Thursday, October 2, 2008

11 Years of Frustration Ends Today

By JC De La Torre

It doesn't matter if the Tampa Bay Rays win or lose today (ok, it matters a lot), it matters that they are here. After 11 years of owner issues, horrible draft picks, horrible free agency moves (anyone remember The Hit Show?), horrible community relations, and horrible baseball - the Rays have finally arrived in Baseball's most valued location - THE PLAYOFFS.

How they got here is anyone's guess. A good run of draft picks certainly helps, but only three of the twenty five man playoff roster are top picks. Most of these players have either persevered through the previous regime, were traded for in previous salary dumping deals, or were smart (and affordable) free agent choices by the new Rays braintrust. While some of his in-game decisions remain puzzling, you have to hand it to manager Joe Maddon on how he's handled his club. Tampa Bay used to be where managers' careers go to die. Even Sweet Lou Pinella couldn't win here. Yet, after a rocky first season, Maddon's managerial style seemed to be just the right fit for this young baseball team.

Finally, the team gelled and displayed a heart that few baseball teams before them have.

It took awhile, but the Rays definitely deserve to be here after a magical season. Hopefully, it will keep going. Who wouldn't want to see Pinella come back to Tampa Bay in a Rays-Cubs improbable World Series?

Some quick notes about today's game and the series -
* Troy Percival is not on the playoff roster for this round.
* Carl Crawford is back for the Rays, but speedy Fernando Perez still made the playoff roster.
* David Price also made the playoff roster and will play long relief coming out of the bullpen.

Don't forget, we'll be bloggin' game one right here on Tampa Bay Sports Blog.

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