Is there another word to describe the Tampa Bay Rays season so far? Incredible? Mistaken? Underestimated? Tough?
But it still comes back to by the end of the day, when the worst team in baseball in 2007, was the 3rd team in Major League Baseball to clinch a playoff spot, all you can say is "wow."
Flashback to Spring Training 08.
The Sox were the defending champs, the Yankees were expected to be a playoff team, and the Blue Jays were the "sexy" pick.
Then, there was the Rays.
This was a team that was expected to improve, and have a shot at a .500 season- which, for this always cloudy team, would've been a huge accomplishment.
But they got off to a hot start, and the critics and media still underestimated them. But who was the blame them? In May when the Rays were lingering in first place, did you expect them to hold it? This was truely an underdog story that you see in the movies and say, "No way that happen in real life."
Of course, like every underdog movie, you have obstacles that come along the way. Scott Kazmir went down to start the year. Carlos Pena, after a scourching start, was placed on the DL. In early August, when the Rays became a serious threat, Carl Crawford would have an injury that would shut down his season. Just a week later, the possible Rookie of the Year- Evan Longoria was placed on the DL, and missed a little more than a month. B.J. Upton has been battling an injury throughout September that hasn't allowed him to play most days. Not the mention, their closer Troy Percival took a trip on the DL 3 times this season. Thats 2 more than Tom Glavine's been on in his entire career!
And yet, at the end of the day, despite the injuries, underestimating, and not enough respect - it shows the real Rays: A young team that doesn't care what other people think. A team that has more heart than any team in the MLB. A team that stops playing when the 27th out is made. A team that when somebody goes down, means the next guy needs to step up. They've had unlikely heros along the way- Navarro, Iwamura, Ayber, Garza, Sonnastine, Howell, and Gross. Before this year, how many of those players did you hear of? 3?
Despite not getting the attendance they deserve, and despite playing in a ballpark that looks like a car garage, they don't give a **** They've shown they are for real, sweeping the Cubs, Red Sox, and winning a series vs the Angels. Come October, some may fear this team won't make the World Series because of experience. I disagree. They've played in playoff game atmospheres (those games against Boston- most recently in Boston being the most energetic), and they've done their job against playoff teams. The staff is healthy as Kazmir, Shields, and Garza are a dangerous trio in the playoffs. Only one can wait and see. Because what this team, you never know what to expect.