Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. The Tampa Bays Rays. Well, Game 4 of the ALCS was something else. Wasn't it? The Rays, in the midst of authoring their very own worst-to-first miracle, showed up at hallowed Fenway Park in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston for the second time in this year's ALCS and absolutely owned the stadium as if their names had been hung above the door when this place first opened on April 20, 1912. The Rays cracked two home runs in the top of the first, put on five baserunners and stole two bases. And they never looked back. It was a full-on code red they put on Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield. There is no doubt that Col. Jessep would have approved. The young Rays made the knuckleballer look like a guy who was only pitching because he failed as a corner infielder in the New York-Penn League in the late 1980s. Oh, wait. That actually happened to Tim Wakefield. So, he is this old. And, the Rays? They are not. Their 13-4 win puts them one win from the World Classic.

2. Kevin Cash. Given the start in Game 4 of the ALCS since Red Sox Manager Terry Francona finally noticed that the role of Jason Varitek was being played by the 1,000-year-old knight guarding the Grail in Indy 3, Cash did not disappoint. With one at-bat he outproduced 'Tek and that awfully conspicuous "C" on his uniform. Does it stand for "corpse"? Cash homered in his first trip to the plate in the bottom of the third inning.

3. Roy Williams. A beloved son of Odessa returns to the Lone Star State. Odessa, Texas is home of the Permian Panthers featured in Friday Night Lights. That's were Williams went to high school. It's a town were football is a big deal. Like a Texas-sized big deal. This is where Roy Williams grew up. His nickname in high school was "the legend." From Odessa, he went to Austin to attend college at the University of Texas. He was a standout at UT and was drafted with the No. 7 pick in the 2004 NFL draft. And, then things went a little off the tracks. Williams was selected by the Detroit Lions and added to the coterie of wide receivers in Matt Millen's gulag. But now, finally, Roy is coming home. At the NFL trading deadline, he was dealt, for quite a haul of draft picks, to the Dallas Cowboys. He is home. He may be competing with TO for balls. And those balls may being thrown by Brad Johnson (see: Varitek, Jason from above). But Roy is home. And there will be much rejoicing.

4. Carl Crawford. As a high school senior graduating from Jefferson Davis High School (and yes Mr. Davis was the President of the Confederate States after they left town during the Civil War) in Houston, Crawford had the entire world laid bare before him. He was a preternaturally gifted athlete. He starred in football in the fall. He starred in basketball in the winter. And he starred in baseball in the spring. Crawford batted .500 during his senoir season in high school. Knowing what we know, you have to assume that he had a smoking hot date for the prom as well. Crawford was offered a scholarship to play point guard at UCLA. He also could have attended USC, Oklahoma or Florida as an option quarterback. Crawford, however, opted to follow his passion and play professional baseball. For following his heart, Crawford ended up as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray. Ugh. Between 2003 and 2007 Crawford was on teams that lost a combined 482 games. His skillset garnered attention amongst fantasy baseball enthusiasts who discovered one ray of sunshine in the dank recesses of Tropican Field. During that 482-loss time span Crawford average over 50 steals per season, almost 15 triples per season, a .300 batting average and 180-some-odd hits. In other words, he was darn good while his team was damned bad. So, more than anyone he deserves to be in the ALCS right now. With Upton's Ruthian performance thus far and Longoria's amazing rookie season still under way, you don't hear that much about Crawford anymore. Which is a shame. He's the one that people should be taking about. He was 5 for 5 last night with 3 runs scored and two driven in.

5. Christopher Buckley. I couldn't have imagined the day in which I would be lauding the deeds of a Buckley. Didn't think it would happen. Not ever. After all, the Buckleys are the first-family of American conservatism. And, I'm not. Like not at all. Not even a little bit. Patriarch Bill Buckley, who recently passed away, was the founder of the National Review, a television host who largely invented/popularized the format that dominates on Sunday mornings and the author of many, many books. He was a a big deal. Especially if you voted for Reagan. His intelligence and his integrity made him respected by those of all political stripes. The same could have been said about his son. Until today. Because Chris Buckley, an author in his own write who penned Thank You For Smoking, came out and endorsed Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Whoa!?!?!?!? His public defection from the Republican party has made him Public Enemy no. 2 on the Right and showed just how far the Rovian politics of the present-day GOP have stratyed from the tenets of the Buckley's American Conservatism. After all, Buckley hasn't suddently renounced everything he believes in, and that his father stood for (fiscally conservative and desirous of small government while being libertarian leaning with social policy). Rather he believes that the party that has traditioanlly stood up for what he beleives in has become so rephrensible that he must endorse for the other guys' guy.