The Week That Was: The Right Way Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees fans were understandably upset at seeing another season go by the boards without an addition to their team’s 27 World Series championships after the Yankees lost their American League Division Series to the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night..The Bronx Bombers’ last World Series title came in 2009 when they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies. They haven’t been part of the Fall Classic since.

While the knee-jerk reaction of the local sports media was to criticize the Yankees, especially manager Aaron Boone, the reality is the Rays are an excellent baseball team and this was a case of them winning a hard-fought playoff series than it was the Yankees losing it.

If you look at the Rays-Yankees match-up from strictly an accounting viewpoint, the Bronx Bombers should have crushed the upstart Rays since their payroll is three times larger (roughly $248 million vs. $75 million). Of course it’s the players who ultimately determine a team’s record and not their accounting departments.

The Tampa market is nowhere near the size of that of New York. Another negative is the Rays haven’t drawn as well as they should because they play in an ugly domed stadium, Tropicana Field, which is located in St. Petersburg, and not in the more populated city of Tampa.

Team owner Stuart Sternberg, who grew up a Mets fan in Brooklyn, and his general manager, Eric Neander, have had to acquire underpriced talent from other ballclubs as well as homegrown minor leaguers.

The Rays have used the amateur baseball draft wisely as the selections of outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Blake Snell attest. Neander also made low-cost, high-reward trades to obtain outfielder Randy Azorarena and first baseman Ji-man Choi.

The Rays’ success however can be most attributed to the way Neander fleeced the Pittsburgh Pirates at the July 31, 2018 trade deadline. The Pirates thought they could make the playoffs and believed Rays’ starting pitcher Chris Archer was the man to lead them to that promised land. They agreed to send Tampa two of their best prospect, outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow.

Chris Archer never got the Pirates to the postseason and he is currently recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. If that malady sounds familiar it’s because it’s what former Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and that effectively derailed his career. Meanwhile, both Meadows and Glasnow have become key contributors to the Rays.

When Joe Madden, long considered one of baseball’s best field managers, left the Rays after the 2014 season for hte Chicago Cubs’ greener pastures, the team selected an erstwhile journeyman catcher, Kevin Cash, to succeed him. The immediate reaction when he was hired was, as is often the case with Rays personnel, “Who’s he?”

I doubt any baseball fans are asking that question now.

The passing last week of the greatest pitcher in Yankees history, Edward “Whitey” Ford, who grew up in Astoria, left only three surviving members from those great early 1960s Yankees teams: Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, and Ralph Terry.

I remember watching Ford pitch from1965 through 1967 which was when the Yankees were going through the worst downward spiral in their history. Ford was at the end of the line so I couldn’t appreciate how great he once was.

He was a fixture at Yankees Old-Timers Days and it was clear fans adored im.

Whitey Ford was 91 years old.

It didn’t take former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist very long to find a new NHL home after the Blueshirts elected to buy out the year remaining on his contract. Lundqvist signed with the Washington Capitals this past Friday.

Keith Olbermann, who along with his old partner, Dan Patrick, made ESPN’s Sportscenter the iconic daily sports highlight show, has left the Worldwide Leader in Sports for the second time in his broadcasting career.

Olbermann, who hosted a popular 8 PM show on MSNBC ,“Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” has returned to liberal political commentary with a daily broadcast on YouTube.

Photo:  Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

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