>Ahhhh I love March…arguably my favorite sporting month of the year. March Madness, yes. But superceding that, Spring Training. The time when the little guys have hopes of being this year’s Next Big Thing. Tampa, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and the like, rejoice. This may be the year.
There’s nothing I can think of that exceeds being in Florida in March for a little ST Americana. The intimate surroundings, $5.00 seats where you don’t need NASA-devolped scopes to be in the game, the bright Florida sunshine and and a good-ole laidback day at the park…soaking it all up.
But I digress, onto my sole prediction (for the moment)…aside from my obligatory Tribe in ’07 all the way rant.
Tampa Freaking Bay…oh yeah, I said it.
Now lets not get it twisted, I’m not calling World Series…hell, with that division I’m not even really calling playoffs — (easy Mora, another day friend, another day) — which may have you questioning what kind of half-assed prediction this is. But even without calling for late-autumn ball, these are the kinda hopes only a lover of small money clubs in a big market game can appreciate and pass off as substantial.
Lets start with last year. 101 in the “L” column. Needless to say, not good. But consider the fact that the D-Rays at least had the lead in over SIXTY games last year that they subsequently let slip through their grasp like a greasy fingered Bears Superfan grappling for the last succulent Polish Kielbasa.
Point Two: The young talent is blooming. Carl Crawford and a healthy Rocco Baldelli give the Rays one of the best defensive outfields around and their bats and speed are equally as good. Add a young Delmon Young who may be ready to break out in RF with Jonny Gomes’s ability to add some pop in the lineup…looking pretty good so far.
Point Three: Scott Kazmir. Arguably the best young starting southpaw in the game right now. If he continues to grow from the last two years (20-17 combined, mid 3.00 ERA), they’ve got a bonafide anchor. Follow him up with a couple other young arms in Tim Corcoran, James Shields and Casey Fossum, with a little run support that was sporadic at the very best last year they could put something together.
Now obviously there are plenty of other things to consider…shaky bullpen, offensive production from the IF, etc…it’s going to be an obvious uphill battle. I guess I just have a feeling…perhaps its just the Spring talking. Either way, I like it, and to any Yankee fan, don’t be getting your hopes up. AARP called, a quarter of your pitching staff is eligible.
Anyway…Three Cheers for the upcoming Spring Training revelries and regular season. GO TRIBE!!!