It was nice to see the Texas Rangers win last night and finally clinch the franchise’s very first playoff series, and it was even better to see Cliff Lee’s absolute dominance of the Rays lineup.

But walking away from the game, I’m left with the funny feeling that with the exception of David Price, the Rays team had their minds elsewhere.  The first three runs that the Rangers scored all came on plays in which their hustle caught Tampa Bay off guard.

First there was Elvis Andrus going from second to home on an infield ground out.  Then, in the top of the fourth, Nelson Cruz surprised Kelly Shoppach by attempting to swipe third base immediately after hitting a double.  And then finally, Vladimir Guerrero going from second to home on a Rays missed double play in the sixth inning.

No offense to the most rotund of the Molina brothers, but you know you have to get your head in the game when Benji Molina steals a base off you.

At the beginning of the playoffs we talked about the large number of story lines coming out of Tampa Bay, from Carl Crawford’s impending free agency to the team’s oft criticized fan base.  It’s an intangible that obviously can’t be measured, but with last night’s performance and the fact that the team lost all of its games at Tropicana Field, you could be forgiven for putting on your Damien Cox bald cap and saying, You gotta at least ask the question: How much did of a role did off field distractions play in the Rays loss to the Rangers?

And The Rest

As much as I disagree with the idea of replacing champagne with ginger ale, the Rangers showed immense team spirit and class by initially celebrating with the green plastic bubbly instead of the good stuff in order to include center fielder and recovering alcoholic Josh Hamilton.

Fredi Gonzalez will be named the Braves next manager.

It’s the classic television network wants money from cable providers, cable providers threaten to pull television network battle that could lead to a lack of World Series coverage for many.

The New York Times has A Tale of Two Locker Rooms.

A no-hitter and four shutouts so far means that the postseason is proving that this truly is the year of the pitcher, right?  Wrong.  Well, sort of.

Jerry Crasnick has some more Cliff Lee love.

Yesterday I posted my list of the ten worst baseball movies of all time.  I stand by my decision to include Rookie Of The Year in that list despite the immediate and angry backlash I received on Twitter.

FanGraphs asks, “What now for the Rays?”

Just your typical Philadelphia sports fan message board thread devoted to Pat The Bat.  Awesome.

Some Derek Jeter nostalgia to make you sick.

Finally, the ALCS and NLCS schedules have been released:

Fri., Oct. 15th

  • ALCS Game 1, NYY @ TEX TBS 8:07 p.m.

Sat., Oct. 16th

  • ALCS Game 2, NYY @ TEX TBS 4:07 p.m.
  • NLCS Game 1, SF @ PHI FOX 7:57 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 17th

  • NLCS Game 2, SF @ PHI FOX 8:19 p.m.

Mon., Oct. 18th

  • ALCS Game 3, TEX @ NYY TBS 8:07 p.m.

Tues., Oct. 19th

  • NLCS Game 3, PHI @ SF FOX 4:19 p.m.
  • ALCS Game 4, TEX @ NYY TBS 8:07 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 20th

  • ALCS Game 5, TEX @ NYY TBS 4:07 p.m.
  • NLCS Game 4, PHI @ SF FOX 7:57 p.m.

Thurs., Oct. 21st

  • NLCS Game 5, PHI @ SF FOX 7:57 p.m.

Fri., Oct. 22nd

  • ALCS Game 6, NYY @ TEX TBS 8:07 p.m.

Sat., Oct. 23rd

  • NLCS Game 6, SF @ PHI FOX 3:57 p.m.
  • ALCS Game 7, NYY @ TEX TBS 8:07 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 24th

  • NLCS Game 7, SF @ PHI FOX 7:57 p.m.