The Rays have gotten off to one of the most dominant starts we’ve ever seen from an MLB team. But they’ve recently cooled down while the red-hot Yankees have crept back up the American League East standings. Was regression bound to hit Tampa Bay, or did Evan Roberts of WFAN just say what everyone else was thinking?
A couple of weeks ago, Roberts suggested the Rays are probably only playing so well because they’re cheating. While most of us around the tri-state area knew it was a joke, it angered some people down in Florida.
It also irked Rays players, who had t-shirts made up to respond to Roberts’ “allegations”:
#Rays Luke Raley had some T-shirts made in rebuttal to recent skepticism/criticism by @WFAN660 radio hosts. Said Raley: “Everyone gets the message … That video, it hit us. So we wanted to own it … Keep doubting us; we’re going to come out and keep playing good baseball” pic.twitter.com/gNEXrJADDq
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 22, 2023
The Rays enter Wednesday’s action with a 35-15 record, which is still the best in baseball. But, since the AL East is absolutely stacked, they only have a three-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.
There’s also another problem. Since Roberts made those comments on WFAN, the Rays haven’t been winning at the same rate they were before. In fact, they’ve posted a losing record. This rough stretch includes a 20-1 blowout loss on Tuesday to the Toronto Blue Jays. Our own Danny Small has been keeping a watchful eye on how Tampa’s been performing.
The Rays are 6-8 since they were accused of cheating https://t.co/kR8zpPmPbj
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) May 24, 2023
Are the Rays actually cheating? The smart money says no. However, maybe Roberts merely suggesting something to the contrary stirred up the Baseball Gods enough to give the Yankees some good juju.
I mean, probably not. Let’s be serious, folks — MLB’s regular season is a six-month war of attrition. Even the game’s best teams go through rough patches. The Bombers themselves serve as a great example. They were 56-21 by the end of June last season and eventually took home the 2022 AL East division title by winning 99 games. And that all happened despite a two-month stretch between July and August where the Yankees went 23-31.
So, yea — it happens. That’s probably what the Rays are going through right now. They won so much over the first month that this kind of “downturn” was bound to happen. However, Yankees fans can put their fists away and thank Roberts for summoning the Baseball Gods with his joke on WFAN.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.