Why are the Tampabay Rays in the playoffs?
St. Petersburg, FL
Evan Longoria, not because he belted in two home runs today but because he is an image of the team itself. The new guy, the rookie that takes on the AL East and now the division. These players are not the ones who are playing for the big paychecks, they are the ones who are playing because they love baseball.
Earlier this year I drove Evan home from a club downtown, while his hand was broken, and he signed an autograph for my son. He signed it "E Longoria is your biggest fan, Livin the dream". This sums up this year, humility and a group of people livin the dream, the fans, the players and a city which hasn't had much to look forward to.
Many times I have heard people say that the Rays don't have great hitters or pitchers, that may be true but they have great heart and pitchers for all the right times and I will leave you with my example:
Shields is pitching in the seventh inning today and ends up hitting a batter to leave the bases loaded and only one out. Joe Maddon pulls Shields and puts in Grant Balfour. Grant Balfour strikes out Juan Uribe and then faces Orlando Cabrera, who seems to try and taunt Grant Balfour kicking up dirt and talking trash.
It Doesn't work he gets struck out also.
Balfour was the right pitcher for this moment. Three runners left on base that could have changed the game.
I hope we see more of these great decisions for the playoffs.