Yesterday's games gave us a rare occurrence that we see in the postseason. It’s a special moment when a player announces his presence in Major League Baseball as a force to be reckoned with.
That player was Evan Longoria.
He hit two home runs in his first two playoff at-bats. With the last player to do so, Ken Griffey Jr., in the opposing dugout, Longoria blasted two majestic shots deep into the domed palace of Tropicana field.
It's moments like these that we remember as baseball fans. But for the regular person, or the casual sports fan that is watching the game because it’s the playoffs, it's moments like these that brings light to them just who a player like Evan Longoria is.
A name that would evoke more chatter about Desperate Housewives rather than diving stops at the hot corner and home-run blasts, Evan Longoria is a rookie in terms of his experience, but a veteran in terms of how he plays the game.
Longoria's performance was one that superstars often provide when their team needs it the most. Before the game, you probably would just classify him as a special rookie, with enormous potential.
Now, you can classify him as what he really should be: a superstar.
A rookie year with numbers that are usually reserved for players who’ve been at it for more than a few seasons, Longoria’s statistics are amazing, yet incomplete. He missed time late in the season due to injury and wasn’t immediately called up during the season.
He’s certainly made up for the lost time with yesterday’s performance. Not that his 27 home runs were exactly causing him to fall behind or anything.
Oh what a performance it was, one that will live in Tampa Bay Rays history for a long time; a franchise that has been marked losers and basement dwellers since they were established in 1998. 10 long years has finally paid off, through a new ownership and a manager who uses words you’ve never heard before.
Longoria is now the face of the Tampa Bay franchise. The first in what the Rays hope will be a long line of legends to roll through their organization.
They don’t have anyone to throw out the first pitch?
One can only hope that 30 years from now, after Longoria’s career has come to a close, and Tampa is making a run in the World Series, Longoria can be that guy that throws out the first pitch.
He is the first in a long line of players to roll through the franchise that Tampa can hold their head high and say, "Yeah, he’s one of ours."
Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir, and even James Shields, none of them have the star power or potential to do great things that Evan Longoria does. Never has a rookie debuted in such an unusual situation: with fanfare and hype surrounding a franchise that is making an unprecedented run from dead last in the standings to playoff darlings.
Much like his team, Longoria has burst onto the scene in 2008. He’s embodied the persona of his ballclub by showing up when you least expect it and continuing that success, even when you’d figure that it would be time for it to come to an end.
Injuries, the Red Sox hot pursuit, the grind of a 162-game season?
The Rays worry? Why should they?
Longoria hasn't fallen behind, why would they?
Call it a coming-out party if you will, it doesn't matter. Like the commercial with Longoria and his teammate Carlos Pena says, The Rays are showing up early and planning on staying late. Longoria definitely came early, set up the digs, and rang in the celebration with his performance.
I would expect to see him stay late into the night and shut the lights off when the party is over.