The 2009 Tampa Bay Rays Are Starting To Smell a Lot Like the 2007 Rays

Michael WeberContributor ISeptember 17, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:   Carl Crawford #13 of the Tampa Bay Rays waits on deck in the game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium August 11, 2009 in Anaheim, California.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

For a moment last night, I thought the time machine had slipped me back a few years.

I thought long losing streaks, blown games, a lack of offense, players fighting in the clubhouse, season-ending injuries, bullpen struggles, and career minor leaguers in the starting lineup were just a thing of the past.

Welcome to the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays, a version of the 2007 Rays with higher expectations and a better winning percentage in June. Other than that, they seem to be pretty much the same team.

Now that the Rays are at .500 with 16 games remaining, they're in danger of following their magical 2008 season with a real clunker. It's a shame, this team had all of the potential to make life interesting all year. Instead, they bagged it when it counted most.

I'm not sure what's going on in the locker room right now, nobody seems to know what prompted Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell to argue in the clubhouse before yesterday's game. But, the fact that they did argue tells me a lot about the mood in the locker room. I'm sure the players are just as fed up as we, the fans, are about their performance.

The difference, they can do something about it.

I wrote yesterday that the Rays need to play out the streak with pride and professionalism. They need to play each game like they're still in the hunt. Joe Maddon needs to find a way to motivate a bunch of guys who seem to have packed it in. They need to do what they can to stay over .500, so this team doesn't become some sick footnote to history.

My biggest fear is that the true footnote in Rays' history won't be this year, it was last year.