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    Baseball Told the Right Way
    In-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!

      There are no Yankee fans in Tampa....
    I've been a little bit away from the game recently and have only been a casual follower. Well, that’s not really true, I've pretty much checked scores every day, but I haven't been watching or listening to multiple games a day like I usually do. So I've missed some things.

    Ken Griffey is stuck at 499 homers. Blah, I'll be more impressed with 501. Barry Bonds is playing like a mortal once again. Prior is back and the Cubs are playing better, figure that coincidence out as the NL Central slowly goes back to the way everyone originally thought: Houston/Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnatti/Milwaukee/Pittsburgh/Who cares.

    What's going on in the AL East though? The Yankees are 18-3 over their last 21 games and have opened up a 5 game lead on the Red Sox, who haven't yet got the returns on Nomar and Trot's return to help out their slightly above .500 playing.

    But the real story in baseball, in fact, the only thing that should be on anybodies mind and the one thing we think about before we go to bed at night, which hasn’t been mentioned yet:
    What the hell is up with the Devil Rays?
    They've won 7 in a row and are now sitting in THIRD place. I'm really not sure if this says more about them or how much Toronto and Baltimore are underperforming expectations, but the Devil Rays are in THIRD place.

    I thought Baltimore had a chance to be this bad if none of their young pitchers stepped up (which they haven't). I mean just ask Texas. Okay bad example, why don’t we ask pre-2004 Texas what we could expect going into a season with someone like Sidney "career year" Ponson as the anchor of your staff.

    So Baltimore scuffling doesn't surprise me all that much, but I thought Toronto was pretty much a lock for .500 and very likely would be significantly better than .500. Toronto is now 9 games under .500 and 1 ½ back of the Devil Rays. What the hell happened?

    You can look no further than Carlos Delgado, although Josh Phelps and Eric Hinske have been equally bad at the plate. With three guys expected to produce turning into Brad Ausmus-like outmakers, you can't expect a team to win many games. Add to that a bullpen that seems to blow every other lead they are given, and you pretty much have a handle on why they are stinking up the place. The rotation has been solid though, and I can't imagine Delgado, Phelps, and Hinske will be this bad for the rest of the season. Getting Delgado healthy will help, if it ever happens I have to believe they will claw their way back to .500. If not, it makes a lot of sense to ship off Delgado at the deadline for a couple of deep prospects for an already very well stocked farm system. Bide your time Toronto, the New York & Boston implosion is coming soon.

    But what about the Devil Rays?
    Well they're still only on pace for 73 wins, so lets not get all crazy about them yet, but lets also give credit to a young franchise that has never won more than 69 games in a season. If they can keep playing well, and they call up BJ Upton (looks likely) down the stretch, they could finish close to 80 wins. What an improvement that would be. How nice would it be for a young team like that to build off of?

    Well it would be nice, but heres betting Chuck LaMar finds some way to screw this up too. I'm guessing that based on his track record so far, in 2005 he'll go out and sign FA Neifi Perez to block Upton. The he'll trade Delmon Young for the rights to Fred McGriff, who they released earlier in the year. Then Pineilla will forget to play McGriff as he never actually gets to HR #500. In doing so, McGriff refuses to become the second player to go into the Hall as a Devil Ray, which was a special clause in his new 4yr/$35M contract extension.

    But like I said, it would be nice. That fan down in Tampa would really love a baseball team to root for.