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2008 Playoffs
World Series Preview
October 22, 2008

Just as everyone expected, it's the dominant, deep-pocketed Tampa Bay Rays meeting the perennial front runner Philadelphia Phillies once again in the World Series.  Ho hum.  See?  Even though it's fun to hate the Yankees or root against the Red Sox, it's great to have some fresh faces in the Fall Classic.  It's certainly not going to be the ratings darling Fox was hoping for (Cubs-Red Sox? Red Sox-Dodgers? White Sox-Cubs?  Anyone else but the Rays?), but in the long run, it's good for baseball.  Money ALWAYS helps, but teams like the Rays show that success can be developed from within if patience is used.  Lots of patience.

Since I have been brutally wrong on my predictions all year (Seattle in the World Series?!), I will make it up to you by not only predicting the World Series correctly but also giving you a game by game breakdown so you know exactly what will happen when.
Philadelphia vs. Tampa Bay
Scott Kazmir pitches well, but Cole Hamels doesn't give up a hit until the 5th inning.  The game is close, but Tampa's bullpen give up a couple runs and Brad Lidge nails down the save.  Pat Burrell's home run will help the Phillies to a 4-1 victory in Game 1

Brett Myers loses control early as the Rays' bats finally come alive.  Longoria homers and Myers doesn't make it past the 5th inning.  James Shields is unspectacular but effective.  Utley knocks in a couple, but the Rays build a lead they hang on to this time.  The final score is 8-4 in favor of Tampa Bay.

The series moves to Philadelphia and the place is jacked.  Unfortunately for the Phillies, Jamie Moyer just doesn't have it tonight.  Rocco Baldelli comes through at the plate and Carl Crawford makes a nice catch in left to stifle an early Philly rally.  Garza outlasts Moyer, and Lidge will have to wait another day to pitch in front of the hometown fans.  David Price strikes out Ryan Howard, putting an exclamation on Tampa's 10-strikeout performance en route to a 7-2 victory.

This one is a slugfest.  Sonnanstine can't solve Philly's lefty bats, as Utley, Howard, and even Matt Stairs get into the act tonight.  Joe Blanton isn't much better, though, as he gives B.J. Upton the first inside fastball he has seen all series long.  Upton doesn't hit it out of the park, but he does knock in a couple runs.  The lead changes hands several times, and even Brad Lidge gives up a run.  He is still on the mound when the game ends, however, as Philly ties up the series with a 9-8 win.

In a rematch of Game 1 starters, both pitchers are a little less effective in what turns out to be the best game of the series so far.  Hamels outpitches Kazmir but leaves the game without the lead thanks to an error by Burrell.  Jimmy Rollins gets on base three times and causes fits for Kazmir, stealing a base, scoring twice, and knocking in a run.  Grant Balfour doesn't have it tonight as he gives up the lead in the bottom of the 7th.  Longoria hits his second home run of the series, but it's not enough as the Phillies win 5-4.

Back at the Trop, the Rays try to even things up.  It starts well, with Iwamura scoring in the first.  Shields pitches well until the 6th, when Philly's heart of the lineup does some damage, putting a 3-spot on the board.  Wheeler and Howell keep the game in check, though, and a thrilling 8th inning rally led by a Cliff Floyd key hit forces a Game 7.  Rays win 6-4.

Jamie Moyer, half way to 90, is not the pitcher the Phillies were hoping to have for Game 7, but he pitches admirably and finishes the 5th inning down 3-2.  Garza has some control issues as the two early Phillies' runs are attributed to walks.  Cole Hamels throws a shutout inning, Jason Werth just misses hitting a game tying home run, and the game falls into the hands of the young David Price once again.  Joe Maddon leaves Price in to face the switch hitting Victorino.  After several foul balls, Victorino strikes out on a fastball just out of the strikezone.  Tampa Bay wins 3-2, Longoria is named MVP, and the Rays finish their unlikely worst-to-first season in dramatic fashion, giving their fans a World Series championship.
Prediction: Tampa Bay in 7