Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Return of Southern Thunder

The rumble started in the legendary Tarheel home of Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh. It grew through the Palmetto State, echoed off Stone Mountain, cascaded through the Panhandle, and shook the bay to its foundation. After a short absence, the Southern Thunder had returned to the Bay Area.

Buried under the hoops hoopla that was the Orlando Magic celebration was the promotion of "The Southern Thunder" Matt Joyce to the Tampa Bay Rays. Knowing mere minor league hurlers were no longer a match for the greatness of Southern Thunder, the Rays called up Joyce and sent down journeyman right-hander Dale Thayer. Although Thayer's 'stache will be missed, the Southern Thunder could not be denied.

Many feel it is destiny that Southern Thunder make his mark in a Rays uniform. Many moons ago, a gypsy woman foretold of a great "natural" that would come from a quarter short of a score east of ancient Atlantis. Behold, on the day of third day of the eighth month of four score and four years into the 20th century, 15 miles east of Tampa, Florida, Matt Joyce was born.

Born into prophesy, Southern Thunder first picked up the tools of his craft as a youth in the Tampa Bay area. As he grew in stature from a boy to man, his achievements grew from local legend to regional myth. To paraphrase the Sandlot, "people said he was less than a god but more than a man". He was next in a long line of talent that included Wade Boggs, Tino Martinez, Dwight Gooden, and Gary Sheffield. He was indeed the Tampa area's next "natural". Then he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and nearly forgotten.

Fortunately, the bright minds of the Tampa Bay Rays front office knew enough of the Legend of Southern Thunder to bring him back to Tampa in exchange for inconsistent flamethrower Edwin Jackson. It was as if the planets aligned and the gods spoke down from the heavens. Southern Thunder was coming back to the Land of the Lightning.

And now, after a short stint tearing the cover off the ball in charming southern towns such as Durham and Charlotte, Southern Thunder is back in the big leagues and ready to rule in the formerly aptly named Thunderdome.

Of course, and as to be expected, Southern Thunder rang true in his return, taking the Twins' Nick Blackburn deep in his second at-bat.

Welcome back, Southern Thunder.