By Mary Granath Posted October 22, 2008
According to coach Dustin Christean, one of the biggest advantages the Tampa Bay Rays will have in the World Series is home-field advantage. Home field advantage in the World Series goes to the league that wins the annual American League against National League All-Star game.
When the All-Star game was played at Yankee Stadium in July it was one of the most memorable in recent years with the AL winning 4-3 in 15 innings. In the last inning, the Twins’ Justin Morneau slid home ahead of the throw with the winning run. Ironically, Tampa Bay Ray starter Scott Kazmir picked up the win in relief.
The Ray’s have gone from last place to the World Series, something only one other team has done. So maybe the Rays are just fulfilling their destiny. Who could have predicted a win from Kazmir in July in a game that isn’t supposed to matter could make such a difference three months later?
Coach Christean played baseball four years at Lowry. As a pitcher, he played one year at Feather River College and Modesto Junior College. He then finished his final two years at Grace College (Indiana). He has coached baseball for Dayton and McQueen and is in his second year as the head softball coach at Lowry.
In the game of baseball pitching is unquestionably one of the most important aspects. Coach Christean believes that the Rays have the advantage in this area. “The Ray’s have some young guys who throw hard and it always seems to be the hard throwers that make the biggest statements in October.”
Coach Christean considers the Phillies to have the benefit when it comes to relief pitchers. “The Phillies have the advantage which and could be huge and could swing the momentum for them. [Brad] Lidge hasn’t blown a save. If he blows one, this would be the bad time of the year to do it.”
Offense is key to the game and Coach Christean thinks this advantage lies with the Rays. “The biggest key on offense is who has home-field advantage. The Phillies match up really well, playing a national league style, but the Rays have the advantage because they have four American League rules games in their stadium. The power is going to match up pretty nicely with [Ryan] Howard and [Evan] Longoria…”
Just as important, if not more, than offense, Coach Christean considers the Rays to have the upper hand in defense as well. “That’s probably the biggest reason they’re in there now is that their defense has been tremendous for the young players they have. Ryan Howard is a liability at first base and that could come back to bite them. He does help on the offensive end but defensively I think the right side of the Rays infield with [Akinori] Iwamura and [Carlos] Pena is a lot better.”
Coach Christean believes that when it comes to coaching the advantage is with the Phillies. “I’ve always liked what Manuel’s [Phillies’ Coach] done, he’s always surrounded himself with professional people. He always seems to make his teams gel.”
The only area in which the teams seem to be equally matched is the intangibles. He thinks that Price and Longoria for the Rays are questions that good go either way. He added, “The intangibles for the Phillies are when do they blow a lead? Is it going to happen this year or do they keep shutting the door as they have been? If the Phillies could pick a couple away with the help of their bullpen there’s a shot they could win it also. The experience factor might come into play a little bit as far as the Phillies taking back a little bit of an advantage. It will be interesting to see how that plays out and how the young kids respond for the Rays.”
When it comes down to it Coach believes that the Rays will be triumphant in the end.“I think the Rays are going to win in seven games. The Phillies will put up a fight. The two teams match up well so it should be a good show.”