Monday, May 11, 2009

Fading optimism for 2009

With last night's loss, my optimism is beginning to fade.  Coming into this season, I really though there was no way the Rays wouldn't be competing with the Red Sox and the Yankees for first place in the AL East.  Instead, the Rays get ready to play Baltimore in a series of AL East bottom dwellers.

Let's face it, the Rays were rolling at this time last year.  While the rest of the league was saying they'll come back to earth, true believers were jumping on the bandwagon.  For those true believers, anything better than before was bonus.  We didn't go into the season expecting much. Why should we? But, the Rays proved us wrong... a year ahead of schedule.  So, when the Rays lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies, Ray fan didn't panic.  This is easy.  We'll bring back the same team next year and everything will be fine. But, it's not.  The hunter become the hunted.  The hungry team got filled up on their own success.  The scouts are paying attention. Lesser teams want to beat the Rays so they can say they're this year's Rays.

When you get right down to it, the Rays are nothing more than a below average team.  That's what their record says.  The can't win more than three games in a row.  They've had trouble with teams they should be beating.  They're not sustaining momentum from one game to the next. All of that adds up to a team with a 15-18 record.

Last night's loss was sort of a microcosm of the season.  Coming off a big victory (like 2008), the Rays played a tough grind out it game, only to come up short when it really mattered.  Not only that, they looked bad doing it.  Hopefully, the Rays can turn it around.  A 6 or 7 game win streak could put the Rays right back into the thick of things.  But, until then, they're just a below average team battling Baltimore for 4th place in the AL East.

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