The devil less Rays are ready to reach sports immortality. Mike Bianchi’s take from the Orlando Sentinel:
Should the Rays win the Series, they will be the only truly authentic worst-to-first team in the history of American professional sports. They lost at least 90 games in their 10 previous years of existence, including a league-worst 66-96 record last year. Now they are four victories from going where no team has ever gone before.
“If you can’t appreciate this Rays story, you’re way behind the curve. This is magical. They’re living a dream. It’s an elusive thing. It’s like falling in love. You know when it’s happening, but you don’t know how and why it’s happening. It’s an amazing feeling.”
If anybody should know what “amazing” feels like, it’s the guy who spoke the above words to me Tuesday on the telephone from his home in New Orleans. His name is Ron Swoboda, whose diving, fully-horizontal, rally-killing catch in the World Series against the powerfulBaltimore Orioles became the iconic image of the “Amazing Mets.”
Those “Miracle Mets” are a team that captured the nation’s imagination back in 1969 — the same year man walked on the moon. Which seems only appropriate when comparing the two teams. If the ’69 Mets are Neil Armstrong, then the ’08 Rays areBuzz Aldrin. Even though the Rays are mathematically more amazing (they improved by 31 victories from the previous season compared to 27 for the Mets), the Mets are universally more appreciated.
Maybe it’s a New York thing. Maybe it’s because baseball was bigger back then. Or maybe it’s just a depressing sign of times.
We spend so much time in the media these days focusing on Pacman Jones’ latest altercation or Roger Clemens‘ latest fabrication or Jose Canseco‘s latest book or college football’s latest crook that we can’t even appreciate a history-making once-in-a-lifetime miracle season anymore.
If Madonna is not having an affair with one of the players or the franchise pitcher hasn’t been indicted by the grand jury, then can it really be a compelling story?
Have we really become this jaded and joyless?
I hope not.
I sure hope not.
“The Rays should be celebrated,” Swoboda says. “They’re one of the great stories in baseball history.”
With four more victories, they will rewrite history and be more than just a great baseball story.
They will become the greatest story ever told.