Game On…with Rob Kriete – OCTOBER 28

The Tampa Bay Rays came up short against the Los Angeles Dodgers this week in the 2020 World Series but left it all on the field.
“It would have been a nice coffee shop,” for the Rays. That line comes from the 1988 adventure comedy film, Midnight Run, starring the great Robert De Niro and underrated Charles Grodin. Ironically, 1988 was the last time the Dodgers won the World Series as they rode the Orel Hershiser train to the championship that year. In the movie, De Niro is an underdog hero who simply wants what he deserves and finally opens a nice little coffee shop. He never relents, fights until the very end, and after giving his all without reward, ultimately laments, “It would have been a nice coffee shop,” as he continues to do the right thing. (This is one of my favorite 80’s films).

The Rays got to the World Series on deep pitching, solid defense, and playing sound fundamental baseball. Without late-season call-up Randy Arozarena, and his ten post-season home runs, they may not have made it that far. Ten! Otherwise, the Rays struggled offensively in the playoffs, and their struggles at the plate made the 2020 World Series challenging to navigate for manager Kevin Cash.

The lineup seemed impatient at times, unwilling to take a pitch in many unconventional spots, like leading off late innings or on 2 – 0 pitches. The hitters seemed anxious to put the ball in play, which only played into the Dodger pitcher’s hands who did an excellent job of containing the left-handed bats of the Rays, for the most part.

Manuel Margot’s failed attempted steal of home against Clayton Kershaw exemplified their offensive worry about scoring runs. But these young Rays played hard throughout, and even though I expected the 7th game, they represented Tampa Bay well. With a veritable skill of maximizing MLB players’ talents, the Rays are in a good position to be a strong contender next season. It would have been a nice coffee shop this season, but Rays fans will rejoice if they can have one when they get their Game On in 2021!