The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series. They got there the best possible way, too. There were no controversies, no disputed plays, no need for replay. They took on the mighty defending champion Red Sox in the franchiseÍs first Game 7 and beat them fair and square. ...
Experience is nice, but nothing beats talent. The best team in the American League is going to the World Series.
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe
WeÍre not talking about their big boys beating BostonÍs big boys. We are talking about practically every last player giving practically every last ounce of effort, right down to a 23-year-old kid with virtually no major-league experience coming in to snuff out the SoxÍ last great threat of the 2008 season.
Last pitch: 11:40 p.m. Tampa Bay went nuts in celebration at 11:41. Within 10 minutes, the Rays were circling the field, spraying fans with champagne, jumping up and high-fiving them. And who could blame them? The Rays may have been too young and dumb to realize they were supposed to choke this series away, but they sure are special.
So whatÍs to make of these Rays?
Are they another Tampa Bay team capable of spoiling another Philadelphia championship dream like the Buccaneers did to the Eagles in January of 2003 in the NFC Championship Game, and the Lightning did to the Flyers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals in May of 2004?
The Rays may have spent the vast majority of their existence off the radar, but this is a young group of players that has matured into a solid baseball team.
Philadelphia Daily News
You may be wondering: How many teams in any of the four major pro sports have had the worst record in their sport one year and won the championship of their sport the next year?
That answer is none. Zero. Nada. And only one other team since the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration has even played for a title in any of those sports Ñ the 1991 Braves.
So you could be witnessing something 100 percent unprecedented here Ñ an underdog tale for the ages. And since when did America not get wrapped up in a great underdog tale Ñ let alone the greatest underdog tale in Don ZimmerÍs lifetime?
If you donÍt care about this teamÍs fate, you donÍt deserve to call yourself a sports fan.
Jayson Stark, ESPN.com
Perhaps the Rays are young enough to shake off any hangover Ñ literal or figurative Ñ from the American League Championship Series.
Granted, they did not grow complacent after winning the AL East or after beating the White Sox in the Division Series.
But the World Series is the biggest stage of all.