Advertisement

Let me explain why the Tampa Bay Rays are not going to the World Series, and it's not just some frustrated fan throwing out a fatalistic scenario after a devastating loss. This is a lot of postseason observational experience talking, so listen closely.

I was there in 1986 when the California Angels had 3-1 lead in the ALCS and a three-run lead going into the ninth inning of Game 5 against the Red Sox. They came within a strike of going to the World Series, but the Red Sox came back on a dramatic Dave Henderson home run and the ALCS was over.

Advertisement

It wasn't technically over that day. The Angels were still up three games to two, but the momentum shifted so dramatically that they never recovered. The Red Sox have staged a couple of similar LCS comebacks over the past four years and gone on to win a pair of world titles. They are going to do it again. I hope I'm wrong, but the Rays reached their high-water mark when B.J. Upton hit that two-run double off Jonathan Papelbon to go up 7-0 in the seventh inning last night. The tide shifted on the three-run homer by David Ortiz in the bottom of the inning and there's not going to be any turning back.

The emotional swing reminds me of the Steve Bartman game in 2003 that scuttled the Cubs' best chance in nearly 60 years to reach the World Series. Baseball momentum is a cruel mistress, especially when it comes to teams that are short on postseason experience.

Last year, when the Colorado Rockies were on a historic late-season and postseason roll that included 21 victories in 22 games and seven straight postseason wins, I predicted that once they finally lost, they would not win another game. Their postseason winning streak ended in Game 1 of the World Series and, sure enough, they were never heard from again.

Maybe I just got lucky, but I've watched a lot of postseason baseball and I saw the air come out of the Tampa Bay balloon last night. They were already celebrating the American League pennant in their heads, which is why this loss will take too much out of them to get the job done when they get back to Tropicana Field.

Advertisement
Advertisement