World Series: Facing Doom, We Get to See the Rays at Their Best

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IOctober 27, 2008

We've heard the quote from numerous members of the Rays' team.

It’s one quote of many, from a man who paints portraits with words, and it goes a little something like this:

"We are at our best when we are at our worst."

I could be totally wrong about the exact quote, but I imagine it’s something confusing to the human ear and it’s along those lines. The Rays are at their worst, so does that mean they are at their best now that they are down three games to one in the World Series?

It seems as if none of that makes any sense, just like most of his words of wisdom and awkward phrases. How can you be at your best when you are at your worst?

The simple answer would be to say, what do we have to lose? No one expects you to come back from this, let alone win.

When someone doubts you, the light switch flips up.

Thing is, the switch still hasn't flipped up for the middle of Tampa Bay's order.

You could start to see Evan Longoria on the verge of struggling, with more than half of his hits being home runs in the playoffs, he simply wasn't consistent.

Sure, the long balls were flying over the monster, but that's a product of fastballs.

He is far from a rookie, hitting in the cleanup hole for a World Series team, so teams will stop treating him like one.

It's his job to adjust, unfortunately for the Rays, his adjustment period is occurring when they need him the most.

It doesn't help that Carlos Pena is also scuffling with the bat.

They’ve combined for 15 strikeouts in 29 at-bats, not a single hit. They have just two RBI and, coincidentally, they both came in the one win the Rays have in this series.

The focus will be on Longoria and Pena's struggles and rightfully so. But do we remember some of those questions that were posed when this series started?

The first and probably most important question was about the Rays' power surge and if it would continue.

Guess not.

Going into Game Four, the Rays had just one home run, by the guy with a bum thumb.

After Game Four, they have just three. Two by the guy with a bum thumb, Carl Crawford, and the other by Eric Hinske, who didn't see any action in the World Series until his pinch-hit appearance.

Think about this if you will.

Joe Blanton has more home runs in the World Series than the entire Rays' starting lineup, minus Carl Crawford.

You and I have just as many home runs as the entire Rays' starting lineup, minus Carl Crawford.

The Rays aren't really built for the long ball, so they don't need the power surge to come back for them to get back into the series.

But it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Dan Wheeler's struggles aren't helping matters, the effectiveness of Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine was short-lived.

Things don't look real good for baseball's tremendous kids.

Then again, they are facing their worst.

It's now up to Scott Kazmir to save the magical run and send the series back to Tampa.

Not that out of the question, the way Pat Burrell is swinging the bat; Kazmir did a decent job at keeping the Phillies at bay in Game One.

Problem is, the devastating changeup of Cole Hamels is ready to deliver the knockout punch.

Oh, and, uh, that Ryan Howard guy. Yeah, he's starting to hit the ball pretty far.

The Phillies are playing out of their minds in every aspect of the game right now. They look utterly unbeatable, despite Pat Burrell's struggles. The Rays were able to advance thanks to their performance of their third and fourth starters.

The Phillies did the same, and perhaps they will win because of it.

I mean their fourth starter is even hitting home runs now.

The steam in the Tampa Bay engine might be running low or it might be just getting ready to explode.

I said Joe Maddon could pull off yet another great motivational rebound with his team in the ALCS, and he did just that.

Well, if he gets his team through this one, we could be looking at not just a great manager, but a potential Hall of Famer.

His team is at their worst, yet he claims that when that situation arises, they are at their best.

If he can get his players to buy into that, he might be able to sell ice to the Eskimos. If he can get his players to buy into that, then who knows what else this guy can do, he would own the reputation of being able to get his team to play under any circumstance.

Perhaps Maddon isn't ready for that status, or else we'll expect him to win every year. Maybe that's for the best.

Who wouldn't want to see that though? It would be the crowning of a king. A man who can motivate his players with words they probably don't even understand.

This series is far from over. The Phillies are well on their way to winning one game before the Rays can win three. But if Maddon's slogan holds true, the Rays are perfectly capable of winning one game, after one game, after one game, before the Phillies can.


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