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!!!