Having a blast with my nieces and nephews in Manteca, CA (and in-laws as well). Weather's been nice, and they have Dish Network, so I was able to catch the Pads thrash the A's on the MLB Network, which was awesome. More on the events of the trip later on, but for now, since I have extra time, on with the countdown...
DO I LIKE 'EM?
Yes, great organization.
SHARE MY FEELINGS?
That the Rays have had so much success in the AL East against the Yankees and Red Sox, despite having a low payroll, is awesome to me.
Jason Bartlett was originally drafted by the Padres, then traded to the Twins, then the Rays, where he had his best seasons, and then was traded back to the Padres. He was pretty horrible, and part of the Padres turnaround last year was when they got rid of him (and Orlando Hudson, another player who was pretty good on other teams and pretty horrible as a Friar). Fred McGriff spent a little while as a Devil Ray near the very end of his career, as did SD fan favorite John Flaherty. Bubba Trammell and Brian "Throw 'em a Dinger" Boehringer were inaugural Rays who also spent time in America's Finest City. Cesar Ramos, a one time big-name prospect for San Diego, is also now on the Rays.
Former: Dan Johnson
Current: Jeremy Hellickson
LEAST FAVORITE PLAYERS?
Former: Fred McGriff and Wade Boggs. I don't hate the players, but I kinda hate that they ended great careers on some horrible Devil Rays teams, wearing some nasty looking Devil Ray uniforms.
Current: Fernando Rodney. I can't say that I don't like the swagger that he brings to the game, but it's a little too over the top for me, especially since he hasn't been successful for a very long period of time. Talk to me after a few All-Star seasons and then we'll see if the bow and arrow bit is warranted. Still, if I was on the team, I'd probably think it was pretty cool.
I don't have very many Rays cards. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the two above are about half of the ones in my collection. For reals. I've come across a few Fred McGriff cards from his Tampa days, but they've always been a little too depressing for me to handle.
These ones are keepers, though, for sure. John Flaherty came to the Padres in 1996 in a trade that also brought in Chris Gomez, and they were a big part of the reason that the Padres won the division that year. Gotta love "Flash". Jeremy Hellickson is a great young pitcher, and this card with the throwback "All-Star Rookie" trophy is sharp.
Dan Johnson (above) may do other things with his life, but for me, he will always be famous for the last game of the season in 2011, one of the greatest single days of baseball in all of history.
The Rays will edge out the Yankees and Red Sox, which would've thrilled them a few years ago, but will still end up in third place in the AL East this year.