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August 20, 2008 at 8:15 pm ET
OK, fine — I’ll admit the Rays are better

So, I got called out by ESPN’s Rob Neyer Wednesday for a post I wrote back in mid-May chiding the Tampa Bay Rays and their fans for being too giddy about their team’s success way too soon.

I guess that makes now as good a time as any to address what I wrote back then.

The whole argument was started by Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times, making the then-bold assertion that the Rays were clearly better than the Yankees.

Part of what I did at the time was a position-by-position comparison. It is pointless to go through that again. I will stand by most of what I said then, though the injuries to Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui would have to change how you look at the catcher and designated hitter positions.

The part that needs to be addressed is my upbraiding of Shelton, and Rays fans in general, for their gleeful attitude about the Rays early-season success. In a way, I guess you can call this my concession speech.

First, a look at some of what I wrote back in May.

Is it possible that the Rays will actually finish ahead of the Yankees this season? Sure it is. But, it is way too soon for chest-thumping, gloating and Shelton’s bold, outright assertion that the Rays are better.

Let me remind you, Rays fans. The season is only one-quarter complete. Yes, the Rays have shown they can sprint. But, can they run the whole marathon? Can they play with the big boys in September when the games mean something — an experience they have never dealt with? You can feel good, sure, but you haven’t come close to earning the right to gloat. When you get to the finish line and you are still looking back at the guys with the NY on their shirts, then gloat.

Well, let me admit it outright. I never thought I would have to say it, but the Tampa Bay Rays are clearly better than the New York Yankees this season. So much better in fact that the Yankees need a telescope to find the Rays in the standings, and have a better shot at finishing fourth than first.

I still believe that mid-May was way too early for the Rays and their fans to begin celebrating. Now, however, there is no arguing with how good the Rays are.

They have better pitching than the Yankees, and probably the Red Sox. The Rays have a young, athletic lineup filled with players who are just entering the best years of their careers. The Yankees have aging, highly-paid superstars who are unquestionably not as good as they used to be.

In the end, Shelton was correct when he wrote “these Rays ought to finish ahead of these Yankees.”

So, congrats to the Rays and their fans. At least for this season, you have earned the right to gloat. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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19 Responses to “OK, fine — I’ll admit the Rays are better”
  1. Cork says:

    and what makes you think this will be any different next year? Yankees are done. Yankees are roadkill.

  2. Dirty Water says:

    That’s a backhanded compliment, if ever I heard one before. Got news for ya, Ed; nobody knows how good the Devil Rays will be next year but most a dead certain the Yanks will still suck.

  3. Ed Valentine says:

    Geez, I try to show a little humility and this is what I get? Yikes!

  4. Jeff says:

    Dirty you are being a bit of a douche, eh? Like you have any room to call someone else out about being backhanded!!! All year long you harrass Rosie when he says the rays are better than the Sox, which is clearly correct. Now you harrass Ed when he says the Rays are better than the Yanks, which is clearly correct. What’s your fuckin deal, dude? Go back to the couch in your Mom’s basement.

  5. FrankDiscussion says:

    Speaking for myself, after the All-Star break I kept waiting for the Rays to crash back to earth faster then the Hindenburg. The team only improved. Even with two critical injuries, they still play consistent ball. Maddon gets my vote for Manager of the Year.

  6. Ed Valentine says:

    Agreed. Maybe with his upcoming playoff share he can afford to buy some better glasses.

  7. babaoje says:

    Can you post the quote where u get called out by Neyer. Not all of us want to pay ESPN to read their crappy stories.

  8. Ed Valentine says:

    So, here is what Neyer said. He didn’t exactly rip me, but he referenced me by name and went back to the post I wrote.

    From Neyer:
    With the Yankees now 11 games behind the Rays, I thought it might be fun to revisit this Bugs & Cranks post, wherein Ed Valentine fisks columnist Gary Shelton’s position-by-position comparison of the two clubs. As it turns out, Shelton was right — he suggested, in the middle of May, that the Rays were fundamentally better than the Yankees — but it wasn’t nearly so obvious then as it is now.

  9. Dirty Water says:

    Well, on most days I’m convinced Rose believes Seattle is a better team than the Sox, but that’s beside the point. Ed, what is the basis for all your ‘this year’ qualifiers while complimenting TB? Would you care to write a post pointing out how the Yanks will competely overhaul their roster and compete in the East over the coming 5 years?

