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Rays vs. Dodgers: The Best World Series since 2016

Written by Casimir Moninghoff

October 30, 2020

I did not think this series would go 7 games. I knew it would go 6, but I did not pick the Dodgers to win it. This was a fantastic series from start to finish, and I almost wrote this article as a preview of the series, but it will serve just as well for the review. This is the best World Series since 2016 without a doubt.

In 2017, the Astros won what was thought to be one of the best World Series against the Dodgers. It went a full 7 games with multiple games going into extra innings. In 2018, the Red Sox won another title with a thrilling journeyman player, Steve Pearce, winning MVP. Even last year, the Nationals finally won a title and defeated the Astros in a wild series that saw them pull a complete comeback as a team throughout the playoffs. However, and yes you know what is coming, two of those teams should not have been in that position or won those titles in hindsight. The Astros and RedSox were found to have engaged in a sign stealing scandal that went far beyond the gamesmanship of being on base and attempting to steal the signs. Banging on trash cans, assumptions of wires being worn, and multiple higher ups and players knowing about these tactics, having a problem with them, but staying silent. That is something that could have ruined baseball for a generation. A sport with a declining fan base in certain age groups, marred by the steroid scandal, now faced two champions being accused and found guilty of cheating. Now in 2020, what could possibly make the game fun again and get people interested in the game of baseball. The best World Series since the Cubs won it all in 2016.

The Dodgers have had a loaded team for a while now. They have brought in free agent superstars like Manny Machado, and Chase Utley, to former Cardinal playoff hero David Freese and Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly. Now they have Mookie Betts under contract for over a decade, along with a young core that is established with Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger, and Corey Seager, and veterans Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen as their closer. They came so close multiple times, but with all of the changes we see today in baseball with trades and free agents leaving, the Dodgers have been able to keep a consistent core of players and doing so allowed them to win their first World Series since 1988.

The Rays! They have not been to a World Series in 12 years. However, this year was different. In 2008 they were stacked, but a lot of those players who are great now were quite young. David Price was only 23, Scott Kazmir 24, and Evan Longoria 23. While they did have some veterans on the team in Carl Crawford, closer Troy Percival, Carlos Pena, and Eric Hinske, the lack of playoff experience from a majority of that team, along with their youth could not overcome a stacked Phillies team that had some playoff experience. The 2020 Rays came together with a group of players who are older, but did lack some playoff experience. However, they knew how to handle some pressure. The lone veteran on the team, Charlie Morton, who is clutch in the playoffs provided stability for the pitching staff, and they won the division and made a deep playoff run in a similar fashion to the Royals in 2015. They did not have an ace that they would throw out to win a game. They had starters who could get to the bullpen after five or six innings and a bullpen that was unhittable.

Photo Credit: Sports Net

This was the series we all deserved. The team that had overcome cheating scandals from their opponents and heartbreak versus the team full of young potential stars ready to make a name for themselves and win a title for a team that has, historically, been full of losing seasons. It was better than we could have asked for as well. Kershaw was dominant in a pitching duel to start. Game 2 went to the Rays, as Blake Snell officially proved to the rest of the country that he is a star. This is not a surprise given his 2018 season that saw him go 21-5. Game 3 was pivotal for the direction of the series. Walker Buehler proved he was an ace for the Dodgers behind Kershaw, and the Rays lost a hard fought game. The Dodgers were up 2-1 and both offenses had been pretty well contained, which really made for a potentially incredible end to the series. Game 4 did not disappoint. It went back and forth with both offenses coming up with timely hits to drive in runs. The second inning was the only inning in which at least one team did not score a run. This back and forth led to a wild finish. The Dodgers scored in the top of the 8th to give them a 7-6 lead and went into the 9th inning with a chance to all but put the series on ice. However, the Rays fought and made Kenley Jansen throw a lot of pitches, which usually leads to closers blowing saves. That is exactly what happened. The Rays took pitches, worked in a walk and a hit and ended up winning the game after Brett Phillips base hit into right center field that lead to two errors from the Dodgers and the Rays won a wild game 8-7. Unfortunately for the Rays, while this did tie the series up, Game 5 did not go their way as the Dodgers pressed forward to win this game and eventually win the World Series.

Photo Credit: Bleacher Nation

The only question that many were left with was why did Blake Snell get taken out in the middle of Game 6 after pitching a near perfect game throughout. Rays manager Kevin Cash felt that it was the right thing to do. However, this decision baffled Dodgers players as well as they stated in post-game interviews. It was a decision that back-fired for the Rays as their bullpen finally had an off night, which did end up costing them in another pitchers duel.

Apart from this decision, this series had everything: pitching duels, clutch offensive moments for both teams, and a wild ending. Both teams deserved to win this title, and it was a shame that one of them had to lose. The Dodgers are the World Series Champions and they clearly showed that they are one of, if not the most, complete teams in the league right now. This was easily the best World Series in years, and even attracted some new fans. On one of the podcasts that I listen to, Dunn and Drew, Drew said that he may even start watching more baseball games next year because of the Rays. This is exactly what the game needed, and what I have been waiting for as well. I am excited for the future of baseball and I hope that smaller market teams like the Rays continue to develop their young talent and hopefully they will continue to keep the game interesting with continued success.

Finally, this would not be a sports betting post without the odds for next year’s World Series. William Hill has the Dodgers as the front runner at +450 and the Rays in fourth-best at +1200. Potentially some good future odds for a big payout later!

Featured Image Via: Dodger Blue

Follow me on Twitter @CaseyMoninghoff

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