Praise for the Rays

For six grueling months, Tampa Bay outlasted the mighty New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to win the AL East. Then they beat the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox in the ALDS. And last night, they completed the seven-game series victory over the defending World Series champion Red Sox.

After exorcising the “Devil” in the offseason, the Rays have enjoyed ascension from the AL East cellar to the game’s ultimate throne, the World Series. They’ll host the Philadelphia Phillies.

They don’t wear pinstripes or call Fenway home, but the Rays are a great story for every small-team fan out there. If you’re a fan of the Pirates or Royals, this is the model you’re looking for.

Great scouting, drafting and player development have this young Rays team on the brink of a World Series championship. Manager Joe Maddon will have his hands full with a Phillies team that had no trouble eliminating the L.A. Dodgers in five games.

My pick is the Rays in 6 games, but after predicting just three of eight playoff teams and two of six playoff series correctly, I’m not sure how much stock you should put in my World Series pick.

So let’s put away the Hollywood storyline of Manny and Joe Torre coming back to Boston. That World Series doesn’t exist. The best two teams left in baseball are Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. And it should be a fun series where all the drama happens on the diamond.

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