I drew the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as my Hope & Faith assignment. I started out by working on humorous ways the Devil Rays could win (the Yanks and Red Sox get thrown into quarantine after it's revealed--during a bench-clearing brawl--that Carl Pavano is infected with a flesh-eating bacteria, which he was hiding from the Yankees brass; Toronto forfeits half its schedule when the U.S. declares war on Canada, and the Blue Jays are sent to Guantanamo as enemy combatants; Billy Beane's [expletive deleted] doesn't work in the playoffs, that kind of thing), but in the end I decided to play things straight and look at ways that the Devil Rays could emulate recent world champions. Here's the obligatory taste:
It's a pay article, but there's also an interview with me and BP Radio's Brad Wochomurka, which is available for free--either by using the radio interface on BP's new-look front page, or by clicking this link here. Monday's BP Radio spot with Brad on the Mariners is available here. Of course, if you use iTunes you should already be subscribed to BP Radio's podcast (c'mon...it's free!).
That’s a lot of ifs, mights, coulds and maybes up there. To some, this entire exercise may seem ridiculous. The Devil Rays have never come within ten games of a winning record, in their entire history. They’re in a tough division, with two of the best-heeled gatekeepers in the game’s history. Nothing in this team’s track record indicates that they have what it takes to contend.
That’s why we leave you with a lesson from the 1997 World Champions. History doesn’t matter in baseball. Every Opening Day, you start with a clean slate, no matter how bad or good your team was the year before. The Florida Marlins won the World Series in the first winning season of their franchise’s history. So did the New York Mets. It would take hard work, good timing, and an almost ridiculous amount of luck, but for the moment we can still wonder: why not the Devil Rays?
Hope to see all you locals at the Columbia University event tonight at six.