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Philadelphia Can Win, by John Kennedy Toole

It's telling that all all six of Baseball Insiders chose the Rays, in varying lengths from four to six games. In fact, it should give Phillies fans great heart, thanks to the source of the title for John Kennedy Toole's classic A Confederacy of Dunces, the masterpiece for which he won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction posthumously.

Don't worry, I'm not saying that Joe Maddon or Charlie Manuel will chose suicide if his team doesn't win, like Toole did before the publication of his novel. Rather, I'm referring to the quote that was the source of Toole's title, an epigraph from Johnathan Swift's Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting:

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

Phillies fans, that's your call.

No, I'm not calling my colleagues and myself dunces, but I am saying that sometimes when an entire group is confidently choosing one side, the other is bound to get the last laugh. After all, it was just two years ago that the St. Louis Cardinals beat a Detroit team that seemed to have a World Series parade route picked out before they played a game.

Go back and try to find an analyst who picked the Cardinals. Go ahead and try it. I can't find one.

Just because all the reasons to pick the Rays are legitimate, it doesn't mean they'll win. Sure, the Rays are young and have depth and should have better pitching, but the Phillies have a core group of veterans who are a lot less likely to flinch under pressure. The Rays didn't back down from Boston and by winning close games and blowouts, they proved they can hold together a tight game or win going away on cruise control, Game 5 excepted.

The Phillies have done exactly the same thing. They won close games and blowouts (Game 2) against the Dodgers. They overcame the Mets for the NL East title and then held them off down the stretch, thanks to a handful of bullpen collapses in New York.

Rust may slow down Philadelphia, but there's still the chance of a Rays letdown, with Tampa coasting after the biggest achievement in the franchise's brief history (the third time such a scenario has emerged, one that, in fairness, they've responded professionally to each time thus far).

Just because six writers are running with the Rays, that hardly diminishes the very good chance of a Philadelphia victory. You can thank John Kennedy Toole for that, and not just because his title could more literally reflect the histories of these two teams. After all, we're about to wade into a World Series between the only professional sports franchise with 10,000 losses (the Phillies) and one that, until this season, had been utterly inept since its inception.

Now, sit back and enjoy the World Series, and try to figure out who's playing the role of Ignatius J. Reilly. And before you ask, yes, umpires can be considered.

By Cameron Smith  |  October 22, 2008; 3:53 PM ET
Categories:  Cardinals , Phillies , Rays , Tigers  
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Next: Game 1 Lineups: Coste and Aybar at DH


I think that Ingatius told us that the real world series happened in the first round.

Posted by: Chris | October 22, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

GO Phillies!!! This is the biggest thing to happen for the men in my family in a long time!! They couldn't be happier!!!

Posted by: Philly fever | October 22, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Kazmir to Earth: "I'm back!"

Why couldn't you pitch like this two starts ago! Oh, you did.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 22, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this posting, as I've gotten nauseated reading all the Rays love in the Post's pixels. You all were writing with such drool and pitter-patter affection, I was beginning to wonder if you all were confusing Evan Longoria for Eva . . .

It'll be a close series either way - this thing is going six games, at least. But the disproportionate praise for the Rays can mean only one thing - a parade on South Broad Street, baby!

Posted by: Philly Phan in Phairfax | October 22, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

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