Regrettably Back Home…

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But not because I don’t want to write for you heapsters. Alas, I have returned from my trip to Austin, Texas! I had a blast, to say the least, but details will be coming the rest of this week, so forgive my brevity regarding specific details! Though the trip did leave me with quite a dilemma. I don’t really know what I love more, Angel, or Texas! Needless to say, it was QUITE the great vacation.

Unfortunately, my little hiatus left me gravely disconnected (quite literally) from the world! Our various pages have been UPDATED (Rays, Bucs, Notre Dame). Speaking of the Rays, they CLINCHED a playoff birth! Congratulations to our hometown boys, and their first venture into the post season. But of course, there is still a division to win! The magic number has been reduced to 2, meaning the Rays can potentially clinch tomorrow, if Boston loses and they Rays finish off the sweep of Baltimore. Here’s a video of the Tropicana Field Madness after clinching a playoff berth!

The Bucs also won surprisingly in OT in Chicago, while Notre Dame lost to Michigan State. The Tampa Bay Lightning have also opened training camp and have even played a few pre season games, opening the Barry Melrose Era, or the regime of the mullet. We’ll have a page for them up tomorrow probably.

So as you probably are expecting, there will be a new TTMC with stories and adventures from Texas. Also, a movie review should be up as well! And I haven’t forgotten about our sci fi list! We should wrap that up by this weekend. In addition, I always have some random, crazy stories to share that I find online! You can expect some of those too. We’ll get back to it tomorrow!

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Some General Info

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One has to wonder how many of those types of games the Rays have left. After looking like the Rays of the past 10 years, they manage to pull it off tonight against the Red Sox 2-1, with the winning run being scored in the 9th inning, and the game being won in grand, walk-off fashion. I’ve lost count how many times we’ve done that. Speaking of the Rays, on the Rays Page, I added a “widget” I got from ESPN. I’m not sure what it does, but we’ll find out tomorrow! It gives info on current games and has Rays headlines and stuff. Seemed useful. Check it out.

I hope I haven’t been drowning you all with the Notre Dame heavy posts. I just want to relish it. It’s quite possible our smiles will be wiped off our faces this weekend in East Lansing. We should have some interesting material for all of you avid heapsters. out there in the coming weeks. Tomorrow will probably see a new The Trashman Chronicles (TTMC), talking about my latest venture into possible employment. Guaranteed to be funny, I assure you. Heck, if I get things in order, you might see TTMC III (internet provided) about my adventure at last weeks USF-Kansas game, and my loyal lament to Notre Dame Stadium.

Also, we’ll keep on going with the sci fi movies countdown! #5 is next, along with some honorable mentions! And a special editorial should be coming as well. More info on that once I’m done with it, but I can tell you it’s literature related, and involves a stiff, monotonous good ole American defense!

Why I really wrote this is to inform all of you that this weekend (Thursday – Tuesday) I will be in Austin, Texas, visiting Angel! So for this reason, if the internet situation doesn’t work itself out, you might not see a post for that period of time. But don’t panic! That only means there will be PLENTY to write about once I get back. But assuming there is internet, I’ll have some time to write, since she’ll have to do homework for law school and I’ll have to leave her alone and NOT be annoying and needy. You can probably expect a new music review and/or that editorial I was talking about.

We’ll keep an eye for the Rays to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. The magic number is 5 (Wins and/or Minnesota Twins losses) and for the division it’s 12 (Wins and/or Boston Red Sox losses). Have a good night and keep reading!

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It Might Be That Time…

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Well, it looks like the Rays are more than happy to gift wrap the division and happily hand it over to the Red Sox without any sort of fight. I mean it’s 13-3 last time I checked. Could we have gotten a worse start from Kazmir? Dare I say David Price takes his spot in the rotation? Yes I know… a little premature…

SO perhaps the time has come for me to start cheering more emphatically for America’s most lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs. Let it be known that in all seriousness, these guys were my favorite team before there was baseball in Tampa, and well they at least continue to be my favorite NL team. Tropicana Field, though it has grown on me (due mostly to the multi-million dollar renovations each year) can barely hold a candle to the sheer imminence of Wrigley, a park which can compete for the position of the National Shrine of Baseball.

Why I bring up the Cubs is because of this great video and information on various fans from every decade since the 1908 World Series! They have a man born in 1908 talking about his love of the Cubs! It’s a great montage, and you should check it out! I’m all for a Cubs-Rays series!

