The World Series is truly my favorite week of the year. Having the World Series going on is an excuse that gets you out of anything, every year. No matter what plans I might be forced into, all I have to say is, "Hey, the World Series is on," and people understand. You know how Will gets about his baseball ... Series Schedule Game 1: Wednesday, October 22, 8 p.m. Philadelphia at Tampa Bay. Game 2: Thursday, October 23, 8 p.m. Philadelphia at Tampa Bay. Game 3: Saturday, October 25, 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Philadelphia. Game 4 : Sunday, October 26, 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Philadelphia. Game 5 (if necessary): Monday, October 27, 8 p.m. Tampa Bay at Philadelphia. Game 6 (if necessary): Wednesday, October 29, 8 p.m. Philadelphia at Tampa Bay. Game 7 (if necessary): Thursday, October 30, 8 p.m, Philadelphia at Tampa Bay. SEVEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE RAYS-PHILLIES SERIES 1. Remember The Thunderdome! Back before the Cowbells, or even before the Devil Rays, Tropicana Field was born, alone, empty, abandoned straight out of the womb. St. Petersburg built the stadium — then known as the Florida Suncoast Dome — in 1990, in hopes of getting the White Sox to come to town. When that didn't work, they tried an expansion team; Miami and Denver got them instead. So, it was unused until 1993, when the NHL's Lightning played there. (That's when it was called the Thunderdome.) In the 1996 playoffs, more than 28,000 people saw the Lightning, which is more than the Rays' average any season other than 1998, their debut. In 2003, they averaged 13,158 fans, a number that's lower than the number of fans my Illini got for a end-of-December, with the students home for the holidays, loss to Tennessee State. (I know: I saw it.)
2. Aw, But For 1993. Even for those dopey mulleted Midwesterners out there who might have been turning 18 during the 1993 NLCS, the 1993 Phillies were instantly likable. (And no one even had any idea yet that Darren Daulton was hurtling through time and space!) Everybody had their favorite player; I'm sad to say that mine was, yes, John Kruk. Here's something I didn't realize about that NLCS, though; the Phillies won in six games but were completely outplayed. That somehow makes their win mean even more. Unfortunately, they lost the World Series to a team from Canada, and the World Series was so upset that it took the next year off.
3. Jamie ... She Used To Be My Girl. Not to harp on Jamie Moyer here — I think I've mentioned him in every Phillies preview — but, as Jonah Keri points out, Moyer's debut in the major leagues when Evan Longoria and David Price were less than a year old. Hopefully, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford will take a wrong turn at Daulerio's apartment: The two lefthanded hitters have hammered Moyer throughout their careers. That Game 3 Moyer start reeks of big trouble; it would behoove the Phillies to get a split out of the Trop, at least.
4. Famous People! Every good World Series matchup breakdown needs to observe the time-honored tradition of comparing the two cities famous residents. And by "famous residents," I mean "people who got the hell out of town at the first opportunity." So, let's go to it! Tampa: Tony LaRussa, Nick Carter, Ray Charles, Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Philadelphia: Noam Chomsky, R. Crumb, Dick Clark, Bill Cosby, Richard Gere, M. Night Shyamalan, Bob Saget, Will Smith, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I think we have a clear winner.
5. Mayor Bets! Speaking of silly World Series traditions, the mayors of St. Petersburg and Philadelphia did one of their I'll give you this if your team wins, and you'll give me that if mine does things. If the Phillies win, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker gives up "coconut shrimp from Cha Cha Coconuts at The Pier, stone crab claws from Clearwater's Frenchy's restaurant, Cuban sandwiches from the world-famous historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, commemorative championship label Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Cortez Cigars from the J.C. NewmanCigar Company, and key lime pie from the Fourth Street Shrimp Store in St. Pete." If the Rays win, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter gives up "Philadelphia cheesesteaks, delicious Tastykakes, Philly soft pretzels, mac-n-cheese from Delilah's Southern Cafe and a Rocky statue." So, look for the winning team's mayor to drop dead of a heart attack within a week of the Series' final game.
6. Let's Get A Good One This Time. Jayson Stark is right: We haven't had an awesome World Series in quite some time. I'd argue that this one was the best possible World Series (note the time on that post, by the way; I'd been up all night), but, you know, it would be fair to classify me as somewhat biased. Anyway, yeah: The last great one was in 2002, when the Rally Monkey killed Barry Bonds. This one has the feel of one that'll be far more fun.
7. For Crying Out Loud, It's The World Series! So what if you hate the Phillies? So what if you don't know anything about the Rays? It's the World Series, people! Woo-hoo!
PREDICTION It's going to seem strange to have a nail-biting, insane Game 7 of the World Series in a dome, but we're headed there. Rays in 7.