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World Series Game 5: Plays worth another look

A fundamental reason

Manager Joe Maddon said he has always believed the Rays could compete in the American League East with big spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox as long as they were playing fundamental baseball. Maddon said he felt that way from the beginning, when they were perennial cellar-dwellers and had a long way to go.

"If you had seen us the first year, we were the exact opposite — we were the most nonfundamental team I had ever seen in my life," Maddon said. "I couldn't even put a play on because the guys couldn't even get signals. I mean simple stuff. And I'm not over­exaggerating. This is the truth."

Election predictor?

The World Series champion often correlates to the presidential winner through the decades. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Coopers­town, there have been 25 presidential elections spanning the history of baseball since 1906. In 15 cases — 60 percent — the results of the Series and the election produce this result: If the American League team wins, the presidential choice will be Republican. If the National League team wins, the president will be a Democrat. Since 1906, the AL holds a 17-8 advantage over the NL, and Republicans have been elected 17 times, Democrats 8.

Philly fan update

Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked about the unpleasant behavior of a segment of Philly fans in his Monday news conference — a situation described in the St. Petersburg Times by Sports columnist John Romano and picked up by Maddon had complained to Phillies officials that even his young granddaughter had mustard packs thrown at her Saturday and there were widespread reports of aggressive, profane and unruly actions. Had the situation gotten any better at Sunday's game?

"There's still the typical stuff that happens anywhere, and I wasn't concerned as much about that," he said. "Like I said, throwing items at a 7-year-old is not really good behavior. I don't think anybody can argue that point. So yeah, I thought it was better. I know the Philly people very well, particularly Ruben Amaro Jr.; he and I go way back when he was a player in the Angels' system. I understand they were doing everything possible. I know it's been well documented in the past. I've attended events here as a fan myself. But when it strikes home at your family, then you have to say something. I think somebody has to make a stand at some point. And I think we did in the right way."

Phillies playing power ball

The Rays have been getting plenty of attention for postseason home runs, setting the American League record with 25 through 15 playoff games heading into Monday's Game 5. Their 16 homers in the ALCS were the most in league championship history. But the Phillies have muscled their way to an impressive home run feat of their own. Their nine blasts through the first four World Series games is the second highest total since 1970, ranking only behind the 2002 Giants (14). In fact, the Phillies entered Monday's game tied with the 1977 Dodgers and 1989 A's for the second most over the past 38 years.

Manuel reflects on Martin

During his playing days, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel played outfield on Minnesota Twins teams managed by fiery and feisty Billy Martin. He remembers the late skipper fondly. "I think about him a lot, because I always felt like he was close," Manuel said. "He bought me my first suit."

But Manuel also remembers fireworks with Martin's explosive personality. "We used to fight him," he said. "He used to love to fight us. He was a little guy (but) he was fast and quick. .… I remember the first time we went to Yankee Stadium. For some reason he was always hanging around me. And he points up there on the façade in rightfield. … We're talking about somebody really hitting a ball further than I can imagine. And he says, 'You see that façade up there?' I said, 'Yeah, I see it.' He goes, 'Mantle, that's where Mantle hit a ball. … And I said, 'Ain't no way.' He went off and hit me upside the head. And he cursed and said, 'I was on second base. Don't tell me.' I will never forget that."

Now batting for Daryl Hall … John Oates

Veteran rocker and Philly area native Daryl Hall was scheduled to sing the national anthem Monday night. But an illness forced him to cancel at the last second. Not to worry. John Oates, the other half of legendary classic rock duo Hall and Oates, was more than ready to pinch hit.

Oates got the news at 8 a.m. in Aspen, Colo., and immediately swung into action. "I had a really bad night last night — one of those nights where I woke up at 4 a.m. and fell back to sleep into one of those dead kind of sleeps — and all of sudden, my wife starts shaking me and saying, 'You gotta go to Philadelphia,' " he said. "I thought she was kidding me. I thought she was just trying to get me out of bed. And then she said, 'No, no, Daryl got sick, you've gotta sing the national anthem at the World Series.'"

