Say It Ain’t So Carl!

 

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 Bill Koustroun/AP

Why is it that last night I had to have this mind numbing but incredibly visual dream where I was transformed back 2 scores into the image of a young boy standing on the stoop outside of Carl Crawford’s downtown St. Petersburg condo just waiting anxiously for him to appear into the crisp cold December morning air.

Why is it that in this poetically surreal dream, the moment my eyes catch a glimpse of Crawford strolling towards a waiting car, all that seemed to come out of my mouth was a paraphrase of the classic line voiced towards “Shoeless” Joe Jackson as he stepped out of the Cook County Courthouse back in 1919.

Why is it at this very moment this the encompassing sounds of that dream or nightmare somehow still echoes vibrantly within my eardrums. Pounding out those classic words back and forth, upwards and downwards seeming to fill every conceivable crevice and alcove within my heart and soul and masking me shudder with despair.

Say it ain’t so Carl. Tell me now that you did it for your young son’s future. That he will never have to go through the trials and tribulations you experienced as a young child in worn down sections of Houston, Texas. Tell me this contract is your life long aspiration of prosperity for your family built upon the sweat and punishment of you playing on an artificial field that you despised, but endured knowing that the final payment would be that you and your family enter into a realm of security and stability you often dreamed of as a teen.

Say it ain’t so Carl I understood when Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli signed with these same Red Sox knowing his lifetime dream of wearing the red Boston jersey and playing upon the wet grass at Fenway Park. For this was the team that Rocco idolized as a child, wishing wanting and hoping to get a chance to achieve that dream before he hung his cleats up for the last time. Maybe that is why this is so difficult for me Carl.

 


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Chris O’Meara/AP

 

Say it ain’t so Carl that you have now traded your sunburst and blue uniforms for the grays and reds of a mortal enemy of your former team and that some will brand you a traitor or worse before the pain subsides and booing of the crowd for you at Tropicana Field falls into silence. Tell me how I am suppose to explain this to my teenage daughter who is an avid young Rays fan who idolized you for much of her life and still sees baseball as a game and not as a cold hearted business.

 

Say it ain’t so Carl that I have to now have to somehow turn away when you come to bat at least 8 times a year in Tropicana Field and somehow remove the moments and memories that you helped create with this Rays team. How do I stop the seeping wound within my chest that bled true blue for you, and defended you in every argument or unfortunate moment. Am I going to shake your hand this Spring and honestly be able to look you in the eyes?

Say it ain’t So Carl that the money made you take that bloated contract that will diminish your overall defensive reputation by playing in a position where you have to learn the angles and idiosyncrasies of a huge green wall that will take away your inherent speed and closing ability that got you that first Golden Glove in 2010. That by playing in that park, with that monstrosity just over your turned shoulder will make you a better player and get the chance to possess another Gold Glove.

Say it ain’t so Carl that you expect to be greeted with open arms today by the city of Boston with visions of stolen bases dancing through your head. That by working in tandem with new teammate Jacoby Ellsbury you want to annilate the old stolen base record by a duo in the American League. That somehow you see this Boston club as the team to beat, much like you have the Rays for the last 5 odd seasons. That somehow all the negatives you heard so close to your heart about this same Boston franchise mysteriously vanished from your mind and you welcome the “new beginning”.

 

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Unknown Photographer 

Say it ain’t so Carl that I have to somehow endure your physical existence in a possible 126 Red Sox versus Rays contests over that 7 span without cursing or wish ill will or injury to you. That with time this transgression will leave my mind and I will find some sort of vital peace a Franciscan monk must partake in accepting what I can not change, and having the wisdom to know the difference.

What you are asking me to do here Carl is go against my long standing judgment and set in stone opinions and accept you as a rival American League East player without any epic animosity or derogatory heckling. Right now, what you might ask of me Carl can not be fathomed as my heart and soul are awash in a sea of churning disillusion and astonishment. It will take some time for me to adequately embrace and digest this change.

Hopefully before the end of your 7 year sentence, I mean contract, I can again envision you for what you truly are Carl. A great player that once provided endless streams of memories and moments for myself and the Rays Republic and holding the fantasy that this was all an illusion and tomorrow you will still be a free agent.

I accepted within myself that you were gone from the Rays fold forever back in April 2010. It has taken me 8 months to filter, digest and acknowledge this, and last night’s adventure will take even more time.


At least today I can still achieve a small sheepish smile upon my bewildered face for the plain fact that at the end of this huge Red Sox contract you could have possibly played in as many games as a member of the Red Sox as you did wearing the Rays colors. Even with all those future depressing game moments with you wearing the enemy’s cloth,  I know that one day in the future you will wear the Tampa Bay Rays cap once again. Possibly upon the bronze plaque you hoist at your Baseball Hall of Fame introduction.

