Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008 World Series Preview

Think back to April 1, and all the baseball predictions you read.

Could you honestly tell me that you found somewhere that predicted the 2008 World Series would be the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies?


Don't worry, me either.

Still, this is what the end of October holds for us baseball fans, and despite the historical legacies of both teams, this series looks like it'll be a good one.

Both teams are scrappy, feisty--getting the hits and the pitches when they need to, but making you bite your nails the rest of the time. Both teams have an unquestionable hunger--Philadelphia hasn't won a major sports championship since the early 1980s (and the times they've come close, outside of baseball, defeat seems to come at the hands of Tampa, who knew?), and Tampa, to some, still has to prove that the Rays are for real.

So, what to look for? Who will win?

Let's start with pitching.

Philadelphia has an unquestionable ace in Cole Hamels, but outside of that, in Myers, Blanton and Moyer, you're looking at pitchers that can be very...well...hittable. There's no question the pitching staff can get it done, or else they wouldn't be here, but they'll make you sweat for it. In terms of the bullpen, Brad Lidge has a ridiculous saves streak going, but like the rest of the pitching staff, he'll make you sweat before getting the final out.

Tampa's "ace", Scott Kazmir, has not emerged as the number one starter for the Rays in the postseason. Instead, James Shields has emerged as their "big game" starter, and it was Matt Garza that pitched a gem in Game Seven of the ALCS. As for the Rays' bullpen...well, you remember Game Five well enough, right? Tampa has David Price. They shouldn't be shy about using him.

As for hitting...

Philadelphia's hitters have, on the whole, been around longer than Tampa's and are thus more veteran, although this doesn't necesarily imply better. Chase Utley, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard can all hit the ball a mile, but none of them are averse to striking out--especially not Howard. In the NLCS, Shane Victorino emerged as a somewhat unlikely hero, it will be interesting to see if the "Flyin' Hawaiian" can keep the juices flowing in the World Series.

Tampa's gotten to the point it his on the back and long fly balls of BJ Upton and Evan Longoria. Okay, so the others have helped as well, but the amount of home runs that have come off the bat of those two this month is insane, and, I believe, record-setting. Against Philadelphia pitching, with the exception of Cole Hamels, you have to imagine that this could be a powder (power?) keg type of situation.

So, while I will be rooting for the Phillies--I've got at least three friends who are admitted Phillies fans--my prediction, like everyone else's so far, will be the Rays in six.

In which case, we'd better start preparing for the apocalypse.

1 comment:

  1. Philadelphia yes. Tampa Bay - no way. I do hope the Phillies win.
    I also hope that next season the Rays pitchers are not as effective (like the Tigers young pitchers a few years ago) due to pitching so many innings this year. It has got to catch up sometime.