If there is one foregone conclusion this season, it’s that the Tampa Bay Rays are going to be atrocious. Fun Fact: their strongest and most ardent supporter is this guy: As you can see from Dickie V’s face, he’s already prepared for the heartache that is going to befall him this summer. Mr. Vitale has been a season ticket holder since the Rays inaugural season in 1998, and has stuck with them through an incredible decade of horribleness. From 1998-2007, not only did no team lose more games, but only six teams were within 100 losses of them. Obviously, a winning tradition had been building at Tropicana Field; however, last year they broke through with their first winning season and a trip to the playoffs. Way to go, I guess, but it’s not that hard to win when you have been stockpiling number one picks for ten years. But good for them, every team deserves a break once in a while.
Unfortunately, it’s not going to continue this year. Their manager, Joe Maddon, is cleary either crazy or dumb. I mean, just look at the team slogan he came up with last year: 9=8. The man can’t even do simple math. It supposedly refers to nine players playing together to make one of the eight playoffs spots, but I think the Rays are going need someone around that knows that 9 does actually equal 9. It’s going to be hard to overcome his ineptitude for another full year.
Also, building any momentum for the year will be difficult with the weight of all the bandwagon fans still hanging on from last year. Throughout their history, the Rays have had trouble drawing fans, and those that did come were mostly transplanted Redsox or Yankees fans that wanted to see some sort of baseball, no matter how awful it might be. Last year, though, people kept coming out of the woodwork so that their ranks swelled to abnormal proportions. Many fans tried to show their support by getting the ridiculous “Rayhawk.” Even a few female fans got the Rayhawk… only, they got them, you know, down there. What are all these band-wagoners going to do when the Rays suck this year? There’s no chance the Rays can keep up their winning ways. I mean, they beat both Redsox and Yankees last year. That has to be a fluke, right? No one has done that in 10 years. They have a few good players, like BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Akinori Iwamura, James Shields and Scott Kazmir, but come on, that’s not enough to compete.
Final Prediction: This year the Rays will fall back to the dregges of the AL East, going 78-84 and, once again, stuggling to find fly balls.