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Josh Sale’s Tampa Bay Rays Tenure Ends With Silence

By Robbie Knopf
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Josh Sale‘s time in the Tampa Bay Rays organization featured plenty of controversy. We thought it was bad enough when he faltered in his first professional season in 2011 and that his struggles were in the past when he delivered outstanding results at Low-A Bowling Green the following year. Since then, however, we have seen a drug suspension for meth, a further suspension for offensive actions that he bragged about on Facebook, and a drug of abuse suspension to top it all off.

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What stands out the most about Josh Sale’s final season with the Rays, though, was just how irrelevant it was. Sale wasn’t young anymore as he took the field for the Charlotte Stone Crabs–he was set to turn 23 years of age in July. If he failed, there were no more excuses to be made and he was simply going to be done. If he had a solid year, meanwhile, the consensus following the year still easily could have been “despite the good results, he is no longer a real prospect.”

Of course, Sale’s performance in his last year was entirely unimpressive. He hit to a .238/.313/.344 line, with his trademark plate discipline evaporating and his power potential never showing up. There was the isolated game where he provided a flash of the player he used to be. In two different games, he came a double short of the cycle. But there was never a hot streak, never a stretch when we seriously contemplated whether his career was salvageable.

Then, when his third and evidently final suspension ended his season, it was entirely meaningless. He was simply a below-average outfielder on an A-ball team, and now the Rays had some more outfield at-bats to distribute among their prospects. It was sad–it was overkill–but the Stone Crabs were probably better off without him.

There was no drama in Josh Sale’s 2014, no comeback story that fell short. It never crossed anybody’s mind that he was a tragic hero, and he certainly wasn’t an entertaining villain. He played mediocre game after mediocre game for a few months and when he was gone, nobody missed him. He never drove anyone to read the minor league boxscores, and his departure never caused anyone to stop.

Last year, for the first time in my life, I heard Josh Sale’s last name pronounced. It’s not Sale like that of Chicago White Sox star Chris Sale, but instead “Solly.” Maybe those of you who live in Tampa Bay have heard it many times before–I’ve always lived in the Northeast. Nevertheless, it struck me how I knew deep down after watching the 2010 Draft that I was not pronouncing it correctly, but it simply never crossed my mind to say it the right way.

Ironically enough, Josh Sale’s last season was the exact same story. It should have meant something despite of his faults that Sale was playing again. We should have been curious, even if it was out of sheer dislike for him. But instead, all we could manage was apathy. Now it’s over, and it won’t change our lives one bit.

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