One week removed from a sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox turned the tables and swept the Rays at Fenway.
I still think Tampa Bay has a surprisingly good team. Good enough to compete in the AL East? That remains to be seen. But if the Yankees continue to slide (something you can never count on), and Toronto continues to stumble, and if Baltimore starts playing like it’s expected to (they can’t keep winning, can they?), when the dust settles Tampa probably won’t be in last place or even second to last place. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re a ways off from winning the division, but they’re no longer the whipping post that all teams can look forward to playing to get some easy wins. It’s just their (bad) luck to be in the AL East. Put that team in another division or in the National League, and I think they’d have a shot at the wild card.
Some fans only want their team to win and don’t want other teams to be good, at all. That’s not the case for me. While specifically I’m a Red Sox fan (and, to a lesser extent these days, a Mets fan), I’m still generally a big fan of the game of baseball. A well played ballgame is a well played ballgame is a well played ballgame. I want to see teams like Tampa have a shot at making it. The more one-sided it gets, the more boring it is. I like when you have a $200 million team like the Yankees that’s struggling, or a $120+ million team like the Tigers that can hit a ton but have no pitching and little defense, and then you can have a bargain basement group like the Rays right there with them. I like anything that takes money out of the equation and proves that you need more than high priced free agents and superstars to make it.
I read something on ESPN that said the Rays had set up what was essentially a “swear jar” for anyone within the organization who accidentally let slip the team’s old name (Devil Rays). Say “Devil Ray” and you have to put a dollar in the jar. They’ve also been sending out letters saying as much to broadcasters and journalists, requesting that they donate $1 to the Rays charitable foundation for each slip. No idea if they’re doing it or not, but it is funny. Maybe not quite as funny as hiring a big consulting/P.R. firm for millions of dollars to come up with a new team name and have them come back with just “Rays”, but funny nonetheless.