The Rays seem to be the consensus pick to win the Series this year. If you're looking for someone to go against the conventional wisdom, keep looking. Top to bottom, the Rays are simply the better team. Better starting pitching, bullpen, defense, lineup, speed, coaching, cowbell - you name it, the Rays do it better than the Phillies.
The official prediction here is that the Rays win in 5. The Phils take Game One in a pitchers duel, with Hamels outpitching Kazmir. It is with some trepidation I pick that, because the Phillies do struggle mightily with lefthanded pitching. Still, Hamels has been excellent all season and into the postseason, and he will get the Phillies off on the right foot. Unfortunately for them, it will be downhill from there.
The Rays will take Game Two, behind "Big Game" James Shields. Though I have to ask, what exactly has Shields done to get the nickname "Big Game"? He's pitched pretty well in the playoffs, but this isn't exactly Orel Hershiser in 1988 or Randy Johnson in 2001 we're talking about.
In Games Thee and Four, we go back to Philadelphia, and the Rays will spend those two nights teeing off on Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton in that tiny little ballpark. My prediction is double-digit runs in both of those games. It will be controversial when, down two games to one, Charlie Manual decides to stick with Blanton, rather than going back to his ace Hamels. Evan Longoria has a three homer game in this one, to put himself in the lead for the MVP award.
In Game 5, the Philly fans have turned on their own team, booing them out of the gate, leading to such a lackluster performance that not even Cole Hamels can deliver a win. The Rays win this one 3-0 in a game that never actually feels as close as it is. David Price strikes out the side in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.
After the game, disgusted by the constant booing and taunts of the Philly fans, