We interrupt this 2010 AL East Division Chase to bring you this important update:

The Tampa Bay Rays are “All In” in 2010, and have no chips left for 2011.

Can we hit the pause button here?

Instead of focusing on how the Rays are defying logic, gravity, and every law possible by going neck-and-neck with the New York Yankees for 150 games, the attention in this huge final series showdown against New York is this:

The Rays will cut their payroll in 2011 and in turn cut their playoff chances as well.

The New York media swarmed around Rays owner Stu Sternberg, and as always the case, the conversation turned to payroll and attendance.  Sternberg reiterated the payroll will go down.  And with the Rays drawing less than 1.9 million fans for the season, it’s no wonder why.  The outgoing expenses must match the incoming revenues.

Imagine that:  An American living within a budget.

At first glance, it would appear that Sternberg is the one who is saying the Rays playoff hopes end this year.  Nay, nay!  National media such as ESPN’s Buster Olney and local media such as St. Pete Times John Romano have taken Sternberg’s comments about payroll and given the assumption of a step back forthcoming.  They have essentially told fans to enjoy what they have because after this year they won’t have it anymore.  And when these players leave, you should temper expectations of keeping up with the Joneses, or in this case, Boston and New York.

Is it 2008 again?  Have I taken a nap and somehow went back in time instead of forward?  Have I fallen and hit my head? 

The Rays’ Cinderella ’08 season was considered a fluke. One-year wonder.  And national media used the 2009 season as the evidence.  But then a funny thing happened:

The Rays started winning again.

Never mind that this is the Rays’ third consecutive winning season.  Never mind that this is the Rays’ second division crown chase in three years.  Never mind this is the Rays’ second postseason berth in three years.

It cannot be sustained.  The Rays cannot win without Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Carlos Pena.  The Rays cannot win by trading Matt Garza, B.J. Upton, and Jason Bartlett.  The Rays cannot win by reducing their payroll.

The national pundits sure like to be proven wrong.

Consider them wrong again.

Here are six reasons why the Tampa Bay Rays will contend for their third postseason berth in four years in 2011:

Begin Slideshow