What happens if Tampa Bay wins the World Series?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In all of the lockers in the home clubhouse at Tropicana Field sit individual (and sometimes multiple) empty champagne bottles, physical evidence of a celebration that has yet to cool. Rays utility man Eric Hinske jokes that he is "2-for-2," having been in the World Series this time last year with the Red Sox. "Just call me if you want to go to the Series," he says, laughing.Cliff Floyd, who also has been to the summit before, as a member of the title-winning 1997 Florida Marlins, was still replaying the eighth inning of the Game 7 showdown with Boston, when David Price introduced himself to the Red Sox, and to October.
"He wasn't just like, there in the eighth, but when he came into the dugout, he was like, 'I want the ball in the ninth,'" Floyd said, exhilarated as though he were the rookie, as though there were no traces of gray in his goatee."And yesterday [Monday], well, I don't even remember yesterday. It was like a blur. I have never, ever been so jacked up during a game, and then after a game, in my life. My wife said, ''You'll get over it.' But you know what? I don't think I will." And so it goes for the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, still drunk with song, blinded by the awesome light of what seems to be a limitless future. Even during the series with Boston, before Game 2, Joe Maddon said, "You know what the interesting thing about all of this is? This is just the beginning. I'm already thinking about spring training, things that are going to make us even better."
Howard Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. He is the author of "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball" and of "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston" He can be reached at Howard.Bryant@espn3.com.