Monday, October 20, 2008
This was a great sports weekend for me. But since I already addressed the total madness that is the Maryland football team, I'll limit this post to the events of Sunday Funday. It was a really good day for the Ravens. In a game that they needed to win to keep the faith for this season, the whole team stepped up and played solid football. Also, the Tampa Bay Rays restored hope to all the perennial cellar dwellers by holding off another Boston comeback to go from last in the division to ALCS winners in one season. Thank you for that.
The Ravens had to win this game. They had lost three in a row and were beginning to look like the team everyone thought they were going to be this season. Hell, I couldn't even bring myself to write about last weeks game. It was just too painful. But after throwing just one touchdown and seven interceptions this season, Flacco came back with a solid performance with a TD and no interceptions. He seemed to still be confident even after a being picked apart last week. I met another Ravens fan at the bar yesterday while watching the game who said he lived in the same building as Flacco. He told me that after last weeks game, him and his wife wanted to get a cardboard cutout of Troy Smith and put it in from of Flacco's door as if he were knocking. I think this is hysterical. But after Sunday's game, Flacco really doesn't deserve it. Oh well, I'll take a win and a solid showing over a good prank almost any day.
What was really great about the Miami game though was the Ravens' defense. They managed to contain Miami's wildcat offense that had wreaked havoc on other teams. They were also responsible for a TD that helped the Ravens put Miami away for good. The Ravens scored 27 points and could not have done it without the brilliant play of the defense. The Ravens are known for having their defense carry them. And this game was a good sign that defense will continue to shoulder some of the weight as Joe Flacco continues to improve into the future of this football team. With every game he should be able to rely less and less on the defense, but as long as they are contributing, it takes some of the pressure off of him and lets him play and mature without the whole weight of the team on his shoulders.
With the Ravens playing the lackluster Raiders next week at home, they should be able to garner an above .500 record. The Raiders star rookie, Darren McFadden will have to contend against a defense that has not allowed a 100 yd rusher in 25 straight games. The best in the league. And while the team managed to earn its second win against the Jets on Sunday. They'll have a very different team to contend with this coming Sunday. Let's hope the Ravens step up to the task and continue to shut teams down and win.
The other great story on Sunday was the Tampa Bay Rays managing to keep Boston at bay and win the ALCS. Matt Garza got the MVP for pitching two solid games. Last night he continued to throw strikes and get players out even after pitching the magic number of 100 pitches. This makes me question the seemingly widely held belief that pitchers should be taken out after 100 pitches. Every pitcher has his own limit and if he's in a groove or 'settled in' and doing well, why bring in someone new. Will pitching an extra 15-20 pitches make it that much harder to recover and be able to pitch again four days later? I am asking this sincerely as I really don't know anything about pitching and how much it tires you out.
I was worried after the Rays blew game 5 in the last few innings and then couldn't seem to get their act together for game 6. But those scrappy Rays came out ready to play yesterday and even after going down by one run in the first inning never gave up hope. They fought back, held on, and managed to strand Red Sox base runner after base runner. Every time a Red Sox player came up to bat, I thought this was it, this was the batter that was going to swing the momentum back to Boston, this is the one thats going to end it. But that never happened. Even after errors and a bunch of pitchers. Tampa hung on for all 27 outs.
After the last batter grounded out, the team rushed the pitcher. There was giant mound of celebrating Rays. I was actually worried that the pitcher, Price, would get hurt. Afterwards he said he couldn't breathe at the bottom of the pile, but wouldn't change it for the world. I love the way the team celebrates. The players were soaked before they even got the ALCS Champ trophy. Their Rayhawks were dripping. This is a team that really treasures the victory and appreciates how far its come. They are a team that gives hope to all the other losing disheartened teams out there.
It'll be great to see two new teams in the World Series. I know the Phillies are not a new team but they haven't been in a World Series in 15 years. So they're not the teams we've seen in the playoffs year in and year out for the last few years. And the Rays have never been in a playoffs before, let alone a World Series. I'm still deciding who I really want to root for. But I think I'll be happy either way. Wednesday should be fun.