDT tomorrow, way down in St. Petersburg, Florida, two teams that really don't like each other face off in a best of seven game series. The first two contests and the last two, if necessary, will take place in Florida, and the middle three will be at friendly Fenway Park. Is there still any bad blood between these two teams? The past is riddled with hit batsmen and brawls, punches and bitter feelings. Pedro Martinez, James Shields and Coco Crisp are just three of the many Boston and Tampa Bay players who have been involved in the mayhem. But these upcoming games are October baseball games, and nothing will match their importance or intensity. Here are a few thoughts from Sox manager Terry Francona and closer elite Jonathon Papelbon...
"The bad blood, I don't think anyone has even thought of it," Francona said. "This is the playoffs, and that really doesn't enter into it."
"I don't know," said closer Jonathan Papelbon. "There could be something that stirs it right back up. You know how these things linger all year long. I do know one thing: We're going to go to the ALCS and play good baseball."
Good baseball, Jonathon. Those are the magic words. I'm hoping for this and only this...seven (if it takes that many) close and intense games broken up by a couple Red Sox blowouts. I guess you can tell I'm a huge Boston fan...I have been since I was a kid. But I know how good a team Tampa Bay is and right now, they're the Cinderella story of baseball. You root for the underdog? Then you're rooting for the Rays, as many baseball fans throughout the country (and the world) most certainly are. They're the ones who are sick of seeing Boston in it year after year after year. Me? Well, you know the answer to that! Here's a prediction. The LA-Philadelphia series starts tonight in Philly. Yes, the Phillies had the better record and all that. But LA closed the season on a hot streak, helped by Manny's amazing .396 average with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs. I pick 'em to win in six games. I feel the same way about the Sox...six games. If it works out, both Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez will return to Fenway Park. Expect to hear cheers for Joe...he's a good guy and a great manager who no longer wears pinstripes and is loved by baseball fans in Boston and everywhere. Manny? Wow, that's another story entirely. The boos might be heard from the churches of Maine to the jails in New Jersey (thanks Bruce). And I'm being serious!!
Thank you for stopping in, your comments are always welcome and will always be answered, and please click on the title of this post to be linked to a tremendous article penned by the Hartford Courant's excellent Jeff Jacobs. It examines the bumpy history of these two combative teams. Jeff Jacobs is, quite simply, the best. The best ever. So click away! Hi ho Silver!! As always, BE WELL.