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COMIC GETS KICK OUT OF RAYS' RISE

Rob Schneider has become a post-season fixture with the Rays. His comedic bit made its debut on the Tropicana Field scoreboard against the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series, with the former Saturday Night Live cast member, movie star and director singing the Rays' praises.

"You can do it ..." he proclaims, referencing his catchphrase from the 1998 film The Waterboy with Adam Sandler. Anyone at the Trop for Game 2 of the World Series heard Schneider sing something else: a rousing rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

Simply put, the 44-year-old Californian has adopted the Rays.

"It's a great group of young players and a great young owner - this, to me, is the best sports story since the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980," said Schneider, who planned to make the trip to Philadelphia for Saturday's Game 3. "This isn't like the Florida Marlins, where they bought all these expensive players and then dismantled the team. This team came up from nothing."

The Rays first caught Schneid-er's attention last year, when he noticed them beating the Yankees. But it wasn't until June that he became hooked.

"They made some offseason acquisitions that made them look like geniuses," he said. "So in June, I started looking at the box score every day. And then, I just got the fever. I became a fan, where I would feel pain (over losses) and couldn't talk to anybody, wouldn't answer my phone. That's a fan."

There's something else Schneider especially likes about the Rays. "With all the steroid stuff, you don't even hear a whisper of it with them," he said. "All you hear is this is a young team that's playing really hard and well together and making every other team look like old, beat-up ball teams."

So what led him to film a personal, ingame pep talk? Schneid-er explains that he did several Tampa Bay area radio shows in June and conveyed his support and encouragement to Rays officials. "Then they tried to have me come out a few weeks ago and I couldn't make it, because I was filming a movie," he said. Instead, he filmed the "You can do it" spot in his back yard.

"I sent three people all over Los Angeles to go out and find me a Rays jersey, and none of them could get one, so I just drew it myself," he said.

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