Like any other MLB team, the Rays say they're being motivated in October by thoughts of a championship ring and the opportunity to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy over their heads.
You believe them. They're competitors.
But in an interesting twist, they're also playing with the thought of adding some cold, hard cash to their (relatively) meager paychecks.
As members of the team with the second-lowest payroll in baseball, many of the Rays stand to collect a playoff bonus in the neighborhood of $300,000 if the team beats the Phillies to win the World Series.
If they lose, they'll collect around $150,000, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Since many of the Rays player salaries hover around the league minimum of $390K (postseason star B.J. Upton made $412K this season, well below the league average of $2.8 million), such a windfall would mean a lot more to players who are young than the veteran players who have already collected their lottery checks in the form of multi-year contracts.
Perhaps that's part of the reason they were blowing through this postseason before falling to the Phillies 3-2 in Game 1 last night?
The Rays will admit that it's on their minds.
Said Rays president Matt Silverman: "If A-Rod gets an extra $300,000, it probably doesn't affect him that much. But for a player making $400,000 who does not know what the future holds, the money can be big."
Of course, we're talking about Major Leaguers already making great money to play a kid's game and many of these Rays will sign BIG contracts once they become eligible, so it's impossible for many of us to relate or do a happy-happy-joy-joy dance for the possibility.
But consider the tale of Rays' backup catcher Michel Hernandez. After spending a decade toiling in the minor leagues, he was finally called up late in the season by the Rays and added to the roster. He was overjoyed by the news, not only because it fulfilled a dream for him, but also because it meant he would get better insurance for his five-year-old son, Michael, who has Type 1 diabetes.
So, just a few months after he considered quitting baseball and taking an electrician's job for the better benefits, Hernandez find himself in the position of receiving even more money to guarantee Michael as much medical care as he needs.
Now there's a salary bump worth pulling for.