Thursday, May 24, 2012
Those Pesky Rays
By Ian Hunter
For the first time in the last 16 series in Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays had an opportunity to win a series at Tropicana Field. Although they came very close, Toronto could not snap the streak ... and so it stands as 17 straight series losses in Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Rays are truly becoming the new Kryptonite of the Toronto Blue Jays.
It used to be that taking two of three or even a series weep at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park was one of the most gratifying things as a Jays fan. But now I just want the Blue Jays to win a damn series at Tropicana Field.
The unfortunate thing is my disdain is completely unwarranted towards the Rays because their organization is going about things the right way. Unlike the Red Sox or Yankees, they aren't delving out $100+ million dollar contracts and driving up prices in the free agent market.
It's not even a David and Goliath scenario when the Blue Jays stack up against the Rays, if anything it's a David/David battle. So that's what makes it even tougher to hate the Rays because they're doing a lot with a very minimal payroll.
The Tampa Bay Rays are taking reclamation projects like Luke Scott and Fernando Rodney and turning their careers around. The Rays are signing blue chip prospects who seemingly have a day or two big league experience to long term deals.
This is an organization that announced during the 2010 off-season that they were actually looking to cut spending ... and they still made the playoffs. It's almost the polar opposite of what happened to the Blue Jays during the 2005 off-season, where they ramped up spending considerably and missed out on the post-season.
The one area where I think the Blue Jays currently have the upper hand on the Rays is the trade market. Alex Anthopoulos is very good at his ability to extract high ceiling talent from other teams and maximize their potential in a new environment with the Blue Jays.
However, the Rays have stockpiled so many prospects in trades over the years that at least of of them will pay dividends eventually. The results from their trades may not have come to fruition yet, but the reinforcements are likely on their way.
I just really miss the days when the Blue Jays used to steamroll the Rays. Those days are now long gone, and every victory over Tampa Bay feels like the Blue Jays dodged a bullet.
So really, all this anger is misplaced towards the Tampa Bay Rays. I say anger, but what I really mean is jealously.
The Red Sox and Yankees may be the classic division rivals, but I'd safely say the Rays are now the team to beat for the Blue Jays.