Sadly, it's sinking in that the next time we see Carl Crawford under the catwalks at the Trop, he probably won't be wearing this uniform. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
If Carl Crawford is going to move on, let it be to a team that won't hurt the Rays that much.
Carl Crawford will always be a special part of Rays history. He's the one player that's been here through the peaks and valleys, going back to when it was more like valleys and canyons. For that reason alone, there's a bond between him and the fans of this team. When times were bad and there was little to like about the Rays, Devil or otherwise, we could always look to Carl Crawford. Playing hard, providing offense, defense and mayhem on the basepaths, making all-star games and remaining upbeat and humble throughout. Lesser players would have sulked and brooded and gotten themselves traded long ago. Lots of them did exactly that. While it's been a foregone conclusion in the minds of many for years now that 2010 would be Crawford's last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, the conclusion of the World Series and the onset of the long off-season means that many of us are just finally getting our heads around that concept. And even though we still cling to a tiny thread of hope that Stuart Sternberg, in spite of the fact that we're getting the sneaking suspicion that he's not quite as fond of us as he was even six months ago, will authorize Andrew Friedman to pull off just one more miracle and sign Crawford to a deal that will keep him here forever and ever, the part of us that remains rational just wants to see it resolved as painlessly as possible, both now and in the future. So strictly from a warm and fuzzy perspective, without regard to who's in the market for what and how much money they have to spend, here's one fan's pie-in-the-sky wishlist for teams to sign Carl Crawford.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
Hey, stranger things have happened! I can't think of any offhand...but still. He has yet to sign elsewhere so he's still a Ray right now. In the words of the immortal philosopher Lloyd Christmas, "So you're telling me there's a chance..."
2. Houston Astros
Everybody loves homecoming stories. Crawford returning to his home in Houston and helping the Astros, a team that's never won a World Series, is something I think we could all feel good about. Especially since they play in the National League.
3. Chicago Cubs
Of course, if you're going to elevate a team (again, a National League team, thanks) to elite status, why not do it with the losingest lovable losers of all? He could be the next Andre Dawson. Heck, if he helped them win a pennant, he'd be the next Ernie Banks. Win a World series for them and he'd be held in the same esteem as a real Chicago hero, Al Capone. Of course, they still play a ton of day games at Wrigley and I'm not sure he'd enjoy that. Because nobody seems to enjoy that.
4. Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates
Just because it would freak people out. Small markets unite!
5. Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
How about if we can't have him nobody can, at least nobody in North America, specifically two teams who play in the AL East that shall remain nameless who just go out and suck up every good player they want, not because they need them but because they can? The Pacific League in Japan is a perfectly logical option. Why Hokkaido Nippon? Because they're known as the Fighters, they're sponsored by ham company, they once had a mascot (named Fighty) who was a bright pink pterodactyl with a giant ham for a head and all of those things together would make it impossible for me to be sad if he played there instead of here. That's why.