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Archive for Friday, October 10, 2008

Red Sox, Rays downplay rivalry

October 10, 2008

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— Winning creates a rivalry, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays claim, rather than years of testy relations between the teams.

That was the message coming out of the AL championship series Thursday, with both sides trying to play down a history of brawling that's adding spice to the buildup.

"Bad blood?" smiling Boston slugger David Ortiz said. "There's no bad blood. This is not the WWF. It's a baseball game, bro.

"I mean, come on. I walk out there and they're hugging me, and I hug them back. It's a game. Sometimes you have things happening. It stays on the field. It's not like you're going to walk to the parking lot and wait for somebody," he said.

The wait for the start of the ALCS is almost over. Game 1 in the best-of-seven series is tonight.

"I know a lot is being made of past pugilistic events. But that has nothing to do with today. Nothing," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

"Those were when the Devil Rays were really struggling, and the games had an entirely different tone to them. We're a different team. We're a different organization now."

They're AL East champions, to be more precise. And, looking to end wild-card Boston's quest for a third World Series title in five years.

Now, that's something that can turn Rays-Red Sox into a genuine rivalry, Maddon said.

"We had the one incident this year. That to me also is ancient history," Maddon said, referring to a bench-clearing brawl June 5 at Fenway Park that led to eight suspensions.

"The rivalry is being built because we're good. That's why. We're in the same division and now we're good. ... It has to begin somewhere. It's got to be this genesis where everything begins. That's what's happening right now. This year truly is building into a legitimate rivalry, whereas in the past I think it was more fabricated."

Boston manager Terry Francona said that with what's at stake in the ALCS, past skirmishes are the furthest thing from the minds of the players.

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