Thursday, October 30, 2008
Behind The Scoreboard
There is an amusing story by Charles Dudley Warner entitled “How I Killed A Bear.” One reading the story could very easily make the analogy between certain parts of the adventure to the odyssey of the Tampa Bay Rays in the Major Leagues. By now everyone has heard that the Bays dropped the “Devil” from their name. I won’t speculate on this because I have not read, seen, nor heard any rationale for this. Perhaps the “Devil made them do it?”
Anyway, the Rays found themselves in the most enviable position in the run for the pennant – if they defeated the Boston Red Sox, for the first time in the history of their team, they would be World Series bound. And World Series worthy. There was talk that the Los Angeles Angels would carry the American League banner against whomever the National League sent up. In spite of a winning record in the high ’90s going into the playoffs, the rumors of unworthiness did not subside.
Unlike the happenstance hero in the “bear killer” episode, the Tampa Bay Rays were seekers. After their last game with Boston, the Rays’ fans were beginning to believe along with the players. The shock factor fully set in. Tampa Bay had made the grade. The Rays’ destiny had suddenly become the World Series. It probably didn’t matter that their opponents were going to be the hard-hitting Phillies.
They were still undaunted when the Phillies took the first game 3-2. Optimism was still high even with their win on Thursday night by a score of 4-2 to knot the Series 1-1 and found out that the game was rated as the second lowest viewed Series game to date. It didn’t get any better on Saturday and Sunday when they lost both of those and found themselves one game from extinction in this series.
The game on Sunday was delayed for almost two hours and didn’t end until past 1:30 a.m. It was reported that the Phillies celebrated all night in the streets of the city of “brotherly love.”
After the “bear killer” finally convinced the townspeople that he had actually slain a bruin and the creature was hauled from the woods, there were still skeptics who didn’t really believe. But as the hero himself put it, his last delicious thought before he fell asleep that night was, “I killed a bear!”
As one of the Rays put it, “No matter what happens next, we made it to the World Series!”
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