The World Series is baseball’s biggest stage. From the moment you pick up a bat, slip on a glove, or even toss a ball, it’s the dream of every young kid to somehow play in the Fall Classic. It’s the Mount Olympus of the game. It’s where the Gods play, and the mortals dream of ascension.
And in 2020, two teams will play for the right to call themselves World Series Champions, in a year no one will soon forget.
The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have magic on their side. After trading Tommy Pham for Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, and some “Slapdick Prospects,” the Rays turned on the jets and never looked back. Finishing the season with the best record in the American League, the Rays are proving that baseball in Tampa Bay isn’t dead, even if the fans don’t show up.
If the Rays win the AL East, and no one is there to see it, does the divisional banner even count? Yes, it does, because Tampa Bay has earned every single ounce of their success in 2020. Sure, the ALCS didn’t go the way they thought it would. And now, their new opponents offer some serious challenges, but this team is no stranger to challenges.
In a league dominated by large payrolls, the Rays have done the unthinkable: climbed the mountain without spending big. The Rays 2020 payroll amounts to $28,290,689, which is the third-lowest in the league. Surrounded by AL East teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, two teams known for their spending, the Rays rallied together and proved that big contracts do not equal big seasons.
The team across the diamond from them? They’re possibly the exact opposite of the Rays.
The Los Angeles Dodgers made waves in the offseason, trading for Red Sox outfielder and 2018 MVP Mookie Betts, pushing their chips in on a 2020 World Series run. In 2020, the Dodgers paid more for the services of Betts and Clayton Kershaw, than the Rays organization paid their roster. This team is built on big-time players.
They have been the team to beat from the jump, and they proved themselves worthy of the title. However, this postseason hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows.
The Atlanta Braves gave the Dodgers a lot to chew on in the NLCS. The Braves took a 3-1 lead in the series and seemed to have stopped the Dodgers from fulfilling their World Series destiny. But that’s the funny thing about destinies. They rarely care about what’s in their way.
But Dave Roberts‘ Dodgers fought back, taking the series in a decisive Game 7, as they found their swagger from earlier in the season.
This Dodger team feels like the hero at the end of their quest. After struggling, failing, and then learning and battling, all in the name of reaching their goal. This team feels familiar to the World Series squads from 2017 and 2018, and the postseason squad from 2019. Is this their final form? Is this where they slay the dragon and get their rings?
So many legends have been written in the Fall Classic, and so many legacies have been solidified with a World Series win. How will these two Teams of Destiny fare? Only time will tell. However, if their previous performances are any hint, it’s sure to be a World Series for the ages.