I’m a bit overdue, but it’s that time of year, folks. The time that I start writing about baseball! Woo-hoo!

Wait! Wait! Don’t run off. Come back! Ah, shoot. OK, so baseball is a bit of a passion for me. Hey! What the hell? Could be worse. I could be writing about Mahjong tournaments or crossword puzzle addictions, right? Or would you prefer that? ;)

I live in Tampa, Florida, as many of you may know. You probably also know that I’m a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays American League East baseball team, which currently resides in their home at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida; right across the Bay from me.

The Rays weren’t always an impressive team. During their initial seasons here in the Tampa Bay area as the “Devil Rays,” they struggled quite a bit and usually ended at the bottom of the AL East by the season’s end. It was a learning, growing experience, I suppose. Then one day, a fellow named Joe Maddon showed up here to manage a newly renamed “Rays” baseball organization. Some ownership and control changes also had recently occurred.

And POOF! The Magic began. From cellar dwellers to hunter killers in the AL East, the Rays are now, and have been for the past few season, a power to be reckoned with in the American League East; one of the most difficult leagues to play in. The AL East is populated by some of the most terrifyingly talented and ridiculously funded teams in all of the MLB: the legendary Bronx Bombers – the New York Yankees, the Monsters of Fenway – the Boston Red Sox, the Masters of Camden Yards – the Baltimore Orioles, and our Canuck Cousins – the Toronto Blue Jays. Talk about competition!

It’s a feat just to get past these guys to get a chance at the other American League teams vying for that World Series trophy in October. The Rays are going to give ‘em all hell this year, though. They have a lot of new faces in the clubhouse, but fortunately, also a bunch of old familiar faces, too. The Gold Glove caliber infield is intact, I’m happy to say, with the return of Evan Longoria (3b), Yunel Escobar (ss), Ben Zobrist (2b), and James Loney (1b).

The bats are back, too. Wil Myers, David DeJesus, Matt Joyce (hopefully showing some power this year), etc. Oh, and let’s not forget some serious Major League experience behind the plate with our dynamic duo of Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan, who ain’t too shabby with a bat in his hand, by the way.

Oh, and did I mention pitching? Well, David Price is back. I don’t know how the hell that happened, but our Cy Young pitcher will be back on the mound for opening day on Monday the 31st of March. Can David and the Rays pitching staff lead the team to the World Series this year? It sure looks like a possibility in my odds book.

The Rays have it all this season: front office support, management, coaching, experience, youth, speed, skill, talent, power, etc. Do they also have that passionate drive needed to survive 160+ games and give it their all each time the walk out on the field? We’ll see. I think they do.

LET’S GO RAYS!!!

Later…

~Eric

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

12 responses »

  1. PsiCop says:

    I’m not too sure about the Blue Jays, but all other the teams in the AL East have a real chance at winning the division. I fear my Red Sox will probably fall prey to the complacency, disinterest, and malaise that always settle in after they win it all, but even then, only a fool would rule them out. The 2014 season promises to be a barn-burner here in the East!

    • I’m glad to hear you calling them “my Red Sox” once again. You were pretty pissed off about them a couple years back with the Bobby Valentine fiasco and all that.

      Actually, just as I thought last season, Toronto has the talent to go wherever they want this season. I wouldn’t count them out completely. They weren’t in the cellar last year because they were a bad team. They were there because four other teams had them beat stat-wise. :)

      • PsiCop says:

        The Red Sox managed … beyond any of my expectations … to redeem themselves. In hindsight it appears that jettisoning the malcontents back in 2012 (Youkilis, Shoppach, Becket, Gonzalez, and Crawford) did the trick. That said, as I commented before, I expect a lot of complacency to set in this year.

        As for the Blue Jays, I never meant to say they were a bad team. Looking at all of the MLB they aren’t. They did end up a bit under .500 in 2013 but they’re definitely in the middle of the pack league-wide. Their problem is they’re mired in a very competitive division. If instead they were in, say, the NL East, they would absolutely have more than a good shot at coming in first-place. But I just don’t see them winning the AL East. Yeah, there’s a chance … maybe 5%. Honestly, though, looking at the Rays, Orioles (much improved over the last 2 years), Red Sox and the Bronx mob … it will be very hard for Toronto to top all of those.

  2. Randy Brown says:

    Hope the Rays do well, Vtel. You know I’m a Brewers fan. I usually root for the Tigers, too, but was kind of pulling for Prince and now he’s not there any more. If the Rangers take Ricky Weeks of our hands in Milwaukee, I may have to root for them out of gratitude! So… why not the Rays!?! I just can’t root for those AL bums in New York.

    • HAHA! Heh! Tampa has a large Wankee fan contingent. It’s funny when they play vs the Rays at the Trop. I’ve been there for games where I thought it was a Yankees home game rather than a Rays one because there to twice as many Yankee fans in the Trop than Rays fans. Sad. :(

      • PsiCop says:

        I haven’t been to a game in Baltimore but as I understand it, when the Red Sox and maybe even the Yankees are there, it’s the same story. I’ve actually considered going there to watch a Red Sox game. Prices are lower, and if you pack a car with riders, it could end up being very economical. I assume lots of other folks in the northeast have done the same math and concluded likewise.

      • Randy Brown says:

        During the Michael Jordan era, I avoided Milwaukee Bucks games when the Bulls were in town. There were definitely more Bulls fans than Bucks fans… or maybe the Bulls fans just had more to cheer about… yeah… that’s probably it. :(

        • Even though I grew up with a half court basketball court in my backyard, B-ball was never a fav of mine. I was always a baseball and football fan. Over the last decade or so, though, I’ve completely lost any love I ever had for football. The NFL is just a way for rich bastards to make more $$$ off poor bastards; not that the MLB isn’t that way, but maybe just not so blatant about it.

    • PsiCop says:

      A Yankees hater! Wah-hoo! ;)

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