Times staff writers Eduardo A. Encina and Joe Smith contributed to this report.
The wrong stuff in right
The Rays wasted no time getting on the scoreboard — with a helping hand from rightfielder Jayson Werth. After Akinori Iwamura led off the first with a walk, B.J. Upton stepped to the plate. Wednesday in Game 1, he hit into two double plays — the second with the bases loaded — and fouled out with a runner at second. After falling behind 0-and-2, Upton ripped a single into right. Werth could have held Iwamura at second. But he bobbled then dropped the ball, allowing both runners to advance an extra base. And the Rays immediately made Werth and the Phillies pay for the error. Carlos Pena hit a routine grounder to shortstop Jimmy Rollins — a sure double play if Upton had been on first — and Iwamura scored easily for a 1-0 lead. Upton moved to third, and Evan Longoria followed with another grounder to Rollins, whose only play was to first as Upton raced home for a quick 2-0 lead.
Pizza man ready to deliver
John Keiley, the Colorado pizzeria owner who has promised free pies if the Rays win the World Series, flew into town Thursday to attend Game 2. Now you might think Keiley would be a little worried about a financial hit. But the transplanted New Yorker says he couldn't be happier.
"We definitely want to do it," said the owner of Johnny's New York Pizza & Pasta shop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.
For one thing, he has no love for the Red Sox or Yankees.
"Plus, I'm an old Mets fan," he said. "So I'd like to see them beat the Phillies."
Keiley, 48, already has made good on two proclamations, when the Rockies swept a series from the Yankees last year and when the Patriots finished the 2007 NFL's regular season 16-0. The Patriots cost him 1,500 pies, the Rockies about 2,500 (between $12,000-$15,000). But Keiley recouped a good chunk of the, well, dough through free advertising. This giveaway could be as big as the Rockies one because "everybody in Colorado knows about it," he said.
If it happens, Keiley has set Nov. 4 as the day to hand out pizza. He expects to need an extra 500 pounds of dough, 600 pounds of cheese and 300 pounds of pepperoni. And he has another idea cooking.
"If they win it, there's a chance we may open up a small store here," Keiley said. "Then we give away free pizzas on opening day."
The World Sandwich Series
It's a grilled cheese concoction vs. a custom cheeseburger for culinary bragging rights. The Pop Shop, located just outside of Philadelphia in Collingswood, N.J., has challenged longtime St. Petersburg burger joint Chattaway's in a World Series throwdown. The rules are simple: The restaurant that sells more of its special sandwiches earns Series Sandwich bragging rights and a plaque. In addition, each will kick in $1 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the national campaign to fight breast cancer, for each sandwich sold. The Pop Shop has the Phillies Phever Grilled Cheese, a four-decker grilled cheese creation on a split South Philly soft pretzel. (The four layers signify the hope for a four-game sweep.) It also includes hand-carved Philly-style beef, Cheez Whiz, onion rings — symbolizing World Series rings — and horseradish sauce. Batting for Chattaway's is the B.J. Upton Burger, a hamburger topped with bacon and Jarlsberg cheese (for B and J), on a fresh wheat roll with a "Mohawk" down the middle.
Selig to consider fewer off days
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday he might eliminate some off days in an effort to shorten the postseason. Because the 2009 regular season doesn't start until April 5, Game 7 of the World Series would be Nov. 5 if changes aren't made.
"We've got to look at trying to … maybe not having so many off days and days when you have only one (playoff) game," Selig said at Tropicana Field.
Selig said playing more day games on the weekends is not an option, citing poor TV ratings for afternoon games. The other problem is networks are locked into football coverage on weekend afternoons.
Hey, isn't that Fred Lynn?
Indeed. The former Red Sox star centerfield — the AL rookie of the year and MVP in 1975 — was surrounded by cameras Thursday before the game. Turns out he serves as spokesman for the MLB Rookie of the Month Award. Fans got to vote during the season, and one fan won a trip to the World Series, the nine-time All-Star explained.
So what does he think of the Rays and the Trop?
