The St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin, covering the post-game scene after the D-Rays beat the Angels and El Barto, 8-4 yesterday.

As Piniella detailed how far they had come from their 28-61 first half, and how much hard work and effort the players put in to get there, he began to cry.

His voice cracked.

His eyes reddened.

Tears welled.

“I got a little emotional, I’m sorry,” he said. “I just got a little emotional when he said we played over .500. It feels good. I hope we win a couple more. It’s (an accomplishment). I think everybody wrote us off pretty good.”

Bench coach John McLaren, Piniella’s longtime associate, said he was not surprised that side of Piniella came out at this time.

“Anyone who knows Lou knows he’s a very passionate person, and a lot of people think it’s just about winning,” McLaren said. “But he cares about his players. He’s basically a very sentimental person.”

Really, what could possibly have caused so many observers to write off this talented young team?