Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Sam Fuld and the Rays gave me a subtle reminder that in baseball anything can happen. Even in the face of looking at Cool Standings and seeing the Rays with a 2.3% chance at the wild card, I find myself hoping for a fantastic 45 game run that somehow has the Rays playing baseball in October.
Am I dreaming? Of course. But as Jim Valvano said in his classic Arthur Ashe Award speech: "Be a dreamer. If you don't know how to dream, you're dead." On August 12, 1978, the Yankees were 8 games behind the Boston Red Sox with a record of 65-50 and were given a 5.2% chance of making the playoffs.That Yankees team went on to win the AL East crown with a record of 100-63 (which included a 1-game playoff victory in Fenway Park) en route to winning the World Series.
A friend of mine once told me that good teams hang around and just keep playing until they are told not to. Could the Rays somehow pull all facets of their game together and go on a magical run? Is it foolish to dream? A few Friday talking points:
- The offense has been much more productive (almost a run a game more) with Desmond Jennings in the lineup.
- Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and B.J. Upton are a formidable group of hitters who have yet to get hot at the same time this year.
- The rotation with James Shields, David Price, and Jeremy Hellickson at the top can easily get on a roll to carry the team.
- The weakest part of the team appears to be the bullpen (or the failpen as dubbed by Steve Slowinski). If the Rays were to draw close in the wild card race, might the Rays promote Matt Moore to fill a role like David Price in 2008?
- The Rays are in a good waiver position. Will Andrew Friedman attempt to bolster the failpen by acquiring an arm?
- Is there a point where Andrew Friedman decides not to look at bolstering the team and looks to move players and play out the string?
- Who from the minors could be the biggest spark to the Rays if they were to make a run? Matt Bush? Matt Moore? Russ Canzler? Or dare I say it... The Great Pumpkin (now there's a story line!).
- And of course, the obligatory Casey Kotchman question: Will he win the AL Batting Crown?