Rays look much like the 2007 version right now. Photo courtesy of Stephanie.
To think, I thought these kind of stretches were a thing of the past. Long losing streaks. Blown games. No offense. Players fighting in the clubhouse. Season-ending injuries. Bullpen pitchers who can't get anybody out. Career minor leaguers in the starting line-up. For a moment last night, I thought the time machine had slipped me back a few years.
Welcome to the 2009 Rays, a version of the 2007 Rays with higher expectations and a better winning percentage in June. Other than that, they seem to pretty much be the same team. And now that the Rays are at .500 with 16 games to play, they're in danger of following their magical 2008 season with a real clunker. It's a shame really, this team had all the potential to make life interesting all year. Instead, they bagged it when it counted most.
I'm not sure what's going on in the locker room right now. Nobody seems to know what prompted Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell to argue in the clubhouse before yesterday's game. But, the fact that they did argue tells me a lot about the mood in the locker room. I'm sure the players are just as fed up as we are about their performance. But the difference, they can do something about it.
I wrote yesterday that the Rays need to play out the streak with pride and professionalism. They need to play each game like they're still in the hunt. Joe Maddon needs to find a way to motivate a bunch of guys who seem to have packed it in. They need to do what they can to stay over .500 so this team doesn't become some sick footnote to history. My biggest fear is that the true footnote in Rays history won't be this year, it was last year.