A new day in Tampa Bay?

This entry isn’t terribly timely. It’s another entry I’ve been kicking around for awhile, in my spare moments.

There’s a persistent rumor floating around that we have a professional sports franchise in this area that plays football. Alas, this rumor is wholly unsubstantiated.

But I didn’t start this entry to talk football. I wanted to talk off-season baseball… during this time when hope for our other professional franchise springs eternal (if not exclusively). What is the reason for hope this year? It springs partially out of a sense of “due-ness.” Even the Cubs have occasional years over .500. Even if every Rays baseball decision was made with a coin flip, they’d be bound to luck their way into a winner once every ten years or so, wouldn’t they? Sadly, for a few years every decision was made with a pinch rather than a flip, but I won’t go there now; except to say that they Rays may be showing some signs of a renewed willingness to spend (if only a little). The new owners said they wouldn’t (and couldn’t) spend with the big market teams, but they did promise to spend (some) money wisely. Under the previous owner this was code for bottom line spending… as in, “what would my wallet do?” This year we’ve been greeted with the news that the Rays won a bid to retain the services of a promising Japanese player. Under the previous owner, news of the Rays winning a bidding competition with other MLB franchises would have caused a spike in the price of shares in Philips Electronics. Now, the Rays have won the rights to sign decent Japanese players in two consecutive years. This isn’t the kind of news that makes national headlines, but it gives me a little hope.

In other news, the Rays placed a few minor leaguers on their 40 man roster. Among them was their mercurial prospect… le enfant terrible… Elijah Dukes. In case you are unaware, this is a guy who many say would have been in the majors two years ago… possibly on his way to stardom… if he didn’t have a “can’t miss” temper to go along with his “sure-thing” talent. Fairly or not, this is the guy who has been accused of being the catalyst for the miss-stepsof a couple other Rays’ prospects’: namely B.J. Upton and Delmon Young (of bat throwing fame). Let’s hope he can keep the temper in check. The last thing a perennial loser needs is a cancer in the clubhouse. That’s assuming he makes the team out of spring training, or gets a call-up. My guess is he’s got too much talent not to get a crack at the team.

Give the gift of words.