I have often written about how fun the Rays are to root for.
Everyone, it seems, loves to spout about how much fun the Rays seem to have playing baseball. That is their most attractive quality. People are naturally attracted to happiness and fun. And the Rays have that in spades. Unfortunately, that is unique in the world of professional sports. The Rays unique approach was on full display while they were in Miami running parallel to the Celtics-Heat.
To be clear, I am a big basketball fan. I played basketball for most of my life, still play recreationally, and follow the college and pro game. But I could only stand Celtics-Heat while the Rays were between innings. (In fact, my lovely wife saw me watching Celts-Heat and astutely observed ‘who are you rooting for, you hate both these teams.’). It was good basketball that was unwatchable. Why? All ten players in the game looked like they were having a root canal. Every made basket or defensive play ended in this face:
Here’s my question. Why are these guys so mad? Why does mad somehow equal “competitive?” I refuse to believe that we have reached a point that an athlete is required to be mad as hell and have no fun just to prove how much they want to win. Isn’t possible to compete AND have fun?
Look at the home nine. Does anyone in sports (anyone anywhere?) have more fun at work? Between the victory lamp, the Matsui rave, the pranks, the pitcher home run contests, the toy dog mascot, and the gladiator masks the Rays come to work with an acknowledgment that 99% of people would lay down on train tracks just for a few hours of their gig.
So those shenanigans prove that the Rays aren’t competitive. Right? Of course not. Otherwise, the happy-go-lucky Rays wouldn’t be in first place in the best division in baseball.
Here’s hoping the rest of the world notices what’s going on in Tampa the same way that Brett Lawry noticed last week. I want more lighthearted sports to watch. I want less NFL post-tackle celebrations. I want more pranks and less lower-jaw-I’m-mean face. The world of sports needs the Rays.