In an era of sabermetrics, it’s good to occasionally be reminded that some of the strongest forces in baseball can’t be measured. As the Wild Card round of the 2022 playoffs just demonstrated, one of the determinants of October success turned out to be Rainbow karma.
During Pride Month, five Tampa Bay Rays pitchers refused to wear rainbow logo caps on the field and peeled off Pride sunburst logos from their jerseys.
Acting as a spokesman for the group, reliever Jason Adam offered up a homophobic word salad, sputtering, “I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior.”
Jesus could not be reached for comment. But the baseball gods just made their feelings abundantly clear.
During this weekend’s Wild Card round, the Rays took on the Cleveland Guardians, a team featuring a lineup that can only be compared to the 1927 Yankees because all of those Bronx Bombers are currently dead.
The Rays appeared to have a pretty clear path to the Division Series. All they had to do was turn in a major league average performance at the plate and they’d win decisively. So what actually happened?
Over two games and 24 innings, the Rays scored a total of one run. On nine hits. The Guardians won both games and swept Tampa Bay out of the playoffs in the span of 29 hours.
Making Cleveland’s victory extra Prideful, the Rays lost Game 2 on a 15th inning walk-off home run by Oscar Gonzalez, whose walk-up music was the theme song to SpongeBob Squarepants.
Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month — Nickel deon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020
( : by @ramzymasri) pic.twitter.com/pENmTaQB0h
The lesson for the Rays: if you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. Sometimes the best rainbow karma comes from a pineapple under the sea.
And now Adam and his bullpen mates can rip the postseason logos off their uniforms.
By contrast, June also saw the Los Angeles Dodgers take the field as one unit with every player wearing rainbow LA caps during their Pride Night. The team also sported those rainbow caps a week later in a match-up with the San Francisco Giants, marking the first MLB game featuring both teams wearing Pride logo hats.
How did that affect L.A.’s rainbow karma? Thanks to a team-record 111-win regular season, the Dodgers were able to skip the Wild Card round and are fully rested for their NLDS clash with the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers are set up well for their second championship in three years, following their 2020 World Series title over the Rays.
The baseball gods remain undefeated. Which is what happens when you oppose Tampa Bay in October.