Rays-Sox: The world is still watching
[Britt Govin, left, and Daniel Krocka, both of Tampa, buy tickets outside of Tropicana Field for tonight's sold-out game. Edmund D. Fountain, Times]
With ESPN carrying tonight's game nationally, the Rays are getting even more attention, and compliments, than ever. The series has drawn extensive coverage in both markets and nationall, including even the New York Daily News sending down a reporter, and thousands and thousands of words have been written.
But ESPN The Magazine, which has the Rays on the cover of its new issue, has a different approach with this query: "There might not be a better story in baseball right now than the Rays' rise to prominence in the AL East. Can you sum up their road to first place in just six words? "
If interested in entering, click this link to the site.
Elsewhere, the analysts for TBS - which has the All-Star selection show at 2 p.m. on Sunday - revealed their choices for mid-season awards on Wednesday, and four of the six - actually 3 1/2 - had Evan Longoria as the AL Rookie of the Year. Dennis Eckersley, Harold Reynolds and Cal Ripken picked Longoria; Chip Caray split his vote between Longoria and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury. Ron Darling picked Ellsbury and Buck Martinez chose Texas' David Murphy.
Manager Joe Maddon didn't get as much support as expected for AL Manager of the Year, with support from only Eckersley and Martinez. RIpken and Reynolds went for the Angels' Mike Scioscia, Darling picked Jim Leyland and Caray went with Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire.
Finally, Ripken and Eckersley had the Rays as their "surprise" team, Reynolds and Darling went with the Rays/Marlins combo while Martinez went Marlins and Caray for the Twins.
Columnist John Romano wrote this morning about the possibility of a trade for Rockies closer Brian Fuentes, and Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News writes that the Rays' interest "picked up" after Troy Percival's injury. There is also a note in here about a name from the Rays' seemingly ancient past - Cedrick Bowers, a 1996 draft pick, finally getting to the majors with Colorado.
Gorden Edes, in a Boston Globe piece headlined Knuckle sandwich, has a nice take on Tuesday's game, including this passage:
"The devil is gone in these Rays, and so is the sympathy. And given the way the Rays pushed the Sox to the limit again last night, those Sox fans planning to attend tonight's series finale are advised to bring along a stiff upper lip.''
SI.com's John Donovan is the latest national writer to weigh in with the view that the Rays are for real, writing: "Only those old Tampa Bay teams, of course, are not these new Rays, the most compelling success story of baseball's first half. Despite the familiar trappings of their amusement-park park, a fan base that remains largely skeptical and a history that everybody would just as soon pretend didn't happen, these Rays are different."
And Newsday's Jim Baumbach offers his 10 reasons why the Rays are legit, with some interesting stats.
Not directly related to the Rays or the Sox, but new Yankees boss Hank Steinbrenner sounds more and more like his father in his latest criticism of his team, telling the Associated Press, among other things, "Maybe a little less outside distractions and a little more concentrating and they'll start hitting better.''