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Tampa Bay caught (not) looking again

“Hey, how is that one Huffy guy doing this year?”

“I heard that, like, that one Crawford guy steals lots of bases and stuff.”

“Rocco Balldo-ni is really good.”

What’s wrong, Tampa Bay? Still so hung over from that Stanley Cup win that you don’t see the competitive baseball team in your own back yard? You know what I’m talking about: All of you were on the edge of your sofas all season and throughout the playoffs until the Lightning finally captured the cup.

Oh, wait, that’s not what happened at all. No one around here paid attention to the Lightning until the very end.

And now I ask that you don’t do the same with the Devil Rays.

I am fed up with watching the people of this city, who, before a near championship, couldn’t care less about the professional sports teams they now supposedly love.

And this Lightning craze has put me over the limit.

If you did not watch at least 15 Lightning games (which still wouldn’t be enough) this season and you acted like winning the Stanley Cup was the most amazing thing that ever happened in Tampa Bay … you are an idiot.

If you have not watched (at the very least) a Devil Rays game this season, you are not, and should not, ever be a fan of this team. Never.

Ever.

And if you haven’t been watching the quality baseball Tampa Bay has been playing, just stop reading. Go away and watch a reality TV show. You cannot appreciate the things I am going to talk about.

And by the way, Stanley didn’t get a tan. His darkened complexion is the embarrassment of being presented in a city where most of the people don’t know what a blue line is.

But Tampa Bay knows baseball. You can see that by taking a trip down to any local Little League. And you should know that the Rays are gaining confidence.

I can see it in the eyes of the two mini-bobble heads that grace my desk — proof I made the hike to Tropicana Field on more than one occasion. The little plastic Rocco Baldelli and Aubrey Huff figurines have that blank stare of confidence.

With the 2-1 win over Arizona Sunday night, the Rays have won 11 games in a row — the longest winning streak of any team this season. They have won 14 of their last 16 games, 17 of their last 20, and are 22-6 since May 20, which is the best record in the majors over the past four weeks.

Over that stretch Tampa Bay has jumped out of the cellar — moving past Toronto and Baltimore — and into third place in the American League East. It has been quite a run.

Now, I am not saying the Rays will be great any time soon. And I have seen enough baseball to know this run will not last. But what I am saying is that if any hint of the playoffs comes our way in the not-so-distant future, don’t act like super fans that “love” your home team.

If what the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are doing right now hasn’t caught your miniscule attention span, don’t even bother. You don’t get it.

And if, down the road, herds of ticket-less fans watch playoff baseball projected onto the side of a sold-out Tropicana Field, stay away. You are not really a fan.