So Long, Sam Fuld

By Peter M. Gordon

Oct 7, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder

Sam Fuld

(5) scores a run during the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the American League divisional series at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays understandably decided not to tender Sam Fuld a contract at the deadline. With lefty hitters David DeJesus and Matt Joyce no their rosters and youngster Kevin Keiermaier coming up, they just didn’t have a place for a 32 year-old pinch hitter/defensive replacement who couldn’t crack the Mendoza line in batting average last year.

And yet Rays fans will undoubtedly miss Super Sam. His hustle won our hearts over the last two years. Sam played every moment on the field at full throttle. He ran out every ground ball like he was being chased by a lion, backed up every play in the field, and raced after every fly.  He became Super Sam Fuld when he batted .289 in April and May of 2011, and .308 in June that year.  I was sitting at a bar with a good friend who was a Red Sox fan on July 20 when Sam made a great throw from center to nail Daniel Nava at the plate trying to score on a sacrifice fly. Not only did it help save the game for the Rays, it let me say “in your face” to my buddy. Even though replays showed that the umpire may have blown the call, thanks to Sam I could answer all my friend’s frantic emails with “Scoreboard!”

Being a Rays fans means saying goodbye to your favorites — stars like Carl Crawford and James Shields, and favorites like Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld. The former players leave because they get more expensive, and the latter because the Rays can’t be sentimental as they strive to make every roster spot count. That’s the reality of a team that has to compete in the Tampa Bay market.  The fans love that the Rays can compete for pennants, and this is the sacrifice they make. But if Sam Fuld does manage to catch on with another team and return to Tropicana Field, the fans will certainly give Super Sam a standing ovation even as they root hard for the Rays to win the game. His time in Tampa Bay was unforgettable, and even though he appeared so sporatically, an entire season without him will be a shock for everyone.