I've been thinking about this for a few days now. The Rays announced their existence in 2008 as they took the MLB by surprise, causing some to say, "Huh, I didn't even realize the Tampa Bay area had a baseball team." The Rays announced they were not a Hanson one-hit wonder in 2010, posting their third straight winning season and second division crown. In two of the last three years, the Rays have beaten the very best the Red Sox and Yankees have had to offer. Let's put it this way:
Combined payrolls from 2008-2010:
New York Yankees: 623 million dollars
Boston Red Sox: 423 million dollars (this year is a all-time team high 168 million, up 40 mil from last year)
Tampa Bay Rays: 179 million dollars
Hypothetical question: If the Rays were to somehow win the AL East in 2011, their 3rd division crown in 4 seasons, how would you quantify that accomplishment? How do you consider this type of dominance? I understand it's all about the championships, and yet there's something to be said for what the Atlanta Braves did in the 90's and beyond with their decade-plus division dominance.
Taking a look at what the Rays have to overcome, and beginning to enter a long enough period of consistency, what would 3 division titles in 4 seasons mean to the organization? Since Spring is the time for hope, I just thought I'd throw this out there and see what anyone thought.