Nothing against the Trop, but what a great place for one of the most heralded prospects since maybe Joe DiMaggio to kick off his big-league career.
Myers wasn't bad. Wasn't great, either. One-for-7 on the day, played a smooth left field; more important, did not fall down and did not cry. Kid didn't even look nervous. But no Roy Hobbs-style, ballpark-destroying monster shot, either, which is what everyone in Tampa Bay was hoping for whether they were willing to admit it or not.
That's what having an uber-prospect on the roster does for fans. Provides hope. Provides inspiration.
No one from the organization is going to say it, but it does the same thing for a team. As well as they've played, the Rays are one loss away from handing over the season series to the Red Sox -- and it's mid-June. The AL East is a beast. As long as the Tampa Bay pitching is out of whack (and it may be for a while with David Price lingering on the DL and no time frame for Alex Cobb's return), the Rays need every available offensive weapon on deck.
There's not a bigger cannon in the Tampa Bay farm system. And there are few like Myers anywhere in baseball.
He knows that, of course. He can read. He watches "SportsCenter." On one hand, it's great to be That Guy. On the other, imagine the pressure of being heralded as the Next Big Thing.
So I got to thinking. If Wil Myers kept a diary -- not that he would, just sayin' -- I'm betting the June 18 entry would read something like this:
7 a.m. -- Got out of bed. Might as well. Did not sleep at all last night. Got up to use the bathroom about 11 million times. I am NOT nervous. With a 1 o'clock game, gotta be at the ballpark in a couple of hours anyway. Flying into Boston was awesome after spending the last few years going to baseball games on a bus.
7:15 a.m. -- Room service does not have Wheaties. Disappointing. If it was good enough for Joe DiMaggio, it's good enough for me. Settled for French toast.
7:50 a.m. -- Now what?
8 a.m. -- Screw it, I'm going to Fenway.
8:30 a.m. -- Very exciting taking the ride to my first big-league ballgame. Told the cabbie what I was doing. Boston cabbies are not very nice.
9 a.m. -- That wall is huge. I got a little BP yesterday, sure, but it looks different now somehow...
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Not nervous, not nervous, not nervous…
1:05 p.m. - Okay, nervous. My whole family and half of North Carolina is sitting together in the stands and they're all waving at me now.
1:15 p.m. - Glad I'm not in left battling The Monster. The Boston bleacher creatures in right field welcomed me to the major leagues. Boston fans are not very nice.
1:45 p.m. - First-pitch swinging and a granny-style pop-up, that's my major-league debut. C'mon, Wil, you know better than that.
2:30 p.m. - And now it's raining. Great.
4 p.m. - Rain delays stink. Don't know who put the chewed bubblegum in my hat. I'm thinking David Price. I'm just glad his dog Astro's not here -- I heard he pooped on the field at the Trop a couple of days ago. I'm thinking I got off pretty light with bubblegum.
7 p.m. - An "o-fer" is no way to start a big-league career. Glad there's a Game 2. Hit the ball pretty well the second time up but nothing to show for four ABs.
8:30 p.m. - There it was! A rope to left field, MLB hit number one. Hope Dad was looking. Kept my shoulder tucked, just like he says.
11 p.m. - Dust has cleared; 1-for-7. Swung at too many first pitches. Made a few catches, nothing flashy. Not great, not horrible, considering nobody hit anything they were throwing today. Worst part was we lost my first two major-league games. Cooperstown seems a long way from here. Then again, so does Durham. Papa Joe was great. Told me, "Don't worry kid, you'll get 'em tomorrow."
Chip Carter is a 20-year veteran of the national media who has written for hundreds of publications and websites around the world, sometimes covering the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays from his home base in Tampa.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Joe DiMaggio