A wise man once wrote, “If the Rays are still in first place after the All-Star game, I’ll eat my shoe.” OK, maybe it wasn’t a very wise man, but since this bold prediction, I have learned two things: The Tampa Bay Rays are the real deal, and my size 10 New Balance give me indigestion.
To my credit, I was talking about the Tampa Bay Rays, who for 10 miserable years have been described using phrases like league laughingstock, perennial loser and cellar dweller. Did anyone realistically think that this team was going to contend this year? No one has ever doubted their young talent, but I was thinking a .500 record would have been a very successful year for these guys. Now it looks like they are going to win 100 games. Stephen King couldn’t have written this script.
Over the course of this season, I have watched this team find every conceivable way to pull out a victory. One night it’s a walk-off home run, the next night the opposing pitcher hits a Ray with the bases loaded to walk in the tying run. They lost arguably their two best players for a month, and they kept on winning. It borders on being surreal. They say that it’s better to be lucky than good. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, this Rays team is both.
Tampa Bay had the best record in the league during Spring Training. Who cared? Those games don’t mean squat.
The Rays swept the defending World Champions early in the season… obviously a fluke.
The Rays lead the AL East at the All-Star break. Big deal, 82 games left to play.
The Tampa Bay Rays now have a five 1/2 game lead in the AL East with only 46 games remaining… Gulp.
Now of course, being a Red Sox fan, I am not willing to concede the division. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played, including six games against each other. I’m predicting that the Boston Red Sox will come back and win the division.
I have to be right once this season, right?