A little history:
The Rays entered Major League Baseball in 1998 as the expansion Devil Rays along with the Arizona Diamondbacks and, unlike the Snakes, who won the World Series in their third year of existence, toiled in futility until this season. After their last season as the Devil Rays, owner Stu Sternberg changed the team's name to signify "a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and across the entire state of Florida." And gone were the drab black and green in favor of navy blue, Columbia blue, and a shock of gold.
And something else was gone: the mediocrity. Suddenly, the Rays were winning games and, as the regular season went into its last weeks, they were considered contenders and battled the Boston Red Sox for the AL east championship and eventually won it.
The Rays, who, prior to 2008, had never had a winning season and finished out of last place just once and had lost 96 games in 2007 were suddenly the talk of the baseball world.
And even more so that they put the game five and game six disasters in the American League Championship Series behind them and made believers in manager Joe Maddon's mantra "9=8" by winning a tight game seven 3-1 behind right-hander Matt Garza's gem.
Despite the second-lowest payroll in baseball and despite playing in MLB's worst venue, the Rays could very well win the World Series. As a Cincinnati Reds fan, I've been through three World Series championships. I'm trying to tell Rays fans that a league championship celebration pales in comparison to a World Series championship celebration. And I really think that the Rays have the talent to do it.
The 104th Fall Classic is going to be fun.