Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays Prepare For The Last Hurrah

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIFebruary 26, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07:  Carl Crawford #13 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws hit bat in the air during the game against the New York Yankees on September 7, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Enjoy it, Tampa Bay Rays fans.

Enjoy watching the greatness of No. 13 Carl Crawford, as he blazes the base paths, cracks the game winning homer, or makes that SportsCenter highlight catch.

Enjoy Crawford as he leads this Rays' team for one more shot at the World Series because at the end of this season, he'll be gone.

The Tampa Bay Rays suspended negotiations with Crawford's agent, Brian Peters, until the end of the season to avoid having a distraction for the Rays' best player, essentially all but guaranteeing that Crawford will be wearing a different uniform in 2011.

Let's face it. We all knew this was coming.

We didn't want to believe it.

We told ourselves somehow it would all work out, but reality has a strange way at smacking you in the face.

Next year, Crawford will be wearing Yankee pinstripes or playing every day at Fenway Park.

Next season, the same fans who will cheer his play this year, will jeer him as a traitor.

That's life in a small market city, where your best players are poached by the large market teams and every few years you are forced to "reload."

Tampa Bay owner Stu Sternberg has already begun his annual whine session about the unsustainable salary point his team is at right now.

Know this fans, if it truly was unsustainable, they wouldn't have the $70-plus million payroll.

Sternberg wants to make money, just like Crawford wants to make money and be paid market value for a player of his caliber. You can't begrudge either from doing what they need to do to get paid.

Still, as fans, it's tough to see a player who is the epitome of what you want as a ball player go to one of those over hyped, overpriced behemoths.

You'll hear fans gripe, "Can't the Yankees get their own guys? Why do they have to steal ours?"

Because they's as simple as that.

So enjoy Crawford this season, Rays fans, for as long as you have him.

Let's hope the last memory we have of Crawford is celebrating with his teammates as they wrap up their first World Series championship and not returning to Tropicana Field as a member of the hated enemy.