Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tom Jones' 9 thoughts on the baseball season

With a week left in the Major League Baseball season, here are nine thoughts that popped into my head about the 2013 season. Why nine? Nine players. Nine innings. And, thus, nine thoughts.

 

1. As much as everyone around here would love to see the Rays make the playoffs, it actually would be a better story for baseball — and for most baseball fans — if the Royals and Indians could find a way to get into the postseason. The Royals haven't been to the postseason since George Brett's team won the World Series in 1985. The Indians haven't been there since 2007. And while it might sting Rays fans to see Royals pitcher James Shields, the former Rays' bulldog, in the playoffs, we would get to see "Big Game James'' reinforce his nickname. And, honestly, do you really want to see the Rangers and Yankees in the playoffs? Again?
2. I've always been a big fan of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, but he needs to pass along some of his class to his players. The Dodgers were totally out of line for frolicking in the swimming pool at the ballpark in Arizona after clinching the division last week. That was about as un-classy as it gets. Another reason the Dodgers annoy me is that they somehow paint themselves as a feel-good team that came out of nowhere. They didn't come out of nowhere. They came from an MLB-High payroll of $220 million. I'm not saying they shouldn't spend money. That's their right. I'm saying let's not act like they're some improbable miracle team.
3. The turnaround of the Red Sox from a 93-loss team in 2012 to a division winner in 2013 is nothing short of stunning. It just goes to show you that you don't have to crack open safes to bring in high-priced stars such as Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in order to win. The Red Sox proved that, perhaps, the better way to go is to sign affordable proven winners with character (Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli). It also didn't hurt that they booted wing nut Bobby Valentine out as manager and brought in the stable and steady John Farrell.
4. If the Rays come up short of the playoffs, it would be easy to point a finger at, say, Matt Joyce, Luke Scott and, of late, Jeremy Hellickson for being so unproductive. But, honestly, when you think about it, other than Wil Myers, James Loney and, maybe, Yunel Escobar is there any one player who has completely lived up to expectations? Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist have had good seasons, but even some of their numbers were a bit off, especially when talking about Longoria's average and Zobrist's power numbers.
5. The Pirates making the playoffs after 20 consecutive losing seasons is the story in baseball this season, but it would be a real shame if they were eliminated after only one wild-card game.
6. The Yankees are in a real mess regarding Derek Jeter. He will turn 40 in June, but wants to keep playing after essentially missing this season (he played 17 games) because of ankle and leg problems. Despite all Jeter has done and all he represents, you just can't have a shortstop at that age with health issues who already had range issues. Truthfully, the Yankees need to cut ties with him, but you try telling Jeter that it's time to go.
7. Few teams in baseball have put together the type of success the Braves had in the past 23 years. They will make the playoffs for the 17th time since 1991. But did you realize that this is the first time in eight years that they have won the National League East? Eight years — that seems like an eternity when talking about the modern-day Braves.
8. We all make a big deal out the old Moneyball A's. The movie, about the 2002 A's, conveniently downplayed that they had a little more going for them than a bunch of ragtag overachievers. The A's also just happened to have the AL MVP that season, Miguel Tejada, and three standout pitchers in Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. This year's team is a true Moneyball team at heart. Look at their lineup. Brandon Moss? Yoenis Cespedes? Josh Donaldson? Who are these guys? Only the most underrated team in baseball that can do something the original Moneyball A's didn't do — win a World Series.
9. If the Rays miss the postseason, Tampa Bay fans will complain about a missed opportunity. But at least the Rays would have come close and would have played meaningful games right up until the end. Just think of how they feel in Toronto, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The Blue Jays, Phillies and defending-champion Giants were all supposed to contend and none of them has played a game that mattered in weeks, maybe months.


tom jones' two cents

     
         
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