Hunting the Beasts of the American League East
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Pennant races are the essence of baseball. Throughout the history of America’s national pastime, teams have been measured by how they fared down the stretch, when the games mattered most. September Nights is the story of how the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays handled the heat during the most critical part of the season, as seen through the eyes of All-Star pitcher James Shields. Tampa Bay entered the last month of the 2010 season knowing they had to fight off the “Beasts of the East” – the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox—if they were going to achieve their goal of winning their second American League East title in three seasons. The tension mounts as the season reaches high gear. Not only is the team striving to win the pennant, they also know they are running out of time. The Rays players find themselves facing a bittersweet situation: They play for a “small market” team, and the writing is on the wall. The Rays ownership will have to slash payroll in 2011, and many of the team’s players, having outgrown their contracts, will not be back. Can this close-knit team accomplish all their goals in the little time they have remaining as teammates? Shields is not only a master on the mound, he is also a master storyteller with a smooth narrative style. Along the way, he offers insights into the Rays, opposing teams, the art of pitching, and what is going through his mind at key moments in the Rays’ stretch run.