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Prediction Time

All year, the Rays have been the team that logic couldn't topple. They exceeded 70 wins for the first time in franchise history; they prevailed in a division composed of baseball's two biggest heavyweights; they withstood the crucible of a pennant race, despite one of the youngest and most inexperienced rosters. And seemingly, every time the Rays reached one benchmark -- a first-place spot at the all-star break... the 71st win! ... a playoff berth -- a larger benchmark awaited. Thus, the Rays went through the year in an absurd cycle: Every time they took a step to establish themselves, more and more people found reason to doubt them. (Final example: Who really believed the young Rays could avoid the total Game 7 collapse against Boston, after their ungluing in Game 5 made it seem so inevitable?)

Well, the Rays have finally convinced me. No challenge is too out-sized. No accomplishment is too improbable. For the World Series, I think the Phillies are a stronger team. Cole Hamels is better than any pitcher Tampa can throw. Philadelphia can slug unlike any team in the league. The Phillies' bullpen is decidedly stronger than Tampa's.

And yes -- that's why Tampa is my pick to the win the Series in six.

They have no reason to win this series, and having no reason hasn't stopped them yet.

By Chico Harlan  |  October 21, 2008; 12:40 PM ET
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Next: Conflict of (My) Interests. But It's the Rays!

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