Monday, October 20, 2008

David Slays Goliath Again: Former Vandy Star Sparks Rays to World Series

Former Vanderbilt Star David Price Celebrates His Priceless Performance To Spark The Tampa Bay Rays To Their First World Series

The Price Was Right Again!

Lefthanded Pitcher David Price, former Vanderbilt All-American and 2006 National Player of the Year, came out of the bullpen Sunday night (October 20)to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to their first American League pennant and World Series appearance.

It was Price's first major league save to add to his first major league victory which he recorded against the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox earlier in this same American League Championship Series. That's remarkable for someone who made the Rays playoff roster only because of an injury to another player, and the fact that Price has yet to record a regular-season win or save in the Majors. But don't worry, Price's future appears to hold many special moments ahead!

David Price spent this past season playing at every level in professional baseball. He began with spring training, then went to extended spring training in the Instructional League while recovering from a minor arm injury. Then, in May, he began a remarkable climb through the Rays minor league system from Class A all the way through AAA, garnering a 12-1 record and being named Minor League Player of the Year.

His performance earned him a late season promotion to the big league club, where he pitched well in several late season games, including his first major league appearance (in relief) at Yankee Stadium and his first major league start for the Rays which resulted in a no-decision.

All that set the stage for the AL Championship Series where twice Price came out of the bullpen in the late innings to snuff out bases-loaded rallies by the Red Sox. In the first game, the Rays then scored in their next at-bat to give Price his first major league win, while in the second game (and the seventh and deciding game of the best-of-seven series), Price recorded the final four outs of the game, touching off a wild celebration that saw him swarmed under by his delirious teammates.

All this quick succes for David Price may come as a suprise to the sports world, but not to Vanderbilt fans, who saw his promise as a gifted player throughout the years the Murfreesboro native played for the Black and Gold. Courtesy of YouTube, check out this highlight video of his senior season when David was named National Player of the Year and became the Number One pick in the Major League Draft....

Of course, even some Vanderbilt fans may have mixed emotions about Price's ALCS success. I am sure Vanderbilt Baseball Coach Tim Corbin is more than thrilled for David, but he probably wishes it hadn't come against his beloved Red Sox. Ditto for my wife, Betty Lee. But hey, we still have someone to root for big time in the World Series,right!

I was particularly happy about Price's performance. Both times, when he came into the game (especially in Game 7), I remembered his one and only relief appearance for Vanderbilt in the NCAA Playoffs in 2006. Price pitched brilliantly but gave up a solo home run to a little used player for Michigan. which resulted in a Vanderbilt loss and the end of its season.

It was the last time David Price ever pitched for the Black & Gold. But he is clearly the type of player who can put disappointments behind him.

All this sets up a World Series between two teams Vanderbilt fans can certainly relate to, with this being the Rays first trip ever to the Fall Classic (in fact they's gone from worst to first so far, this being their first post-season appearance ever) opposing the National League champion Philadephia Phillies, a team that has won just one World Championship Flag during its many years in the league.

But the Rays have David, and now the whole world knows he is Priceless! Go Rays!

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