I just finished watching the Tampa Bay Rays lose their last game of the 2014 season.
Rays 2014 season total: 77 wins – 85 losses
It’s been a bad one. Rays fans have seen worse, though. Back in the Devil Rays era, a losing season like this was a sadly common occurrence. No one expected it for this year and this group of Rays. As a matter of fact, I’m holding in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers* a Tampa Bay Times Sports section insert from 20 March of this year. In big bold font on the front it says, “Trophy Case – The Rays have done all they can to make their title argument.” It’s accompanied by a big mock World Series trophy with the Rays players on the little flags and “World Champions – 2014 – The Tampa Bay Rays” on the base plate.
Hmm… some really wishful thinking on the part of the Times sports writers, evidently. The Rays did NOT have what it takes to make it even to the playoffs this season. They do have some valid excuses, though. They lost their ace pitcher in a trade. They lost numerous key players to injury. Some key players did not perform at the levels expected of them. Et cetera. Excuses don’t win championships. Whatever went awry, whatever plans didn’t pan out, whatever players had issues of one type or another; I’m confident that, under the continued leadership of Joe Maddon, all will be analyzed and solutions will be discovered and implemented.
Maybe that pretty trophy will end up in the Rays’ trophy case in 2015.
The cold and dark winter is nearly upon us now, but the spring will come… and with it a renewed, refreshed, and ready Rays organization. Can’t hardly wait to hear that “Play ball!”
*This phrase about the formerly nicotine-stained fingers was a trademark phrase used by a favorite talk radio host of mine from many years ago toward the end of his career. His on-air name was Bob Lassiter. I pretty much stopped listening to talk radio after he retired. There will never be another like him.