In 2010, it was common knowledge amongst baseball spectators that one of the best Tampa Bay Rays players in its history, Carl Crawford, was leaving after spending eleven years with the Rays organization due to a cut in the payroll. When Crawford was up at bat for the last time against the Texas Rangers, all of Tampa Bay went into despair, knowing that he would be wearing a new uniform the next year.
It was rumored Crawford would be joining the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team the Rays modeled their speed strategy after. It would be a perfect fit for the speedy Crawford. Angels’ outfielder Tori Hunter even joked about helping Crawford pick out a house. Then the news broke during the offseason that Crawford signed a $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox? The Rays’ most hated rival? The team filled with hot-headed egos? All of Tampa Bay erupted into anger; how could Crawford do that to the city that was his home for years?
But as months passed, many Rays fans started to forgive Crawford. After all, he played when the Rays were horrible and he helped take them to the post season twice. And out of all baseball players, Crawford deserved the $142 million? Of course he would not receive a happy welcome back at his first at-bat in Tropicana Field; but in time, maybe it was possible it would be forgiven. Then, Crawford started talking. He talked about how he always thought his son was a secret Red Sox fan. He talked about how amazing Red Sox’s fan base was. He talked about how excited he was to finally play in a stadium that would be filled with fans. Ouch.
Then something funny happen; some may call it karma, others may call it life, but baseball fans call it the baseball gods. Throughout the 2011 baseball season, Crawford had a hard time batting, stealing bases, and making big offense plays. He finished the year batting .255 and stole only 18 bases; in 2010, he was batting .307 and stole 47 bases. Meanwhile, Desmond Jennings, the Rays’ new outfielder called up after the All-Star break, finished the year batting .266 with 19 stolen bases. Whenever Crawford entered the batter’s box, Fenway Park filled with boos. Due to his poor hitting, Crawford was demoted to batting eighth in the line-up in hopes that he would magically start batting again. It never happened.
Though ESPN, Crawford started a monthly blog so he could become closer to the Red Sox fans. On his last entry dated September 19th, Crawford discussed how he is booed and heckled when he returns to Tropicana Field. During the next offseason, he would be inspired to workout harder because of them. Crawford is whining about the wrong crowd. Current Ray’s player Johnny Damon is booed in Boston AND New York since he used to play for both teams, yet he does not complain about his old teams’ fanbases. Yet, Crawford was complaining about the people who bought his jerseys the year before and who used to cheer for him when he made a catch. He’s complaining about the fans he badmouthed earlier in the year; did he really think all of Tampa would forget his unnecessary comments and forgive him? In his blog, Crawford also apologized to the Red Sox fans for his poor performance. After all, he claimed, the Red Sox fans were very supportive to him. Apparently Crawford does not hear the fans boo him when his name is called to bat or read any newspapers or websites based in Boston that complain about his performance. Crawford ended his blog saying how if the Rays made a comeback and made it to the playoffs instead of the Red Sox, he would be devastated
On September 28th, both the Red Sox and Rays knew they had to win against their respected opponents or they would be sent home. Red Sox were beating the Baltimore Orioles and were down to the final out and the final pitch. Then Nolan Reimold doubled, tying the game. The winning run was on second base; a base hit would allow the Orioles to win the game. Robert Andino was next at bat. Jonathon Papelbon threw the ball, Andino swung the bat, and the ball went to left field. For some reason, Crawford did not catch the ball. By the time he threw it to home plate, it was too late. The Orioles won. As the Red Sox walked into their clubhouse, they sat around the television, praying that the New York Yankees would beat the Rays. Too their surprise, Evan Longoria hit a homerun, winning the game in extra innings. Longoria hit a homerun over the small fence in left field; the fence that was purposely lowered to allow Crawford to make catchers while he was with the Rays…
How strange is it is that it was Crawford who allowed the Orioles to win while his former team won their game minutes later, sending the Red Sox packing. Those baseball gods have a real sense of humor.
Carl Crawford Carl Crawford Diary ESPN