"I like the Tampa Bay Rays, hate the park," he said. "I'm not a big fan of indoor baseball. I want to see sky. If it's raining on me, I don't care. I don't do indoor baseball very well. But I do like the team a lot and like the fact that they're in the World Series."
For five years, Andy Freed and Tom McCarthy worked side by side calling games for the Double-A Trenton (N.J.) Thunder. In fact, McCarthy also worked as assistant general manager of the team and hired Freed for the job in 1996. The two paid their dues with long bus trips through the bush leagues and eventually made their way to the big leagues.
Now they are meeting in the World Series: Freed in the radio booth for the Rays and McCarthy part of the Phillies' TV crew.
"It's pretty incredible," Freed said. "When you ride on the buses and drive all around the minors like we did for five years, you really get to know a person and share your dreams and your fears. And the fact that we both made it is just mind-boggling."
Freed went on to work for the Triple-A Pawtucket (R.I.) Red Sox from 2001-04 before joining the Rays in 2005 to work with broadcast partner Dave Wills. Meanwhile, McCarthy moved on to the Phillies to work radio pre- and postgame shows for five years, spent two seasons doing play-by-play for the Mets and rejoined the Phillies this year.
Wednesday, McCarthy had Freed on his pregame show. Thursday, Freed returned the favor.
"Andy's big time. To me, he is one of the best in the business," McCarthy said.
"As soon as we hired him, I knew he was a major-league broadcaster."
The World Series is not only a showcase for the Rays and Phillies, but — apparently — FieldTurf. A company spokesman, Chip Namias, was at Tropicana Field (one of three stadiums with the surface) asking players for their thoughts on the product.
"The Phillies hadn't played on turf since July 7, 2006. But in talking to some of the players, they actually love the way it plays because the ball doesn't take any bad hops," Namias said. "It's almost like fielding a ball off a pool table.
"For us, this is tremendous. Ten years ago, nobody knew what it was. And in 10 years, we've had a Super Bowl on FieldTurf (in Detroit), a World Series on FieldTurf and a World Cup (soccer) on FieldTurf. It's come a long way in a decade."
Trip of a lifetime
For about a dozen Detroit area teens, Thursday's trip to Tropicana Field was extra special. Several members from three Detroit area youth baseball teams (for RBI, "Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities") flew down Thursday morning to catch Game 2 and be honored in a pregame ceremony with Carl Crawford.
One Detroit RBI team beat a team from St. Petersburg to win their World Series, allowing them to get the toughest ticket in town.
"It's really exciting. It's an opportunity of a lifetime," said Cbasthon Alvarado, 15, who plays "all nine" positions.
Alvarado and coach Steven Brown pointed to how many African-American stars were playing in this Series, including the Phillies' Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins and Rays' B.J. Upton and Crawford, as inspirational.
"They're great role models," Alvarado said. "It makes you think, 'I can do it, too.' "
Rays no fluke
Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, said the Rays' rise from worst to first is "a great signal for the entire industry." And DuPuy said their success could have some staying power and boost the area as a baseball market.
"It's an exciting young team. It's got great young players," DuPuy said. "The success these guys have had in September and October, they have to go into spring training, thinking, 'We can compete. We can compete year after year.' It's not a fluke. It wasn't like, 'Oh, we made the playoffs, and we got knocked out in three games.' They're in the World Series. And there's no reason why it shouldn't energize the entire community."
Baldelli's collision at home
After scoring in the first, the Rays were at it again in the second. Dioner Navarro started the action with a sharp one-out single to center. Next up was Rocco Baldelli. He worked the count to 3-and-2 then started to swing. Was it Strike 3? Plate umpire Kerwin Danley deferred to first-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who ruled Baldelli checked his swing in time for a walk — much to the dismay of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Moments later, Jason Bartlett's infield hit loaded the bases. And following Akinori Iwamura's popout to short, B.J. Upton belted his second single to right. Navarro scored easily. Baldelli sprinted around third and charged toward home. But this time, Jayson Werth, who committed a first-inning error, was up to the challenge. His throw to Carlos Ruiz was right to the plate. Baldelli barreled into Ruiz in a hard collision, doing his best to jar the ball loose. But Ruiz held on for the third out.