Cool Cubs Video

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Feel… The Heat… RAYS.

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This could be the game which defines this magical season, and hopefully turns the recent woes of the Rays around. After being shut out 2 games in a row, the Rays finally scored some runs- but not many. As his been the case most of the year, they manage to score enough.

So it was tonight, the night of what many considered the franchise’s most important game to date. They needed a win, as all of the sudden, the Red Sox closed a sizable 5.5 game lead to .5 a game. This one was for the lead, a lead that had been the Rays’ for months. Dan Wheeler, one of the more dependable pitchers in the bullpen came on in the bottom of the eighth. The unthinkable happened. Jason Bay launched one over the Green Monster. Goodbye 3-2 lead. Goodbye game. Goodbye division lead. We didn’t even have to worry about Troy Percival this time.

Not so fast.

Enter Johnathan Papelbon, one of the most reliable closers in the league. The way things have been going for the Rays lately, they seemed destined to lose another heart breaker, perhaps begin the closing chapters of a season tragedy instead of a romance.

Enter Dan Johnson. Briefly played earlier in the year due to some injuries, but has been down in the minors. He was supposed to be in the starting lineup for the Rays. He was late due to flight delays and that dreadful Boston traffic. Talk about a home field advantage. Manager Joe Maddon had no choice but to leave him on the bench, but he told him to be ready.

Calmly and coolly, he faced Papelbon. Calmly and coolly he delivered a deflating blow to the sold out crowd at Fenway, where fate always seems to bite the team that lets the Sox hang around.

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Silence. 4-4. Tie ballgame. Eduardo Perez, then delivered another drive off the top of that Green Monster. He was on second before the ball hit the cutoff man. Then Dioner Navarro finally drove in the first man of the night who was in scoring position. The Rays went 1-15 in that category tonight. The one that counted the most, making the difference.

It was then left up to the veteran gunslinger Troy Percival, looking to avenge a blown save from the day before. He walked the first man, and all of the sudden the winning run at the plate. Who wasn’t thinking walk-off?

Bend but don’t break.

A timely strike out and a skyscraper of a pop out by David Ortiz put the Rays one out away from finishing the fight. A hit and it was tied. Do or die. And Percival finally delivered a shut out inning for the first time in, well no one can remember. But it doesn’t matter right now. The job was done.

Boston’s dominance in Beantown is dead and the division lead is still in tact.

Most importantly, hopes for a division crown live on.

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“Damn Yankees”

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Just in case you have YET to check out the Rays page for all you vital information, here are the current American League East standings.

Rays 75 – 48           – GB

Red Sox 71 – 53     4.5 GB

Yankees 66 – 58      9.5 GB

Blue Jays 64 – 60     11.5 GB

Orioles 60 – 63       15 GB

According to ESPN’s crazy calculations, the Yankees have an 8.1% chance of making the playoffs this year as of today! And well, the Rays? 91.1%. I like these odds. So, in celebration of the possibility of the Yankees NOT making the playoffs since the 90’s, I present to you Yahoo!’s list: 10 Reasons Why the Yanks Won’t Make the Playoffs!

By Bob Birge
PA SportsTicker Staff Writer

Writing off the New York Yankees is always a dangerous proposition. Until the Yankees actually miss the playoffs – something that has not happened since 1993 – they never can be counted out.

However, here are 10 reasons why the Yankees could be facing the prospect of no postseason baseball in their final season at the House That Ruth Built:

1. A ridiculously difficult schedule over the final two months of the season that includes two 10-game road trips – one in August and one in September – 10 games against the Angels and, starting on Monday, a stretch in which they will play 16 of 19 games on the road.

After John Lackey came within two outs of pitching the first no-hitter against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in 50 years on Tuesday, the Angels improved to 7-1 against Boston this season. But following Wednesday’s game, the Red Sox won’t see the Angels again in 2008 – unless they meet in the playoffs.

2. A ridiculously favorable September schedule for the Red Sox, with only nine road games. The Red Sox have lost four of their last five home games to the Yankees and Angels, perhaps removing – or at least lessening – their aura of invincibility at Fenway Park. But even with the mini-slump, Boston still boasts the American League’s second-best home mark at 37-15 (Tampa Bay is first with a 40-16 record at Tropicana Field).

