Speaking only for myself …

The baseball playoffs are already duller. The Tampa Bay Rays lost Tuesday and are gone. How fitting that it was a one-run game in the bottom of the ninth.

With their miniscule, small-market payroll, they wore the underdog label well. The best kind of party crashers. Even more, they were the antithesis of the Red Sox you’ve come to scorn.

Tampa Bay’s comeback after trailing the Yankees 7-0 in the final game of the regular season will become mythic.

Yeah, I know. The Yankees pointed any pitcher with a breath toward the mound to save their pitching staff for the playoffs, but Tampa Bay still had to believe it could get the hits to score runs. The Rays get this year’s prize for baseball’s Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Award. No other team was close.

Colleague Kevin Thomas had Tony Pena at the top of his list to be the next Red Sox manager. Pena is my first choice. Not that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein or his handlers would take such a bold step.

The 2003 American League Manager of the Year when he got the Kansas City Royals to overachieve is too passionate. Think of him as Ozzie Guillen Light.

Pena is a former Red Sox catcher and now with the Yankees as Joe Girardi’s bench coach. From a USA Today story on Pena’s first day as Royals manager in 2003: “I’m the deejay and I play the music. Everybody is going to dance. If you don’t know how to dance, get off the dance floor.”

Pena got off the dance floor in May 2005, resigning as manager. He was fed up after the Royals lost 104 games in 2004, when the team sold off what little talent it had. So long, Carlos Beltran.

With the second-lowest payroll in baseball, the Royals continued to lose in 2005 and worse, were mentally absent without leave on the playing field. The proud Pena blamed himself and walked.

He’s been with the Yankees for five years. He’s learned more about himself. Don’t think he and Red Sox owner John Henry can speak the same baseball language, which dooms his chances. Too bad.

Ryan Flaherty is back in Nashville for this part of the off-season, waiting to see who becomes the new Chicago Cubs GM.

The Deering High and Vanderbilt infielder went from Double-A to Triple-A this summer and has a chance to make the 40-man roster this winter. The first-round pick is 25.

The Patriots’ player wearing No. 66 and lining up at tight end Sunday against the Oakland Raiders was Thomas Welch, a seventh-round draft pick in 2010. He has a small rooting section back in Maine: His father Dwayne is a Cheverus High graduate and Westbrook native.

The younger Welch stands 6-foot-7, 310 pounds. He was a quarterback in high school, was shifted to tight end and then to tackle at Vanderbilt. An economics major, he has the mental skills demanded by the ever-changing Bill Belichick offensive looks.

He was on the field for 24 snaps, according to ESPN, using his mobility and blocking skills, especially with starter Aaron Hernandez out with a knee injury.

Overlooked in Maine’s 31-17 win over Delaware on Saturday was the fact that quarterback Warren Smith had time to throw deep downfield.

He was pressured but never sacked. But then, aren’t offensive lines usually overlooked until they allow five or six sacks?

Willie Greenlaw, the legendary Portland High and University of Nebraska running back, will be recognized with more than a dozen former Portland Sea Hawks and Maine Sabers football players Saturday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

The Sabers advanced to the Eastern Football League semifinals with an 8-0 victory over the Bay State Bucs last weekend. The Sabers’ next opponent is the Middleboro Cobras, eight-time league champ.

The return of semipro players won’t include quarterback Dan Hendrix of Portland, who passed away last winter at age 50.

Hendrix didn’t play quarterback in high school or college but became legendary for his strong arm for Joe’s Smoke Shop in Portland’s touch football league.

From there he “graduated” to the Sabers nearly 20 years ago. An intense competitor, he could throw the football farther than kicker Steve Goodrich could kick it. And Goodrich could kick 50 yards. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: SteveSolloway