The Tampa Bay Rays’ 2008 miracle season has, unfortunately, come to an end on a loss. The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Rays four games to one to win the 2008 World Series.
I have been AWOL from my blog here lately, thanks to the combination of school work and actually getting away from my computer to watch the World Series and its surrounding coverage. But, as one might have guessed, I was right there front and center with the team until that final out. I’ve seen it all, so here’s more about it.
The Rays broke the postseason records for both home runs and stolen bases. B.J. Upton was particularly strong in those categories. Well, those and double plays. Evan Longoria, before his World Series disappearing act, was a huge contributor. On the other hand, guys like Carlos Pena and Dioner Navarro looked like they had never played Major League Baseball before, striking out at record paces throughout the World Series. The team as a whole was just burned out. It wasn’t that they didn’t care, it was just that they were so deflated that it often appeared that way. Most of them were no longer the same players by the end of the season.
There were some matchups that should never have been lost. 65yearold Jamie Moyer over Matt Garza? Joe Blanton beats Andy Sonnanstine and hits a home run while doing it? Those were proRays games on paper. But just like the BCS, champions are never determined by computer systems.
John Kruk, the biggest Phillies homer on television, is probably rioting in the streets with the rest of their fans. He should be back to his ESPN desk just in time to stumble through a few words.
Congratulations Phillies, you’ll probably finish in third place next year, so enjoy this now.
And I have to mention that we still beat the Boston Red Sox. So Red Sox fans, we have the trump card if you attempt to throw this one in our faces.
We’ll be back and better next season as it is now Destination: 2009 for the Rays. They managed to lose to a team that won five fewer games playing in a weaker division, and nine fewer games in interleague play (315). Had the Rays not been an upstart team, this would have been one of the biggest upsets in World Series history. But the Rays have nobody to unload and are only stacking the deck, anything but dismantling. They will have to deal with that bullseye, but the 1992 Braves did it after their nearly identical run of 1991, so another playoff run is attainable. The Rays still had a great season, beyond the expectations of any fan or expert analyst. To turn around by 31 wins and get that far in the playoffs is unparalleled in the history of baseball, and it was by no means a fluke. I, as well as many others, will applaud their season and the playoff run, and remain optimistic for the years ahead, regardless of the Red Sox and Yankees. I will be talking a little more about this season’s amazing accomplishments and offseason moves once they start taking place.
Until next time and next season, go American League Champion Rays.