I do not wish injury or pain upon you Carl, just want you to “Say it ain’t so!”.

22 Comments

His “7 year sentence.” LOL! Having to play left field at Fenway will not be a picnic. Or maybe they’ll move CC to center and trade Ellsbury? I was sure he was going to the Angels, but money talks. It’s definitely a business for these guys. I can’t picture him comfortable in that pressure-cooker environment, but what do I know?

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
I agree that playing in that confined space will take away one of his best assets…his closing speed on balls in the air. But thean again, as he ages the LF spot will not show the weakness until he hits the road.
Going to be interesting watching that old Rays player playing in the colors I have learned to love to hate and admonish with a passion.
As I stated on Twitter last night, “It is like my best man from my wedding ending up marrying my ex-wife”. Catches you off guard and knocks the proverbial wind right out of you.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Extremely beautifully expressed, Renegade. Kudos.
I watch all Rays games from the east coast of FL and am now only a semi-Yankee fan. A California team would have hurt way less, not so in-your-face. I hadn’t figured CC to be “all about the money,” but you make some very good points on that.
Wish I could’ve been more articulate:
http://baseball4girls2.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-didnt-think-it-would-go-down-like.html
Will be following you from now on. Thanks. Renee

BB4Girls (Renee),
Thanks for that. It was written at 3 am just after finally trying to vent after running a few miles in the 40-ish temperatures outside here in Tampa Bay.
Or could the last 24 hours have just sucked all the heat out of this region seeing Carlos Pena,Carl Crawford and Florida FB Coach Urban Meyers all bid us fond farewell.
Guess it will take a few days, weeks or even the first Boston loss to the Rays for it all to finally get put to rest….hopefully.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Losing Carl Crawford is tough to swallow period. Losing him to a team in the same division makes it worse. I don’t wish anything bad on him, but I do hope that the contract eventually ends up being a bad contract for the Red Sox.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Really nice post.

Carl is a great player, and sometimes, like Shoeless Joe’s teammates, they go with the money.

I’m sorry to say….it’s so
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

Ron,
Carl Crawford is one of those players that your farm system produces once in a decade.
He has been an instrumental part of the Rays franchise since 2002, and even if we have said our “Good Byes” to him, sometimes a signing like this just breaks you down to the core.
I do not resent CC in the least for going for the $$$,but to Boston, that hurts deep. But then again, the Angels only offered 6 year and around $ 120 million.
But when is enough enough.
At least his kid’s kids will be able to go to college on Grandpappy Carl.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I feel your pain, Renegade. My husband and I were out for lunch when I saw Carl on the TV screen and to my horror he hadn’t signed with the Angels as I expected, but with the AL East rival Red Sox! I lamented about how his beautiful speed would be wasted in left field at Fenway. Manny played there, for Pete’s sake! As frustrating as it is for us Twins fans over the years to see our best players leave, at least Johan Santana went to the Mets so we didn’t have to face him and Torii went to the Angels. In 2008 the Twins opened the season at home against LAA and we fans gave Torii a standing O for all the joy he had given us here. Then he struck out, and we cheered again :-) I really wish you guys could get a new stadium like we did, because we would have lost Joe Mauer if not for Target Field bringing in more revenue. The Twins were lucky to get it approved just before the economy went kaphlooey (Is it OK to use that word? Is it actually a word?). Anyway, I know you love your Rays. I hope there are better days ahead in Tampa.

Wrigley,
I have a tendency to let the game of baseball engulp me to a point of transferring back to that child-like wonder and amazement of the game as a whole. But with that comes the shock and awe every once in awhile that it is still a business and sometimes things are done that make no sense to us at the moment.
I want to think people play the game for love and respect of its simplicity, but the reality is that money and power do factor in even at the most vulnerable moments.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

As much as I hate to see the Red Sox gobble up another star they didn’t develop, I do have to hand it to Carl. I believe he did re-sign with Tampa at least once before becoming a free agent, and this was back when a lot of players were avoiding the Rays.

Since I have no real connection to Carl, I hope he tanks in Boston. But when I think of Roy Halladay playing on another team, I can’t help but hope for the best for him, even if it’s in another city.

