The World Series begins tonight with the top two seeds facing off, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Royals fans haven’t had a vested interest in the outcome of the Fall Classic in a few seasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t root for one side to win. But which side? Let’s examine the reasons why Royals fans should root for each team in the World Series.
Why Royals fans should root for the Dodgers
The Dodgers were the best team
The World Series is all about crowning a champion, and shouldn’t the best team be the last team standing? The Dodgers finished 43-17, the best record in baseball and three games better than the Rays. And it’s no short-season fluke - since 2016, the Dodgers have won 436 games, 12 more than any other team. The Dodgers have a brilliant front office using the latest cutting edge technology, and they actually invest in their players. The Rays spend little on payroll, which is bad for players, and use players interchangeably, which is bad for the game.
The Dodgers haven’t won a title in three decades
While the big-market Dodgers are frequently in contention, they actually haven’t won a title since their magical run in 1988. Their 32-year drought is currently the tenth-longest championship drought in baseball, and their longest stretch without a title since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. We have seen some long championship droughts come to an end in recent years - the Cubs, Astros, Nationals, and Royals have all won championships recently after decades without hoisting a trophy. It’s time for the the trophy to head back to L.A.
The Dodgers were screwed in 2017
The Dodgers have come close to winning it all recently, taking the Houston Astros to the limit in 2017 before falling in Game Seven. But it was later revealed the Astros had been using video cameras and a trash can to steal and relay signs to hitters, including in the 2017 playoffs. The Astros out-homered the Dodgers 15-10 with an OPS seventy points higher in the series. Had the Astros not been allowed to cheat, perhaps the Dodgers already have one title under their belt. Karma owes them a title, why not this year?
Mookie Betts is a lot of fun to watch
Imagine having a Gold Glove outfielder with a batting title and an MVP under belt in the prime of his career, then trading him over money. Now imagine you did this as one of the richest sports franchises in the country! That’s what the Red Sox did with Mookie Betts who is not only a true five-tool player, but a player with a fun personality (and he’s a pro-level bowler, not not a Pro Bowler, a bowler!) Betts is one of the brightest stars in baseball, and getting a chance to watch him on the biggest stage is a treat.
The Dodgers fanbase is better than the Rays fanbase
Here’s a utilitarian argument - a Dodgers win would make more people happier. The Dodgers have had a really strong fanbase ever since moving to the West Coast. They were the first franchise ever to draw 2 million fans in a season, and the first to draw 3 million fans. They have led the National League in attendance in each of the last seven seasons before this year.
By contrast, the Rays have finished dead last in the American League in attendance in each of the last five seasons, despite two 90+ win seasons. Sure, the stadiums isn’t in a super convenient location for fans, but it’s not like Tropicana Field is surrounded by a moat of lava, and Dodgers fans battle notoriously bad L.A. traffic to see their team. The Rays, for a host of reasons, have failed to resonate in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, so if a team wins the World Series, and there are no fans to cheer it, did it really happen?
It’s been like, a whole week since Los Angeles won a title.
Two words - Vin Scully.
Why Royals fans should root for the Rays
The Rays are the loveable underdog
The Dodgers may be great, but America loves an underdog, and the Rays are the plucky underdog that could. Vegas has the Dodgers as a favorite, and they should be considering the enormous resources given to the team to win. The Dodgers came into this year with a player payroll of $110 million (after pay was pro-rated for the shortened season) while the Rays spent just $28 million on players. The Dodgers shouldn’t be the team to root for simply because they spent money, after all, they are granted a monopoly (or duopoly, with the Angels) to operate in a massive L.A. market, while the Rays have a middling market and the worst stadium in Major League baseball. Maybe this title is just what they need to kickstart the Tampa Bay market. If anything, the Rays are small-market brethren to the Royals, and we small market teams stick together.
The Rays haven’t ever won a title
The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays have been around for 22 years now, with just one pennant and no titles to show for it. It only took the Royals 16 seasons to win their first title, but it was a title that was necessary to validate the franchise. Besides, we don’t know how big this window of contention could be for the Rays. The Dodgers can afford to keep their window for a decade - we may be at the beginning of a dynasty. But the Rays may not be able to keep their best players, this may be their last crack at a title for awhile.
Randy Arozarena is a lot of fun to watch
The post-season creates stars, and Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena may be a star in the making. One-third of all the MLB games he has played in for his career have come in the post-season, and he has made a name for himself by hitting .382/.433/.855 with 7 home runs in 14 games in this post-season. The Cuban-born Arozarena risked his life at sea in the Gulf of Mexico to defect at age 19. After a few years in the Cardinals organization, the 25-year old has blossomed this year, earning ALCS MVP honors with a blend of power and speed.
Dodger fans are fickle
Sure there are a lot of Dodgers fans, but that’s because Los Angeles is humongous! Dodgers fans are known for being late-to-arrive, and early-to-leave. When they are at games, it is to be seen, or to spot celebrities, or to play with a beach ball, not just to watch baseball. The Rays may have fewer fans, but they may be more diehard to stick with the team through the ups and downs the Rays have endured.
Old friend Brett Phillips is a delight
Brett Phillips was traded from the Royals to the Rays in August, and while Phillips has gone hitless in two post-season at bats, he has contributed to their winning in another way - as team cheerleader. Phillips has become the self-proclaimed “keep-it-simple-guy”, motivating teammates with his infectious energy and support.
And if the Rays win it all, we could see an epic post-game dance-off.
Randy Arozarena posts the dance battle against Brett Phillips on his Instagram. He said: “Today I took home the crown. I won my rematch.”— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) October 10, 2020
Phillips and Arozarena are now tied. pic.twitter.com/OvteU49zQd
It would be great to see an old friend like Brett Phillips win a ring and show the whole world his insane laugh.
It’s been like, a whole month since the Tampa area last won a title.
American League solidarity!
Two words - Dick Vitale.
Who are you cheering for in the World Series?
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