Thanks To The 2009 Tampa Bay Rays For Their Participation In This Season

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIISeptember 4, 2009

I've been accused of being entirely too negative about the Tampa Bay Rays chances down the stretch. With that in mind, I'm going to try to put together a positive column on the Rays.

Oh no, I don't believe they still have a shot at the wild card. After dropping two out three at home to the Boston Red Sox, it saddens this columnist to report to you that the season's over.

Sure, mathematically the Rays remain alive and there are those fans who will go down to the very last game believing they still have a chance. Six games back with only 29 games to play and with the hardest schedule among the remaining contenders—I don't really care what Yogi says—it's over. 

Oops. There I go again. Sorry about that.

Let's thank the Rays for their participation in the 2009 campaign. There will be plenty of time to analyze what went wrong for the Rays this year (and you know I will), but let's get a jump on Thanksgiving and give some thanks for some of the great things about this season.

I'd like to thank the Rays die hard fans—all 15,000 of you.

I'd like to thank the Rays management for (barring a complete meltdown) putting together another winning season for the Rays. While it's not post season participation, its something for a franchise that went ten straight years without one.

I'd like to thank Jason Bartlett. I don't know if you roided up or just found your game, but you had one heck of a 2009. You've become better than Jeter at shortstop. Yeah, I said it. The Yankee honks will catcall about Mr. Wonderful but the numbers don't lie.

  • Barlett: .337 BA, 12 HRs, 59 RBI, .396 OBP, .517 slug, .967 fielding pct.
  • Jeter: .330 BA, 17 HRs, 61 RBI, .396 OBP, .474 slug, .987 fielding pct.

You'll hear them say "DAH, JEE-TAH has him in homers, RBI and fielding perctage...DAH."—Yes, but Jeter's also has played 17 more games.

I'd like to thank Carl Crawford for one heck of a season as well. Crawford shined brightly in the All-Star game, enabling the American League to win the game with a game saving catch, robbing a home run. Crawford has been sensational in the field, at the plate, and on the base paths. He is without question the Rays best player right now.

I'd like to thank Jeff Niemann. While all the hype went to David Price, it was Niemann who's dominated opposing batters and leads the team with 12 wins. If not for the Rays shoddy bullpen he may have been at 14 or 15 wins and a shoe-in for AL rookie of the year.

I like to thank Ben Zobrist. Zo-Rilla exploded on the scene and has been "Mr. Everything" for the Rays. Folks, this guy played just about every position with the exception of Pitcher for Tampa Bay this season.

He was so good the Rays searched for places to stick him to keep him in the lineup. He came up as an utility infielder but he's played all three outfield slots, all around the diamond. If there was a need, the guy would have probably played catcher.

Zobrist is batting .285 with 23 homers and 72 RBI and made his first all-star game.

I'd like to thank Evan Longoria for being Evan Longoria.

I'd like to thank Carlos Pena for his 39 home runs and 98 RBI.

I'd like to thank BJ Upton for his defense in centerfield—and only his defense (because he's been downright terrible at the plate this year). I do hope he's okay after that nasty collision with Crawford during last night's game.

I'd like to thank James Shields who kept his cool while being constantly let down by his offense.

I'd like to thank Joe Maddon for keeping things interesting with quirky game decisions, lineup choices, and pitch counts. You may have blown some games, Joe, but you definitely kept us guessing.

I'd like to thank Stu Sterberg for giving us another year of exciting baseball in the bay area. Build the new stadium in Hillsborough or Pasco County, Stu and you'll see the crowds you want.

Finally, thanks to you my beloved reader for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read the humble ramblings of this columnist. You may not have agreed with me, but as Maximus said in Gladiator, "Are you not entertained?"


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.