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Home » September 2008 Game CommentsSeptember 2008 » Contrast


Game 154: September 20, 2008
Red Sox 3 L: Jon Lester (15-6) 90-64, 1 game losing streak
WinBlue Jays 6 W: Roy Halladay (19-11)
H: Jesse Carlson (19)
H: Brandon League (5)
S: B.J. Ryan (32)
83-72, 1 game winning streak
Highlights: Happy birthday, Jason Bay. On his 30th, Bay gifted himself a two-run homer. The third-inning bomb kept his team within two runs of Halladay, but as with all physicians the Doc’s prescription is to “take two and call him in the morning.” With the roof open, it’s almost like real baseball in the sepulcher known as Rogers Centre. I am certain that the number of games Mike Lowell has to play on this field and on Tropicana Field’s less-than-ideal artificial surface has exacerbated his hip injury.

Two teams celebrated playoff berths yesterday, and one of the few similarities between the pair was that Lou Piniella managed them at some point.

For Northsiders, it is Anno Catuli (AC) 016399; that is, one year since their last division title, 63 since their last appearance in the World Series, and 99 years since their last title. The origins of the club reach back to 1870 and they were formally made part of the “National Base-Ball League” in 1876.

For the denizens of St. Petersburg, professional baseball has been a minor part of their lifestyle since 1998.

The Cubs’ opening day payroll was $118,345,833 and Forbes valued the franchise at $642,000,000.

At the start of this season, the Rays payroll was $43,745,597 and had a valuation of $290,000,000.

For the most part Chicago’s hitting has carried the day for them: they are fourth in team batting average (.277), second in on-base percentage (.354), and fifth in slugging (.443). Team ERA is fourth at 3.85, right after the Rays.

But Tampa Bay’s 3.78 ERA is stunning given that its staff has to battle through the American League East. As laudable as the Northsiders’ pitching staff has been, dominating the National League Central can hardly be compared. The Rays’ rank of 19 in team batting average with .262 is offset by an OBP of .340, which makes them 10th in the league. They slug along with the teams that are known for powerful hitting: their slugging percentage of .425 is just a sliver behind the Yankees’ .426, ties them with Cleveland, and puts them a hair in front of the Mets’ .424.

The Cubs must produce or face Piniella’s wrath. And even if they are supported by the irascible manager to the press, they must face the choler of their devoted adherents, who are loathe to work through the vagaries of their Y1C crisis. For if their team fails to win the World Series, is it mathematically or calendarically sound to represent 2009 as AC016400, or would it be AC0164100?

Meanwhile, the Rays play without fear of expectations from their Johnny-come-lately fans. For while they mindlessly clang their cowbells while in the stands of Tropicana Field, they would just as soon prefer to have tickets to the University of Florida Gators or even University of South Florida Bulls football game.

So, if the Red Sox do not make to the Fall Classic: EAMVS CATVLI.

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