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 a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays last Friday. The Bronx Bombers’ last World Series title came in 2009 and they haven’t been part of the Fall Classic since.
While the knee-jerk reaction of the sports media was to criticize the Yankees, especially manager Aaron Boone, the reality is the Rays are an excellent baseball team and this was more a case of them winning a hard-fought playoff series than more the Yankees losing it.
If you look at the Rays-Yankees matchup from an accounting viewpoint, the Bronx Bombers should have crushed the Rays since their payroll is three times larger, roughly $248 million to $75 million. Of course it’s players who ultimately determine a team’s record and not the 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, 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 acquired underpriced talent from other teams as well as minor leaguers.
The Rays have used the amateur 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 Arozarena and first baseman Ji-man Choi.
The Rays’ success can be most attributed to the way Neander fleeced the Pirates at the 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 prospects, outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow.
Archer never got the Pirates to the postseason and is currently recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s what derailed former Met Matt Harvey. Meanwhile, both Meadows and Glasnow have become key contributors to the Rays.
When Joe Maddon, considered one of baseball’s best managers, left the Rays after the 2014 season for the Cubs, the team selected journeyman catcher Kevin Cash to succeed him. The 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.
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The passing last week of the greatest pitcher in Yankees history, Edward “Whitey” Ford, who grew up in Astoria, left only four surviving members from those great early 1960s Yankees teams: Tony Kubek, Bobby Richardson, Joe Pepitone and Ralph Terry.
I remember watching Ford pitch from 1965 through 1967, 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 him.
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 last 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 p.m. show on MSNBC, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” has returned to liberal political commentary with a daily broadcast on YouTube.