Leadership is a word that gets tossed around in sports.

When a player does well in a game, it’s described as leadership. When a player talks to the media often, people perceive it as leadership

The definition of leadership in sports terms should be a player who takes his team to the postseason not to mention leading them to postseason victories.

The time has come for the Rays’ stars to lead today. If the Rays want to play tomorrow, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton or Evan Longoria either need to hit home runs or drive in runs with men on base.

This is what it comes down to. It would also be nice if Matt Garza can pitch like a lights-out starter for the Rays to stay alive.

It’s not unreasonable to expect a lot out of the Rays’ stars.  They are being paid well to go out and produce. They are the faces of the franchise, which fans identify them when it comes to naming players that play for the Rays.

They failed to get it done so far, and now this is their last chance. They better make the most of that opportunity.

There will not be a next time if they failed to get it done here. Forget the fact there won’t be another game this year, but this might be the last time those guys are playing for the Rays.


Rays owner Stuart Sternberg made it clear he is cutting payroll. Translate this as the Rays won’t bother signing Crawford and Pena.  Upton could be trade bait.

Crawford has done nothing. He hasn’t been on base, and he has not done much running in this series. He hasn’t gotten any key hits either.

This is not the way he wants to end his Rays career. He knows it. There’s no question he is trying, but he’s playing in a sport where he is in the business of doing not trying.

Crawford will likely be a Yankee next year. The Yankees need an outfielder, and he wants to win a championship.  Talk about a perfect match.

Being the competitor Crawford is, he does not want to leave the Rays with unfinished business. There is no question he knows he has to do something.

Pena is not coming back. Even if he comes at a reasonable price, it’s not happening.  After the way Pena played this season, the Rays know this is the best he could do.

He did not start Game 2, so who knows how is he going to respond by being benched? Who knows if he’s going to play? Maddon should play him because he gives the Rays a chance to win this game.

Maybe he comes through here. He should get the opportunity. There are not many better options out there for first base.


The Rays first baseman has received the brunt of criticism all season for his poor performance, but today could be the day where people can forget for one day.

He is another guy that has to shine.

Upton needs to find the postseason magic from 2008. He batted .304, and he hit 7 home runs in leading the Rays to the World Series. He was the reason why the Rays defeated the Red Sox in advancing to the World Series.

So far in his second try at postseason play, he has not matched his 2008 success.  He struck out four times in the first two games of this series. He has not gotten a stinkin’ hit.

Rays fans let Upton know about his performance by booing him on Thursday.

He will be the first one to blame if the Rays are eliminated in October. Fans are quick to blame him when the Rays lose.  He brings it upon himself with his inconsistency and his ability to be lackadaisical at times.

Upton should be a star in baseball. His ability to hit for power and steal bases should make him a star, but too many times, he plays awful baseball by showing no discipline with his at-bats.

Now is the time for him to show he can get it done. They know he can change the complexion of the game with one swing of the bat.


He is another guy that could be on his last days with the Rays. The team may have had enough of his enigmatic play. At some point, they will realize this is the best he can do.

Players don’t get to stay forever to prove their worth. It’s a business. If there is someone better, the team will go will that player rather than stick with Upton.

Of all the players that have the pressure to perform, it’s Upton. He set that standard after his brilliant play in October two years ago. Who can blame anyone for wanting a repeat?

Elimination game is an ultimate challenge. It reveals who has heart. It reveals who wants it. It says something about the players.

Those guys played a role in the Rays’ success these last few years. This team has been resilient all year because of those guys.

This team needs them at the right time.

Today is a good place to start.

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