And so it ends. The 2010 Rays season. It went out with a whimpering bang, this one.
Still not sure what to make of it, analysis-wise. Yes, the history books will note that the Rays were the AL East champs this year. That the team saw its first pitching cause celeb, a no-hitter. That it logged the second best regular season record. That it had moments of brilliance on the field, featuring plays that made me, a seasoned baseball watcher, gasp in awe and amazement.
But then there were the no-hitters (yep, that’s plural) logged against us. Long dry streaks at the plate. Uneven pitching. The constant discussion – heck, distraction – about the Trop, game attendance, fan support and such. The looming knowledge that the payroll would be adjusted for future seasons, assuring that familiar faces would be sporting new uniforms next year. And Pat the Bat.
Was this a team that overachieved in spite of itself, or a team that underachieved thanks to getting in its own way? Was this a team that simply assumed it would in or a team that really believed it would win. Still pondering this one and will probably do so for a while.
There are many post-mortems being issued for the team, both for the season that was and seasons yet to come. The faces in Rays uniforms are going to change -- there seems to be no doubt about that, given team payroll slashing here and larger team pocketbooks there. Trades are always a possibility.
And while I’ll be sorry to see players leave, I’m a little excited already about what we might see from the 2011 Rays. Call me an optimist, but I believe in looking forward. You see, while I do become fond of some players, I’m always, first and foremost, about the team itself. The Rays will survive. Might be a bit of an adjustment before they survive and thrive. But the team will go on. And it will be fine. Managed expectations and all.