Scott Kazmir was warming up. The Indians were desperate to keep their deficit to the Rays at three runs, and the pitcher they had warm up in the bullpen was none other than the pitcher who gave baseball in Tampa Bay a sense of optimism for the first time and predicted before the 2008 season that the Rays would defy the odds and make the postseason. There he was, serving as an unlikely contributor to a team that went from 68 wins in 2012 to the playoffs in 2013 after helping to lead the 2008 Rays to a playoff berth one year after a 66-win season. Was he really there or was he just a ghost of Rays past, a harbinger of a Rays return to the World Series or the paragon of the suceess they could never again achieve? Kazmir was indeed physically there, but the fact that he never entered the game leaves the symbolism, if any, open to interpretation. What we know for certain, though, is that Scott Kazmir had an incredible season after three lost years, and it was the team with whom he rose to prominencee that brought his year to its conclusion.
What does Scott Kazmir think of the Tampa Bay Rays now? Are they still the team he grew up with, the team that will always have a special place in his heart? Or are they the team that he did everything for and received nothing in return? Kazmir dominated for three years and the Rays could not put up anything beside him. Kazmir placed the Rays on the map but they traded him to the Angels at the first sign of trouble. And when Kazmir’s career came crashing down after a horrifying experience at Triple-A for the Angels in 2011, where were the Rays? They wouldn’t give their former ace a chance to get himself together in their minor league system? They were just like every other team in baseball, counting Kazmir out. How could Kazmir construe that as anything but a punch to the gut from the team he ran himself into the ground for? And now here he is, his feel-good season reaching the postseason, and the Rays come and end it. How could this happen?
Baseball moves on. Your heroes become your enemies and then except in the rarest of cases, it all fades away. Is there a Tampa Bay Rays fan out there who would not feel exhilarated if the Rays somehow brought Kazmir back as a free agent following the year? Probably not. Unless that happens, however, Kazmir is a vestige of the past, a fading memory that fans only think about only on the rarest of occasions, and what happens to him is not of their concern.