These Aren't Your Daddy's Tampa Bay's Rays

Matt SmithSenior Analyst IMay 14, 2008

Hell has not yet frozen over but check it out people, the Tampa Bay Rays are leading the AL East, and it’s not the first day of the season.

Last night, with a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees, the Rays took a half game lead over the Boston Red Sox for the American League East crown. 

Off to the best start of their history, the Rays are looking to make some noise not just in the months of April and May, but all the way through to the end of the season.

Tampa Bay (23-16) was not expected to be a threat in the division.  With their past history and payroll, next to last in the majors at around $43 million, why would they be expected to contend in a division with the Red Sox and Yanks?

Tampa Bay hasn't gotten to this position on pure luck; it's been a combination of great pitching, timely hitting, and a new attitude that's been brought into the club house. 

Many people laughed a scoffed when the team decided to drop the Devil out of their name, but it looks like they dropped the name while exercising the demon that possessed it.

Through the great pitching of Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Matt Garza, a combined 7-4 with a 3.23 ERA and productive hitting from Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, and Eric Hinske, the Rays have racked up a 15-7 record at home. 

They are tied for tops in the major league with the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks.

While many still do not look for the Rays to make any postseason noise or even continue leading the division in the following months, maybe its time to start recognizing the improvement made by the organization. 

Even though only around 16,000 fans attend each home game, the team still comes out every night ready to play with a positive attitude many other players need to pick up.

Could this finally be the year the Tampa Bay Rays have a winning season?  Only time will tell.  If the Rays have anything to say about it, they may make this major league baseball season interesting.