I Miss Him Already!
He is one of those people who could fade into the background at a party and become part of the wallpaper. He has always seemed to be point-on when it comes to staying out of trouble and not projecting a highly-paid bad boy. He has always been a role model, but maybe the rest of the Nation is just getting a glimpse of this great person we have known since 2002.
Has it really been 8 MLB season sine he graced the Trop’s turf with his uncontrollable chaos running style, but smooth as silk stroke and acceleration towards any base. Have we really seen the last of him on Thursday afternoon, or will there possibility be a return engagement in 2011? How much have we gotten accustomed to his sudden speed and grace flowing in the outfield making hard plays looking routine that even a one game rest for his weary bones makes the Tampa Bay Rays look like an entirely different team.
The solid image of him just standing in the Batter’s Circle before a plat appearance just portrays speed and grace with every pore of his body. How fitting that in possibly his last season to grace a Rays uniform he was selected by the local media as the Rays 2010 Most Valuable Player. Ever since that first jog out into the outfield in Toronto he has slowly and silently become the glue that holds this team together.
Even when the Rays were victimized by opposing pitching, you knew he would get a critical hit or make a play that stood out as a beam of light towards the stands. He is the kind of guy you could give your son his name based on him as a person as well as a ballplayer. He is the kind of guy you would hang out with if he was not making millions on the ballfield, and possibly play with on a Adult Softball team.
He has become that iconic Rays player you hope is not just once in a lifetime. His way of playing the game has never been questioned or seen as rebellious.
He has played the game to his own tune, and that melody rings loud and true to the man beneath the uniform. No matter if he is thrilling us with plays or being a spoken voice of his comrades, his voice is one of the most respected voices ever in that Rays clubhouse. And he earned that honor by doing it the right way. Defending his teammates in every instance, being a silent but deadly team leader in that Rays clubhouse. A voice respected, admire and seen as a true inner voice to the distress or extreme joy within those walls. He has been the voice of the Rays without even knowing it.
And I was one of those 35,000+ chanting his name in Tropicana Field in the eighth inning on Thursday night. Immediately upon hearing the cheer and chanting start I rose to me feet and celebrated in mass the career that will transcend time in my mind. To celebrate a man and a player that might be the first to wear the Rays colors into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Applauding a man who will always be solid in my mind as the model of the perfect Rays player.
You might have noticed I have not put his name once into this post. Not once have I uttered his nicknames or even tried to write his name. Because it pains me to do so. His possible departure aches me within with a pain that I do not want to acknowledge until that last moment. For his name will always make me smile, always make me remember Rays moments, but mostly it will remind me of what a great human being, father and key component to any organization. He will that bright sunburst until he hangs his cleats up for the last time.
He started as a keystone to this revival of this franchise. Was here with the strife and pain of getting better and winning those close ones. He celebrated titles and possible advancements that we only dreamed of for this club. He was the guy we all wish we could trade places with for one day. I got to end this now because there is a problem with my eyes.
Once in a lifetime you meet someone or see someone who can transcend the norm and become one with the ongoing heartbeat and rhythm of baseball. May fahter used to tell me tales of Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle and their times in St. Petersburg. But I have my own icon of what I think is the perfect baseball player, for me, his name is Carl Crawford, and Imiss him already and he is not even gone.