Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ray(s) of Hope

I don't want to be accused of being one of those bloggers who uses his Internet real estate to merely complain and dampen the mood of his readers. That said, and understanding that my last entry had a bit of a depressing tilt to it, I want to balance things out. This posting is all about providing hope! For those who will appreciate the reference, consider me the Andy Dufresne to your "Red" Redding. I'm all about providing a glimmer of light in the otherwise dark tunnel of Islanders fandom.

In order to restore that "Barton Fink Feeling" in all of you (I'm in a movie-referencing mood today), we're going to look at our brothers-in-arms in Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays. You'll see that there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between the Islanders and the Rays, and that their historic 2008 season should inspire us all to dream big for the 2008-2009 season.

Over the past 10 years...
-The Rays finished in last place in the AL East nine times. In the one instance they escaped the cellar they were still 21 games under .500. They have gone through 4 managers. They play in a bad ballpark and have trouble generating attendance. They were universally considered the least successful franchise in baseball.
- The Islanders finished 4th or 5th in the division seven times, and have not won a playoff series. They have gone through 9 head coaches. They play in an old arena and have trouble generating attendance. They have been largely considered one of the most poorly run franchises in hockey.

Within their division...
- The Rays compete with high-powered, large market teams in the Yankees and Red Sox. These markets have more money to spend and have a much easier time attracting free agents. These teams are built to be successful year-in and year-out, and it was considered virtually impossible for a smaller market team to compete against them.
- The Islanders compete with high-powered, successful teams in the Penguins, Rangers, Flyers, and Devils. These markets have historically spent more money and have a much easier time attracting free agents. The Islanders are generally an afterthought within the division.

From 2007 to 2008...
- The Rays only added two significant pieces to their roster. One, a young stud (Evan Longoria) predicted by scouts to be very successful at the professional level. The other, an aging closer (Troy Percival) that most felt was well past his prime.
- The Islanders added only a couple significant pieces to their roster. One, a young stud (Kyle Okposo, set to play his first full season) predicted by scouts to be very successful at the professional level. The other, an aging center (Doug Weight) that most feel is past his prime.

In 2008...
- The Rays completed one of the most improbable runs from worst-to-first, and currently lead their division and own the second-best record in the AL.
- The Islanders...to be continued.

The Isles have some pieces in place to enable us to believe. We have a blue-chip goalie who, when healthy, is one of the best in the league. We have an above-average defensive unit that can certainly stand toe-to-toe with most in the NHL. We have a number of young prospects that can hopefully prove their mettle this year. The bottom line is, it will take an awful lot of things to fall just right for the Islanders to have a Rays-type year, but stranger things have happened.

September is the time to dream big. It'll be October soon enough, and that's when reality - good or bad - sets in. Let's go Islanders.


1 comment:

Lucius said...

Here, I do not actually imagine it will have effect.
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