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My Fair-Weather Friends

Normally, I'm a big-time mocker of people who suddenly become fans of a team, just because the going is good at the moment.

However, in this case, I must admit that I'm enjoying my adoption of the Tampa Bay Rays as my No. 2 team.

Let the record reflect that my first acknowledgement of Rays fanhood came on May 14th, when I lamented that Tampa Bay and the Mets would not be playing this season. And for those wondering, I'm not copying the folks at MetsGeek, who pretended to change their site's name to RaysGeek. I was a few days ahead of them :)

This is not a Scott Kazmir thing, a Cliff Floyd thing, and it's not even a Dan Wheeler thing (my early candidates for favorite Rays are third baseman Evan Longoria and pitcher Andy Sonnanstine). Maybe it's a Steve Henderson thing (he's a coach), but I don't think so. It's more just a 'I've seen them play and I think they've got a good thing' thing. It's totally fair-weather. It's totally pathetic bandwagon jumping. It's totally mockable every time I refer to them as "My Rays." But I like it anyway.

I made an allusion in that original post to not being sure yet if the Rays had the 1969 Mets mojo. I'm still not sure about that. But I think I see a little 1991 Braves/Twins or 1995 Mariners in them, by the way they've won some of their games this season. I watched all three games of their series with the Cubs (had to find something to do when the Mets are on the West Coast), and I'm more convinced of it now.

There are a number of things I like about adopting a second team, but I think what I like most is that it has been good 'baseball therapy' for what has bothered me about the Mets this season. The Mets are a frustrating watch. I fret over every batted ball when the Mets are in the field, and every chased curve in the dirt when the Mets are at the plate.

With the Rays, it's a worry-free deal. I've not reached the point of yelling at the TV when Edwin Jackson- their version of Oliver Perez/Mike Pelfrey- pitches. A Rays loss is not a day-ruiner, or a mood changer, and a Rays win doesn't considerably brighten my day. But it's fun to follow peripherally. There was a good articl in the Huffington Post, a few weeks ago about how Cliff Floyd seems to be a winner wherever he goes, and I was pleased when I looked at some "win probability" analysis that found that he's been one of the Rays most valuable hitters. I even got to the point yesterday of thinking about the question of "Who would I trade for, if I were them?" My answer, in looking for a "Keith Hernandez-type" to put them over the top, was not Ken Griffey Jr., but rather Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, whom I was told is a rather unlikely acquisition. Coincidentally, Oswalt is pitching against the Rays Friday, and I'm curious how he'll fare against them.

Yes, Tampa Bay is in a tough division, competing with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees, so realistically they may run into some trouble along the way. But they've put together a very nice run here. It's said that every team wins 50 and every team loses 50, and it's what you do in the other 62 that count. The way the Mets won on Wednesday is what I would call 'stealing' one of those games that fall into the "other" category. The Rays have been winning those kinds of games all season.

Now not to worry. My Mets fandom is not in any sort of jeopardy, and I'm not about to start a Rays Minutiae website. This is a supplemental thing with which I am entertaining myself for the time being, and I'm hopeful it lasts into October. The beauty of it is that since I don't have a true emotional bond with the Rays, I can walk-off any time I want.

True Metba Bays know... Four members of the 2008 Mets have previously played for the Rays: Marlon Anderson, Raul Casanova, Damion Easley and Jorge Sosa.


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