Don’t look now, but the Tampa Bay (formerly Devil) Rays have the best record in baseball. This is not a joke. Apparently the team banished Satan in the offseason and a whole bunch of their talented young players have started to gel at the same time. Kind of reminds me of the Twins way back in ’87 when they put it all together, going from the worst record in the American League all the way to the World Series Championship. Excellent starting pitching and productive potential All-stars like BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and rookie sensation Evan Longoria have this team at 31 – 20, 11 games over .500 for the first time ever. In fact, Tampa Bay is only the second team in MLB history and the first in over a century (joining the 1903 New York Giants) to have the best record on Memorial Day after finishing with the worst record in the league the previous season (66 – 96). Be sure to check out the great comic book/Bizarro-world cover of the new issue of Sports Illustrated that totally gets this extraordinary development in the AL East thus far.
So what does all this do for drawing local fans? Apparently nothing, as they barely broke a pathetic 12,000 people in the stands for a holiday game. Perhaps it’s that dump of a domed stadium with the catwalks in the outfield (“The Trop”) in that bad location, or perhaps there’s not enough baseball fans in the Bay area who think this team can actually compete in a division with the Red Sox (still really good) and Yankees (obviously having problems but still have to reckoned with over the long haul). All I know is the team has won 16 of their last 17 home games, and they seem to have it all working right now. I’m just happy someone’s giving Boston a run for their money. Now let’s see them keep it up, and maybe locals will start paying attention. Go Rays!