Why You Should Root For The Tampa Bay Rays

Why You Should Root For The Tampa Bay Rays

Major League Baseball in in the home stretch of their season, and once again, the Tampa Bay Rays are setting the pace with the best record in the American League. They are poised to enter the postseason as AL East champions, have home field advantage, and be among the top five betting favorites to win the World Series. Depending upon what kind of baseball teams you like to watch, there is a good reason why you should root for the Tampa Bay Rays this postseason, and I’m here to explain why.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball players and owners is months away from expiring. Early signs are that ownership wants to put tighter controls on their biggest expense, players’ salaries, by implementing a lower luxury tax threshold. Thus, forcing teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers to pay more money for their high-priced Super Team, or break it up while not signing future free agents.

To root for teams with $200 Million payrolls is like rooting for the Roman Empire to conquer your hometown. On the other hand, we have the Tampa Bay Rays, the franchise that beats “Super Teams” with less resources. The issue facing MLB is some franchises want to continue the current system of spending what they want without offering welfare to the lower revenue teams.

If the Tampa Bay Rays finally break through and win the World Series this fall, it will only go to reinforce that the system in place can work, but at a cost to the players. It will prove a franchise doesn’t need a high-priced “Super Team” to win and a complete team wins games and series, not just those few players with nine-figure contracts.

A Rays World Series win could play into the owners’ hands since they are continuing to look for ways to limit player movement via free agency and maintain longer contractual control of their younger players before they can become a free agent. These two items are expected to be hot button issues with the players during the ongoing CBA talks, since the rank-and-file players want to cash in and sign their mega deals sooner and have as many teams as possible big on their services; something a lower luxury tax threshold would limit.

It is clear MLB will not move teams out of Miami or Pittsburgh, places where ownership can’t afford to put a competitive team on the field until their entire roster is at or near the league’s minimum salary. Which makes having a salary floor implausible without having a welfare system in place where the higher revenue teams share their income with the lower revenue teams via a luxury tax or some other means. The result is a two-class economic system of the haves and have nots in Major League Baseball, with the Marlins and Pirates serving as de facto minor league team teams that other teams can find ready-made talent to supplement their rosters. Then you have the Tampa Bay Rays, who can trade AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, and still have the best record in the American League. Truth be told, the Rays are a difficult team for some to watch, but one that some owners want to be like if they can make more money than Tampa can. 

The Tampa Bay Rays are the little engine that could almost every season. Their payroll is barely $70 Million, just over one-third of the New York Yankees. Yet, over the long season, Tampa Bay continues to prove that they can play, and outplay the Pinstripes, just as they continue to get deeper into the postseason than their AL East rivals.

Now, baseball fans, we need to all root for them and help them do the one thing they haven’t yet, win the World Series. Remember how everyone laughed when the Rays started using “openers” from their bullpen to start their game because they didn’t have any other choice? Now almost every other team in the Majors does the same thing despite having a larger payroll. WHY? Because it works almost every season.

So, if you are like me and tired of high-priced “Super Teams” trying to control Major League Baseball and want to see the best players in the game spread out across the entire sport, then root for the Tampa Bay Rays. Because if they win the World Series in a year where the players and owners are going to rework their collective bargaining agreement, and the owners are looking to put a cap on salaries, the game as we know it will change forever next year.

If you want to continue seeing baseball become like the NBA with only a few teams good enough to win a championship, then root against the Rays, because they are what owners want and players don’t to see as the future of baseball. Because a loss by the Rays means that players will continue to get their nine-figure contracts, and then boo the fans when they have success, forgetting who is paying their salary. Is that the kind of baseball you want to watch in the future? I know I sure don’t. Go Rays! 

 

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