Happy Labor Day to all those who labor, and happy Erev Rosh Hashana to all who celebrate!
The bad news? The Rays lost yesterday. The good news? So did the Yankees and Red Sox. The Rays remain 7.5 games ahead of the second place Yankees, who have the Red Sox just behind them. I feel like it’s tempts fate if you start talking magic numbers too soon but we’re getting to the point where a bit of magic number talk will be appropriate.
Zach Kram of the Ringer has such a good overview of the Rays — the uncharacteristically strong offense, the nearly unprecedented use of rookie starters — that I will try to look past his referring to the team as “Tampa”. (But seriously, how hard is it to add the “Bay?” do these writers have trouble with Green Bay Packers?).
I’ll be honest: I knew Wander Franco was a heavily hyped prospect, but I figured how good could he be? I mean, so many Wunderkinder hit the big leagues and if all goes well they turn out to be decent major leaguers but no more. And when Franco scuffled the tiniest bit in the first few weeks, I figured it was going to take him this season to become even that decent major leaguer. But as his on base streak hits 35, let me say I’m sorry. He is really all that.
An overview of Arozarena’s Rays tenure:
From the “AL East is one tough division” department:
The record of 4th place teams in their divisions in MLB:— Josh Goldberg (@JGoldberg12) September 5, 2021
Blue Jays: 72-62
Stadium saga: No “new news” here but an overview of how a stadium could be part of Ybor redevelopment, still ($)
Around the League
Ken Rosenthal notes that players who decline vaccination hurt their team’s competitiveness, as low vaccination rates correlate to more days missed with infections and quarantines($). I guess we have a new way of determining who is a “good clubhouse guy”. And speaking of this, two other Boston Red Sox players have tested positive and will not be available to play the Rays this week.
Reflecting on the decline of African-American participation in professional baseball, the Washington Post has a series featuring nine current and former players, ranging in time from Willie Mays to Ian Moller, an 18 year old prospect in the Rangers organization ($).
A Wild Card overview from the NY Times ($)
From ESPN, how many teams should be in the playoffs?
Grant Brisbee (previously of SBN, now the Giants beat writer for The Athletic) is one of the best baseball writers out there, and the Giants - Dodgers rivalry is one of the oldest and deepest rivalries, so you know this is a good read ($).
Our own Brian Menéndez digs deep to figure out what is going right for the Red’s Joey Votto.
I can’t stop watching this Marcus Stroman play. Watch it until the end.
Marcus Stroman. Gold Glove. pic.twitter.com/UuPzOuznbf— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 4, 2021
Old friend alert: Willy Adames’ MVP caliber Brewer’s season hits pause .