Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays

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Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays
Dear Tampa,

You did it.

It was only fitting that the Red Sox would come back from an improbable loss to force Game Six, but it had to be done to further the Cinderella season.

The first season of success now is written in the annals with a pivotal victory over the vaunted Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS. It's as if the 300 Spartans defeated the Persians in the movie "300," one of the greatest movies ever made in my estimation.

The Red Sox can feel a sense of accomplishment, having come all this way without Curt Schilling and Mike Lowell, the 2008 Fire Brand of the American League award winner. (Check back January 1, 2009 for the 2009 representative.)

The Rays are an incredibly balanced team with average, speed, power, fielding and pitching to completely shut down the opposition. The 2-3-4 hitters (Upton, Pena, Longoria) sent palpitations through my heart every single time through the order, and have to be considered the most feared trio in the major leagues in 2008 and entering 2009.

The Rays' rotation also experiences no let-up, ranging from James Shields to Scott Kazmir to Matt Garza to Andy Sonnastine, and in case that's not enough, Edwin Jackson is more than happy to finish off the spear in your heart.

A lot has been made about how the Red Sox are the new Yankees and how they're the most hated team in baseball these days, but one thing you can never, ever take from us that the Yankees don't have is an appreciation for winning. Look, it took us 86 years.

As much as the media and other teams' fans want to pretend it doesn't exist, we have an appreciation for winning. We know how hard it is. IT TOOK 86 YEARS!

That doesn't disappear with bandwagoning fans or success. No matter how much we may be hated these days, nothing can take away from us the success we have enjoyed during the Theo Epstein regime -- success unprecedented for the Red Sox; for a century at least.

So hate away, non-Sox fans. But deep inside, you know we deserved these two series and you know that we have nothing but appreciation for Rays fans. And honestly? Those that don't have appreciation are so invested in the club (like me) that even if we can't admit it during the heat of the moment (like now)... we know. We know the Rays deserve it. We know the improbable. We know the feeling.

I know it's sexy to make the Sox the most vilified franchise these days. So hate away, but don't ever, EVER suggest that we're the new Yankees. Because we're not.

Congratulations to Tampa. Make us proud in the World Series.

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