For the longest time, it stood alone as the greatest Rays moment at Tropicana Field. Friday, it, somehow, turns 10. It was Aug. 7, 1999, when Wade Boggs joined the 3,000-hit club like no one else, capping his three-hit sprint to baseball's gold standard with a home run, then sealing his night by kissing home plate. Does it seem like it has been 10 years? "Absolutely not," Boggs said Friday. "Good gracious. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun." Or when you're in the Hall of Fame, anyway. Boggs was back in Cooperstown, N.Y., for last weekend's induction, sitting with a bunch of members reminiscing about their 3,000th.
"I was the only guy in the room with a home run," he said. "So I kind of stood out." The spot in rightfield where the ball came down is commemorated at the Trop with a yellow seat. The scene as it happened — sixth inning, one on and one out, family on hand, off Chris Haney — is still fresh in Boggs' mind. "Just a magical moment," he said. "You're at 2,999 and you're walking up to the plate and it's, 'Oh my gosh, here we go. …' " So, too, is the significance. "When you put it in perspective," Boggs said, "it was the culmination of everything I played for. Eighteen years building to the pinnacle of getting to 3,000."
So where does Boggs' 3,000th hit rank now among top Rays moments at the Trop? After last season, not quite as high. Here's our updated list:
1. Oct. 19, 2008
2B Akinori Iwamura fielded the ground ball, stepped on second, and the world (as well as the World Series) changed forever: the Rays eliminated the Red Sox and won the AL pennant.
2. Sept. 20, 2008
3B Evan Longoria caught the foul pop and launched a celebration like there'd never been at the Trop as the Rays clinched their first-ever playoff berth, and celebrated with the fans.
3. Aug. 7, 1999
Boggs' home run, the third of his three hits that night, was electrifying and still ranks as the most significant individual accomplishment under the tilted roof.
4. March 31, 1998
After a 20-plus year effort to get a team, the Devil Rays were ready to play ball, LHP Wilson Alvarez delivering the first pitch of the first game, which turned out to be a buzz-killing 11-6 loss.
5. March 31, 2003
The dawn of the Lou Piniella era was already exciting, and Carl Crawford made it an exhilarating evening with a walkoff homer to beat the hated Red Sox.
Oct. 2, 2008: First postseason game; Oct. 22, 2008: First World Series game; April 13, 2009: Raising of the '08 pennant before home opener.
There has been a lot of talk about perfection since Mark Buehrle's July 23 perfect game against the Rays. That includes Dick Bosman, Rays minor-league pitching coordinator. Bosman threw a no-hitter for the Indians on July 19, 1974, and all that kept him from perfection was his own errant throw — on Sal Bando's fourth-inning swinging bunt on the third-base side of the mound. "I had more time than I thought," Bosman said last week. "It's one of those things. It was a play I made many times, I just didn't make it that particular day."
Playing from behind
With 60 games left, the Rays were seven games out of first. Only four teams since 1988 made up more ground to reach the postseason:
Year Team GB*
2006 Minnesota Twins 10.5
1995 Seattle Mariners 9
1993 Atlanta Braves 8
2001 St. Louis Cardinals 7.5
Catching the wild-card leading Red Sox, whom they trailed by 4½, isn't much easier. Only nine teams made up that ground over the same span:Yr, Team GB
'06 Dodgers 7
'04 Astros 6
'03 Twins 5.5
'03 Marlins 5
'01 A's 5
Yr, Team GB
'96 Orioles 5
'07 Yankees 4.5
'07 Rockies 4.5
'03 Cubs 4.5
Tuesday's new ESPN E:60 show features Evan Longoria, focusing on his mental approach and relationship with sports psychologist Ken Ravizza. … Reports to the contrary, senior VP Gerry Hunsicker was never offered the Nationals GM job. … Add to the list of things you didn't expect this season: An espn.com piece debating Ben Zobrist's candidacy for AL MVP. … The price of doing trade business: For one reliever, the Rays were asked for prospects Desmond Jennings and Reid Brignac. … Rough treatment by Trop fans may be bothering Pat Burrell, but manager Joe Maddon points out the former Phillie has "been booed by the booing-est fans in the world." … Not sure what this says about his sense of humor, but Maddon was genuinely thrilled to see the GEICO TV commercial caveman at the Trop and insisted on a photo.
Got a minute? James Shields
Best meal you can make? Home-made raviolis. I make my own sauce and dough, the whole thing.
Band you'd like to be on stage with? Metallica.
Must-see TV? Entourage. (Which character are you most like?) Turtle. I like hanging out in the background.
Karaoke song if you had to? Jammin' by Bob Marley.
Dream date, with your wife Ryane's permission? I said Kathy Ireland last time, so … Jessica Biel.