And why not? Outside of the tri-state area, the rest of the sports world is on the bandwagon.
The map to the right is taken from a Sports Nation poll on ESPN.com. With 151,779 ballots counted, 61 percent of voters and 47 states pick the Rays to win the World Series. Only three states – Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey – pick the Phillies. (Phillies, the red team, represented in blue, and Tampa, the blue team, depicted in red.)
It’s an educated guess to believe rooting interests mimic the poll numbers. If not for the Phillies, I’d pull for the fresh-faced Rays, too, no matter who they faced. I’d pull for their excellent crop of dynamic, young talent, their Hazelton-raised manager, the last leg of their journey from worst to first. They left the deep-pocketed American League East in the dust and toppled Boston on a shoestring budget, witnessing a half dozen future stars blossom all at once. Except for C.C. and Manny, it was easy to block out the Brewers and Dodgers as a faceless foe during the NLDS and CS. It’s going to be difficult to do the same with Tampa, a team that demands attention.