Friday, September 19, 2008

Feel The Heat!

I know all about being a loser.

I have always been a sports fan, and although I’ve moved around a bit, I’ve always tried to embrace my home team. Even when they stink.

And they usually do. I loved my time at The University of South Carolina, but the Brad Scott years were painful to watch. Later I moved to Cincinnati and was cursed with all kinds of bad teams: the Bearcats (they’re good now, but back then…), the Bengals, and the Reds were just terrible. Nevertheless, they were my new “home” teams, so I cheered with gusto, to no avail.

After living in South Carolina for four years, I moved down to St. Petersburg, Florida last summer. I was delighted to once again be living in a major league baseball city. I was less delighted to discover that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays truly sucked. I sat through some horrendous baseball, each night hoping to see some progress, some glimmer of hope. It never came.

But then the 2008 season began. What seemed impossible last summer began to happen—the Rays started to win some games. A new team name, a couple of important trades, and some critical calls to the minors, and the Tampa Bay Rays gradually earned everyone’s attention.

It’s been a treat to watch this team succeed. They’re an unusual story, from the wine-drinking articulate manager to the quirky catwalk-filled dome, to the players themselves and their consistently laid-back “one day at a time” attitude. Although they’re a young bunch, the chemistry is there, and they’re getting it done. I sat in a sold-out crowd Wednesday night, watching as angry Red Sox fans scratched their heads, wondering how this happened.

I don’t have an answer. But I’m very happy for them, and I’m excited that when they most likely clinch their first-ever playoff spot tonight, I’ll be rooting for my home team.

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