September 24, 2008

The forgotten season

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

I’ll admit it. Even though there’s some great playoff races and interesting subplots in this winding down MLB season, I haven’t really been paying attention. I should be excited about the underdog Rays battling the Sox for AL East supremacy or the White Sox and Twins duking it out in the Central and the Mets collapse/Phillies rise in the NL East. I should be watching as those Mets try to hold onto the Wild card while Brewers are close (yet self-destructing) and the Marlins and Astros cut it down to the wire. I should be excited that Manny Ramirez has been hitting around .400 since arriving in L.A. and noticing how many dingers he’s hit to put the Dodgers a few games away from a post-season berth.

But I’m not paying attention and I didn’t know why. Then Sunday night I realized the problem: The Rays.

The Tampa Bay Rays represent what is wrong with the 2008 MLB season. They are the third best team in all of baseball and nobody in the area cares. They are the perfect example of why this is a forgotten season. How a team that has played so well, made the playoffs and effectively ended the Yankees’ post-season streak cannot draw — at least — 75% capacity at games is downright pathetic. Why should I be caring about the Rays remarkable season when the local fans don’t?

If it were the Yankees and Red Sox dueling at the top the AL East, of course I’d be paying attention to those two bitter rivals fighting for the top spot, but Tampa Bay? There’s nothing compelling me to root for them. I don’t care how much of an underdog story you want to call it. The fact is that if you’re awful for long enough, you can use those high draft picks to make your team better (except if you’re the Pirates) — in any sport.

Some people will blame the lack of attention on MLB ‘08 on the Olympics stealing the August spotlight or the NFL’s continuing dominance of the sports landscape, but I’ll juts blame it on the Rays and hope for a great October to salvage what shouldn’t have been a forgettable season.

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