Major League Baseball
Devil Rays Just Don't Know What They've Been Missing
DENVER - Everywhere you looked, someone was wearing or waving something purple with the home-team Colorado Rockies emblazoned on it. Even down three games to the Red Sox on Sunday night, Coors Field rocked with World Series fever. Even when their team was swept, Rockies fans lingered, unwilling to let go of their October. One decade, maybe there'll be a magical month like this in Tampa Bay, the first 10 years of Devil Rays history notwithstanding. With the Rockies' first Series appearance, three of the four expansion teams born in the 1990s have made the Series.Can you guess which one hasn't? Think hard. The Ugly Duckling Don't forget, the Rockies made the postseason in 1995, just their third season. And there are the other two exhibits. The Marlins, who joined the National League with the Rockies, won a World Series in 1997 (bought one, really), dismantled, lost 108 games in 1998, rebuilt and won another in 2003. The Diamondbacks came into the world with the Rays in 1998. They won the World Series in 2001 (bought one, really), dismantled, lost 111 times in 2004, and nearly made the Series this month. They were stopped by: The Rockies. Then there's the ugly duckling. Watching this Series, watching Denver's purple haze, it's easy to wonder what it would be like if the Rays ever decided to really go for it. This might be a moot point when Barry Bonds joins the club and Curt Schilling signs on, provided he doesn't mind being paid in cownose rays. Seriously, look at the Rockies' outfield Sunday: Matt Holliday, Ryan Spilborghs and Brad Hawpe. As good as Holliday is, the Rockies outfield can't beat Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Delmon Young. Look at the Rockies' top pitchers and wonder how they beat Scott Kazmir and James Shields. Look at the farm systems. I'll take the Rays' prospects. Look at the bullpens. OK, don't look at the bullpens. It's hard not to see why the Rays can't be where the Rockies were this week. The only counterargument would be, well, Rays history. But if there was ever a reason for Tampa Bay management to see what could be if it picked up the pace, it was Denver this October. Denver had done the Super Bowl thing and the Stanley Cup thing. Sound familiar? This was baseball. We're dying to know what a playoff chase would be like in Tampa Bay. The Rockies were 76-72 in mid-September, going nowhere fast. The Rays have spent years going nowhere fast, so they have that part down. The Rockies had one winning season in 10 years. Then came 21 Rockies wins in 22 Rockies games, right into the Series. True, they had no chance against Boston. But you should have been in Denver. People were grateful. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle won't forget it. 'You were threatened to be beat up six years ago if you had a Rockies shirt on. I know for a fact because I was threatened several times. 'What are you doing with a Rockies shirt?' I'd say, 'I'm the coach. I've got to.'' Now everyone wants one. It's About Memories Maybe it's not the same as Tampa. Hey, the Rockies set major-league attendance records their first year. And they didn't even need the Red Sox or Yankees in town to do it. Hurdle was asked about the return of the Rockies and Rockies fans. 'For me, as much as anything, it gives an entire generation of children a lifelong memory, to start with ... it will give a huge generation of young children, both boys and girls, a date and a place to go back to, and say remember when the World Series was here in '07.' Denver is a great sports town, Hurdle said, 'But it's like a lot of sports towns; tangible evidence is necessary to get the masses out.' We've waited for the evidence at The Trop. And waited. We're now down to four franchises that haven't played the Series - Seattle, Texas, Washington and Tampa Bay. And, since Washington used to be Montreal and Montreal once made the playoffs, there's only one team that has never been to the postseason. Think hard.
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