Saturday, October 04, 2008

Being Hungry

Take a look at The Roster of The Tampa Bay Rays. There is not one single player competing in The 2008 American League Division Series for The AL East Champions that does not have something to prove. Young guys trying to prove they belong. A few highly sought, one time prospects, trying to prove they are not wash outs today. Veterans looking to prove they are still viable. And a handful of journeyman proving they can play when a comfortable role is given them.

These 2008 Tampa Bay Rays are hungry. They want to belong. And they are playing like a real team.

They represent what Our Washington Nationals can be.

How Refreshing.

Tampa Bay has No Strut. No Pomp. No Circumstance. The Rays are just playing Good Ole' Hardball.

No one expected them to get this far. Now up 2-0 on The Chicago White Sox--One Win Away from advancing to The American League Championship Series.

Evan Longoria, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford are their rising stars on the field.

Scott Kazmir and James Shields are Tampa's rising stars on the mound.

And Japanese Import, Akinori Iwamura, is a pretty good all around player, better than advertised--flying well under the radar of his far more popular headline makers and countrymen--Ichiro, Hideki Matsui and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

But where Tampa Bay has found their team is in re-treads. Players that other teams no longer wanted.

It took Carlos Pena five organizations and probably is last chance to finally learn how to play Major League Baseball--but he's now realized success as a power hitter and good fielding first baseball. Talent which The Texas Rangers gave up on SEVEN YEARS AGO. That's a long time ago.

The same holds true for Eric Hinske. The supposed next big, power slugging third baseman for The Oakland Athletics that never found a home with Eric Chavez in front of him in the City By The Bay, nor in Toronto or Boston--other cities in which his career journeyed to. Now, Hinske has found a role in another City By The Bay--Tampa. How fitting.

Look up and down The Tampa Bay Ray's Roster. Not one single player has any guarantees in the game. Together these 25 Major League Players have formed a very cohesive unit. A team which is greater than The Sum Of Their Parts. One which is now a legitimate threat to advance deep into the 2008 Major League Baseball Playoffs.

Being Hungry and Untested is sometimes a good thing. A spirit which Our Washington Nationals began to show over the final two months of the just completed 2008 Regular Season. Tampa Bay may have more Major League Ready Talent this very day to compete at such a high level well into October, but you can't look at The Rays and not think Our Washington Nationals could not duplicate their success--a few short years down the road.

Washington fielded the youngest team in The Major Leagues over the last few months. They may not have won much, but Our Players did show they were craving for opportunity. Everyone knows Washington already has young pitching--still developing. But what The Tampa Bay Rays have proven is that you take those youngsters and add in the right mix of veterans and WIN--when the competitive fires have been stoked.

In this day and age of Ultra High Salaries--you can be victorious by fielding a roster of Hungry Players.

I am cheering for The Rays, the rest of the way. They are helping to turn baseball thinking upside down and away from The Big Market Franchises--at least in My Mind's Eye. Nothing wrong with that.

InGame Photo--(AP) Chris O'Meara


Tom said...

Turning baseball thinking upside down?
Come in last or near the bottom ten years in a row. Sign the top players available. Add some good relievers and older players. Isn't that the Plan that Atlanta used in the 80's to get good in the 90's? Isn't that Kasten's Plan? Yes, Nats fan should root for the Rays because their success prove a Plan does work.

What would turn baseball upside down is if TB actually pays and keeps it's star players.

natsfan1a said...

I've also been rooting for the Rays to go all the way, and they do give me hope as a Nats fan. I'd been hoping that they'd challenge their division all year, but David Ortiz' July comments expressing doubts about the Rays being able to make it to the postseason gave me a little more incentive to root for them. I was very happy when they won the division!

SenatorNat said...

Rays remind me of the 2002 Angels line-up: balanced all the way around, with a lot of unfamiliar names right on the cusp of being very good players. Evan Longoria is stilling Ryan Zimmerman's thunder, though, as he is getting to the promised land now: Z-Man probably will be a relatively mature guy before Nats are in the play-offs. One difference between Nats and Rays is that we still do not have two really reliable starters. In the immortal words of my Dad - "just because they are young, doesn't mean they are good!"

Trust in the Z-Men. Zimmerman and Zimmer. All good.

natsfan1a said...

Congrats to the Rays on advancing to the ALCS!

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I have a great deal of respect for the Rays, but I'm still skeptical about their fans. If they win the World Series and stay in first place next year, will they finally draw more than 20,000 a game? And can somebody please tell me why the upper rows of Tropicana Field are empty. Are those unsold tickets or are the Rays withholding them from sale?