There's been numerous columns and articles written about Carl Crawford's tenure with the Rays coming to an end. I'm sure everyone has their own feelings about it, and I'm going to share mine.
Seeing Carl Crawford play what was likely his final inning in a Rays’ uniform was the single saddest moment I’ve experienced watching a sporting event, live or otherwise. This is Crawford’s ninth year with the Rays. He’s grown up here, and being that I’m only 24 years old I feel like I’ve grown up with him over those nine years. His career with the Rays can sort of be seen as a metaphor for life. You start young and inexperienced, kind of feeling your way around. Over time you manage to figure out how things work, how the skills you've developed can be applied for your benefit. Then those skills start paying off. You become a rising star, making your way through the ranks until you attain whatever it is you're seeking. Not that Carl is seeking a big pay day over a World Series title, but you get my point.
I was fully aware of the moment that was coming. I’d actually been counting down the games for about a month. When Crawford stepped to the plate in the 8th inning of the Rays 5-1 loss to Texas, the Rays fans left in attendance gave him a standing ovation. That ovation was short lived, as Crawford flew out to center. The crowd wasn't satisfied. As he took his place in left field to begin the 9th, the crowd began a "bleacher-creature" like CARL CRAWFORD! CARL CRAWFORD! chant that seemed to last the entire half inning. There are maybe a handful of players left who would get such treatment from their fan base. Derek Jeter and David Ortiz come to mind immediately. But those names aren't synonymous with the teams they play for. Maybe I'm alone, but when I think of the Yankees Derek Jeter doesn't immediately come to mind. When I hear 'Tampa Bay Rays', and I'm sure it's more prevalent outside of this area, I think of Carl Crawford.
For many years he and Scott Kazmir were the only reasons people knew the Tampa Bay area had a team. He owns every meaningful team offensive record outside of home runs. He's a four time All-Star. He saw his batting average increase in each of his first six seasons. I could go on but I'm afraid I'd develop carpel tunnel before I came to an end. Like other users of this site I support the Rays retiring Crawford's number 13 jersey. It certainly deserves to be retired more than the number 12 of Wade Boggs.
Growing up in a city without a baeball team for the first half of my life, I never had a favorite player. It didn't seem fair to me to choose some other city's player. I wanted my own. Starting in 2002 I got that chance. There hasn't been a more exciting player to root for over these past nine seasons. We Rays fans have been lucky. Whoever he goes to next doesn't know what they're in for.
My favorite memory of CC, and I know I share this with R.J. Anderson, is his reaction after the Aki Iwamura recorded the final out of the 2008 ALCS. He came running in from left field like a mad man, shaking his arms, jumping around, screaming like a little kid. It was pure emotion incarnate. What about you all? What is your favorite Crawford memory?