    That I’d like to see.

    And, please, if you choose to, try not to include the same poor assumtions Cashman has for the past few years.

  10. Jeff says:

    The basis is that we live in the present and currently it is “this year”. No one can predict the future…how many people were saying the Rays would finish first in the East last year? What do you want him to do, jackass, say that the Rays will be better than the Yanks for eternity based on one good year (that’s something someone like yourself that lives in a phantasy world would say)? The more you talk the stupider we get!!

    By the way, no need to play baseball anymore, the Sox win the WS every year from now on because they won it last year.

  11. chris says:

    funny, that most of the rays lineup is having a down year. & theyre mostly young. should only get better next year.

  12. Ed Valentine says:

    Down year? Are you kidding me? Navarro has had a career year. Hinske is out of his mind. Longoria was going crazy before he got hurt. Pena’s average sucks, but he has 25 homers. Upton isn’t hitting home runs, but he’s terrific. Crawford’s average is off a little. Big deal. The Rays wins because they have the best starting pitching in the division.

  13. Jeff says:

    C’mon chris, are you kidding me or just plain bat shit crazy? If they were having a down year their record would be similar to the records they posted the last 10 years. This is definitely not a down year for the Rays!!!

  14. Dirty Water says:

    That may be so, Jeffypoo, but there remains no rational for expecting anything out of the Yanks for the foreseeable future, so Ed’s four present-day qualifiers while complimenting TB were lame. When the Yanks can build a farm system not dominated by right handed relievers we can consider their future, for now however that team looks to be a complete mess for years to come.

    And Ed, statistically Toronto’s pitching is better, and you would find very few betting on the Rays pitching vs Boston’s in a playoff series. The Rays: The truth of the matter is they have that ’88 Dodgers karma goin on, that’s why they’re winning. They don’t need no stinkin offense.

  15. Jeff says:

    Well I’m glad we finally got DW’s unbiased opinion…The Rays are better than everyone except Boston. Obviously.

    Your logic is retarded. The Sox have a great team..probably aren’t going to make to many changes in the offseason, right? Well then, by your own logic, that means they will finish second to the Rays for the next 5 years or so, right??? I mean the Sox are young and good this year, but the Rays are younger and better, so that means it has to stay that way for the forseeable future!!! Are we on the same page now?

  16. DJ says:

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    August 31 @ 7:00pm
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    Rosters will consist of 10 active players made up of 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D, 1 ST, and 1 WR/TE. Each team will have 5 reserve players of any position eligibility.

    If interested let me know. Would need payment within the week.

  17. Dirty Water says:

    It actually is an unbiased opinion, Jeff. If the Sox sucked I would be the first to say so but the fact is they don’t. Their roster, organization and farmsystem are all tight, setting them up well today and into the future. Can TB say that; not with such an apathetic fanbase they can’t. Take away league subsidies and they’d go broke fielding a AAA team. Can NY; doubt it. Yank fans expecting all cogs in that lineup and rotation to go away in 2009, replaced by some uber-FAs is as unrealtic as their expecting Hughes and Kennedy to save 2008; it just doesn’t happen that way, nor does it appear a direction Cashboy is willing to go. He want’s to build from within but seems incapable of doing so. That does no portend well for the team’s immediate future.

  18. Anarchist Accountant says:

    Ed, no-one other than Navarro is having a great year in that lineup. Crawford, Pena and Upton numbers were all down from last year, and Pena has only starting hitting for power consistantly. The key to the offense is that everyone has contributed at different times.

    The real difference, is BULLPEN, BULLPEN, BULLPEN. If I remember correctly, the Rays led the league in giving up late inning leads last year. The eighth inning in 2007 was a horror show. If they even kept 50% of the late inning leads they had I think it came out to around 80-85 wins last year. The starting pitching got a little better with the addition of Garza, and Bartlett is the glue, velcro and duct tape for their entire defense, but the bullpen overhaul is why they are where they are.

    Here is the difference and how much a bullpen means:
    2007: Gary Glover, Brian Stokes, Casey Fossum, Shawn Camp, Scott Dohmann, Al Reyes
    2008: JP Howell, Jason Hammel, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Trevor Miller, Troy Percival and now Chad Bradford

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