Last year, around this time, I wrote:
Cooler heads must prevail. It is April 5. No World Series Championship has ever been won or lost on April 5.
At the time, I was talking about the Rays’ 0-3 start but the logic applies equally to the Rays’ 3-0 start in 2012.
We did not win the division this weekend. There was no reason for the Times to be going around the Yankee clubhouse asking the players if they were worried. It’s just a sweep. An important sweep. But still just a sweep.
Here’s the thing I am struggling with a bit. Perhaps I am just giving the loudest voices too much attention but, it seems like a huge portion of the Rays’ fan base sees this weekend as either an upset or as some kind of statement. Implicitly, that means a huge portion of the fan base is surprised at the outcome of the opening weekend. Right?
Why? Are we surprised because the Rays didn’t hit very well in Spring Training? Are we surprised because we didn’t think the Rays did enough this winter? Are we surprised because we still don’t trust Joe Maddon? Are we surprised because, despite the rosters, the numbers, or the objective evidence, we’re always going to be the Rays and they’re always going to be the Yankees? It has to be something.
Don’t get me wrong. I am very happy we opened 3-0. I am very happy that we swept New York. I am happy that we struck the first blow in a challenging AL East race. And I am happy that we quieted, at least temporarily, the very vocal doubters.
But I am not surprised.
When I look at our team, I expect them to have a very good season. I expect them to be good because I do not think their starting rotation is going to go more than three nights without a great performance (see Hellickson, Jeremy). I expect them to be good because I think the bullpen has enough talent to get the outs it needs (see Howell-Davis-Badenhop-McGee-Peralta-Rodney, 4/6/12). I expect them to be good because I think the offense is significantly improved. (See Pena, Carlos and Scott, Wolverine). And, I expect them to be good, because Joe keeps them just loose enough to pull out a few miracles (see Rivera, Mariano).
Because I expect our team to be good, I expect them to win a lot of series (How does one pluralize the noun series? I have no idea.), even series against Boston and New York. I also expect many more days at the Trop with brooms.
I don’t know if we’re going to win the East, get into the playoffs, or win the whole shootin’ match. But I do know that this weekend shouldn’t have come as such a big surprise to the Rays Republic.