Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: A 'Wicked' weekend

Who would've thunk it? Rays-Phils in World Series

Send a link to a friend

[October 21, 2008]  (AP)  Worst in baseball to World Series winner.

The Tampa Bay Rays can become the first team in the majors to complete the ultimate fast turnaround. Doormats no more, they'll have the swagger of a pennant-winner when they play the Philadelphia Phillies starting Wednesday night.

"By the time we got to the point where we had won our league, our guys knew we had a good team," said Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz, remembering back to when his team fell just short of a worst-to-winner transformation, losing Game 7 to Minnesota 1-0 in 10 innings back in 1991.

It will be a World Series of contrasts that opens at Tropicana Field: North vs. South. Old vs. New. Rest vs. rust. Beloved vs. belittled.

Well, both have disparaged over the years.

The frustrated Phillies have been around since 1883 but the losingest team in the history of U.S. major leagues has had just one title to celebrate, back in 1980. The Rays? The franchise didn't start play until 1998, didn't have a winning season until this year and didn't even shed the Devil from its nickname until after completing play in 2007.

"People were happy when we got our 71st win. People were excited when we got our 81st win, saying you guys have cleared the .500 mark. We still kept going," said Rays pitcher Matt Garza, the AL championship series MVP. "We've proved doubters wrong this entire time."

Philadelphia is famous for the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks and booing Santa Claus. Tampa/St. Pete is known for the Gasparilla Festival and strip clubs. Until now, its most noted baseball team was the Yankees, who have held spring training there since 1996.

But baseball's glamourpusses have all gone home, with the Yankees and Mets failing to make the postseason, and the Cubs, Dodgers and defending champion Red Sox all getting bounced out of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay was a 200-1 shot to win the Series when betting opened, ahead of only Kansas City and Washington (both 250-1). Philadelphia was 18-1.

"They're resilient. I think both clubs are similar in that way," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're not going to quit. I think this year they definitely learned that. They're young and they're flying on a high. We're kind of settled."

After going from 66-96 last year to 97-65 this season, Tampa Bay has a bit of an aura. While the Phillies opened the season with the 13th-highest payroll in the major leagues at $98 million while the Rays were 29th at $44 million, ahead of only Florida.

[to top of second column]

Auto Sales

Philadelphia (42,254) had the fourth-highest attendance average in the NL; Tampa Bay (22,370) was 12th among the 14 AL teams.

Even the general managers are a contrast.

While the Phillies' GM is 71-year-old Pat Gillick, who put together Toronto teams that won World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, Tampa Bay's executive vice president for baseball operations is 31-year-old Andrew Friedman, a former Bear Stearns analyst.

"Nobody expects us to win. Everybody expected us to lose 90 games this year," said 23-year-old David Price, who got his professional save in the pennant clincher. "We lost seven in a row going into the All-Star break. People thought that was it. The Rays are going to slowly die out. But that's not the case."

Philadelphia bounced back in September to overcome the Mets for the second straight season. For so many years, the headlines read "Phillies Phold." Not this year, at least not yet.

"Philadelphians, they've been starving for a winner," Manuel said. "Let me put it like this, we're due. We're here. Why not get it?"

There's some history between the cities -- just not in baseball.

The Buccaneers won the 2003 Super Bowl over Oakland after defeating the Eagles 27-10 in the NFC championship. The Lightning defeated Calgary to win the Stanley Cup in 2004 after beating the Flyers 2-1 in Game 7 of the conference finals.

Philadelphia is just 1-4 in the World Series, beating the Kansas City Royals in 1980, but losing to the Boston Red Sox (1915), New York Yankees (1950), Baltimore Orioles (1983) and Toronto Blue Jays (1993).

Based on the last two years, the six-day layoff between their five-game victory over the Dodgers and the Series opener won't help.

Following eight days off, the Colorado Rockies were swept by Boston last year. Detroit had a six-day rest in 2006, then lost to the Cardinals in six games.

"It's debated, obviously, every year," Manuel said. "So much of it depends on the 25 guys -- if they're beat up and they need the rest, or if they're still going on adrenaline."

[Associated Press; By RONALD BLUM]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Auto Sales

< Sports index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor