Congratulations, Florida!

Bryan Healey@Bryan_HealeyCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2008

No, I don't mean the Dolphins. As far as I'm concerned that game wasn't worthy of its own article because it would be mostly whining and crying, and no one wants that.

I blame myself, really. It was the first Patriots game I ever watched in full HD. Clearly, there must be a connection. After all, they had won 21 consecutive regular season games in regular definition.

Anyway, I'm actually congratulating the Rays, formerly the god-awful Devil Rays, for clinching their first ever trip to the playoffs.

This team had been a bottom dweller since their inception. A tear-inducing abyss of horror and dismay. A team so laughably bad that even Floridians, a group of people so chronically bored that they routinely get into traffic accidents just to spice up their day, wouldn't go watch play.

Then this past winter they dropped the Devil from their name, begged God's forgiveness, and suddenly they're on top of the world (or at least the AL East).

Even the residents of south Florida are finally coming to watch them play, arriving with their broken fenders and dented doors to see them clinch a playoff berth for the first time in the history of the franchise this past Saturday. Hopefully their cars will hold out long enough to keep crowds throughout the post-season.

This turnaround is actually quite stunning. This team hadn't had a winning record prior to this year. In fact, they had a winning percentage below .400 in five of the nine seasons prior to this 2008 campaign. Last season, the Rays were 66-96, which was the worst record in the majors.

This season the Rays still haven't lost 66 games, with a current record, as of Monday morning, of 92-62.

In fact, it just dawned on me as I typed that sentence that if they go 4-4 in their final eight games the will have the same record as last year, only reversed. That would be really cool. I really hope this happens. I am now calling upon the Rays to step up to the plate and go ahead and lose four games. They already made the playoffs, it's not like it's important for them to try and win or anything.

Anyway, all that remains now is for the Rays and Red Sox to duke it out during the final week of the season to see who gets first place in the AL East and who gets the Wild Card. Currently the Rays sit just 1.5 games ahead of the defending World Champions, so it should be an interesting race.

Then again, the Rays get to face Baltimore and Detroit in their final week, both colossally terrible teams. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have to face Cleveland and New York, teams that aren't quite colossally terrible, but then again aren't really awesome, either. I think I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Rays have the advantage here.

It doesn't really matter, though. The real excitement of the year is basically over. Both teams are virtually guaranteed a playoff spot. The Rays are already in, and the Sox officially clinched at least a tie for the Wild Card, and I'm confident that they can squeeze out the few wins needed to assure a playoff appearance. In fact, it would be great if they did it against the Yankees at Fenway, but let's not get too excited.

The real fun is going to be if the Rays and Red Sox square off in the ALCS. Granted, the Sox will have to dispatch the Angels and their high-flying hurky-jerky injury-waiting-to-happen closer first, but I think they have it in them.

However (don't tell anyone I said this, it'll be our little secret), I think the Rays are going to the World Series this year. I know saying that is basically Original Sin in Red Sox Nation, and I will now fear for my life as I walk around the city this week. Let's face it, though: This team is very good, they're riding high emotionally, and they will have a lot of momentum going into the playoffs. They are clearly the team to beat.

Not to mention, it would be a very good story: From dead-last to the World Series in one year! Can you even imagine the sheer number of documentaries and mini-series that will assault our senses? It will be even worse if they actually win the Series.

In fact, Disney is probably writing a movie script this moment. It will be slightly heart-breaking, uplifting, and the underdog will triumph in the end, and you can be certain there will be at least seven different players of inaccurate diversity making crucial, season-altering plays that never happened in real life.

Denzel Washington has to get involved in this somehow.

So, to the Tampa Bay Rays: Enjoy it! This is your season. Even though my brain still hasn't fully accepted the fact that you don't still suck, you can take comfort in knowing that I'm essentially an idiot. No one can take from you what you've accomplished this year, even though Disney will inevitably try.

That alone should give you a little extra motivation to pummel the Angels.

See you in October!