Talking this afternoon with TBS analyst Cal Ripken he likes the way the Tampa Bay Rays are heading into the American League Playoff battle. We spoke about some of the keys to winning in the post season and about what it takes to win a World Series title.
JW: Your thoughts on Tampa Bay?
Ripken: The Rays understand how to play post season baseball. Right now they are one of the hottest teams in baseball and they need to hold onto that momentum and get into the playoffs. Once they make it there the last thing any team wants to see is a red hot Rays team with Joe Maddon and all the creative things he can do to beat you. They would be a force if they made it into the playoffs and could stay hot.
JW: How important is managing in the post season?
Ripken: Managing in the post season is far more different than it is during the regular season. Normally you shorten up your pitching staff going with either your three or four best starters. Maybe if you have been a team that has relied on winning by the home run you tend to play more small ball. You might bunt a guy to second, or do a little more hit and run because everything is more intense.
JW: So then small ball is a winning strategy for the playoffs?
Rpiken: Not totally but the key in playoff baseball is to score first, add tack on runs and keep as much pressure as you can on the other team. Small ball helps but so does good pitching and strong defense. Clearly it is the teams that are fundamentally sound that wins World Series titles and right that looks like Detroit but that could change with a red hot Wild Card team.
Ripen will join Ernie Johnson, and Ron Darling as the lead broadcast team for TBS with the post season starting on Tuesday.