Another day…

…another block of playoff games.

I have decided that while I’m not particularly interested in rooting against the Tampa Bay Rays, I am formally no longer interested in rooting for them, either. The past two games have been stunning in their ineptitude. I know Cliff Lee is good. I know that CJ Wilson is also good. Tampa had 6 wins over Texas to end the season, and for some reason I think that should mean something. But the Rays have all but fallen apart over the past two days, and now they have to battle their next game few games on Texas soil. I don’t envy them. Today’s game also featured an irate James Shields being removed from the mound during the 5th inning. Shields was shown in the dugout after having allowed two runs and two men on base, yelling and glaring at someone at the far end of the dugout, then talking loudly and gesturing wildly at whomever would pay attention. His fellow pitchers and teammates left on the bench gave him the silent treatment, and surveyed the field with annoyed faces. When Chad Qualls gave up a three-run bomb to Michael Young with one out, manager Joe Maddon took to the field to argue with the umpires. I am unsure over what, exactly, but I have the distinct feeling he was just interested in getting ejected, something he accomplished with relative ease. Maddon left the field, and Qualls proceeded to give up more hits and one more run before being replaced by Randy Choate, who got his one out left in the inning – but by that time the damage had already been done.

I know there has been some debate over comments recently made by pitcher David Price about attendance at Rays games. Rays fans are angry, and fans of other teams use the remarks and, well, the attendance, as proof that Rays fans “suck”. I don’t think they suck (I usually reserve that term for bad situations and bad music), but I was rather confused by the ovation of Shields after he left the field today, much the same way I was confused by the (standing) ovation of Price when he left yesterday after giving up 5 runs to the Rangers in what was at that point a 5-0 game. I of all people understand the support-your-team-no-matter-what attitude, but I don’t even think we passive Mariners fans would be OK with that sort of performance, especially not in a playoff situation – and I’d hate to think that we would actually reward it with applause. As for the series itself, this will be the third time I have been on the Rays’ side, and the third time I have been disappointed. I may be wrong, but I’m not expecting them to triumph in Arlington. They have not played hard this series, and it’s been disappointing. Looks like I’ll be on Cliff’s side after all.

Another reason to jump on Cliff’s side is that the Yankees took filthy liberties with the Minnesota Twins today, beating them 5-2. The game was not as lengthy as yesterday’s, but still felt like it dragged a bit (do the Yanks get paid by the hour or something?) and the Twins did fight hard, but there were questionable calls by the umpires (as if we all need another reason to complain there), and in the end, the harder-hitting team won. The Twins will now have to travel to New York, and deal with the lunacy of Yankees fans (I’m not using that word in a derogatory way, incidentally).

The Giants and Braves game I was initially determined not to care much about, but the minute I saw Tim Lincecum take the hill, I decided that the Giants were my team. This has nothing to do with any sort of Lincecum/Morrow bitterness. While I can understand why people are still upset about that, it was before my time, and I really just can’t feel your pain, folks. I get it, but there is nothing in me that wants to saddle myself with anger at the Mariners organization for not taking Lincecum. They might have fallen prey to the same scouting attitudes about height/weight/mechanics that so many other teams often do, even with what we know about Lincecum and SABR. Lincecum is not ours, and we need to settle down and roll past that. Real bitterness is not healthy for you.

But I digress…

Tim Lincecum was never taken out of tonight’s game, and threw 9 innings of 2-hit shutout ball. Between that and last night’s Roy Halladay funfest, the playoffs so far have been fare more entertaining than I remember them being last year. Pitcher’s duels that are actually fun to watch because you know that these guys are fighting tooth and nail to secure their team’s position, hard-hitting teams like the Ranges and Yankees that battle aggressively and make it look easy. Not that I don’t think other teams have fought hard to get where they are, but over the past 6 games, we have seen a very obvious, defined manner of play from everyone, and the teams who are going to come out on top have made their presence known. After a full season of the Mariners, it’s kind of refreshing to see this level of skill on both sides of the field. I promise, I’m not trying to bag on the Ms any more than any of us already have, I think I’m just ready for this month’s worth of games.

As I was trying to post this, this news story came to my attention via several re-Tweets on Twitter. We almost lost Josh Bard to an auto accident that killed one of the people he was on a fishing trip with. No drugs or alcohol were involved. I don’t mean to end this on a low note, but it needs to be brought up for information’s sake. Condolences to the McKendry family, and may Bard and Clancy McKendry recover as well as possible.

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