The Tampa Bay Rays took the American League (and the world) by surprise last season, winning the East and advancing to the World Series. Throughout the season and into October, many baseball fans and media types waited for the inevitable collapse, which never really came. I was one of them, never believing the Rays were for real. Honestly, I still don’t.
A recent MLB.com story talks about how the Rays still have something to prove:
Maddon insists the Rays are not a one-year wonder, although it’s reasonable to suspect the team might suffer a bit of a letdown in 2009. After all, a recent past performance by a similar team — the Colorado Rockies — went drastically awry last year.
Everyone remembers the feel-good Rockies’ run to end the 2007 season. They won 21 of their last 22 and swept two playoff series before bowing out to the Red Sox in four games in the World Series.
But a few debilitating, poorly timed injuries and disappointing performances by key young players led to a less-than-pedestrian 74-88 record.
How quickly I forgot about the Rockies making that run in 2007. I expect to just as quickly forget about the success the Rays had in 2008. In my mind, the 2008 season was a fluke, a perfect storm of pitching, defense and timely hits. I am already on record predicting a sub-.500 season for the Rays in 2009, and with the improvements made by the other teams in the East, I’m more convinced than ever: Pat Burrell is not the equalizer.
Begin your ridicule now, but I’ll be referencing this post in September.