Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Will the real Rays stand up?

Maybe this isn't quite fair to the Tampa Bay Rays but I have this theory that bad things happen to bad teams. Whether it's injuries, erratic officiating or, simply, the errant bounce of the ball.

Teams that are bad or getting worse or struggling to overcome their ineptitude usually face an inordinate amount of obstacles before they can turn the corner. On the flip side, contending teams usually catch all the breaks and benefit from a certain about of providence along the way - good and lucky are usually one in the same. Good teams make their own luck.

That's why I'm curious to see how the upstart Rays, holding a four-game lead in the AL East as of today, will deal with the recent losses of Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

The baseball season, of all pro sports, has the longest, most grueling race to the finish line. Things that happen in April don't necessarily have anything to do with what happens in the final week of September. Ask the Mets.

So we'll figure out what kind of team the Rays really are over the next couple weeks. Will they remain baseball's darlings and feel-good summer story? Or will they sink back to the bottom of the standings, where they've made themselves comfortable for the past decade?

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