Among my favorite things about the end of summer is the Little League World Series. The Mrs. isn’t quite on board with the LLWS yet but, it is great for two reasons: 1) The kids seem like they are having so much fun playing the game; 2) The kids seem like they are having so much fun doing everything else associated with the game.
If you watch the LLWS you know that every team has a ton of silly superstitions. Every year, ABC interviews a kid that hasn’t washed his game socks in months. Or, they profile a team with some bizarre good luck charm displayed in their dugout. (This year, the team from California had a pair of sneakers hanging on the dugout fence.)
Any of that sound familiar? Of course it does. Our boys are playing like they are headed to Williamsport.
I was reading this morning about the team response to the shocking kidnapping of Astro, the toy dog that has adorned the top of our dugout since late August. Matt Moore came through with a replacement Astro he had in his backpack, Evan Longoria came through with a bigger fake dog to protect Astro. Everyone rallied to support their toy mascot. Pair that with the broken bat-head (used to scare Marco Scutaro away from BJ Upton’s clutch infield hit) the Rays have been toting around and you start to get the LLWS vibe.
We’ve all spent the last week trying to figure out what supernatural forces are at work in Rays-land. It didn’t occur to me until this morning, though, that the difference between the 2010 ALDS Rays and the 2011 ALDS Rays might be fun. No fate. No baseball gods. Just fun.
In 2010, we were the favorite. And we played tight like something was expected of us. In 2011, all that is expected is that the young Rays have a fun story to tell at the end of the series.
We’ve already discussed why the Rays disposition makes them so fun to root for. I never considered that it makes them win too. But, I think it does. They are immune to pressure, and that makes them very dangerous.