As I type, the Devil Rays are losing to the Tigers 5-1 in the fourth inning, the night after another bullpen collapse that has become merely a stale retread. I’ll have more on the sinking ship that is this series at its conclusion. At least the Atlanta Braves are up 6-0 on the Mets in the third inning at Shea Stadium. If the Braves get this sweep, I will throw a parade. They’re back by 4½ games in their division right now, so they need everything at this point. They’re historically a great second half team, so I think they’re about to make the big playoff run. As far as the team with the highest bullpen ERA since the 1950 St. Louis Browns is concerned, the Devil Rays have to start actually thinking about…you know…winning games. The Yankees/Red Sox/ESPN (ESPN, in conjunction with FOX and Major League Baseball, has launched those franchises high above the rest of the league in terms of perceived value) dynasty needs to end someday before fans of other teams in many different markets disappear. The Devil Rays need to finish above last place if they want their fans to keep watching and waiting. I think that Joe Maddon (and possibly some other coaches–Jim Hickey, anyone?) will be fired after this season, there will be new and improved management, and if they have any baseball and business sense, the payroll will be increased. By increased, I mean at least doubled. Individual players could be making more than the Devil Rays’ entire roster right now. This team is so cheap it’s beyond words. We do have our share of good players, but limited (if any) leadership and no proven winners drives us into the ground. We need bigger names in leading roles, the equivalent of the 1991 Braves’ Terry Pendleton, Lonnie Smith, and Charlie Leibrandt. We need a revamped pitching staff at the bottom of the starting rotation and, especially, in the bullpen. And I think we need a bit of an "attitude" on this team. Not like a Yankees, make the world hate us mentality, but a little confidence and a shakeup in the clubhouse and Tropicana Field. How about a more exciting atmosphere created through stadium music, video, and games? What about player promotion for the top guys on the team? More innovative ways to draw people to games? (And what about having a winning record for once?) We’re an old people and children team right now. Not many others seem to care that this team exists. So we must end the lines of people calling for Tampa Bay’s contraction and build a new image, and it starts with getting winning players on the field and actually moving up the ranks…Rising From The Ashes, if you will. And I don’t even want to hear that the team wants to "save money" and "cut costs". They will never make good money off of 10,000 fans at their home games, and that is what they will continue to get if things remain stagnant like they have. And this ownership has also put millions of dollars into renovating Tropicana Field, so it’s not as if they don’t have the financial resources to invest into the team. Invest the money, and you’ll make everything back. It worked for the Detroit Tigers. (And now because of that, they’re currently beating us right back out of town.) Don’t give up on too many prospects, but most importantly, don’t give up on the entire franchise.
So that concludes my little tangent that I posted because I felt like celebrating my departure from the MLBlogs "Rookies" list. And it had a point, too. I hope people in high places get this point. Until they do, go Devil Rays.
UPDATE: Later on in the night, the Devil Rays tied Detroit at 6 with a Jonny Gomes grand slam. And the Braves still lead the hated Mets. A few minutes later, of course, the Tigers led 9-6.