If Tampa doesn’t become a baseball town now, it never will

They really did it. They battled back from the depths of Hell in a matter of nine innings, a 7-0 deficit with their ace shelled to come back and win 8-7 in 12 innings on Evan Longoria’s line shot that crept just over the left field fence.

Last night was baseball Heaven and it all ended in Tampa. I cannot believe the odds they overcame to get where they now are. I can’t believe how it unfolded. They were one out from lights out, bar closed when Dan Johnson stepped to the plate and drilled one into the right field stands.

The folks in Boston have to be reeling today–using sick days type of reeling–a place you never want to be as a sports fan. They didn’t think there was any way that Boston’s season ended last night.

The timeline of last night just added to things. As Jonathan Papelbon blew the Red Sox save and 9th inning lead with two outs, the Red Sox scurried off the field and Terry Francona scrambled quickly into the clubhouse. The Red Sox didn’t even have time to turn on their monitors and pull for the Yankees to save them (imagine the thought for a second of that). Television sets turned over to Evan Longoria at the plate in Tampa, and he provided the Rays with the biggest moment in their franchise history–and arguably one of the biggest moments in modern day baseball history.

It was the only time that a clinching home run was ever hit to send a team to the postseason in the team’s final regular season game. Last night alone should be enough reason for Major League Baseball to leave the playoff field as it is, and I believe they will.

The focus of this post has to shift away from last night momentarily and back to Tampa as a baseball city. They didn’t even sell out last night’s historic event. Many of them left before they could see this epic 7-run avalanche in the 8th and 9th innings and of course the historic line shot home run.

It’s time for Tampa to realize the gem they have and start appreciating what is in their back yard in the way of a good baseball organization. They have arguably the best young centerpiece and best manager in baseball.

I saw good prevail over evil last night. A lot of people would disagree with me, and that’s fine. But too often in sports the big market wins out. Not last night. The baseball gods had other ideas.

I’m convinced that this team can accomplish anything, having been through the depths they’ve been to and living to tell about it. I hope the town they play in can fully realize what took place and get their hands around the type of history that went down on their home field last night as they clinched the Wildcard spot.

Occurrences like we saw last night happen no more than once in a lifetime. It was why baseball is special and the moment belongs to Tampa and it’s fans forever. The only way to make it last and all the more meaningful is to get behind this team and become a legitimized baseball town.

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