Wednesday, July 02, 2008
OK folks... things are getting odd.
It's now July 2nd and the Tampa Bay Rays are the best team in baseball.
They beat my beloved Sox again last night and are 51-32... 2 1/2 games up... 4 up in the loss column in the AL East.
The team whose lone highlight prior to this year was the movie The Rookie is now the standard of baseball.
And you can't even say "It's early."
"Ahh it's a fluke... it's only April... Sorry May... Sorry June... Sorry July."
It's late and I should be in bed, so why not look up some stats on Baseball Reference, the single greatest website on the internet?
OK, let's see what happened to the team that was the best team in baseball going into July 2nd since the Divisions expanded from 4 to 6:
1995: Cleveland Indians - Won AL Pennant
1996: Atlanta Braves - Won NL Pennant
1997: Baltimore Orioles - Won Division
1998: New York Yankees - Won World Series
1999: Cleveland Indians - Won Division
2000: Chicago White Sox - Won Division
2001: Seattle Mariners - Won Division
2002: Atlanta Braves - Won Division
2003: Atlanta Braves - Won Division
2004: New York Yankees - Won Division
2005: Chicago White Sox - Won World Series
2006: Boston Red Sox - Missed Playoffs
2007: Boston Red Sox - Won World Series
So since the first completed year of 6 division play, the best team after July 1 made the playoffs 12 out of 13 times.
The one team that didn't, the 2006 Red Sox, had a perfect storm of injuries (Papi, Varitek, Manny, Nixon, Wells, Lester, Foulke, Papelbon and Schilling) that leveled them in the second half. (And they rebounded ok in 2007.)
So guess what folks... this team has a damn good chance of not just having a winning record.
Saving a rash of injuries Tampa Bay will in all likely hood be playing in October.
They'll be playing BASEBALL, not golf... or shuffle board.
Forget the ambition of trying to get to .500.
They just need to go 31-48 to reach the once unthinkable winning record.
If the Rays play 17 games under .500 the rest of the way this year, Joe Maddon will win Manager of the Year.
If they play just 1 game over .500 the rest of the way, the Rays will go 91-71... or better than any National League team in 2007.
The Rays winning 90 games and making the playoffs? Forget Manager of the Year... Joe Maddon might win the Nobel Prize.
What I am saying is you can not say "It's a fluke" anymore.
The Tampa Bay Rays are now a legitimate playoff front runner.
Read that sentence again.
"Horsemen, party of four. Paging Horsemen, party of four."