But then again, he didn’t go to a hated rival either.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

Twnzfan,
To say the announcement caught me by surprise would be demeaning the overall message.
I do not think anyone in their right mind saw this unfolding like this, with as much dollars and time connected to it.
The fact the Angels offered 6 years and $ 108 million just shows you how close the deal could have gone either direction.
The numbness is fading and all sneses are retuning to normal, or as normal as they were before…..maybe.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

This signing was a shock to everyone and I’m not surprised it sent diehard Rays fans reeling. Crawford has been a Ray for as long as he’s been in baseball. You grow to think of guys like that almost like family and I’m sure it hurts to see him go somewhere you consider a mortal enemy. It’s small comfort I’m sure, but at least you know that with a classy player like Crawford, he’s not going to forget his Rays roots and the fans who cheered him on from the start. It will probably be like when Vladdy comes back to the Big A. Even though we’re now hoping he strikes out, we’re still tickled to see the guy and applaud him before the game.
http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/

BlueJays,
Before the Rays recent “winning ways”, it was always a running joke in the NorthEast that the Rays were the feeder team for Boston and New York. We would develop the talent and nuture them in the farm system then about the time they were to hit the big time, Boom! off to another locale.
Crawford was one of the Rays best prospects to All Star transition in the team’s short history. Because of that, the pain of his decision lingers and will sting for a while.
At least until the first time we beat the Red Sox in 2011.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Blithe,
It is very true that after a period of time the players on your team do kind of grow closer to you, and you do feel an attachment to them. Carl Crawford definitely filled that mold for me. From the time then General Manager Chuck LaMar got CC to take a chance with the Rays instead of playing football at the University of Nebraska, or forget basketball ofers from UCLA, he became a guy you watched and saw grow into a great human being, father and athlete.
Hopefully he remembers the trials and tribulations of the old Rays as he takes his road show to bean town now.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Well, the good news is, you knew this was coming. But it’s never easy. And I feel your pain. If there weren’t so many other free agents fleeing Tampa, maybe it’d be easier.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Jeff,
Not sure “flocking” is the way I would describe the exodus, but it is colorful.
The Rays fans knew that 80 % of our FRee Agent were not coming back after Game 5 of the ALDS. But even with that sentiment, a few of them could end up back if the market doesn’t deem them key components for 2011. I know a few wanted multi year deals that did not interest the Rays, while others have 8-figure contracts in their futures.
I still think this team will be competitive, but might not win AL East in 2011.
Still too early to predict, even with the Red Sox buying up the market.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ah, I felt/feel similarly toward Jayson Werth, my ex-favorite Phillies player. But I can only imagine it’s some gargantuan multiple worse for you, with Crawford. For both of us, the guy went to a division rival. For you, it was to an actual contender. For me, that particular effect is muted, as I’m not so sure the Nationals will be doing anything huge for the next couple of years. They’ve got a chance at some point during Werth’s seven years there, but I don’t think it’ll be too awfully soon. And perhaps if it does happen later, I’ll have fully come to terms with the deal by then. In a different vein, you can thank Werth’s deal for setting the table for Crawford to get such a monstrous deal and, with it, undeniable temptation to sign with the Red Sox.

This just hurts. I had heard about it and, honestly? It stung very deep. More than anything I’ve felt in baseball. I actually started watching Rays games on television the year he debuted (2002)…

He’d been my favorite Rays since the year after that when I started attending some games…. It was really just a shocker. I knew we were going to lose him and with the Yankees looking into Cliff Lee, I thought he’d go to the Angels for sure. That’ have been fine but… The Red Sox?.

I really don’t even know the proper words to say to this. I can say I didn’t even feel like getting on my computer for days after I find out.

Philling,
To say C C finally taking that last step out of the Rays spotlight was upsetting would be an understatement.
But we (Rays Republic) always knew he was not walking back into the door, so most of the saddness erupted after the Rays were eliminated from the postseason this year.
At least the Phillies had a chance to secure Werth, something the Rays knew they could not do under any terms.
Going to Boston made me curse him a few times, but as I said in the blog, he had his first true success here, so he will possibly be the first Rays to enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Rays cap…hopefully.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Charm,
I just think it is the year of the underdog bidder.
Not to mean they are unworthy or anything, but all three teams were on the outside looking in before they swooped in and took their man.
Then again two of the three are in the NL, which doesn’t affect the Rays unless they get to the World Series.
But the Crawford signing was definitely like a blade in the spinal cord knowing I am going to have to watch him 18 times a year on the opposite side of the field and wearing that “B” on his cap.
Could have been worse…….maybe.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I will miss Carl, don’t get me wrong, but I am happy for his success. he deserves the best, and I will still cheer for him when the Red Sox play the Rays. I remember Carl when he first started with the Rays, and he has come a long way. Congrats go out to him!

Vickie,
I can honestly say right now I am not sure what I would do if the Rays played against C C Today. I know I will never boo him, but I am not sure at this moment which emotion or response will creep up when Boston first comes to the Trop.
But with time my hurt feelings will disappear, and all could be well by the time April rolls around.
C C was the first player I wanted to see here long term,and it ran its course. Happy he got his “career” contract, but still a bit upset it was to a division rival.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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