Rays President Matt Silverman “This club is on the verge of doing something nobody thought could be possible”
September 27, 2011 – 10:45 am by Chris Fedor
This offseason the Tampa Bay Rays lost some key pieces from their team in 2010 and then during the season it was a bumpy road at times. Through the retirement of Manny Ramirez, the injuries, and the trade rumors, the Rays never gave up and never gave in. They had every opportunity to raise the white flag as they were chasing the mighty New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the playoff race. They never did. Very few people thought they would be where they are right now, but Tampa is on the verge of completing something historic. With two games remaining on the schedule, the Rays have caught Boston in the race for the final playoff spot and control their own destiny.
The final two games are against New York, but with Joe Maddon, who should be the AL Manager of the Year, and a tremendous pitching staff filled with exciting youngsters, the Rays look like primed and ready to win the Wild Card race and take down Red Sox nation in the process.
Matt Silverman, the Tampa Bay Rays President, joined WDAE with Dan Sileo to talk about the run that the Rays are in the middle of, whether or not he saw this coming, the impact that Joe Maddon has had on the club, and what he makes of the way B.J. Upton down the stretch after trade rumors swirled around involving him.
On the magical run the Rays are on:
“Yeah this is getting on the verge of historic. We’ve never seen a pennant race like this before in Tampa Bay where every game matters, where you’re talking about the difference between getting in and sitting on the sidelines. This is exciting stuff. We were playing while the Red Sox game was going on and this is what pennant race baseball is all about. The great thing is our guys are loose, having fun, and I think the fact that they are young also helps. You see a lot of energy out there, they’re not as tired as other teams are and you throw in the X factor of (Desmond) Jennings and (Matt) Moore and this club is on the verge of doing something no one thought could be possible.”
If he saw this kind of run coming:
“You can’t see this but you never say never. I think it comes down to the belief that the players have and the coaches have. From day one they thought this was possible. They didn’t care about the departures, that was last year’s news and last year’s title. They forgot about the 0-6 start of the season which at the time was brutal. And then you have Manny’s retirement and you think about where the season could head after that, but these guys believed and I remember Joe Maddon talking about in on a plane to Chicago when we were really down. He said ‘you know what? It doesn’t matter. We can make this up.’ He had a toast for all the players and everyone on the airplane about how we were gonna make it to the playoffs. The belief was always there. We obviously needed some help from the Red Sox, but we also helped ourselves. We took six of seven or seven of eight from them this month and that put us in the position where we’re at today and in control of our own destiny.”
If it is fair to say this has been Joe Maddon’s best job as manager:
“Fair except that he’s been the same manager this year as he’s been the last couple of years. That’s the beauty of it. It’s constant. He’s got the same attitude. He had the same approach in 2006 and 2007 when we were a last place team. He believed in the guys and knew there would be a time when this club was going to be successful. Joe is Joe and that’s what makes him a special manager and that’s why we’ve entrusted the club to him and why we think he’s the best guy for the job.”
On the play of B.J. Upton down the stretch:
“Yeah we need that offense. Offense is certainly one of the places where we’re weakest. Pitching and defense are the reason why we’re here but you need that offense and having B.J. in that lineup, hitting at the top, with the energy of Jennings that he has provided and a healthy (Evan) Longoria gives us the respectability that we need in the lineup. We gotta get those runs on the board and B.J. has been a big part of that. Last night was another great game and he seems to rise to the occasion. He seems to love September baseball and October baseball and I hope we’re playing October baseball so we can see what he can do.”
Listen to Matt Silverman on WDAE in Tampa here
Tags: 2011 MLB American League Wild Card Race, 2011 MLB Playoffs, Matt Silverman, MLB, Tampa Bay Rays, WDAE
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