Baseball Magazine

Tampa Bay Rays: Talented and Having Fun!

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
At the time of this post, the Tampa Bay Rays have won 7 of their last 10 games and sit two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League wild-card standings.  The Red Sox, on the other hand, have lost 7 of their last 10 games and I think are starting to look over their shoulder.  
You cannot deny that both teams are very talented.  Right now, however, the Rays have something that seems to be lacking in Boston - a sense of fun.  To get an idea of what I'm talking about, look at the photo below.
Tampa Bay Rays: Talented and having fun!
The Rays left Boston on Sunday evening to take a train down to New York.  They play an important series with the Yankees starting tonight.  Notice anything in the photo?  Obviously, they are all wearing old school letterman's sweaters but look at their faces.  Does it look like they are fighting for their lives to get the final playoff spot?  Not to me.  They look relaxed and they seem to be having a great time.  Do you think a team photo of the Red Sox right now would look like this?  I doubt it.
I guess the question that arises is "Did the fun cause the winning or did the winning cause the fun?"   Personally, I think both angles have merit but I will say I've never been on or coached a winning team that didn't have a ton of fun.  Either way, there are a couple good lessons here for coaches and players.  
  1. The game of baseball is designed to wear players down.  A season is a constant roller coaster of ups and downs that not only taxes a player's body but also is mentally exhausting.  To get through it, especially with the added pressure of the pennant chase, you have to have fun.  If not, the game will beat you.
  2. Coaches and players cannot sit back and just hope that the "fun" sticks around or shows up.  Every team goes through portions of a season (or entire seasons) where things aren't going their way.  We've all been there and it is extremely frustrating.  In many cases, the knee jerk reaction to these slides is to raise your voice and lay into the players or teammates to get them back on track.  Sometimes it works but often it just makes players more tense which causes them to play worse.  At these times, lightening the mood and organizing some fun can work wonders for a team.  Bring out the Wiffle-ball bats for a day.  Search through the school closets and bring out some "throwback" uniforms.  Trust me, when you open the boxes of old uniforms, it will be like Christmas morning for your players!  
The point is, pay close attention to how much fun your team seems to be having.  No matter how good you are, if the fun isn't there, the game will wear you down much quicker.  The Rays are acting like they know this.  The talent of the Rays and the fun on their faces makes them a very dangerous team.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog