Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tampa Bay tries to rewrite history

By Rick Morris

I preface the core observation of this column by noting that I sincerely hope that I am jinxing the Boston Red Sox by proclaiming that they are by historical standards a mortal lock to win Game 7 of the ALCS tonight and advance to the World Series. I loathe the Sox and their Yankee-wannabe fanbase and everything about this franchise, so I desperately want to be wrong when I say that they can’t lose tonight.

But I don’t think that I am.

This has nothing to do with the talent of the two teams. They played each other close all year long and the Rays proved that they had a maturity beyond their years. On any given night, either team is capable of winning.

But not Game 7. Not under these specific circumstances.

Think about it: when teams are trying to avoid what would be deemed as historic choke jobs, do they ever pick Game 7 to get up off the mat? Did the ’85 Cardinals in the World Series (albeit St. Louis would argue that they didn’t choke in Game 6, they were screwed by the infamous call at first base)? Did the ’86 Red Sox in the World Series? Did the ’03 Cubs in the NLCS? Did the ’04 Yankees in the ALCS?

You get the picture.

For whatever reason, teams who are on the verge of what the history books would deem as an epic collapse are already too far gone by the time Game 7 rolls around. We have been told all year long that the Rays’ sudden maturation into championship material has few precedents, with the 1969 Mets being a frequent point of comparison. Tonight we find out whether this truly is a team for the ages, because if they can defy the outcome reason tells us awaits them, they are special indeed.

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