The native of North Wales, Pa., 25 miles north of Philadelphia, jumped in the shower and was at the airport 30 minutes later. He made it to Denver with no problem but learned that his noon connection to Philly was delayed. "I said, 'That's it, I'm not going to make it,' because we were cutting it close as it was," he said. But then he noticed another flight leaving 20 minutes later. He bolted for the gate and got the last seat in the back row — a center one that didn't recline, at that. "I guess it was meant to be," he said.

It wasn't exactly the kind of day Oates, a big Phillies fan who played youth baseball, was expecting. "I was actually looking forward to watching Daryl sing it," he said. "I was quite happy to stay home and watch the game on TV. But now I'm in it. It's fantastic. It's very exciting."

As for singing in front of the notoriously tough home crowd, he smiled. "They better love me," he said. "I'm counting on it."

Oates counted right. Asking the crowd to sing along, he delivered a beautiful rendition and earned a booming ovation befitting a Philly boy who made good.

Working overtime

Mike Longoria, father of Rays All-Star rookie third baseman Evan Longoria, has tried to make the cross-country trip from Southern California to catch as many Rays playoff games as he can. To do so, the elder Longoria has had to put in his share of overtime at Long Beach School District, where he works in the paint shop.

"I'm right on the line as far as time goes," he said. "But it's worth it."

What's in a date

Turns out that Oct. 27 is most common date for the end of the World Series in the past 40 years — happening on eight occasions heading into Game 5 Monday night. The most recent occurrence was in 2006 when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers in five games, and previously in 2004, 2002, 1999, 1995, 1991, 1986 and 1985.

Best of both worlds

Safe to say, Bucs director of public relations Jeff Kamis has been a staple for Jon Gruden's Monday morning news conferences since 2002. But this week, Gruden made a special exception, allowing Kamis to make a morning flight to Philadelphia to catch the Rays and Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series. He was joined by his father, Richard, and his sister, Alisa.

Kamis, 36, grew up in New Jersey as a diehard Phillies fan, making many trips to the old Veterans Stadium. But since moving to Florida for the Bucs job, Kamis has closely followed the Rays pennant run, attending Games 1 and 2 of the World Series at Tropicana Field.

So who was he rooting for from his seats way up in Section 423? "I'm rooting for both teams," Kamis said, smiling. "It's the best of both worlds, a win-win situation."

Victorino's big hit

Rays starter Scott Kazmir got into trouble early. After getting leadoff man Jimmy Rollins to fly out, he walked Jayson Werth and hit Chase Utley, whose plate-crowding stance has produced 52 hit-by-pitches this year. Kazmir recovered, striking out dangerous cleanup hitter Ryan Howard. But then he walked Pat Burrell, with balls three and four coming oh-so-close to the strike zone (called tightly by umpire Larry Kellogg). The stage was set for centerfielder Shane Victorino, batting .278 in the postseason with 11 RBIs. Make that 13 RBIs. His hard single to left scored Werth and Utley, staking the Phillies to a 2-0 lead — exactly the kind of start the Rays didn't want. Kazmir yielded a short single to Pedro Feliz, but he escaped without further damage when Carlos Ruiz flied out.

Pena, Longoria break through

The Rays finally showed signs of a life in the top of the fourth inning against Phillies ace Cole Hamels. Slumping first baseman Carlos Pena, moved from the third spot to cleanup, blasted a shot that hit the top of the rightfield wall and bounced onto the grass for a double. It was Pena's first hit of the World Series. Evan Longoria, moved from cleanup to the fifth spot, followed with his first hit of the Series. His sharp single to left drove in Pena and cut the Rays' deficit to 2-1.

World Series Game 5: Plays worth another look 10/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 7:35pm]
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