Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays unrestrained in enjoying rise to World Series

ST. PETERSBURG

There are so many ways to measure how the Rays have grown up this season.

The resiliency they've shown after tough losses. The way they responded to a series of injuries to key players. Their handling of the pressures of showdowns with the best teams in the American League. The maturity they displayed in stepping into the spotlight of the postseason.

And now that they've reached the grand, reverent stage of the 104th World Series, they're prepared to run all over it, jump up and down, dance in the dugout, scream, yell, wear funny clothes — and celebrate wildly at the end.

"I was so happy to see the way we celebrated because nobody tried to play it cool, or was like, 'Oh, we have to be professionals about this,' " said first baseman Carlos Pena of Sunday night's reaction after clinching the AL pennant.

"I'm sorry, this is my childhood dream coming true, and I'm going to enjoy it. And I don't care what people say. If anything, I think it's refreshing to see a group of men crying and celebrating like little boys who just won the Little League World Series."

"The only way we can play is loose. Why change now?" said pitcher Matt Garza, the ALCS MVP. "The dimensions don't change. So why do we have to change? Because it's a different stage? No. If we would change every time we reached a stage, this clubhouse would be quiet, nobody would be talking to anybody, and it would be miserable. That's why we are where we are. We have a lot of fun and we keep it loose.

"When you see us flying out Friday (for Philadelphia) I guarantee you we're going to be in Ed Hardy (designer T-shirts), hats and maybe freakin' flip-flops just to change something up. I don't know, we might have wacky shorts day or something, like a rally week in high school."

Actually, high school might be advanced. For these Rays, and the enthusiasm they have, the energy they bring and the excitement they play with, Little League sometimes seems more age appropriate.

"It's a little bit like that now, a lot of grown men in here being kids," reliever Trever Miller said. "I think it's going to be a fun ride. We don't have any inhibitions in this clubhouse. We were told to turn down our parties, and that didn't really work out. We're just going to be ourselves."

"I don't think they're capable of letting the childish enthusiasm go away," said Tim Bogar, the quality assurance coach. "That's who they are, that's how they've been all year."

Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said he not only expects the Rays to play the same way in the Series, he'd be "disappointed" if they didn't.

Reliever J.P. Howell acknowledged that their relaxed, laid-back style might come across a little differently to baseball purists. Manager Joe Maddon expects it to be well-received.

"I think it's going to play well in Peoria," Maddon said. "And I've actually managed in Peoria, so I know that. I think we have a likable group in regard to their personalities and how they interact. I also believe we're likable in the sense that we play the game hard. I think any real baseball fan likes to see a team play with effort and passion. And I think that even comes through a television set."

Really, the Rays just want to keep doing what they've been doing.

"I don't expect anything to change," said outfielder Gabe Gross, one of the squad's more staid members. "I don't expect the locker room atmosphere before the game to change. If we happen to lose a game or two here or there, I don't expect the atmosphere after that to change. We've been the same no matter what's happened, and I think we'll remain so.

"I think we'll remain loose. I think Carlos (Pena) will dance in the dugout. We'll all holler and scream. Garza, before he pitches he's going to listen to his headphone, sing a little bit, bob up and down in the dugout and stuff. It'll be the same. It's who we are."

And a big part of why they're here.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Rays unrestrained in enjoying rise to World Series 10/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 10:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)

    Tranckandfieldpreps

    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.
  2. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  3. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  4. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.