Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series begins tonight

  • The World Series begins tonight. Let's hope for the best.
The World Series:
  • two vaunted teams with rich baseball histories,

  • a couple of well-known and wiley managers,

  • big stars on both sides set to make each inning a drama-filled delight,

  • a bit of controversy or personal animus thrown in just to spice things up.
Well, maybe next year.

The Tampa Bay Rays host the Philadelphia Phillies in the first game of the World Series tonight in what could very well be an excellent seven-game set of baseball dramas.

That's the hope.

The Phillies have Ryan Howard, a young slugger who hasn't done much yet in the postseason. They also boast of several other better-than-average players who have had good years.

The Rays have David Price, a huge left-handed pitcher on the mound tonight, to match fastballs and wits with these guys. The Rays have a pretty good manager and a team of young potentials who put together an amazing year after a truly awful year in 2007.

But the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies?

Neither team has a history worthy of baseball's last act of the year.

The Tampa Bay Rays were once known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But that was a long time ago -- like, last year. So much for tradition.

The Philadelphia Phillies have been around for quite a while, but who knew? For a good part of their history, they were the second team in Philadelphia, always second fiddle to Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. The Phillies have never shown up much in post-season play, and you don't need one hand full of fingers to count their World Series appearances, much less championships.

I was in Philadelphia several years ago when the Phillies were playing in the old Veterans Stadium. It wasn't a great trip. It included an encounter with an usher who thought he was Idi Amin and who looked like he would eat me if I didn't follow his unreasonable commands.

The game was less than compelling so I wandered around the interior of the stadium and came upon a plaque that named the All-Time Phillies team, or something of that nature.

This should be good, I told myself, and it was.

Mike Schmidt, of course, was listed as the third baseman, and Robin Roberts headed the Phillies pitching history. Both legit stars, Hall of Famers.

But at shortstop, there was Larry Bowa. Larry Bowa? The Phillies have been around for a century or so, and the best they could do at that position was Larry Bowa? To me, that spoke volumes about the Phillies.

But, I should stop my unfair riffs against the Phillies and enjoy the games, right? Right.

So who will win? (Now starts the riff against sports journalists.)

I think one of the silliest things in sports journalism is for writers to make predictions. They don't know what's going to happen. Neither do I. Neither do the players.

That, as they say, is why they play the games.

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