In a somewhat ironic twist, the only blemish on closer Brad Lidge’s record this season occurred in a game that didn’t count. But, as most of us remember from the fifteenth inning of the "This Time It Counts" game, Lidge is actually the pitcher responsible this year for handing the American League their annual home field advantage in this October Classic.
All that to say: The Rays will host the series tonight in Tampa Bay against the visiting (but well-rested) Phillies.
This is not the series that national television wanted. After all, where are the Yankees? The Red Sox? The Dodgers? The Cubs? In desperation, the Angels? A young upstart team (and franchise as a whole) from Tampa Bay; housed in a stadium that looks like a tipped-over cupcake on the outside, and the Metrodome on the inside; where stadium parking was free barely more than a year ago (I know, I was there), where fans were scarce up until the playoffs, and where the city is just getting used to a baseball team? And this team is playing a team from Philadelphia; a city full of sports, but not championships?
Where is the drama? Where are the traded players battling it out to justify next year’s salary? Where is the mystique? The undercurrent of story lines? How can we watch the best of the NL play the best of the AL and (gasp!) enjoy it?
I plan on enjoying the hell out of the 2008 World Series. Not because it’s the last gasp of baseball before a long, cold, dark winter (although it is); not because I have any emotional attachment to a player or a team on the field, but simply because it’s a World Series with two great baseball teams, who have worked their tails off to be in this position; who never said die, who never let another team be better when it counted.
Plus, we have some legitimate power hitters on both sides of the field, and we have some good pitchers to watch. And did I mention that Taco Bell is giving away free World Series’ tacos?!?!?! All that is necessary for this dubious promotion is for someone to steal a base. Why not just give away the tacos? Or give away tacos for every time Joe Morgan calls someone ‘gritty’? That might be tougher than it sounds; I believe Pedroia is done with baseball for the winter.
Tonight’s game features the unhittable Cole Hamels matching up against Scott "If I pitch one great game once in a while, no one will notice my other starts" Kazmir. I would recommend that the Rays find a way to score against Hamels; the Dodgers never did.
10/22/08 5:35 PM PDT
|Philadelphia Phillies||Tampa Bay Rays|
|Jimmy Rollins - SS||Akinori Iwamura - 2B|
|Jayson Werth - RF||B.J. Upton - CF|
|Chase Utley - 2B||Carlos Pena - 1B|
|Ryan Howard - 1B||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Pat Burrell - LF||Carl Crawford - LF|
|Shane Victorino - CF||Willy Aybar - DH|
|Pedro Feliz - 3B||Dioner Navarro - C|
|Chris Coste - DH||Ben Zobrist - RF|
|Carlos Ruiz - C||Jason Bartlett - SS|