3. Tampa Bay and its stable of young pitchers aren’t going away. The Rays’ starters are young, and they still have to go through August and September in their first pennant race, which is always a concern. But they aren’t rookies. They’ve taken some lumps for the last couple years, and now they could be ready to reap the benefits. For example, Matt Garza out-dueled Toronto ace Roy Halladay on Tuesday with his first career shutout.

The Rays’ September schedule is not as favorable as Boston’s, as they play 17 of their 27 September games on the road, including the final eight. However, the Rays seem to have recovered from their seven-game swoon prior to the All-Star break. In the second half, they are 7-5.

Also, Tampa Bay has 45 wins from its starters, tied with Boston and Toronto for the second-highest total in the AL.

4. Forty percent of the Yankees’ rotation is still comprised of Sidney Ponson (whom the Red Sox battered on Sunday) and Darrell Rasner (who is just 2-7 in his last 10 starts).

5. Mike Mussina may be ready to take a second-half fall. It’s not just because he was hit hard by the Orioles on Monday; every pitcher is entitled to an occasional bad start, and Mussina has had very few this year. It’s because of his track record. Here are Mussina’s win totals in the last four seasons: 12, 13, 15 and 11. He already is at 13 this year. The Moose has not won more than 15 games since going 17-8 in 2003.

6. The injuries (no Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Chien-Ming Wang) could finally catch up to the Yankees.

7. Eventually, the Yankees are going to have to pay for the seemingly indifferent manner in which they approach the first two months of the season. In three of the last four years, they have been under .500 in June or beyond: 2005, 31-32 on June 14; 2007, 43-44 on July 13; 2008, 30-31 on June 6.

8. Joe Torre, who guided the Yankees to playoff appearances in all 12 of his seasons in the Bronx, is no longer the manager, and the Steinbrenners are going to be punished by the baseball gods for mishandling his contract situation last year.

9. Nothing lasts forever. The Yankees are going to miss the playoffs at some point.

10. Given the state of the economy, a $200 million payroll doesn’t go as far as it used to.

How about that? My favorite is #10 hehe. It must be noted that the article is a little old- about half a month… when the Yankees were actually in the rearview mirror of the Red Sox, who lead at the time, and the Rays, who have lead for the majority of the season. Here’s to hoping for a miracle! Or rather, that the perennial miraculous climb up the standings does NOT occur. Rays are home for a 3 game set against Major League best LA Angels of Anaheim. Winner of the series leaves with the best record in the ML.

And now some anti-Yankees propaganda!

Saddam

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“DL” Blues

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Is it all starting to come apart for the Rays? We knew that one of the faces of the franchise, Carl Crawford, was gong to end up on the DL after an injury to a finger. Now defensive AND offensive stud rookie Evan Longoria will be joining hm on the 15 day disabled list, after Longo took a pitch to the wrist, resulting in a slight fracture. The question is, should we begin to panic? This isn’t the first time where the Rays have had tough circumstances regarding the unavailability of players. The classic Rays – Red Sox brawl back in June resulted in 5 suspensions for the Rays.

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Navarro, Kazmir, Pena and Bartlett have all had a stint on the DL this year also. So, while it may be tough that it is two of the most marketable, and well, most exciting players, its time for the bench to step in again to deliver the Rays. Most notably, you KNOW that Dominican utility man Willy Aybar is ready to play any position. He has been used to plug up any holes in the infield the Rays have had, playing four positions in the infield. He also provides a clutch, opportunistic offensive threat. The same thing with Ben Zobrist, who has recently proved he can also play outfield, though it will probably be Eric Hinske and Gabe Gross out in left. Don’t forget the return of Rocco Baldelli in right field, as he has slowly been able to recuperate from a diagnosed mitochondrial disorder. Hopefully he can provide the right-handed bat the Rays have been lacking.

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More Accolades

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We’ll keep it short… but a (very) heartfelt congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays who have won their 71st game of the year. Of course, you may ask, “Now come on, 71 wins is rather insignificant in the game of baseball throughout the course of a 162 game season!” Well, to all of you heapsters. out there not familiar with the horrendous history of our beloved baseball team, 70 Wins is the MOST the team has ever won in a season! So congrats on the Rays finally surpassing the previous watermark for futility! And with 45 games to go, could it be possible to see some triple digits? Maybe I’m getting a little greedy. Just make the playoffs!!! (Magic Number = 40!)

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