That's right, TheOLIB readers saw it here first. On March 27th, I proclaimed the Rays to make the playoffs, and better yet, to win the division. While other publications claimed the Rays would take steps in 2008, suggesting a historic season in Tampa (finishing with greater then 70 wins), I went out on a limb and took the Rays as my choice of class in the American League East.
True, I have spent some time 'prizing' my ego throughout this very series (Read Ray Pride Part One, Two, Three, and Four), but is it not partially acceptable? Keep in mind, this is a Rays team, that despite sitting in first place at the All Star break, was still being written off as a legitimate contender in the East and would have had difficulties making the playoffs.
Still, sitting mere hours away from the Rays clinching their first ever playoff birth, people still are not taking this team for real. Experts and insiders would take the Red Sox, not the Rays to represent the American League in the World Series. Those who had never before pointed to the pythagorean standings, would assert it is simply illogical not to pick the Sox.
Clearly the mindset has not changed. The very day I posted my preseason picks for the American League East, a reader wrote in to ask if I was celebrating April Fool's on an earlier date? (although in a not so clever manner) Over at the Bleacher Report, I had multiple readers call me out.
According to reader Alfred,
"[T]hat was the single dumbest article I have read in a LONGGG time..."Thayne commented,
"Switch the Rays and Sox then you make more sense. Interesting read for sure!"Thayne was suggesting I drop the Rays to 4th (where most figured the team to finish) and the Sox be bumped up to first (similar to the popularly held belief within mainstream media). It was nice that he gave me credit for an 'interesting read', I just hope that wasn't to be taken negatively.
I did have a few readers at least agree with my logic as I claimed the Rays made enough minor moves, and had enough breakout candidates to make a legitimate run at things. Coupled with a vastly improved defensive infield, this team was bound to break out,
In fact, [Evan] Longoria’s presence and the addition of [Jason] Bartlett will make the Rays infield solid both defensively and offensively. Also look for [Carl] Crawford and [B.J.] Upton to be among the best outfielders (again both defensively and offensively) in the American League.
With all that said, I hope the Rays have not been upset with me borrowing them as my adopted team. While it took last weekend's 3 game Royal sweep for me to officially give up on the Indians, a small part of me has been rooting for the Rays since Opening Day.