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Span, good to know ya

Saying goodbye to class act who wasn’t here nearly long enough

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just before gametime on Friday night, the Rays announced that they had traded Denard Span, Alex Colome, and cash for (checks notes) uh, some guys I’ve never heard of. And like a lot of you, you could have just about knocked me over with a feather.

There has never been a player I was more primed to hate than Denard Span. I mean, this was our introduction to him:

The Face of the Franchise for ... I’m sorry, Denard Span??? Are you kidding me???

This caused quite the existential crisis for our little blog. And, no, that wasn’t fair to Span. Not one little bit. But it was real. Denard Span, a Tampa guy who put up over 25 WAR during a solid 10 year career, deserved a homecoming in the local kid does good tradition. Instead, for a lot of us, he was the guy who replaced The Guy.

That ain’t right, man.

But I was still prepared to hate him, regardless of whether it was fair or not, because those are the rules of sports. There is no logic between the lines.

But then Opening Day happened.

You remember Opening Day, right? All the tenuous good will built up over spring training was dashed when we found out Nathan Eovaldi was going on the disabled list with “loose bodies.” This after prized prospect Brent Honeywell had Tommy John surgery earlier in the spring. And now all of a sudden, the Rays are talking some crazy three man rotation nonsense, and the club was “a disgrace.” For the happiest day of the year, it was a real bummer!

And then, right out of the gate with the Red Sox in town, Span and Kevin Kiermaier nearly collide and give up an inside the park homer. It’s just embarrassing.

So the Rays entered the bottom of the eighth on Opening Day down 4-0, and it looks like they might never score. Not just in this game, but, like, ever. Yet somehow, thanks to wildness and ineffectiveness from the Sox pen, they somehow pulled to within two. That brought arch-villain Denard Span to the plate:

Hometown kid makes good indeed. Oh, did I mention this was the first time his son got to see him play?

And if that wasn’t enough, this is him taliking about it after the game. “If I could have cried, I would have cried. But I was running.”

Dammit, Denard. Man. You had me at the triple, dude.

There were other great Span moments. So many that it’s hard to believe he’s only been here a couple months.

There were great catches:

and great almost catches.

There were clutch hits:


and “homers.”

And oh so much joy.

So what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry, Denard. I’m sorry for all the nasty things I said about you under my breath and even out loud when you first were announced. You were a fun player, and a real class act.

More importantly, you reminded me that there is always room in even the hardest of hearts for good, fun ball players. Thank you for that. Good luck in Seattle, and everywhere you go after that. You deserve it.

Take good care of him, Lookout Landing. He’s a keeper.