Fans pay homage to Crawford
Rays veteran may have played his last game Tropicana Field
ST. PETERSBURG -- In the top of the ninth inning, Tampa Bay fans seemed to realize all at once that they might be seeing Carl Crawford play his final home game in a Rays uniform. So the chant began:
"Caaarl Craaawford! Caaarl Craaawford!"
The noise echoed inside Tropicana Field and into Crawford's ears as he stood in left field and soaked in the moment.
"I heard them and I thought that was really neat," Crawford said after the Rays' 6-0 loss to the Rangers in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Thursday afternoon. "I didn't know that was going to happen, so that was really nice of the fans. ... I try not to get emotional about too many things, but you know, it was a little time when you have things start running through your head."
Crawford was asked if he thought about tipping his cap to the crowd.
"You know, I don't really do all that stuff," Crawford said. "And the game was going on. I heard them though. I wish I could have done something, but I definitely heard it."
Another reason Crawford did not tip his cap was the fact he still harbors hopes that the team can come from behind.
"Because I hope it's not my last game," Crawford said. "So I didn't want to think about that. So hopefully we can win those games [in Texas] and come back. ... We just got to play better. We definitely have to hit better and just play our game. Keep grinding it out. Don't give in and hope for the best."
Crawford, who can file for free agency after the season, said he is proud to be a member of this Rays team.
"It feels good, because these guys really work hard and I had the chance to see that from now to the start," Crawford said. "Just [to] see that progress, it's amazing. Just to be around these guys every day to see how they go about their business, it's amazing. Definitely a good feeling, it's a feeling you get where you're just happy to be around these guys because they put in the work and they deserve to be here at this point."
Crawford's teammates were pleased that the crowd paid tribute to Crawford.
"I thought it was special," Reid Brignac said. "The guy's been here for eight years and he's been playing his heart out for eight years -- not only for himself, but for this community. He's going to leave a lot of good memories in the minds of these fans. We'd love to have him back. Everybody here would. But we just don't know what's going to happen these next couple of months. It was very cool to see the fans do that for C. ... He deserves it."
Added Evan Longoria: "It's a great tribute to him. He deserves that. He's earned that. When I heard it, I was just thinking, 'We're going to try to bring this thing back home and we're definitely not -- again, we're not going there to say we're going to go there to lose one game and come home and start our offseason. I know that I don't want to go home yet. I want to bring this series back here and continue on and play into November. I hope that we do come back and I'm confident in our pitching staff and our guys that we're going to turn it around and give them a chance to cheer again here."
James Shields called the tribute "cool" and he said he was "glad the fans appreciate him."
"But we're not done yet," Shields said. "We still have another game to go."
The crowd, or lack thereof, has often been criticized during the season for not showing up in great numbers for the Rays' games. Crawford had nothing but praise for the fans on Thursday.
"The fans that do come, they're good fans," Crawford said. "When they're here, they scream and do stuff. But today was really special. I've never had that done before. Like I said, it was just nice for the fans to do that and I appreciate it."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.