Dave’s Free Play, Monday 7/28/14

  • July 28, 2014

You gotta love this Red Sox-Rays rivalry. Let’s face it, the Red Sox-Yankees feud has ebbed a bit recently. I think that has much to do with Boston finally breaking through and winning three World Series titles. The various complexes Red Sox fans suffered from when it came to the Yankees are gone. In fact, it’s almost as if the roles have flipped. Now it’s Yankee fans bringing up the 26 titles, which they never really felt the need to do in the past as they were almost always the favorites going in.

I imagine the bad feelings between the Red Sox and Yankees will return at some point. It could be as soon as next year if the Yankees somehow make something happen in October. But let’s face it, at the present time, there’s not really a whole lot to dislike about the Yankees. They’re an old and pretty much non-threatening team, and the main focus as far as they’re concerned is all about the Derek Jeter retirement journey around the majors. And almost everyone likes and respects Jeter.

But the Red Sox-Rays deal is real. This is nothing new, as it goes all the way back to an exhibition game more than a decade ago. But it’s really sizzling right now, and David Ortiz, to the delight of Red Sox fans and the aggravation of virtually everyone else, just keeps adding fuel to the fire. His pose following the three-run homer on Sunday was epic. Unlike the terse comments from David Price following the previous incident, Sunday’s victim was far more talkative post-game. Chris Archer had plenty to say about Ortiz and while he was quick to say this was strictly based on Big Papi’s on field actions, Archer was clearly pretty upset.

As for Ortiz, he was hilarious as usual. He made some reference to Archer having been in the majors “for two days”, fired off a few bleeps and got a big laugh from the assembled media.

I think every sport needs one of these nasty rivalries, and the players have to buy in. The Giants-Dodgers dislike is real, but I really think it’s more the fans than the players. Maybe not, but it’s tough to get past Clayton Kershaw calling it “fun” while being interviewed last night during the ESPN Sunday Night telecast. I realize Kershaw is simply not the type to instigate, so this wasn’t unexpected. Still, and this is from someone who doesn’t care about either team, I would have much preferred Kershaw letting a “blank them” slip out when being asked about the Giants.

Here’s the serious part of this. The fans are supposed to have fun with these rivalries. But in too many instances now, we’re seeing actual cases of serious physical harm being inflicted because someone happens to be rooting for the wrong team. I haven’t attended an NFL game since I had hair on my head, and the baldness is not a recent development. I have no desire to be surrounded by drunks, and I don’t want to have to make sure I’m wearing the right colors before attending a game.

Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying the Red Sox-Rays rivalry. It’s between the players. And that’s where it needs to stay. Once it escalates to real problems between people who think they’re a part of the team but aren’t, the fun is done and there’s a serious issue. Let’s hope this one stays the way it is right now.

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2-0 with the personal plays on Sunday, as the Twins held on to get their win and the Mets received some outstanding pitching en route to a shutout win over the Brewers. The last two months, following a lousy May, have been really outstanding.

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The Diamondbacks missed as the Sunday free play. The number on that game went nuts, and that forced me to leave it off my final card for the day. A reminder that you can simply follow me on Twitter for updates as to whether these games make my card, and I’ll also be updating that info at pregame.com.

07/28 04:10 PM   MLB   (969) MILWAUKEE BREWERS  at  (970) TAMPA BAY RAYS

Take: (969) MILWAUKEE BREWERS +120

I’m not big on letdown spots in baseball. That scheduling dynamic seems to be more applicable to football than a daily grind game like baseball. But if there is such a thing as a baseball flat spot, this could be it for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays finally lost a game yesterday, and it’s not unusual for teams to lose a couple or a few immediately following the conclusion of a very long win streak. Also, this was a series against the Rays without a doubt main rival, and I wonder about the intensity level with a team from the National League now coming in for a series. One things that’s certain is that there will be loads of good seats available tonight as the Rays still draw flies and unlike the Red Sox fans who love visiting the Trop, the Brewers are not what one would call a major attraction.

Beyond the situation, there’s also a pretty fair pitcher catching a nice price here. Kyle Lohse has had a terrific year for Milwaukee, and the Brewers are a robust 15-6 when he takes the mound. It’s surely not a blowout as Jake Odorizzi has come on impressively for TB. But I have to give Lohse the slight edge as far as the starting pitching is concerned.

Obviously, the current form advantage has to be given to the home team. That’s why it’s tough to argue with the Rays being the favorite here. But I thought the opening number on this clash was inflated and even at the present tag, I see a little value on the Milwaukee side. I’ll bank on Lohse doing his usual thing and perhaps a bit of a letdown from the Rays. The Brewers at an okay underdog price are the choice as the Monday comp opinion.