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Lightweight Tampa Bay Rays delight to win AL flags in strange, tough MLB 2020 season


1; Three days of growing anxiety turned into a night of euphoria for the Tampa Bay Rays, who became the new champions of the American League on Saturday night after finally sending Houston Astros in seven games with a 4-2 victory to continue to the World Series in the MLB playoffs.

“The last three days have been quite painful,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “We definitely added to the stress levels. It’s a really good team there. I’d rather do it in game 4 or 5 than in game 7.”

There may be more than 2,000 air navigation miles between Petco Park and the Rays home in Tropicana Field, where this game would normally take place, but that didn’t diminish the way they competed in those games, even though they didn’t play one. play in front of fans throughout the season.

“I feel bad that the fans failed to be in the parks,” said Charlie Morton, the Tampa Bay starter, who also won Game 7. “Our families haven’t been able to see us unless they’re quarantined. Mom flew in from New Jersey, but I only see her 15 feet away. But the silver lining of that is, get to the season and it’s just not the same. But I looked to the dugout and I know the boys we play, they are interested and they want to win.

“Probably this year more than any other year, motivation does it for each other. You stick to protocols; social distancing from families at home. Telling your children they can’t hug them. This has led to a level of humanity. and empathy that you wouldn’t see in a normal season. “

This atmosphere may have been similar to that of a team game of traveling at 8 a.m., empty stands, and little or no outside energy. But the intensity of the field during the matches was of paramount quality. The celebration on the field was a bit awkward, as the players seemed unsure of what to do as they gathered inside as they hosted the AL championship trophy.

“It was very, very intense,” Cash said. “I can’t sit here and say if we were in Tropa, our home or the Yankee Stadium or the Minute Maid, they wouldn’t be very intense in these parks. But the intensity of what our players are showing and what the opposition has shown has made everything very, very tense for all of us. [sleep last night]. I don’t know if I’m lying down. Lots of anxiety. We’ve all watched Four Days in October. I didn’t want to see him again. “

The Rays, who had the best record in the American League, will end their 16-day stay in San Diego and fly to Arlington, Texas, on Sunday, ready to appear in the second world series of the franchise. It hardly matters that only a few hundred people, mostly family and a few reporters, security guards and a DJ at the stadium, have actually witnessed what happened in Petco Park in the last two weeks.

The Pennant of the American League 2020 will carry the same weight as any previous flag of the championship, even in a pandemic 60-game regular season. Someone would be crowned AL champions this season, and even if it took four extra days filled with tension after taking a 3-0 lead, Reyes more than eagerly wanted to light a few cigars to win what was going on. turned in a seven-day marathon to pick up the Astros.

Tampa Bay have just played an unprecedented 12 games after the season in 13 days: five games in five days against the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series, one day off and then seven on seven against Houston. All the while, Reyes shared the same hotel, first with the Yankees and then with Astros, a five-story resort in nearby Carlsbad, where one club occupied two floors and the other two different floors and one floor provided the buffer.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Tampa Bay hunter Mike Zunino. “We played five consecutive days at [division series], seven consecutive days in [championship series]. These boys answered. “

Flight players were quarantined at a hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the final week of the regular season, sharing the space with visiting Philadelphia Phyllis first and then the Toronto Blue Jays during the wild card before arriving in San Diego.

Several Reiss players chose to be joined by quarantined wives and children. However, parents were not allowed to do so, leaving them to wave and shout at their sons about 20 feet away after games.

Tampa Bay striker Shane McClahan made his major league debut against the Yankees during the ALDS and gave up a full charge to Kyle Higashioka, only the second major league he has ever faced. After that, McClanahan could only talk to his parents on the phone. He said the first thing his father told him was, “So, walk 3-2, huh?” He said he replied, “Yes, it’s great to talk to you, Dad.”

Such is life in the big league in 2020.

Another major difference that these players are already used to: there are no wild parties soaked in champagne. They are considered no-no this season, at least until after the World Series. Instead, the rays danced in front of their dugout after defeating the Yankees. This time they slipped inside their clubhouse, but that was anything but the normal Animal House-style madness you’d see in any year other than 2020. Let’s just say it won’t there is a need for deep cleaning of the carpets in the club house.

“We did a great job to make it as fun as possible,” Zunino said. “There’s confetti and silly strings. But there’s nothing better than cracking bottles and penetrating and burning your eyes.”

The Rays, who play on the 30-year-old Tropicana field, initially spilled over the luxurious and spacious home club of the Padres, which has been their home for the past two weeks. Asked about the differences between their home and Petco’s facilities shortly after their arrival on October 2, reliever Nick Anderson replied, asking, “Are you trying to get me in trouble?”

No noise from a canned crowd could ever replicate the feeling of a real, over 40,000 crowd. But none of this matters to these rays. They will play under the brightest lights possible, even if it will be difficult for some baseball fans to understand who they are watching.

“We don’t have too many household names that a ton of people will know,” said field veteran Kevin Kiermeier. “But we know very well the average players we have there. We’re just a bunch of rotten, stubborn guys and we show it on the pitch and we know how to win games – and that’s all that matters to us.”

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