Who would make a Rays’ Ring of Honor?

by Gary Shelton on July 7, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Would Longoria already be in Rays' Ring of Honor?/TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Would Longoria already be in Rays' Ring of Honor?/TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Thursday, 4 a.m.

The thought occurred to me the other night when Evan Longoria walked toward the plate.

How many times, I wondered, had Longo made that journey in his life? How many steps had he taken? And how far had he come?

And, as fractured as the history of the Rays might be, how many others have covered themselves in glory?

What if – just asking, mind you – the Rays had their own Ring of Honor? Who would be in it?

You know what Rings of Honor are, don't you? In the NFL, they're the final signature on a career well-spent. They're a name, sometimes a number,

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designed to invoke a memory. Yeah, I saw him play. Yeah, he helped bring winning.

Almost every NFL team has a Ring of Honor, and some are more glutted than others. When the New York Giants decided to have their own Ring of Honor back in 2010, they started with 30 inductees. Granted, the Giants have a long and a rich history, but 30 at a time?

Rings of Honors are nice touches to oppposing stadiums. A player doesn't have to be in the Hall of Fame to make the Ring of Honor; a player who touched the hearts of local fans is fine. In fact, the Ring of Honor is perfect place for players who aren't in the Hall of Fame.

As for the Rays, this is their 20th season. Isn't it time for some memories? The banners are getting old, and the catwalks are still annoying. Shouldn't there be a reason to look upward except for Logan Morrison's blasts?

Still, a Ring of Honor is a touchy thing. Dan Johnson had two miracle homers. Does he belong? Vince Naimoli brought the game to town? Does he? Maybe, but I didn't include them.

Here we go then. Ten Rays who should be in a Ring of Honor:

1. Carl Crawford (2002-2010): Crawford was a dynamic player who went from the bad days to the good with the Rays. He had 1,480 hits and made four all-star teams here. Frankly, the guy never should have left. He got big money, but was it worth it?

2. Evan Longoria (2008-present): Can an active player be in a Ring of Honor? Let's say he can, because many of the impact players from the good days are still active. Longo hit the homer in Game 162, the sweetest moment in the history of this franchise.

3. Wade Boggs (1998-1999): Boggs played only two years for the Rays as he wound up a Hall of Fame career. Boggs wasn't quite the same player he was earlier in his career by the time he came, but he still had a flair for the dramatic.

4. James Shields (2006-2012): Big Game James is still the only Ray to ever win a World Series game. He was a workhorse for the Rays, throwing 11 complete games in 2011. He won 87 games for the Rays with an ERA of 3.89.

5. David Price (2008-2014): Price won the Rays' only Cy Young and finished second another year. He made four of his all-star games for the Rays.

6. Joe Maddon (2006-2014): Maddon won 754 games for the Rays. His four post-season appearances are the only ones in team history.

7. Andrew Friedman (2004-2014): Friedman was the brains behind the Rays' success. His trade of Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett was the capper on the successful years for Tampa Bay.

8. Ben Zobrist (2006-2014): Zobrist won over the fans by being the original Mr. Fix-It. He could play anywhere, and his versatility was one of the reasons Maddon was so successful. He's won big after leaving.

9. Carlos Pena (2007-2010, 2012): Pena struck out too much, and the shift ate him alive. But he could hit the ball over the wall, getting 163 homers in his five seasons. That included seasons of 46 and 39.

10. Matt Garza (2008-2010): Garza was here only three years and won only 34 games. But he won the biggest (the seventh game against the Red Sox for the AL pennant) and the best (his no-hitter).

Honorable mention: Fred McGriff, Rafael Soriano, Fernando Rodney, Aubrey Huff.

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