Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tampa Bay Rays 4 at Cleveland Indians 0 (AL Wild Card Game) - October 2, 2013

Last week I saw what I thought was my last baseball game of the season in St. Louis, but the Cleveland Indians won their last 10 games of the season while the Tampa Bay Rays lost two to the Blue Jays on the final weekend to give the Indians the top wild card spot. This meant that Progressive Field would host the wild card game on Wednesday, the day before the Browns and Bills would do battle. In other words, I was already in Cleveland, and with nothing better to do, I headed downtown to see if I could get in.

Fellow road tripper Michael "King" Casiano had made the trip from New York so we met for lunch and then headed over to the ballpark. The game was completely sold out but we expected to get tickets from somewhere, since we had heard prices on StubHub were coming down.

With 30 minutes to go before game time, there was nothing available so I took a lap around the stadium and found a guy waving a piece of paper in the air. I ran over to him and asked him if he was selling, he replied he had a single and wanted $40. This was less than my maximum budget of $50, so I gave him a couple of twenties and continued on, hoping to find a ticket for Mike. Amazingly, we couldn't find another single, so I sold my ticket to Mike so he could get in, as he had taken an overnight bus ride from New York and I really didn't care much who won. I was prepared to head over to a local bar, but as first pitch approached, I managed to find a way into the park. I'm not going to tell you what happened, but being short and inconspicuous does sometimes have advantages.

The great thing about Progressive Field is that there is a large standing room section along the lower concourse, so I moved back and forth along here throughout the game. I also found a concession called "Your Dad's Beer" selling 12 oz cans of Rolling Rock (among other options) for $4. Canned beer is better than the swill that substitutes for draft beer at stadiums, and cheaper too. Since I was standing, I had no trouble running over to the stand during inning breaks to get another beer. I even got ID'd once, which was extremely gratifying.

The game itself was terribly slow, lasting 3:40 with only 286 pitches being thrown. This equates to 1.3 PPM (Pitches Per Minute, my stat that measures the pace of a baseball game), the slowest MLB game I have ever seen. I used to criticize Japanese baseball for being slow, but this was just ridiculous.

Alex Cobb started for Tampa Bay and pitched well, scattering 8 hits over 6.2 innings. Although Cleveland threatened often, Cobb made 20 pitches with a man on third and did not allow a ball in the air, leaving with the Rays up 3-0. The Rays' bullpen closed the door the rest of the way, with Fernando Rodney (below) striking out Lonnie Chisenhall (above, as the Cleveland bench looks on) to end the game.

The Rays celebrated with silly string as you can see below, with David Price on the far left.

The fans didn't hang around, clearing out quickly as their team looks forward to 2014. Both Wild Card games were lost by teams from Ohio, a meaningless coincidence.

If baseball continues with this stupidly slow games, I'll have to stop going. It simply isn't enjoyable to have a game lasting over 3.5 hours, even if it is a playoff tilt.



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