There are so many reasons to love baseball, and none of them has anything to do with the marketing that TBS and FOX have used for the World Series.
This year the Fall Classic is back to what it really should be, a battle between two young, talented teams. These teams have reached the pinnacle of the baseball world not because they have paid for it (see: Boston, New York), not because they are supposed to win (see: Los Angeles), but because they have earned it.
For 162 games the Rays and the Phillies have fought opposing teams and media outlets that said they simply couldn't last an entire season and continue winning. All season-long these teams have played with a chip on their shoulder.
Now, with game one a mere two days away, the stage is set for a return to the fundamentals of the game. But it seems as though no one cares.
I'm tired of having half of the game devoted to viewing the reactions of Stephen King or Ben Affleck. I personally am excited that I will not have to see A-list celebrities in the crowd during for this series. To me, that means that their seats have gone to the people who truly deserve them, the real fans, the 9 to 5 workers who probably cut out entertainment (and cheesesteaks) for the rest of the year in order to watch their team play for a chance at the world championship.
I'm sick of seeing the stat boxes recapping the Red Sox come from behind series victory in 2004. I would much rather see a box telling me that the representative from the American League has never had a season above .500 before this year, and in fact never finished better than 18 games out of first place.
I've had enough of Joe Torre and Terry Francona. Sure, they're fine gentlemen and excellent coaches. But let's give Joe Maddon some love! The guy looks like he has no business hanging out on a baseball diamond, but has a more brilliant baseball mind than most managers. Not to forget the other side of the infield, where Charlie Manuel will be managing his Fightin' Phils less than a week after attending his mothers funeral. I challenge anyone to find better managers for this years series.
Most of all, I am tired of seeing teams with huge payrolls and aging sluggers (who are probably doping) playing for a title. Moneyball may win championships, but the way the Phils and Rays play is the way that the game is supposed to be.
This year the world gets to see what the youth can do, and just how good these young players are. This is before they are spoiled by free agency and multi-million dollar deals, before their heads grow to ten thousand times their regular size, and before they forget what it's like to enjoy playing baseball.
This year is about Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. It's about Evan Longoria, Matt Garza and B.J. Upton. This year is about the baseball that we all grew up with, the kind of game that makes you remember what it is like to be a kid playing because you love to. Because that is what these players are doing, they are loving the game and playing it exactly how it is supposed to be played.
With that in mind, think before you say that this series doesn't matter, or that no one cares about it this year. Because there will be capacity crowds in St. Pete and Philly screaming, and my television will be tuned in to watch these two teams remind America how their pastime was meant to be played.