Win or lose, the Tampa Bay Rays were going to party.
Little had gone right for manager Joe Maddon’s team since Aug. 25. Before Tuesday, they had lost eight of nine games, including the first four of a 10-game West Coast swing. Once close with the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, they had fallen to 5 ½ games back of the division lead.
Even their wild-card chances included greater doubt, with their edge over the Baltimore Orioles for the second spot shrinking to two games.
Monday, an 11-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels was notably rough, with the Rays being outhit 16-6. So Maddon decided to act: After their game Tuesday at Angel Stadium, regardless of the outcome, the Rays would hold a “Win or Weep” postgame party at a sports bar in Long Beach, Calif., to conjure some good vibes.
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the result on the field was positive. The Rays routed the Angels 7-1, snapping their five-game losing streak. According to the Tampa Bay Times, players boarded a bus Maddon had reserved to drive the team to the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, near where the manager owns a residence. There also was a Twitter invitation for a free beer to anyone who arrived in Rays gear.
The idea for the “Win or Weep” party came from Maddon’s upbringing in Hazleton, Pa.
“Hazleton vs. West Hazleton, back in the day, Thanksgiving Day football — after the game, there was the Win or Weep Dance,” Maddon told the newspaper. “Three years, Hazleton Win Dance.”