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Best Guess: Rays In Six

If it were up to me, I would have left well enough alone, and continued reveling in accurately predicting both the league championship series. Getting a prediction right is about as common for me as a Haley's Comet sighting, or witnessing a Brandon Fahey home run. But my editor insists, so here goes:

I say the Tampa Bay Rays will win the World Series in six games. There are several reasons behind my prediction. Do any of them make much sense? Well, that's debatable.

1.) Without a doubt, the National League has been the inferior circuit, continuing a trend that I'm convinced isn't close to ending. Can the Phillies say they've beaten an opponent as tough as Tampa in the playoffs? Uh, no. But can the Rays say they've beaten a team in the playoffs that's probably better top-to-bottom than the Phillies? Yes, in fact, they just did.

To further rip the National League, let's look at the top five teams (by record) in the entire N.L. and stack them up against only the teams in the A.L. East. You can make the argument that this is probably an oversimplification. But even if that's so, frankly, should the level of quality on first glance be this close?

Beasts of the East
Tampa Bay 97-65
Boston 95-67
N.Y. Yankees 89-73
Toronto 86-76
Baltimore 68-93

NL "Best"
Chicago 97-64
Philadelphia 92-70
Milwaukee 90-72
N.Y. Mets 89-73
Houston 86-75

Indeed, the Orioles are like a rusted junk car parked on the lawn of a mansion. But even lowly, lowly Baltimore managed to beat up on the sorry NL. In fact, the O's had series victories this year against two of the NL's top five.

2.) While the Phillies have benefited from not facing the best team in its weak league (oh, those Cubbies), the Rays have silenced doubters by closing out the defending world champs despite losing the momentum in the series. To win the A.L. East the way the Rays did already showed me plenty about their grit. The ALCS only reinforced what we should have known: these Rays, above all, are tough.

3.) I'll repeat what I've said consistently since the start of the playoffs. The Rays were the best team I saw this year.

The Phillies, to their credit, have reached this point despite their top power hitter doing anything. (I mean, there's always legitimate matter for concern when Ryan Howard's best postseason performance has so far been in that awful Subway commercial.) But they haven't seen anything like the Rays.

By Marc Carig  |  October 22, 2008; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Phillies , Rays  
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Next: Philadelphia Can Win, by John Kennedy Toole


Phillies will win in five or six, but I like your analysis and rumbling about AL vs. NL.

I think it is time that MLB adopt a schedule not unlike the NFL's, with greater mingling between the conferences/leagues, opponents chosen on basis of previous season's record. That might provide a little more parity and opportunity for comparison.

If the leagues have more playtime against each other, I'd also like to see a postseason structure based on record, not league or divisions. Yes, it messes with baseball tradition - which I tend to defend - but it might provide a better postseason product. Get the teams with the best records, rather than the winners of (sometimes extremely weak) divisions playing each other.

Posted by: Philly Phan in Phairfax | October 22, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"I'd also like to see a postseason structure based on record, not league or divisions."

Hey, I'm all for that - anything to ensure the Yankees get into the post-season where they belong, rather than pretenders like the Rays who get hot for a month or six.

Posted by: Yanks Fan in Serious Denial | October 22, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

So the NL is worst?

you look at those top 5s. Ummmm Os are # 5 with a pitiful record?

So maybe the AL is just completely horrible and the top 3 teams beat up on the rest of the lowly NL.

All of the NL top 5 have over .500 records. Phils have played all of those teams pretty well.

Oh, and wasnt Boston just completely beat up by the end of the ALCS?

Posted by: JD | October 22, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Im sure the Os had winning series against many teams "better" than them.

Does that make those teams worse?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

You embarass me every time you make a post like that. As Carig said, "let's look at the top five teams (by record) in the entire N.L. and stack them up against only the teams in the A.L. East." He included the ridiculous and ridiculable O's not because he was selecting the 5 best AL teams, but because his point is that the cream of the NL would have trouble competing in the AL East over a season. For further emphasis, he pointed that the O's, as bad as they are, held their own against the NL iron. He did not even bother to pick the 5 best AL teams and include the LAA, Twins, or ChiSox because that'd be overkill.

Having said that, of course the Phils can win. They have an AL-style batting order, a great bullpen, and at least one dominant starter matched up twice against a question mark. Spot any team 2 wins in a seven game series, and even the Nats could knock off the Rays (when the Nats are healthy, and the rotation is set up right, and they have gotten rid of the guys who could not play but were being showcased, and ...).

Posted by: JD's reading teacher | October 22, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the scary thing for the Rays is that Howard hasnt even begun to wake up. If he gets going, watch out. Its over.

Posted by: Tommmy | October 22, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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