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Francona Looks X-Rayed

Terry, you look like you're toast. At least try to hide it. Very poor post-game press conference. No confidence. Looks like he thinks it's just a matter of time and that he knows the Rays, after playing them 22 times this year, and getting beaten 13 times, are simply better. Probably true with Mike Lowell out, Manny gone, Varitek old, Beckett looking hurt and Carl Crawford (5-for-5) now back. Healthiest the Rys have been all year.

When you play a team as often as the Rays have played the Sox and bounce back so often to knock them down, their mystique is gone. Boston won the first game of home-and-home series in Sept, then in the ALCS; but Tampa Bay bounced back and won both September series and won the A.L. East by the two-game margin they gained in those series. Now, they've spotted Boston a game in the LCS and have them on the ropes.

At some point, the Rays will feel pressure. And they probably have to survive a couple of save attempts by Wheeler. That's baseball reality. You don't waltz to a world title as an underdog without being put through the wringer. Never happened. But can Boston put that pressure on them? In Game Five, maybe. Back in the Trop? It's always hard to close out the champ, but it sure doesn't look like it.

FWIW, if the Phils and Rays (my favs) hold their LCS leads, Shields, Kazmir, Garza and Sonnanstine looks like a better Series rotation than Hamels, Myers, Moyer and Blanton. But Lidge-Wheeler haunts me. Did you notice Rays 5th-starter Edwin Jackson coming out to throw 98-99 in the 9th, just to "get in some work." Rookie David Price already won Game Two in relief (1st overall pick in '07 draft.) Maybe the Red Sox have just seen enough of these guys, especially their young power arms.

What happened to that World Series where Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre go back to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox? Everybody wanted it. (Well...eh...almost everybody.)

It's always hard to close out the champs...

By Thomas Boswell  |  October 14, 2008; 10:57 PM ET
 
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Comments

Wait a second, Tom, I thought you decreed that the Sox won the World Series when they beat the Angels. What happened? Now, just a week later, you say that it is "probably true" that the Rays "are simply better"? "Lowell out, Manny gone, Varitek old, Beckett looking hurt" were all true last week when you made your idiotic proclamation. So you're just realizing this now? Many of us called you out on your nonsensical claim when you wrote it, so this is hardly just hindsight. And you get paid to write this drivel?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 15, 2008 1:09 AM | Report abuse

boz, what happend to the sox rolling over the competition. i thought angles sox was the WS, now your fav is the rays??? you are the worst kind of sports writer/analyst. admit you are a moron and got it wrong, as wrong as wrong can be. in other words, just shut up and stick to a moron sport like football, or golf. whatever you do stay away from baseball because you are always wrong and know nothing about it

Posted by: love | October 15, 2008 1:12 AM | Report abuse

hahahaha coverage is lacking we wrote that at the exact same time, you are great

Posted by: love | October 15, 2008 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Ballad of Three Games to One

A little grave on Landsdowne Street,
A coffin in Chavez Ravine,
For those whose pitching died the death
And hitting was below the mean.

Few homers to excite a Dodger,
Fewer still to fill Red Sox;
But Phillies sprayed across the park
And Rays have jolted heavy shocks.

Now Sox and Dodgers have to win
Or families get their daddies back.
The odds are long, the chances slim.
Phils and Rays, whose bats will crack?

Posted by: mystique & aura, lapdancers from jersey | October 15, 2008 4:07 AM | Report abuse

Daddy, is that you?

Posted by: NR Pedro | October 15, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow, why so harsh on the Boz?

Writing about sports is an art, not a science. It's about gut feelings and hypthosizing on available knowledge. It's about enjoying the ride and having fun while trying to get the readers to come along and have fun with you. Predictions are rarely correct, they are fun and meant for debate and sparks of conversation, not for spouting of angry bitter people who call people names and tell them to find another line of work. You people are ridiculous!

