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UGH, RAYS IN SERIES? NO THANKS

All of my life I've waited to see a Phillies-Yankees World Series.

Having begun my baseball life with Richie Ashburn in centerfield and Puddin' Head Jones at third, I regarded the Yankees as a mortal enemy.

The Yankees of the 1950s weren't a baseball team, or even a sports franchise - they were an undefinable monstrosity, something like world communism.

The Phillies botched their chance to slay this monster in 1964, and most of us have been waiting ever since.

I'd have been glad to play the Red Sox, or even the White Sox. Even Detroit or Cleveland or another I-95 series with Baltimore.

But no - it has become the Phillies' lot to play foil for a bunch of expansion teams. The Kansas City Royals or the Toronto Blue Jays. The Colorado Rockies, even.

Now, the ultimate humiliation, a looming matchup with the Tampa Bay "don't call us Devil" Rays.

I admit I follow baseball a bit tepidly. It comes way behind real sports such as the NFL, Penn State football, NASCAR or the Iditarod.

But even by the standards of a casual fan, the Rays are magically obscure. Even now, I can name only three Tampa Bayers - Evan Longoria, Rocco Baldelli and Joe Maddon, who has retired the trophy for most anonymous manager to reach a league championship series.

Worse, a Tampa Bay matchup would be fraught with danger for the Phillies. If they win, naysayers will claim "you only beat the former Devil Rays. Who the heck are they?" And if they lose, it'll be 1964 all over again.

Oh, well. Right now, it's better than being a Noo Yawka or a Noo Inglandah!

Post a comment for Don McKee at go.philly.com/askmckee, or by e-mail at dmckee@phillynews.com

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