The Tampa Bay Rays are on the cusp of advancing to the ALCS (which will give them as many series victories as the Cubs in the last 100 years), and it looks like they’re going to be tough to slow down. But, that won’t stop the White Sox from trying, say the Rays.
Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard working his magic
Joe Maddon tells the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES that the Sox are going to do everything in their power to hamper Tampa’s speedy lineup, including putting soft dirt around home plate and first base, and watering the field so heavily that it’s basically a mud pit. And the Sox don’t seem to be hiding their intentions all that well.
The TIMES’ Marc Topkin has the details:
The Sox’s head groundskeeper, Roger Bossard, has long been known as one of the best at such tactics.
“It’s been that way for ages here,” said Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, a Chicago native. “It’s been well-documented what they do, and how they configure the field to their advantage. … It would not surprise me at all to see that (today). In fact, I’d probably be surprised if I didn’t see something out of the ordinary.”
Ozzie Guillen doesn’t go out of his way to dispel the notion that the Sox will be trying to gain an advantage:
Guillen joked that he’d tell Bossard to “have a swimming pool at first base,” then said straight-faced there was nothing in the works. But the Twins, who like the Rays are a speed team, complained about the conditions during their last visit, and the Rays will be monitoring, with the prerogative of bringing it to the attention of the umpires.
The Rays also expect the infield grass to be cut long to slow down their ground balls. The Sox, who hit a major-league-leading 143 home runs at home (more than eight teams hit overall), are more of a fly-ball team.
Conveniently for the Sox, it appears as if Bossard won’t need to use a hose to achieve the desired effect. Rain has been falling at the Cell for most of the day, but is expected to ease up as the day goes on. Don’t be surprised to see the tarp lifted a little early.
The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES’ Greg Couch mentions the groundskeeping situation, but says that the homer-happy Sox would be better off with warmer weather so the ball would fly a little better.