The regular season hasn’t even started yet and the Rays are already doomed. I’m not talking about the injury to their best relieve pitcher J.P. Howell, although he will be sorely missed in April. It is the jinx that has been put on them by Sports Illustrated.
The publication’s prediction of a World Series appearance has cursed the team to failure as sure as Pat Burrell has been a bust.
In the past the Rays fans would have been excited for any kind of recognition for their team, but given the expectations for this year and S.I.’s track record it is about as welcome as an ABBA reunion tour.
I’ve decided something has to be done to break the curse, so if your ever in Tampa and you happen to see a middle aged man with a blue Mohawk stop and say hello to a brother.
As I contemplate attending my first spring training game of the year this weekend it occurs to me how different my team may look next year. Due to a lack of revenue the Tampa Bay Rays are probably facing their last season with all star left fielder Carl Crawford and American League homerun leader Carlos Pena. (I know Teixeira had the same number, but if fat boy hadn’t of beaned him he would have hit more) The good news is the present team has never looked better. They have signed a legitimate closer in Rafael Soriano which will solidify an already talented bullpen. The starting rotation is as tough top to bottom as they come. The infield features three members of last years all star roster in Pena, shortstop Jason Bartlett, and Evan Longoria. It will be four if they decide to play Ben Zobrist at second base instead of right field. Add to that what many to believe is the fastest outfield in the league and you have a team that can compete for a playoff spot. The Rays have a chance to do something special this year, but after 2010 it’s all downhill. Starting in 2011 they will lose Crawford, Pena, and probably Soriano. In the following years they will lose other top players to big market teams who treat organizations like Tampa Bay’s like their own farm system. I’ve decided not to worry about any of that and just try and enjoy the baseball season this year and hope the Rays can make it to the big show again, because it will be a long time before they have another team as good as the one they have now.