O, The Rays are Good

So this year marked the 11th straight season the Orioles have finished below .500. During the previous 10 seasons, the O’s finished in fourth place. They could always count on the Rays to finish in the cellar. Now that the Rays are playing in October, I’m afraid my Orioles have a firm grip on last place.

After living in Northern VA for the first 30 years of my life, the O’s are a part of me. I was 9 years old in 1983, when the O’s beat the Phillies in the I95 series. This came the year after the O’s took the Brewers to the last game of the season in 82. Orioles Magic indeed. I thought at the time the O’s would win countless World Series (I bet Cal did too!). It’s hard to imagine that we are so far removed from the glory days. How did it slip away so fast?

Baseball was my #1 sport growing up, the one that I excelled at. If there wasn’t a baseball around, then it was wiffleball. When a wiffleball wasn’t available, then a wad of paper and a stick would do just fine. And in everyone of those backyard, driveway, or living room games, I was imitating my heroes. Eddie Murray’s crouched stance, Cal’s upright/closed stance with the bat horizontal to the ground. Pitching the wiffleball like Jim Palmer, sliding in the rain like Rick Dempsey. The list could go on and on. Those days are long gone, but I keep hanging onto the hope that one day, things will be special again.

And that brings me to the Rays. For the last 4 years, I have lived here in Tampa. I knew this Ray’s team was close to breaking out the past 2 seasons. I’m surprised it did not happen last year. I will guarantee you this, they will not be going away any time soon. They are loaded with young talent, and they have more stockpiled in their farm system. I am amazed to watch the community in which I live in rally behind this team. Everyone has Ray’s fever. We have 2 year old kids getting blue Mohawks, we have 60 year old politicians getting Mohawks. A new stadium is also on the horizon, a beautiful outdoor stadium, right on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a great time to be a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays.

But, you’ll never see a blue Ray’s hat on this head. Sure, I’ll pull for them to go all the way. I surely will be pulling for them if they face the Red Sox. Its easy for a lot of people to jump on the bandwagon and root for a winner. I can’t do that. I’ve got to much invested in my O’s. So while a team headed to the World Series, loaded with young talent, getting an awesome new stadium, sounds enticing, I’ll pass. Give me my MLB Extra Innings for $250 again next year, because the O’s are 0-0 right now, and my O’s mug is half full!

And besides that, when my son and I play wiffleball, I do a great imitation of Nick Markakis.

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