Posted by: Ryan | October 15, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

hmm, my interpretation was faves as in the idea of rooting for the Rays, but perhaps it referred to a preference as far as the potential WS opponents at this point (the Angels not being a factor now). I don't tend to get into making predictions myself but agree with Ryan re. the intent generally (and the name-calling).

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 15, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I think CiL is still getting over the Potomac Nationals thing.

Posted by: BF | October 15, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

While I like the fact that the Rays don't blink their fans suck and probably don't deserve such a great young ball club with their lack of support during the season. The Rays will not choke, its over for the Beantown nine just a note to "Theo the great Epstein" You need starting pitching!!! your two best starters have been getting shelled and your bullpen sans Papelbon are pyromaniacs.Philly should close out LA after Torre outguessed himself two nights ago,I'm not sure we were expecting Tampa vs.Philly but I like the Rays in six!!!.

Posted by: dargregmag@aol.com | October 15, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

In defense of Rays fans, I noticed the other day that one fan on their team site's message board indicated that the location of the ballpark and lack of public transit were factors in low attendance for weeknight games. That fan also indicated that attendance was good at weekend games all year (and conceded that the team record in previous years could be a factor). Gasp - could it be that the media was piling on an underdog team by trumpeting their attendance woes? Say it ain't so!

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 15, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Guys, here's the thing about Boz. It's not that he makes predictions and gets them wrong sometimes. Of course that happens with everyone. And I think predictions--and reading why the writer predicts things will break a certain way--are fun and I enjoy them.

No, the thing about Boz is that he makes definitive, extreme statements and then just days later he completely contradicts them and pretends as if his earlier statements didn't exist. He did the same thing with the Nats in ST last year with his starting pitching is awful/starting pitching is great/starting pitching is awful series of columns.

Here, a week ago he says that the Red Sox are the best team and will win the WS if they beat the Angels--even while he expressly recognizes that Lowell is out, Beckett is hurt, etc. Then, when the Rays dominate, he simply says that the Rays "are simpy better" and bases it in part on the Sox' troubles--the same troubles he identified a week ago when he said the Sox were the best team. If Boz had said something like "I thought the Sox were better and would dominate, but the Rays have played like the better team," I wouldn't have a problem with that. That's just recognizing that you got your prediction wrong and examining what happened. But that's not what he does--instead, he makes a new blanket statement that completely contradicts a blanket statement he made just a week ago, as if he never made the prior statement. I think that it's irresponsible to write that way, and it undermines everything he says, especially in light of his lofty reputation. In fact, I think he's just trading on his reputation as a license to say whatever he wants without having to be rigorous or accountable.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 15, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, CIL, this is supposed to be fun. I want to read something interesting about what's happening now, I don't particularly need Bos to write critiques of his own previous columns. I don't disagree with you that Bos does exactly what you say he does in contradicting himself without looking back, just that it doesn't bother me. He's not running for office so he can be a flip-flopper.

Posted by: Geezer | October 15, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

CiL: Amen.

I'd also call out Sheinin for calling the Sox a "storied" team, as if it was a good thing. "Storied?!?" The Sawx "story" is one of journeymen pitchers figuring out how to shut down the greatest slugger in the game; of "little rollers" going between the first baseman's legs; of failure except when paired with similar underachievers.

There's only one "storied team" in baseball... they're at home watching TBS and laughing their @$$es off.

Posted by: GoRays | October 15, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Look guys - you are taking it way too seriously. This is supposed to be fun, and you aren't even taking the time to read what he did in fact write:

"Looks like he thinks it's just a matter of time and that he knows the Rays, after playing them 22 times this year, and getting beaten 13 times, are simply better."

You'll note the "looks like HE thinks" is in reference to what Boz thought Francona looked like he was thinking.

