When it comes to full bandwagons, I'd say that no bandwagon gets filled with more Mets fans in October than that of the Tampa Bay Rays. I myself find myself pulling for these guys at least a little bit every season. The obvious reasons are for the "little engine that could" phenomenon that exists. Team with no payroll and an outdated ballpark by ballpark's standards makes the playoffs every season, what's not to like? It's an interesting phenomenon that exists though ... one where Mets fans by the dozens love this team. They're a popular mistress. And for those that don't understand, I think it was made crystal clear to me tonight ...
You can't win the World Series every year. Even Yankee fans know this. If you are a fan because you hope for world titles every year, you're going to walk around in perpetual disappointment which might cause you to shoot up a fast food restaurant over too much salt on your Whopper™. Because it's not happening. Here's the best that you can hope for as a fan: you hope that your team finishes up a season having gone as far as it could, getting every ounce out of their resources and leaving no questions of "what if", because they've done everything they could from the owner down to the clubhouse guy.
The Tampa Bay Rays, though they've only been to one World Series in the last six seasons, do this every year. They get the absolute most out of their resources and talent, and leave no room for debate over what they could have done differently. They don't have the resources or the talent of the Boston Red Sox. But they did everything they could to hang with them, and there's no room for "what if". Because every drop of juice was squeezed out of the orange. (That's a Tropicana Field reference ... hope you liked it.)
The absolute best example of getting every drop out of the orange was the Chicago Bulls dynasty. When they were ready to become a dynasty, they got everything out of that roster that they should have. There was no disappointing defeat during those seasons like, say, the Mets had in 1988 against the Dodgers. The Bulls won every single year when they had their full roster. And even though they were broken up by ownership, at least Bulls fans never had to see that core in decline. Their myth will grow stronger because nobody could beat them. (1995 doesn't count because Jordan was still shaking off some baseball rust.)
The Tampa Bay Rays are not the Chicago Bulls ... not by a long shot. But you can't say that the Rays should have gone further at any point. They are never a disappointment. And that, I think, is why people who aren't Red Sox or Yankees fans gravitate towards them. It's a shame that they can't muster up a little more money to keep a guy like David Price, or acquire a big bat or important arm down the stretch. But it's not like they have their own network or a brand new stadium or anything like that.
And that's why we, subconsciously, find ourselves drawn to this team every October. And that's why we are disappointed tonight as they, once again, can't get past the ALDS. Because we see the team we root for with their own network and a new ballpark and yet can't get out of their own way. And then there's the Rays, with none of the advantages that the New York Mets have, and yet they reach their ceiling every year, and therefore never disappoint. Think about it: They win two do-or-die games and take the mighty Boston Red Sox to their absolute limit in four games? I'd sign up for a run like that in 2014 right now. In fact, I'd sign it in blood.no comments