The title of this entry is a take on the title of Michael C.C. Adams's ahead-of-its-time work on the Union military in the East during the American Civil War, Fighting for Defeat: Union Military Failure in the East, 1861-1865. The book was originally published in 1978 with the title Our Masters the Rebels, and I could have easily used that here without adding any words to it since the (Devil) Rays are in a sense rebels. However, I'd have to invert the entire argument of the work when using that title. And the argument I make here is quite speculative at best, but bear with me.*
Anyway, Adams argues that the Army of the Potomac failed largely due to the mindset of Union military leaders (pre-1864). For the most part they believed and fed the belief that the Southerner was of a different strain, a man born and bred to be a Cavalier. This belief seriously handicapped the Union and led to a prolonged war. The second argument Adams makes is that until U.S. Grant arrived in the East, the Union generals there were basically the "B" team (McClellan, Hooker, Meade, etc. Though one is left to wonder how John F. Reynolds would have done had he not been killed during the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg. He originally turned down the position of commanding general of the Army of the Potomac, but would likely have taken the position at some point after. And let's not forget that Winfield Scott Hancock was also another capable commander, but was altered after sustaining an injury at Gettysburg. But now I've really gone on a tangent).
And as I write this, I realize I could have written it last year just after the Rockies swept their way to the World Series. With hindsight, I know I would have been proven wrong (about the World Series and any connection I could have come up with for the coming 2008 season). And no, I don't have foresight, so, like I wrote earlier, this is all very speculative at best.
Moving on, how does this apply to the (Devil) Rays? Since their inception through the 2007 season, the Rays finished fifth in the AL East nine out of 10 times. The organization made ridiculous moves or non-moves, but there was a gathering of talent over the years. As it goes, I want to equate Lou Piniella to George Brinton McClellan, not as the young, rising star that McClellan was at the time, but as the guy who was going to set things right and lead his side to victory. (If the (D')Rays faced the Cubs in the World Series I could make it out to be the 1864 election, but, well, we know what happened to the Cubs). Like McClellan, Piniella did not fare well.
So, the guy who comes from the West and is the (Devil) Rays' savior is . . . Evan Longoria. Think about it, he's drafted out of Long Beach State University in California and eventually makes his way east to Tampa. The Rays then go on to finish first in the AL East and advance to the World Series. Now, that's over simplifying the situation and it is far more complex to explain why the Rays did what they did, but let's run with it. Maybe, just maybe, (and here's the very speculative part of this piece), the (Devil) Rays no longer believed that the Yankees, the Red Sox, and yes, the Blue Jays and Orioles were better than they were. And they started fielding an "A" team, with Longoria leading the charge.
Are the (Devil) Rays ready to finish their final campaign of the 2008 season by getting the unconditional surrender of the Philadelphia Phillies? We'll find out soon enough.
But for now, congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays for capturing their first AL Pennant! On to Richmond! Or that should be, On to World Series Victory!
* - All interpretations between the Rays and Adams's book and the argument in Adams's book are mine, and any mistakes are my own.