Yes - they have talent

FACEOFF: Can the Tampa Bay Rays, last year's worst team, win the World Series?

October 08, 2008|By DAN CONNOLLY

The most dangerous team in the postseason is always the one that doesn't realize it shouldn't be there. No one wants to play the upstart club that believes it has a unifying bond, a special fraternity that makes it one of those corny teams of destiny.

In the American League, that club is the Tampa Bay Rays.

But these Rays are even scarier because they can pitch and catch the ball, too, important ingredients in postseason baseball.

From a talent standpoint, the Rays' big three starters, Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza, can hold their own against the Boston Red Sox's impressive trio of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka. They just have a lesser profile

Although their roster isn't stocked with playoff veterans, the Rays' confidence was cultivated during this surprising season by manager Joe Maddon, who has a World Series ring from his days with the then-Anaheim Angels.

No team still in the playoffs had more wins this year than the Rays. They won 97 games while playing in the brutal American League East. They also won the season series against the big, bad Red Sox, 10-8. And now the Rays have home-field advantage throughout the rest of the playoffs. Everything points in their favor except experience.

They might run into some trouble against another dangerous fraternity of upstart believers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, but there is no reason the Rays can't win and go from absolute worst to absolute first in one year.

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