Here in Tampa Bay, it might be a worst-case World Series. On one side, there are the Phillies, who snuffed out the Rays' championship dreams last season. On the other side, it's the Yankees — the team Rays fans hate most, along with the Red Sox. So, what's a Rays fan to do? What should you root for other than hoping it snows so much that they have to cancel the whole thing? With that, we give you what to root for in this World Series as well as an inside look at the Fox coverage.
3 reasons to root for the Phillies
1. They're not the Yankees.
Think about it, Rays fan. Think of all those times Yankees fans flood Tropicana Field when the Yankees play here. Think of how much more obnoxious they'll be if the Yankees come in next season as defending champs.
2. They train in Clearwater.
The Phillies have longer active local ties than any major-league team, having trained in Clearwater since 1947. The Yankees train in Tampa now and used to train in St. Petersburg. But they also spent many years in South Florida. If the Rays didn't exist, the Phillies probably would be considered our team, at least in Pinellas County.
3. It will make the Rays loss in 2008 hurt less.
If the Phillies can win back-to-back World Series titles, they'll be the first National League team do it since the Big Red Machine of 1975-76. If the Phillies win, at least Rays fans can look back at the 2008 World Series and not feel bad about losing to one of the best NL teams ever. Oh, one final reason: Phils skipper Charlie Manuel, left, seems like a decent guy.
3 reasons to root for the Yankees
1. They're not the Phillies.
Think of how depressing it will be driving past Bright House Field on U.S. 19 on your way to a Rays game and seeing a big sign saying, "Spring home of the three-time World Series champion Phillies.''
2. They're from the American League.
Baseball tradition says you're either a National League person or an American League person, and your affiliation is determined by which league your team is in. Thus, Rays fans, by tradition, are supposed to root for the Yankees. Plus, don't you like telling others that your team plays in baseball's toughest division? A Yankees victory would cement that assertion.
3. They have Derek Jeter.
It doesn't matter how much you hate the Yankees, how can anyone dislike Jeter? He plays the game hard, he plays it with respect and despite being one of the biggest sports stars in the world for the past 13 years, you never hear about any shenanigans off the field. How can you not respect that? Plus, he lives in Tampa in the offseason.
Three other things to root for in this World Series
m 1. That the Yankees, win or lose, get nothing out of Alex Rodriguez.
Anyone, even a Yankees fan, who pulls for A-Rod, above, to do well should be ashamed of himself or, at the very least, lose his right to ever complain about performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Have we already forgotten what happened in the spring when it was proven that A-Rod tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs? The guy was a cheater, plain and simple.
2. That bad weather somehow affects play.
Okay, it would be a shame if that actually happened, but playing games this late in the year is ridiculous. It seems like Major League Baseball only makes changes after something bad happens. Remember the tied All-Star Game in 2002 that forced baseball to assure no more ties by awarding homefield advantage in the World Series to the league that wins? Well, we need a popup lost in snow flurries or something to get baseball to fix the schedule so we're not playing in between cold fronts.
3. That it's good.
That seems obvious, but it has been a while since the Fall Classic was actually a classic. The past five World Series have been dogs, all decided in four or five games. The last seven-game series was 2002 when the Angels beat the Giants. Of the past 20 World Series, only four have gone to a seventh game, while seven have been sweeps. We're due for a few late nights on the edge of our chairs.
Complaint of the day
If broadcasters had a nickel for every time someone complained they were biased against one team or another, they would have, well, a lot of nickels. It's a common condition. Fans watch games and are convinced the broadcasters either hate their team or want the other team to win. And there couldn't be a sillier notion.
"We get excited when good plays happen and get critical when bad plays happen,'' said Joe Buck, who will call the World Series for Fox. "It doesn't matter which team we're getting excited about, and it doesn't matter which team we are getting critical of. I think any fan that is living and dying with every pitch is an easily explained phenomenon. They want the voices they hear to think and act like they do. I think it's only human nature. When they don't hear that or they don't hear their local announcers who do the games for them during the course of the summer and they're hearing it from someone who has a different point of view, I think their radar goes up and it's like, 'Clearly this guy is against my team.' I can tell you, I don't think like that."
The only folks happier than those in Philadelphia and New York about this World Series matchup is Fox. You have the marquee team in all of sports from the biggest U.S. market (Yankees) taking on the defending champions from the nation's fourth-largest market (Phillies). Believe it or not, a Yankees-Phillies World Series might even be better for Fox than a Yankees-Dodgers series would have been.
"During Turner's NLCS coverage, there were actually more viewers in Philadelphia watching that series, even though it's a smaller market, than were watching in Los Angeles,'' Fox Sports president Ed Goren said. "On top of everything else you have a team looking to win back-to-back World Series."
Number of the day
12 World Series, including this one, called by Fox's Joe Buck. Incredibly, that ties him with Vin Scully and Curt Gowdy for most by a play-by-play announcer on a national television broadcast.
"I'm lucky, and I don't consider myself in that category with those two guys,'' Buck, right, said. "Those two guys are the standard by which all others are measured. I'm certainly not in that category just because I've had some longevity. I've just been the lucky guy, and longevity doesn't equal greatness, and in my mind greatness is the other two guys and certainly continues with Vin Scully to this day. I'm not even in that same sentence. I just feel fortunate to be able to call my 12th."
One would assume that Buck will smash the record and set one that might never be broken. He is only 40 years old. Meantime, Fox's Tim McCarver will be working his 20th World Series as a color analyst.
Bleep of the day
The first thought that came to mind when Fox announced it had hired colorful White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as a studio analyst for the World Series was, "Is there a seven-second delay?'' Let's put it this way: If Guillen's vocabulary were a movie, it would be rated R. But he isn't worried he will slip up on national TV. "I don't really curse and say bad things when I'm not with my team,'' Guillen said. "Don't worry, I'm not going to curse. I only curse when Chicago media is around me."