Yesterday’s win was totally “Rays Ball”
Way to go guys!
Way to prove myself and a few other voices around the Rays Republic that some of this team might have already packed their bags after Saturday night debacle and headed home, at least in their minds for the season. Way to reclaim your manhood and show some fire and gumption after a game like that…….purly inspiring to me right now. Seriously, the way some of you came off the field after that game on Sat night, your faces gave a bad impression that some of you might be shutting your game down and waiting until Spring to show us more awesome hit and scoring chances.
But as always, you guys had the last laugh. And I am totally okay with being wrong or even apologizing for doubting you for a second. I have to admit, I am a bit proud of all of you for coming out and taking that Sunday “getaway” game like that. For too long this season those series ending game or “getaway” games have been one of the perils of 2009. And because of that plight, the plane ride home after some of these road trips have not been a happy time together for the Rays. But to put a big black “W” stamp on the last game of the last road trip in that fashion is only a motivator towards bigger and better results in 2010.
And that is one of the area that the Rays will have to focus on to again re-assemble and re-group for next season. Getting this team back towards a road .500 mark will be one of the biggest rebuilding porjects in the offseason for the Rays. Those road wins translate quickly into a realistic chance at a division or even a playoff berth for the team again next season. One of the deciding factor in the Rays fall from grace in 2009 has been their road record, which pales in comparison to 2008.
But in hindsight, yesterday when this team took the game to the Texas Rangers in the last two innings and played inspired Rays baseball, it was a sign to all of us that the pride and the power is still very much a part of this Rays ballclub. Standing up and taking on the tasks at hand is a positive step for this team towards regaining their stride for the top echelon of this league.
But above all, when you took the final innings of that game to the Rangers, you won on your collective sweat and heart alone. You not only avoided a series sweep, but a seasonal sweep of all the Rays game splayed at the Ballpark at Arlington this year. And that was huge! For some reason this hot and humid stadium has been an albatross to your Rays team in 2009. But you not only exorcised that dang demon, but you put a stake right through its heart by taking down this team late in the game and then taking down their confident closer in the end.
And you got to love that beautiful bunt down the First Base line by speedy Fernando Perez when they even knew it was coming. And Perez put the ball in a perfect spot to get the RBI and extend the inning. Not only did that one play help score a winning run, but to keep the inning going with a possibilities for more runs was tremendous. Sure there were a few negatives attached to this game as it unfolded, but they were quickly forgotten like piece of paper in a windy day. The win is the thing. To take that last road game of the season , then get back on the plane and take it with you is huge. Now you just have to use it as an example that this team can grow and get better on the road in 2010.
Who knows why the road became such a odd stranger to the Rays in 2009. It could be something as simple as the opposition just getting better and the Rays staying with their happy medium for some reaon on the road this year. But in essence, it just could be a simple fix by translating another mindset for the team in 2010. We saw Rays road trip Traveling Parties dressed in wild Cowboy gear, finely pressed all-white outfits, and the “Johnny Cash” inspired all-black ensembles get on their bus at Tropicana Field with high spirits and great team building moments this season.
But for this 2009 season, the trips on the road have all ended. No more Westin-type hotels, the bevy of room service plates and foods, or even the assembling of teammate eager to get a shot at playing on any of the portable Playstation 3’s set up in their rooms for a simple distraction during the long night away from St. Petersburg and your homes. Maybe the team needs to do the “Stadium Tours” in2010 of each stadium the visit. Get into a different frame of mind on the road, to relax, be together and get out and about and put a different feel to the road routine.
So when you finally disembarked from your charter flight last night at the St. Pete/Clearwater airport, it might not have felt like a winning road trip, but you did leave the state of Texas with a winning attitude on the plane. And even though some of you have memories of coming home last year at this time to a bevy of screaming maniacs and fans within the concourse of the airport, it is mostly silent last night. But that easily could happen again in 2010 with a little tweaking. That moment doesn’t have to feel like a mirage,it was a special moment held in time by so many of us in the Rays Republic that we truly want to see it again……..and the sooner the better (lol).
But this season we have to leave the road trip memories alone for now. Forget the Rookie hazing during the last road trip, or even the silence of the trip back from Boston not so long ago. For their is hope that the plane was a bit rowdy last night, and all of you were celebrating the moment, knowing that for the last 7 games you will not only be sleeping in your own beds, but also hearing the cheering and noisy fans of Tropicana Field. So rejoice in the fact you came off the road as winners, and take that momentum and thrust it into these last 7 games to bring another special moment for all of us in 2009.
I know the season is beginning to run together for some of you, and the pains and aches are barking like guard dogs, but hopefully the cheers and the emotions within this dome for the next 7 nights will thrust you again into feeling like it is April again for a few games. To end this season on a glorious note would not only be great for each of you individually, but as a team, the bonding agent by winning can be so invigorating it can become even more addictive in 2010. You know we will be there 100 percent for you for the next 7 games, so why not come out as strong as you did against those pesky Rangers in those late innings last night and take the next 7 games to not only post a plus .500 season, but to set a standard for the 2010 Rays to follow.
Before the first pitch last night, a few of you looked like you were waiting for October 4th to come so you could dismiss this season and prepare for the next one. But do not discount the fact that to stop playing “Rays Ball” now would damage this team and their fan base further than you can ever imagine. To simply want to be “shut down” even within your own mind could
ruin some of the fragile fabric set out in front of you with this fan base. This area has seen teams quit on itself before in a multitude of sports, but this years Rays team should never be a part of that sorted history.
The excitement of Rays baseball over the next 7 games can be the best advertising for the team over the Winter months. To go out fighting in every game, taking defeat and turning it into victory, and smiling all the way is a beauty way to celebrate this season.
You know where I am going to be for all 7 games.
You know how I am going to act for those 7 games.
I only ask that you too take that Rays pride and the strong character you have displayed for the last 155 games and throw it out loud and proud now. Then we all can celebrate as you take off those game-worn jerseys and put them on the backs of fans’ following that Sunday matinee.
From there it is off to where ever you call home for the Winter. To go home to family, friends and routines that you follow in the offseason. I know for some of you it has been a long, hard road, and it might be your last season in this team’s uniform, but wouldn’t it feel a bit more special, a rays of light on a darkened sky if we can take this thing to the house the next 7 games and thrust onward and upward?
I know when I went home after a victory in a game when I was playing ball, it always made the drive feel better if we won.
It always made me see things in a positive light, and it always made me proud to be playing the game.
Simple things can propel this team again back into the spotlight.
Rays Baseball circa 2009 still has a few special moments hidden within itself. Still has some thrills and exciting baseball crammed into the cubbyholes and the halls of the Trop. This season is growing to a close fast, but the next 7 games are also the last things we will remember of this season. To go out with a huge bang would be tremendous not only for the team, but could also boost the excitement and the anticipation of the Spring for the rest of us. See you guys in a few hours when we can begin the road to the end…………..with a victory.