Crazy how losing one word from a team name can change the entire demeanor of a ball club.
Formerly known as the Devil Rays, they have perennially finished at the bottom of the American League in wins.
Well, that's the Tampa Bay Rays, folks. A year ago today, the Rays were a pitiful 17-22.
Not a single ray of hope in any fan.
Today, however, this Ray team sits atop the American League East at 24-17 with a one game lead over the Bosten Red Sox.
In fact, being seven games above .500 tops the best in team history. It has happened only twice before, at 11-7 in 1999 and 10-6 in 1998.
This team is packed with young players ready to become studs.
Led by Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton, this team is no longer the doormat of the AL East.
This team isn't winning just based on their great potent young offense?
The Rays' have the best young pitching in baseball.
The Rays are led by phenom, Scott Kazmir, who is 2-1 with a mind-boggling 1.69 ERA. The Rays decided to be smart and lock up this young man with a three-year contract extension with a club option for a fourth year. The contract guarantees Kazmir $28.5 million and has a maximum value of approximately $39.5 million.
Not bad for the club's all time winningest pitcher. Kazmir also won his next start after signing the big extension on Thursday night against the Yankees. The Rays took three out of four games in the series.
Let's run down the rest of this rotation real quick.
Josh Shields: 3-4, 3.05 ERA
Andy Sonnanstine: 5-1, 5.01 ERA
Edwin Jackson : 2-3, 3.47 ERA
Oh and Matt Garza who was sent to the Rays in the deal with the Twins?
Looking pretty good for Tampa right now. Matt Garza is 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA over three straight quality starts since returning from the disabled list at the end of April, while Jason Bartlett has improved their defense.
Now let's not discount the bullpen, which has been the most consistent pen in the big leagues so far.
It is led by a revitalized Troy Percival, who has accumulated nine saves thus far.
This is no mirage, folks.
This is a Rays team that is only getting brighter day in and day out.
Ownership has shown that they are in it for the long haul as well.
Before the extension given to Kazmir, the Rays signed third baseman Evan Longoria to an extensiona. Longoria is definitely a key piece, and his makeup and work ethic are off the charts. Longoria has shown he can hit the ball and has good hands at the hot corner.
The entire starting lineup except designated hitter Cliff FLoyd is under 30. So is the entire rotation.
These Rays are learning how to win.
They have 19 wins against teams that had winning records last year.
That is quite a statement.
As if things could get any brighter for the fans in Tampa Bay.
They did on Thursday night.
Nothing to do with their win against the Yankees.
The Rays presented a preliminary financing plan to the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday that laid out their ideas for how to pay for the proposed $450 million waterfront ballpark at the current site of historic Al Lang Field.
If you haven't seen photos of this new stadium, it's beautiful.
A retractable sail, so to speak, covers the ballpark.
So here's to the end of 11 years of hiding in the dark for Tampa Bay Rays fans.
It's time to show your colors proudly.
That ray of hope in Tampa is shining brighter than ever.
Your time is now.
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