It used to be in Major League Baseball that the bigger the team’s market, the better shot it had in winning at least division titles mixed in with a pennant.
After all, teams like the Boston Red Sox, my New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves were counted on to win scores of division titles in addition to participating in the World Series. And while some of those teams are still competitive, no longer do we have the fluky runs of the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Don’t take my word for it – look at what the Tampa Bay Rays have been doing the last five-plus seasons.
What the Rays have been able to do the last few seasons has been nothing short of remarkable. The Rays are winning without a budget (much of one, anyway) or a fan base (at least as judged by the attendance figures). Yet here they are, leading the expensive – and highly competitive – AL East division.
There are several reasons for this of course. The Rays have efficient ownership (Stu Sternberg and Matt Silverman) and a brilliant general manager (Andrew Friedman). And it doesn’t hurt that the Rays have the best manager in MLB: Joe Maddon.
No manager is better at communicating with his players, setting the right tone in the clubhouse or getting his guys to believe that everything he does is in the best interest of the ballclub. Just look at how shortstop Yunel Escobar has been performing this year.
Plus Maddon believes in winning ballgames the old fashioned way: defense and good pitching. And that combination has led the Rays to a spot atop the AL East.
Sure there are the Oakland A’s and their famous “Moneyball” approach with general manager Billy Beane. Hell the dude was portrayed by Brad Pitt in a movie!
I don’t know about you, but I think the Rays have lapped the hell out “Moneyball”.
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