Yesterday we worried that Stuart Sternberg’s comments about the 2011 payroll would lead to unfair comparisons to the 1997 Marlins, a team that won the World Series and then completely gutted their roster. The 1998 Marlins lost 108 games.
Well, it didn’t take long for somebody at ESPN to make the stomach-punching comparison. Enter “Pardon the Interruption” with hosts Tony Kornheiser and Bill Simmons (yes, the same Bill Simmons we roasted earlier this week).
(Ed. note: you will want to sit down before reading this and make sure there are no sharp objects nearby. You may also want to prepare a stiff drink. You will need it.)
Bill Simmons: Tampa’s (sic) owner admitted during this week’s Yankees series – a strange time to admit this – that the Rays will be broken up after the season. They almost definitely can’t afford to keep Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza (Ed. note: they can afford Bartlett and Garza, but the Rays have much cheaper options in-house, so those two may be traded). Tony, if you were a Rays fan, why would you consider rooting for this team?
Tony Kornheiser: You mean if I am one of the 450 Rays fans that exist?
TK: They have one of the eight best teams in baseball?
BS: And no fans.
TK: Right. And nobody ever goes to their games. If I am management, I am certainly not going to consider what the fans have to say about this. We saw, in the same state – another team that should be contracted by the way – the Florida Marlins, win a World Series, dump their team completely, but five years later win it again. So if the Rays use that as a model, they can win.
BS: Well, I think they have an even better set up than the Marlins did…
At this point, Simmons starts talking about his fantasy baseball team and references Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson and how they will be able to contribute next season. Then there is some rumbling back and forth about teams being able to win without a high payroll. There wasn’t a clear conclusion, but it did seem as though Simmons defended the Rays a bit, at least as far as his fantasy team was concerned.
And while we don’t expect Uncle Tony to understand the bigger picture in the Raysiverse, it is disheartening that such a prominent voice would be so quick to make the segue from 2010 Rays to 1997 Marlins.
We can only hope that the announcers and analysts in October will be better versed. But we are not holding our breath.