Pro baseball in Florida has long been the new kid at school who is openly mocked for no other reason than being new. Hes nerdy and prefers to be left alone. And he has no friends, which only makes the bullying worse. Maybe he gets in a few classic comebacks, like the Florida Marlins two World Series championships, but eventually he has to back down, like the Marlins selling off all of their great players, and that only magnifies how far he has to travel to earn some respect. If the Tampa Bay Rays were that kid, 2008 was the year he rose up to the schools two overgrown agitators (the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox) and socked them right in the mouth (the Rays American League championship), much to the surprise of everyone else. Fast-forward three years, and the Rays are still the underdog standing tall, making the playoffs two of the past three years at the expense of their deeper-pocketed rivals. The two Florida teams will turn on each other Friday night at Sun Life Stadium.
Fri., May 20, 7:10 p.m., 2011