Hello, my name is Josh Morgan and I am a depressed Tampa Bay Rays fan.
I enjoy most sports, but Major League Baseball is my true obsession. Times like these make things difficult for those around me as I take losses to heart and the performance of my favorite teams play a major role in my mood. It is something I’ve worked on balancing. As is true in real life, in baseball things are never as good as they may appear during a hot streak or nearly as bad as they appear during a losing streak such as this.
I have worked at trying to regress my emotions to the mean over the years, but times like these are still trying.
Long time Devil Rays fans are familiar with these feelings. Prior to 2008 we were the fools rooting for a team seldom managed to hit the 70 win mark. In 2008 the Rays won 96 games after winning just 66 the year before. That year seemed like a fleeting miracle, but it wasn’t: since the beginning of the 2008 season the Rays have 738-633 which is good for sixth most in all of baseball.
The problem with a multi-year run of winning baseball is that expectations have changed. We now expect success. We expect the Rays to be competitive in a difficult division filled with baseball’s most deep-pocketed teams. We expect that our smart organization will out-trade, out-strategize, and ultimately outplay baseball’s equivalent of the 1%.
But look where we are now. The Rays are in the midst of a losing streak that is now at 11 games. They have been outscored during this stretch, good for 1.5 wins by Pythagorean Winning Percentage. It’s hard to find a consistent goat for these losses. If the starters have been decent, the bullpen has failed; if the bullpen has logged scoreless innings then the offense has gone cold. There have been winnable games that slipped away, and games that seemed to be over in the first inning.
For the first time since the Rays dropped the Devil, it’s June and I’m already thinking the team needs to be making plans for next year. To get to .500 for the season the Rays have to play at a 91 win pace. To get to 86 -- and the thoughts of a possible wild card — they have to succeed at a 100 win pace.
Even if a “fire sale” is the best approach as trade deadline nears, it’s not entirely clear what to sell. Some possible trade pieces (Steve Pearce, Brandon Guyer) have been injured which diminishes their trade value. Some have floated the idea of trading Even Longoria, but that would be such a gut punch to the team and the fan base that it’s hard to imagine a trade haul that would make either baseball sense or organizational sense. Trading any of our starters at this moment would surely be trading low.
With its 162 game schedule, the baseball season is a long grind for players, and even for those of us fans who tune in, sometimes against our better judgement, every night. As season like this surely tests our patience. Yet, I would willingly let this run go on much longer in order to have those feelings of game seven of the 2008 American League Championship Series or Game 162.
It still gives me goosebumps when I see the ground ball head to Akinori Iwamura and the joy of him springing off second base to record the final out, Dan Johnson’s home run down the right field line, and Evan Longoria’s homer that clears the short wall in left.
The highs of the best moments still, thankfully, linger more memorably than the lows of the losing streaks.