It is hard to forget the amazing run the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays went on en route to their first and only World Series. The run was fueled by a number of factors, but was essentially represented by Joe Maddon’s “9=8” mantra. With the Rays looking to make another run at October baseball, it is time to adopt a new slogan, one rooted in tradition.
The Tampa Bay Rays haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, but after a 90 win season, Blake Snell and company are now poised to return to the October baseball scene. Joe Maddon’s mantra from 2008 season, “9=8” still brings me back to the glory days and I am calling for a slight adjustment to the forgotten battle cry.
The thought process was that 9 players took the field for 9 innings a game, playing as hard as they could (The Rays Way) 162 times a year with one goal in mind, be one of the 8 teams to make the playoffs. Of course, times were simpler in those days with only one wildcard team from each league joining the 6 division winners. Since 2012, two wildcard teams from each league join the division winners.
As a result, gone are the days where 9 logically equates to 8. Instead, the notion of 9 now equates to 10. 9 players playing 9 innings a game, playing as hard as they could 162 times a year with one goal in mind, be one of the 10 teams to make the payoffs.
Even more interesting is what the Associated Press wrote regarding Joe’s spring training message prior to the 2008 run:
"Maddon also sold the concept that the Rays, who won 66 games and finished with the worst record in the majors in 2007, could make the playoffs if they got nine more wins because of hitting, an additional nine because of pitching, and another nine because of defence."
If the Rays were to add 9 wins from pitching, defense, and offense they would essentially win a rather steep 117 games in 2019. Instead they should focus on adding 2-3 wins from each facet and aim for 96-99 wins.
So, with their eyes set on a return to playoff baseball, I am suggesting that the Tampa Bay Rays return to the glory days and adopt a slogan similar to Joe Maddon’s 2008 mantra.
In 2019: 9=10
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While it may irk the mathematicians among us, it makes sense to baseball fans and it incites memories of seasons past, of playoff baseball.