Tuesday, October 7

Top Ten Tips for the Rays by Rays

From the start of the 2008 season the Tampa Bay Rays have been tested and now, for the first time, they have won a playoff series. The Rays started in spring training and now in the post season they have two more points teams to pass through and their accomplishments will live on infinitely. It has been a while since a Ray has captivated our collective attention, but their have been several through out the years, both positive and negative (liberal spelling). For these Rays to be successful they need to learn these Top 10 lessons taught by other Rays:

10. Billy Ray Cyrus: You don't need to be the most talented to reach the pinnacle. Listen up Dioner Navarro and Manny Aybar, you guys may have been undrafted, but that doesn't mean you can't shine. One hit (or defensive play) can turn you into a hero/trivia answer. Billy also showed all the Rays of the world that Jonathan Papelbon isn't the only one that can look like an idiot dancing on a big stage. If the Rays are successful hopefully they'll be able to avoid exploiting their offspring, but it's always an option.

9. Ray Bradbury: "Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things." In other words, don't be this guy:

8. Ray Liotta: Don't waste this opportunity. Liotta was reportedly offered the role of Tony Soprano, but he chose to pass to focus on movies. The Sopranos debuted in 1999 and that same year Liotta was appearing as "cop" in Muppets from Space. He would go on to do things such as voicing video games and a movie about insects. Of course, Liotta did rebound with a movie starring Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence. You never know when you'll get another shot at greatness. Alternate advice from Mr. Liotta: Actors could be in your luxury box stealing your wives.

7. Rachel Ray: Do it for the fans. In a 2006 interview with Entertainment Weekly, she was asked, "Do you ever worry that there can only be so much happiness in the universe, and that every time you smile, a Red Sox fan gets punched in the face?" and her response was, "I would smile all day long, every day, if it guaranteed a Red Sox fan getting punched in the face. I find them really annoying, especially the ones with the pink hats." So... I may have substituted "Red Sox fan" in for unicorn, but I still feel it's a cause we can all unite behind.

6. Ray Parker Jr: You can get to number one by copying someone else. People didn't care that Parker had copied Huey Lewis and the News's "I Want a New Drug." Similarly, no one is mad at the Rays for using the cliche formula of good pitching and defense combined with timely hitting. The story of the Rays rise has been seen before. Entering the 1969 season the Mets were a young expansion team that had never won more than 73 games and were dismissed by most entering the season. Led by solid pitching New York won the division and went on to face the Braves for the pennant. Despite having a better record the Mets were considered underdogs. New York swept the series and went on to face the Orioles in the World Series. Baltimore, an AL East team, was loaded with stars that had already won a World Series in 1966. This year's Rays will meet Boston in the ALCS not the World Series, but the parallels remain. Unlike Ray Parker, if they can copy the Mets they won't end up paying a financial settlement, but with World Series rings.

5. Ray Nagin: "Make sure you are a very mobile person." The Rays led MLB in stolen bases this season with 142. Continued success will be dependent on continuing to do what got them to the playoffs and this means continuing to put pressure on other teams while on the base paths. Sorry, you'll have to make your own Chocolate City jokes.

4. Ray Kinsella: If you build it, they will come. The proposed design for their new stadium looked incredible, but progress keeps grinding to a halt. The team will never have more leverage than they do now and Tropicana field has to go.  "People will come Rays."

If not in Tampa (or Iowa), maybe in Charlotte?

3. Ray J: Video replay can be your friend. Althought the first ever use of instant replay appeared to have been misinterpreted against the Rays, the use in the playoffs stands to be a plus. No team should worry about getting Jeffrey Mayered thanks to the recent inclusion of video replay for home run calls. Had Ray J's greatest accomplishment not been on tape, his career never would have take off. 

2. Ray Charles: "[Green] it's what I think I want to be." With less than a quarter of the Rays roster having any playoff experience many people have suggested this lack of post-season play will be the Rays downfall. So far, however, the Rays seem to be the only team that are actually having fun in the playoffs (with one notable exception to the west). While other teams seem tense, the Rays have played loose and it showed against Chicago. Experience has some value in the post-season, but as Mr. Charles suggests, "green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree." Green is the color of spring, but the Rays have a chance to prove it can be the color of fall as well.

1. Ray Mancini: You may get rocked early, but continue to throw. In his 1982 fight against lightweight champion Arturo Frias, Mancini was shaken by an early left hook. He fought through it and quickly gained control of the match. During the regular season the Rays were able to do just that, having a league leading eleven walk-off victories and 41 come-from-behind wins. For the Rays to be successful against Boston and beyond, they likely will need to follow Boom Boom's example. 

No Reds and no more Griffey = Go Rays!

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