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World Champion Rays: The Ultimate Hanukkah Story

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier, Travis reflected on the Rays upcoming season through the experience of binge watching Christmas movies, with a scene from A Christmas Story serving as a metaphor for our team’s hot stove season. But probably no seasonal story is more relevant to our Tampa Bay franchise than the story of Hanukkah, which at its heart is about making do with less.

For those unfamiliar, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Israelites vanquished the occupying Greeks under the leadership of the Maccabbees. To reconsecrate the Temple, it was necessary to re-light a holy lamp using purified olive oil. Only a very small jar of oil, however — barely enough to keep the lamp going for a day — could be found, and new supplies were still days away. They lit the lamp, and miraculously it remained aglow for a full eight days and nights. A supply of oil that should only have covered one day somehow managed to provide light for over a week.

What is Hanukkah, then, if not a celebration of the Extra 2%? Isn’t this a perfect metaphor for the Tampa Bay Rays?

This team needs to find ways to stretch a $70 million payroll to accommodate at least 25 major league salaries, in a league where the average player last year earned $4.4 million a year and the average payroll was $131 million.

In other words, their (relative to other teams) small pot of money, seemingly enough to pay for maybe a dozen decent players, needs to stretch to cover a full roster’s worth of talent.

For this to work, we need luck and skill, but perhaps also a bit of a Hanukkah miracle.