Having your name in the record books is normally a good thing. Auspicious, even.
The ink is just barely dry on the latest entry -- Matt Garza’s no-hitter, the first in Tampa Bay Rays’ history. A great achievement for a young pitcher and a nice boost for his team.
This is not the first time the Rays have been part of a record-setting moment this season. However, they’ve usually been the name AFTER that of the record setter. The team against who records are set.
At the moment, no single team has racked up more record book mentions as the guys on the other side of the distinction than the Tampa Bay Rays. Or so it seems.
Let’s look at the list:
Two perfect – PERFECT -- games in two consecutive seasons. I’ll spare you the details, as I’m sure you’ve seen them repeatedly on SportsCenter. Perfect games don’t come along very often. Yet there’ve been two recently. Against the same team. Our Tampa Bay Rays.
A no-hitter. From Edwin Jackson, a dude who just two years earlier was part of the Rays starting rotation.
Jim Thome passed Harmon Killebrew as #10 on all time HR hit list this season. Super! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Who was the pitcher in this scenario? Wade Davis.
Just a week or so ago, Mitch Talbot tossed six consecutive strikeouts, tying a Cleveland Indians club record. Yeah. The record stayed tied, at least during that game, as Talbot retired Kelly Shoppach with an infield grounder. This particular match up is serendipitous, as Talbot and Shoppach were involved in the same trade deal that sent the players to their current respective teams. Yet another example of why baseball is really just a small town with one hell of a records department.
Most recently, the fans sporting Rays gear in the Trop held their collective breath as Alex Rodriguez attempted to reach a milestone with 600 career home runs. He left town holding as Mr. 599. Thank goodness.
These days, when it’s mid-game and the Rays have not produced a hit, I just start cheering for someone – anyone – to make contact with the ball and land safely on first. It’s the little things.
Which include not being part of yet another highlight reel for someone else to be shown ad naseum on ESPN or trotted out on Fox whenever the Rays end up being part of the Saturday Game of the Week.
I had a friend in high school that attracted trouble without even trying. It just seemed to find her. Whenever we hung out, I knew that I would either have a story to tell or be looking at eventual grounding. That’s how I’m choosing to look at the Rays as the Team Against Whom Records Are Set. They’re not a bad team. In fact, they’re a damn good team. But just like my friend and trouble, that notoriety simply seems to find them. And while this reputation will probably help solve a lot of bar trivia bets over the years, here’s hoping that there’s another ball club who will assume the dubious honor of being that team. Sooner rather than later.