A six-run third inning was the difference for the Red Sox as they would go on to blow out the Rays, 9-3, but the real story of this game wasn’t about the performances on the field.
This game was about showcasing the personalities of one of the most young, exciting teams in baseball thanks to national exposure from being televised on ESPN.
The casual baseball fan definitely got to know the quirks of this team last fall when the Rays faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 World Series. However, Tuesday afternoon showed off a side of the Rays that produced one of the most entertaining spring training broadcasts from the network possibly ever.
It all started with Brett Phillips, who before October, was a relatively unknown commodity in MLB. Fans sure got to know him after his walk-off single in Game 4 of the Fall Classic, a sequence of events that will forever go down in baseball history.
Phillips spent the entire second inning with broadcasters Karl Ravech, Tim Kurkjian, and Eduardo Perez, both out in center field and through FaceTime in the Rays dugout. If you haven’t seen the videos of his conversation circulating around the league already, let us be the first to show them to you, and what an enjoyable conversation it was.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the third installment of his and Randy Arozarena’s dance battles that went viral during last season’s postseason run, but we saw Brett’s side of it for sure.
Also, Phillips’ airplane celebration is still plenty in style
After Phillips, the ESPN crew had Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier from what seemed to be a car as he didn’t travel with the team to Fort Myers for the game. “The Outlaw” had a lot of fun with the crew, but his appearance might have given the Rays some bad luck as pitcher David Hess allowed three home runs during the interview.
It was all in good fun though as it’s only spring training. Players are getting back to in-season form, so a bad outing here or there, is all part of it.
A few more Rays came on the telecast, including shortstop Willy Adames, with guest appearances from Randy Arozarena and MLB’s No. 1 prospect Wander Franco in the background. Franco made his own appearance an inning or two later, talking about how he celebrated his 20th birthday on Monday and his mindset as the top prospect in baseball, two years running.
You couldn’t talk to the Rays without talking to manager Kevin Cash, who came on later in the broadcast and told a hilarious story about the aforementioned Phillips at the start of the spring, and this gem while Phillips was on FaceTime earlier in the game.
All of these interviews did one thing for the Rays: exposure.
This is exactly the spotlight this team needed to show off just who they are. Players like Brett Phillips are household names and cult heroes.
Willy, Randy and Wander are the present and the future, the excitement in the dugout, and the spark plugs in the clubhouse.
If you thought the 2020 Rays were fun, buckle up for 2021 because this might be the single closest group of players that MLB has ever seen, and they’re here to finish the job they started in 2020 and win a championship.