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Dear Rays: You can do it

What can you say when your team blows a seven-run lead, just two innings and change from a champagne shower and a spot in the World Series?

"Good try?" "Better luck next time?" "That's why pencils have erasers?"

Sorry, but it'll take more than that to help Rays fans forget their team's crushing Game 5 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night. With Game 6 tonight at the Trop, we asked some of Florida's best and brightest to offer fans, players and manager Joe Maddon a few words of encouragement.

Their message for the Rays: Keep your heads straight, guys. You're almost there.

Jay Cridlin, Times staff writer

The Superfan

"Yes, (Thursday) night was a devastating loss, but it was only one game. It's over, done with, finished. If you were told before the season that you would be up three games to two right now with an opportunity to go to the World Series by winning one out of two at home, you would say, 'Bring it on, baby. Bring it on!' ''

ESPN college basketball analyst (and longtime Rays season-ticket holder) Dick Vitale

The Man of God

"They've got to get back to the steady spirit of winning they had before. That teamwork that was so impressive. Just keep their cool, play as hard as they can, and they will win. … I just ask the Lord to give them strength, the courage and the vision to do everything right."

Monsignor Laurence E. Higgins, pastor emeritus of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Tampa

The Coaches

"To me, there's only one thing you can do, that's go back and look at the film … (and say), 'If we had just done this, we would have won the game,' or 'If I had just done this, if I had put in another pitcher, or if I would have done this or that.' Just show them how we should have won the game and go out the next night with a positive attitude."

Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden

"The players will be looking for leadership from the coaches, and Joe has been pushing the right buttons all year long. He'll be calm and very professional. It's business as usual. They lost a game. A very good team beat them once in their building, so we have to come home and win one game. They've been in that situation many times this year, so they'll be ready to play."

Lightning coach Barry Melrose

"Hey, you're up 3-2. You need just one more win. Let's go home and get it, man. Whether you lose 3-2 or 8-7, that's the way it goes. Get on with it."

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden

The Hall of Famer

"Well, I'd tell them, 'We've come this far. Let's go all the way. We've proved that the other side is no better than we are and we're leading, so let's go out there and finish it off.' "

Former New York Giants great and Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin

The Survivor

"Never look backward. Attitude is everything. I think that they have exemplified that."

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Tracy Sheehan, a two-time breast cancer survivor

The Upstanding Citizen

"Time and pressure. They have to keep the pressure on for all nine innings. That will get a person through just about everything. Well, maybe not marriage. There, it's time and compromise."

Sun City Center resident Dave Brown, 70, recently awarded the Hillsborough County Moral Courage Award for his fights against county government

The Mayors

"Always play as if you are way behind, even when you are way ahead."

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio

"You just came out of Boston and beat the world champions (two out of three games) in their house. Nobody thought you could do it. And now we are going to win Saturday in our house with the cowbells ringing."

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker

The Student

"Go out and play hard, like you have all season. Except last night. Good pitching, good defense and timely hitting."

Clayton Faulk, 16, sophomore in Robinson High School's IB program in Tampa

The Governor

"Do what they do best — win!"

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who's throwing out the first pitch at tonight's game

The Music Man

"You did what a lot of people didn't expect all season long, so go out and do it again. It's one game; come home and win."

Tampa rapper Kervens "Acafool" Joseph, creator of the Rays tribute song Trop Boys.

The Kid

"Roll it up, Rays!"

Jordan Ramus, 12, of Tampa Palms, one of 10 finalists for Sports Illustrated Kids Sports Kid of the Year

The Businessman

"Trust your team's ability, but more importantly, your desire to win, and we will be celebrating the victory with you."

Todd Jones, president, Publix Super Markets Inc.


"They don't need to do anything different. These guys are playing so well, that I don't think they should put any more weight on that game than any other game in the season. They had a few bad innings last night, but they just need to keep playing like they know how to play."

Jeff Lyash, president and CEO, Progress Energy Florida

Contributing: Greg Auman, Dalia Colon, Damian Cristodero, Sherri Day, Justin George, Stephen Holder, Joni James, Colleen Jenkins, Tom Jones, Asjylyn Loder, Karen McAllister, Dave Scheiber, Cristina Silva, Rodney Thrash, Bill Varian

"I think the Rays got a little lackluster at the end — they started thinking about celebrating before they finished the game. Like a lot of people tell me, don't quit fighting in the 12th. Fight all the way until the end. You've got to go all the way to the bell on 'em. Once the fight's over, then celebrate."

Former boxing champion and St. Petersburg resident Winky Wright

"I have complete confidence that they're going to nail this down. I know the power of the cowbell. I think it's going to rattle Boston. The cowbells — the Rays have got to be used to it, but Boston? It's going to drive them crazy. Go Rays."

Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, guitarist and songwriter, Blue Oyster Cult "I wouldn't tell Joe Maddon a thing. He knows what the heck he's doing and doesn't need me to tell him anything. I'd say, 'Joe, could you please tell me something?' "

USF football coach Jim Leavitt

• More advice, 8A

• More Rays coverage: Tampa Bay, 1B; Sports, 1C

Dear Rays: You can do it 10/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 6:22pm]
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