Thursday, October 23, 2008

How 'Bout Those Rays

Full disclosure: I was cheering for the Red Sox in the ALCS.

For some reason this fact is viewed as traitorous amongst those in Twins Territory, as though I was fully decked out in White Sox gear and rooting for Ozzie and the Mighty Whities with a Homer Hanky spray-painted black. No joke, when I was at a bar watching Game 5 of the ALCS and I loudly cheered as Boston erased a 7-0 deficit in the late innings to notch one of the greatest comebacks in postseason history, a guy further down the bar looked at me in disgust and informed me that I "didn't deserve to be wearing" the Twins hat that adorned my head.

In fairness, I was only cheering for the Red Sox because of a gentlemanly bet I'd made with my roommate. Coming into this season, so convinced was I that the Red Sox were the class of the American League that I confidently told my roommate without a hint of doubt that they would be representing the AL in the World Series. Naturally, he rebutted that the playoffs are unpredictable and these things are impossible to predict... a fair argument. Nonetheless, I stuck to my guns, and that Boston came within one game of the World Series makes me feel pretty good about my prediction, even though I lost the bet.

So I wasn't exactly rooting to the Rays to their first ever World Series berth, but that's not to say I'm not glad to see them there. This is a fun team to watch and an easy team to cheer for. And truly, they do make for a great story.

When writing up an American League Preview back in March, I suggested that I was probably "going out on a limb" by picking the Rays to finish third in the AL East, but couldn't overlook their talent-laden roster. My writeup:
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Perhaps I'm going out on a limb with this pick, but boy is this a talented young roster. The Rays feature a great trio of young pitchers at the head of their rotation in Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza. Meanwhile, the offense features several studs, from Carl Crawford to B.J. Upton to Carlos Pena (who quietly had an absolutely stellar season last year) to Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Longoria. The bullpen could present some problems, but I think this is a team that could surprise some people.
"Surprise some people" they did. That I felt I was stretching it by predicting a third-place finish for a team that now finds themselves in the World Series just illustrates how amazing the rapid rise of this Rays team has been. To all those who underestimate the value of quality young talent or who vehemently reject the notion that ability trumps experience, take heed of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.

I don't really have a significant rooting interest in this series. As much as I enjoy seeing the Rays succeed, I have no problem with the Phillies, and in fact I feel that by cheering against them I'd have to watch my back in public for fear of vindication from the wife of one prominent Twins' blogger.

The World Series got off to a promising start last night when the Phils scored a close 3-2 victory in a well-pitched game on both sides. Whoever ultimately wins the series, I expect an interesting and relatively even match-up in this series. And with the landslides that we've seen take place in recent years, what more could you ask for?

5 comments:

concernedcitizen said...

"by picking the Rays to finish third in the AL Central"

Did you mean AL East, or overall in the AL?

Nick N. said...

Oops, that should've said AL East. I'll fix it, thanks.

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