Detention Lecture: Your 2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Big League Stew

As the postseason soldiers on, the eliminated teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to detain their squads for the equivalent of a Saturday morning detention stay.

Up next in our series is Cork Gaines of the powerhouse Rays Index. He had this entire exercise done in early September before we knew the Boston Red Sox would collapse as spectacularly as they did. True story.

Well, that's the last time, Tampa Bay Rays. That the last time you ever make me look bad in front of my readers, you hear me? I make $31 a year blogging about you guys, and I have a basement in my mom's house, and I'm not about to throw it all away on some punks like you.

But someday when you're outta here and you've forgotten all about this place and they've forgotten all about you, and you're wrapped up in your own life of the young, single, rich, famous and good-looking, I'm gonna be there. That's right. And I'm gonna write something really insightful and deep about how you underachieved.

That's a threat. What are you gonna do about it? You think anyone's gonna believe you overachieved on your stupid $40 million budget in a stupid dome that is 600 miles from where Rays fans live? Making the playoffs when all the talking heads thought you would be lucky to win 81 games? You're just a bunch of punk kids talking to chicks in the middle of important games.

The punishable offenses: {YSP:MORE}

I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind - Ed Rooney

You guys have been a big tease since the beginning. After seeing Stuart Sternberg and Co. slash the payroll nearly in half, we were ready for a season to reload. But then World B. Friedman goes out and signs not one, but two former idiots, in the form of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez.

Damon seemed like a harmless add. A fun player that can still produce a little. And one of those guys you like to have in the clubhouse.

But it was Manny that got our juices flowing. Unfortunately, you guys didn't stop to think that maybe that Idiot Savant really is dumb enough to keep his own performance enhancing juices flowing.

Manny tested positive. But rather than accept his 100-game suspension, Manny was off to Spain. If Manny had just accepted his punishment, he would be hitting baseballs instead of his wife (allegedly), and would have been eligible to return July 31. In the Rays three playoff losses, designated hitters went 2-for-12 with no RBI.

If Manny was being Manny, maybe, just maybe, the Rays wouldn't have lost those three playoff games by a total of four runs. Or maybe they would have run down the Red Sox sooner than the final nigh of the season.

Partners in crime:

You've got a real attitude problem, McFly. You're a slacker! You remind me of your father when he went here. He was a slacker, too - Mr. Strickland

It all starts with you Papa Joe Maddon. Don't get me wrong. I love you. I wouldn't trade you for another manager in baseball. But you make my head spin.

You are a think-outside-the-box manager. You once genuflected to Babe Ruth Josh Hamilton and intentionally walked him with the bases loaded bringing the winning run to the plate. The Rays won that game.

And more often than not, when you make quirky decisions, like "resting" a 24-year old Desmond Jennings for an inferior player, the Rays still come out on top.

But for some reason, even though you hate thinking in the box, you have trouble seeing outside your own box. Mixing up lineups, resting players and making sure bench guys get playing time are noble causes. But your decision in September to keep up the gig was a questionable one.

The Rays made up a lot of ground in the race. But let's face it, in the 13 games prior to facing a Yankees team that was resting key players, the Rays were just 6-7. The race didn't need to come down to the final day.

Something to build on:

Les jeux sont faits. Translation: the game is up. Your ass is mine - Ed Rooney

I love what you guys have done with this organization. You took a gigantic pile of cow dung and turned it into a model franchise that has now been to the playoffs more times in the last four (3) than the Red Sox (2). But the things that make you great are also holding you back.

When Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox for a kazillion gagillion dollars last winter, I was OK with that. Let the Sox have his aging and overpriced legs. Especially since you guys had Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings.

But then Jennings kept waiting. And he kept waiting. And most assumed it was because you were delaying his arbitration clock. And while I understand this is how a team like the Rays can remain competitive in the same division as the Evil Empire and Evil Empire Jr., it also hurts your chances of getting over the top.

After Flash finally arrived (after 1,000 Triple-A at bats), he was nothing short of spectacular. His numbers projected over a full season would have been about 26 home runs and 52 stolen bases.

And then, to add insult to injured livers, you told us that Jennings has been ready for the big leagues for over a year. Un-[explicative deleted]-believable. Don't even get me started on Matt Moore.

I'm happy you guys will save $2-3 million on Jennings in 2015. But saving that money may have also cost the team 2-3 games in the standings in 2011. That is two or three games that could have been the difference between an October of baseball, and an October of doing whatever it is you kids do.

Shape up or ship out:

That's another one right now! I've got you for the rest of your natural-born life if you don't watch your step. You want another one? - Richard Vernon

There is something to be said for sticking to the plan and not sacrificing the future. But at some point you have to realize that there is a big difference between competing and winning.

Listen, the Yankees and Red Sox put on their uniforms the same way you do (except for Derek Jeter, he has supermodels help him get dressed). But when the Red Sox and Yankees have their uniforms on, they win championships. Well, at least once in awhile they do. It's time Tampa Bay gets the taste of a title. 

Between grief and nothing... I'll take grief - Ed Rooney

Principal Cork Gaines
Rays Index

Read more of Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here

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