Thursday, July 5, 2007

GAME EIGHTY THREE: Mmmm...cupcakes.

(Preliminary notes: a) I've fucked up the game numbers before now, if you care. I'll try not to do that again. b) Have you voted for Okajima yet?)

Tampa Bay is not the chump team they once were. Carl Crawford reached 900 hits before his 26th birthday with three hits yesterday; B.J. Upton's bat was never in question, and now he's found a position, enjoyable as it was to watch him play SS in a Jose Offerman/Gary Sheffield sort of way. Delmon Young has not threatened any umpires' lives in the majors. (Looking over that old clip, though, at least you can't question Delmon's was waaay outside.) James Shields could be the genuine article; Scott Kazmir could be too, if he controls the strike zone and stops regularly throwing 100 pitches in four innings. And Al Reyes serves a valuable service to us all, reminding us of how useless the Save is as a statistic. Not that I mean to insult ya, pal. You know me, Al.

So Tampa Bay are up-and-comers, and that's not the euphemism it once was in speaking of this moribund franchise. A "developing country" as opposed to an undeveloped country that falls under the same label. As long gone Rays GM Chuck LaMar put it, "The only thing that keeps this organization from being recognized as one of the finest in baseball is wins and losses at the major-league level." (Chortles.)

For 14 more dates with Tampa (yup, 14; I too didn't notice we'd yet to play them this year), the Sox get to dine on sweet, sweet cupcakes, and they aren't even pretentiously flavored and overpriced. Or so I hope. Never underestimate a team with young talent and a Gene Hackman doppleganger manager.

But you know what thinking of the Delmon Young bat incident makes me think fondly of? Izzy Alcantara. And to think, the Sox thought Hanley Ramirez had an attitude problem:

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