Makes for a long ceremonial first pitch
So where will Gov. Charlie Crist's loyalties be if the World Series opens in his hometown Wednesday? He's supposed to be the guest of honor at a Republican Party of Florida fundraiser at the home of a prominent Orlando trial attorney, Alexander Clem. The price of admission (or suggested donation) ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. But Crist, a well-known Rays fan, has gone out of his way to make several playoff games. He couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.
Happy for old friends
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, a former Philadelphia manager and son of former Phillie Tito, expressed happiness that his former organization returned to the World Series for the first time in 15 years.
"(Chairman Bill Giles) is one of the dearest people that I've ever come across," Francona said. "He wants everybody that works for him to do well, try their best. I can remember he stood out on the Clearwater field before the first home Grapefruit League game every year and proclaims that this is going to be the year. And he believes it in his heart. And now I'm happy for him that now it's come true."
Backed up for Barack
A half-hour of airtime bought by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, right, on Fox on Oct. 29 has caused the start time of a potential Game 6 of the World Series to be moved back eight minutes.
The Obama campaign bought the same 8 to 8:30 slot on CBS and NBC. As a result, the start time of Game 6 will be moved to 8:35 p.m.
"Fox will accommodate Senator Obama's desire to communicate with voters in this long-form format," network spokesman Lou D'Ermilio said in a statement. "If requested, the network would be willing to make similar time available to Senator (John) McCain's campaign."
The World Series has not gone to a sixth game since 2003.
Living in the past?
If the gear at a few downtown Boston shops is any indication, Red Sox Nation is still clinging to the past. There was the Boston Stone Store, which offered "World Series" shirts for $20 (the only question was, 2004 or 2007, right?). And in a T-shirt place across from the Old North Church, there was a campaign bumper sticker with "Ortiz-Ramirez in 2008," referring to David Ortiz and former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez (now with Dodgers). "I haven't looked through that stuff for a while," said the manager, Amy. "I will now."
Another blast from the past? One quirky T-shirt has a picture of a bearded former Red Sox OF Johnny Damon next to an NY, saying, "Looks like Jesus, Talks like Judas, Throws like Mary." Damon, of course, jumped ship from the Red Sox to the rival Yankees.
Said Amy: "We're not bitter, are we?"
At least they didn't give up another steal
Rays CF B.J. Upton was three-quarters of the way to stealing second base in the third inning when 1B Carlos Pena ripped RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka's first pitch into the rightfield seats for a home run. Red Sox public address announcers had just explained that Pena had homered in three straight ALCS games, tying a record, when rookie 3B Evan Longoria mashed a pitch over the Green Monster.
Twilight Zone moment of the day
During pregame, Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked by a Red Sox fan in the front row to pose for a picture with him. The two chatted briefly and shared a laugh.
Musical note of the day
On the team's off day Wednesday, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he went out to dinner and found a bar with some interesting entertainment. "Had a little Harvard karaoke going, very entertaining. Then watched a little bit of the game when I got back home." Did Maddon try to show off some singing skills? "No, not at all. (Bullpen coach) Bobby (Ramos) was sick, so he wasn't there, and we tried to get coach (Scott) Cursi (bullpen catcher) up there, but he was a couple beers away, so it didn't happen."
First for everything
Rookie OF Fernando Perez, right, has experienced plenty of "firsts" since getting called up in late August — his first hit, his first stolen base, his first walkoff run. On Thursday, Perez had another one — he autographed a Rays jersey with his name on it for a fan. It happened after batting practice, and a young blond in his No. 38 passed it over the wall by the dugout.
"It was weird," Perez said, smiling. "But it was cool."
Think the Rays have taken some steam out of Red Sox Nation? According to a Boston Globe story Thursday, playoff tickets for games at Fenway Park have been selling just above face value — and sometimes less. Tickets that were more than $2,000 last year are selling for a quarter of that. The Globe reported that, on Tuesday, Ace Ticket didn't sell out for a Sox postseason game for the first time in 29 years.
Sounds like a flip-flop
Last week in Jacksonville, Sarah Palin, right, was all about the Tampa Bay Rays. "You know what that tells me, it tells me that the people in this area know a little something about turning an underdog into a victor," she said. "And we're counting on you to help us do that Nov. 4." Palin, who said essentially the same thing in Clearwater, might as well have pulled on a Rays jersey and sprayed the crowd with champagne and beer.
But Wednesday in Salem, N.H., John McCain's running mate was saying something remarkably similar about the other guys. "We're just 20 days out from the election, and it's gonna come right down to the wire, and we're counting on you because Red Sox fans know how to turn an underdog into a victor, and that's exactly what you can help us do on Nov. 4!"
At least he didn't say Tampa
While interviewing Shane Victorino in the wild Phillies clubhouse amid a champagne shower after Wednesday night's NLCS-clinching win over the Dodgers, Fox's Chris Myers asked the centerfielder how he thought his team would do against the Marlins.
Right state, wrong team.
Myers corrected himself, saying he meant the Tampa Bay Rays, then added, "The champagne is getting to me."