Friday, May 16, 2008

Who's In First?

Red Sox Nation got a much needed day off yesterday. A chance to relax, reflect, and take a look at what else is going on around us. As we glance at the AL East standings, subconsciously expecting to see the Sox in first place with the Yankees breathing down their necks, we are greeted with a startling sight! The Red Sox are not in first place. That honor goes to the Tampa Bay Rays. Not only are the Rays in first place, but they are 8-2 in their last 10 games, with a 24-17 record that is currently the best in the entire American League. In all of baseball, only the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks have a better record than the Rays. Perhaps there was something to getting the Devil out of Tampa after all?

Scott KazmirAnd what of the once mighty New York Yankees? This morning they find themselves looking up from the cellar of the AL East, 4.5 games behind the Rays, with a 20-22 record. That record puts the Yankees a mere 1/2 game ahead of the Kansas City Royals! But, the Yankees are Goliath aren't they? Well, if the Yankees are Goliath (and honestly, only a New York fan would consider that this year), then the Rays are David. The Yankees have just completed a four game series against the Rays in Tampa Bay losing 3 out of 4 and getting their head handed to them. Yesterday's starter for the Rays was Scott Kazmir. Kazmir loaded the stone into his sling and hurtled it at Goliath who crashed heavily to the ground. Then, just like in the legend, Goliath's head was severed, this time the result of a 4th inning, 2 run home run by catcher Shawn Riggans. The home run came off of struggling Yankees rookie, Ian Kennedy, and provided the runs the Rays would need to secure the win. Kennedy was pitching his first game after spending some time in the minors to regroup. He apparently never regrouped, looking just as ineffective as when he went down.

New York Yankees ReelingHank Steinbrenner has been quite vocal about his feelings towards the team that he is spending all of his family fortunes on. Hank happens to work out of offices in Tampa Bay, so he was able to see his team up close and personal as they got embarrassed in the state flooded with "Rays" of sunshine. Is it all about money and winning for the Steinbrenners? Of course it is. Hank was quoted on Wednesday in the NY Post saying, "These players are being paid a lot of money and they had better decide for themselves to earn that money." You tell them Hank!

So, who's up next for the Yankees? They face off against the New York Mets tonight. The Mets are toying with the Yankees a bit as well. The Mets' newly anointed ace, Johan Santana, the gem that slipped through Steinbrenner's fingers this off-season and landed right next door, was scheduled to pitch last night against the Washington Nationals. But, was it a bit of gamesmanship when Mets' manager, Willie Randolph, held Santana out for an extra day so he could start tonight against the Yankees and wave their new star under the Yankees noses? I think so!

Alex Rodriguez RehabsLast note from Yankee land. New York fans are churning from the news that their beloved star, Alex Rodriguez, has recorded a nice congratulatory message for our very own Manny Ramirez, to be played as part of a collection of messages when Manny hits his 500th home run, which will hopefully come on this home stand in front of the Fenway Faithful! To be honest, it is very magnanimous of A-Rod, but it is fun to see Yankee fans squirm at the thought of it. The message is apparently, "Manny, I'm going to keep this short because I'm probably getting booed. Congratulations and many more." Pretty funny?

Bartolo ColonGood news for Red Sox fans who want more pitching. Bartolo Colon started yesterday for the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Buffalo Bisons. According to The Buffalo News, "The sight of Pawtucket pitcher Bartolo Colon effortlessly slicing through the Buffalo Bisons’ lineup had to provide a source of hope for the Boston Red Sox". Music to my ears! Colon combined with Chris Smith to pitch a one hitter against the Bisons. Colon lasted 6 innings, throwing 64 pitches, 45 for strikes and was very sharp. Bison's Manager Torey Lovullo said, "What you saw was the effectiveness of a major league pitcher who was feeling it".

As discussed here yesterday, the Sox need a starter for Tuesday. Could that be Colon? Tuesday would be his next regular day to start for the PawSox, so I have to imagine the Sox are at least hoping it works out. But, the general plan had called for Colon to make 2 or 3 more starts before coming up. So, a start on Tuesday would certainly be accelerating things. I am guessing it will be a matter of seeing how he recovers from the start and how confident he feels. If the Sox feel he looks good, the final decision will be left up to Colon. However, Colon also had this to say:

“I’m still a little scared, but I haven’t felt any pain since I’ve been rehabbing,” he said. “It doesn't hurt, but I’m still a little scared.”

So, can he build up his confidence that his injury will not resurface by Tuesday? Stay tuned.

(Photos courtesy of Yahoo Sports) (Colon Photo courtesy of The Buffalo News)


Suldog said...

If that's true about the A-Rod message to Manny, it's classy... and very funny. I'll lay off booing him for a couple of days in honor of the gesture.

gingerly said...

They should just delete A-Rod's message. Who cares what he says about anything?

Nice news round-up. Living in NY, I watch all the Yankees games, along with Red Sox games. It's good to see them lose. Very, very good.

I thought it was funny when Dioner Navarro, who is always trouble for opposing teams (including us in the sweep), left the game and Riggans came in to do the very same thing to the Yankees. And boy, is Steinbrenner a piece of work, or what? What an idiot.

Surely we can sweep the Brewers. But it looks like rain might mess up both the Yankees/Mets game and ours. Hope not. Friday nights are made for baseball.

Rooster said...

Sul - it is indeed true! It is a funny line, and I imagine they recorded it hoping he'd hit #500 at Fenway. There will certainly be boos, so it will be funny.

G - Did not realize you were in NY - tough place for Boston fans. Hope we can sweep the Brewers, they are struggling a bit right now but have a decent team. We'll see? It better not rain!

gingerly said...

It's true. Living in NY, I feel if I wear Red Sox gear around town, I'll be killed. I get a big kick out of how much they hate us. But it's sometimes tough to find someone to watch a game with (who's rooting for the right team, anyway).

Rooster said...

G - If you have not already found these places, I like to keep this book marked for future NYC visits...

Red Sox Bars in NYC

gingerly said...

That is so cool, R. Who'da thunk. I'm glad to bookmark it too. Thanks.

Rooster said...

If you want to have some fun, invite a Yankee friend to go to a bar with you to watch a Sox-Yankees game. Then, take him to one of those places! LOL

Matt said...

No, we don't want him to hit #500 at Fenway, I have tickets to 2 games for the Oakland series over Memorial Day will be in front of mainly Red Sox fans at Fenway West.

Rooster said...

FW - You could get lucky! There are 7 games before they show up in Oakland, and he's at 498 now. You never know with Manny, he could hit 2 in one night! But, he could also hit one and save #500 for the Faithful on the West Coast!

Good Luck!