Plus, it's a blog! Blogs simply aren't held to the same standard, nor should they be. These are a great forum for thoughts and meanderings, and the fact that a journalist as tenured and accomplished as Boz takes the time to post up here for us to all interact daily is an absolute blessing. Complain and moan all ya want if you want that to disappear. It's like complaining about Metro. Check around with cities that have NO mass transit and let me know what they think of how spoiled we are to have Metro. In the same manner, do you know how many other readers in other cities would beg for their hometown paper and columnists to be as good as the Washington Post and its' writers? Just ask your buddies around the country.

Bottom line - enjoy this forum to discuss baseball and each of our arguments, Boz's included, and why you think they are right or wrong. But you cross the line at name calling and telling a professional who has no reason to do this other than he genuinely LOVES talking/writing/breathing/sleeping baseball to go find another job.

Thank you.

Posted by: Ryan | October 15, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Ryan, without belaboring the point, the "Probably true.." that starts the next sentence reflects Boz's apparent personal views as of today (or, more accurately, as of last night, maybe he thinks something different today).

As to name calling, I agree. As for me though, I didn't engage in calling Boz names, which is different than criticizing what he writes. I think we are encouraged to comment on and "even challenge" the blog posts, as the posting rules for the blog make clear.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | October 15, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

CIL - Admittedly your post was less caustic than love's, though your last line was nothing more than a personal affront.

I just wish more people could stick to arguing the points of what people write and not resort to appealing to the least common denominator of referring to people's opinion as "drivel."

I guess the former journalist in me gets fired up when people don't argue the facts and just resort to mudslinging. But, we are in DC and 'tis the season for slinging mud.

Posted by: Ryan | October 15, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Oops -- nothing less than a personal affront is obviously what I meant.

Oh, and the only other thing I left off was that I guess I just don't have a problem with people feeling different about a team or players one week versus another. In sports people play great one week and can stink the next time out and especially in baseball that makes one team better than another at a specific time. It's just fun to talk about. Not sure why we people would feel we have to deal in absolutes.

Posted by: Ryan | October 15, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a - It isn't hype that the Rays had horrible attendance all year. 26th in attendance is 26th. Truth is that their weekend attendance was helped by Boston and NYY crowds because it was cheaper to go to fly down and go to a series than to go to Fenway / Yankee. The Rays drew about 24,000 when they hosted the Angels in August. I have probably been to more Rays games at OPACY than some of those "fans" showing up this series at the Trop. I hope they get support now forward.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 15, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

As an English major and lover of a failing language (English, because far too many "native speakers" refuse to learn it properly, choosing instead to hide behind "slang" and ignorance), I'm always happy to read Bos's columns because the man can write, period. I don't always agree with him, but there's no question he writes very well.

Posted by: Patrick Monroe | October 15, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL, my esteemed fellow fan, I do not doubt that the Rays had low attendance. I was attempting to point out that the media and others can be quick to judge the fans of such a team and say that they don't deserve a team or aren't supportive enough when there may be associated factors that aren't examined or are disregarded. I was not aware of the factors that the Rays fan noted and was interested to read about them.

Patrick, I'm with you on Bos's writing (and on love of the failing - though some might say evolving - language).

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 15, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Notwithstanding Boz's waffle on the WS teams, he is one of the few sports journalists in today's market who actually knows what he is talking about. I don't always agree with him, but he is a joy to read. Sally forth, Boz!

Posted by: bigonetimer | October 15, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1A - good points. Let's hope the Rays draw well in the future. I would have loved to see the new ballpark built (have you seen the architectural concept?), but it has been shot down by the city's budget squeeze.

What I've heard from Rays fans (I really do follow them) is that the ideal location for a new stadium would be over on the Tampa side of the bay with easier access from Orlando. But the lease is pretty onerous, which is why this spring's stadium proposal was so promising. Basically, the city would let them out and move to a better, in St. Pete, location in order to redevelop the Trop.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 16, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the background, PTBNL. You're a great source of info, as always. I hadn't seen the architectural plans but will look for them on the team and local newspaper sites.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 16, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 16, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

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