The Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I hate ‘em. All the while knowing that I shouldn’t.
I have to, though. Hate, I mean. It’s in my contract as a proud supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays. When the team you root for hasn’t qualified for the postseason in, oh, almost 20 years, eventually all you’re left with is hatred for those teams in the American League East that do play baseball in October. I hate the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox, too. I ignore the Baltimore Orioles, bless their hearts. I used to be able to say the same about the Rays. I miss those days.
I didn’t think it was possible, but, after reading Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2%, my dislike for the Rays has actually increased. And that’s not to say Mr. Keri’s book wasn’t a great one. It was. I found it, most of all, readable; the type of book you start and finish on a four and a half-hour cross-country flight. I mean, from Tampa’s struggle to finally land a team, to all that losing, to the vision displayed in going against the grain in assembling an unconventional front office, which led to the exorcising of so many demons, and, finally, to their rise from worst to first. What’s not to love? And I didn’t even mention Joe Maddon. The unparalleled Joe Maddon, with his glasses, his love of vino, and, of course, “The Danks Theory,” which he repeatedly put to good use against Toronto, when Shaun Marcum was still a Blue Jay.
I’ve found plenty not to like, though. Ben Zobrist, to start with. I should appreciate the likes of Zobrist, a nomad on the diamond, who’s enjoying a 2009-like renaissance at the plate. But I can’t. And, no, I can’t explain why. Hatred is illogical; there’s no rhyme or reason. Then there’s David Price, and his 8-0 record and 1.99 ERA in nine career starts against Toronto. The Blue Jays bore David Price.
After much introspection, I’ve figured it out: I hate the Rays because they’ve become everything the Blue Jays haven’t. I like to think of myself as being self-aware, so I have to admit it: I’m jealous. The Rays have conquered baseball’s toughest division in a market much smaller than Toronto’s, with far fewer resources, in an even more inferior domed ballpark.
That’s why they’ll always be the Devil Rays to me.
Image courtesy Victoria Lucas.
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