No, I don’t mean A.L. MVP honors. Instead, I mean when that vote comes out by the A.P. voters - I think - and they announce who they believe is each team’s MVP for that season…yeah, that MVP.
Imagine if Tampa Bay Rays right-handed closer Rafael Soriano was on this squad last season. Imagine how many more wins there would’ve been. Remember all of the blown saves last year? Remember that epic night in Cleveland on Memorial Day when the Rays were smoking the Indians only to allow them to score like 15-runs in the bottom of the 9th, which preceded one of the most painful losses in Rays history? Or how about when Jason Bartlett blasted a bomb against Seattle during a 13-inning game to take the lead? Remember how confident we all felt with J.P. Howell coming out to close? Yeah, he gave up a 2-run shot that left the Rays’ dugout looking completely lost and dejected.
I’m not here to dwell on last season’s failures. It’s done…gone, whatever, but it’s fun to pretend and use a hypothetical, right? What I’m getting at is this squad may not have the record it currently holds without Soriano closing out some tough and tight games. He currently is the A.L. leader in saves and is tied for the lead in the M.L. Joaquin Benoit has exceeded expectations and he might’ve been the closer at some point if there wasn’t a Rafael Soriano on board, but number 29 has been lights out.
The guy has ice in his veins, shows zero emotion, and does what he’s supposed to do…close out games and get the Rays a victory.
Longoria’s the pretty boy that shows up on TV and on the cover of video games. Carl Crawford is the current superhero on staff that the league holds in the highest regards. And Rafael Soriano is the quiet kid who gracefully flows to the pitcher’s mound when called upon and succeeds in putting opponents away. Thankless. Humble. MVP.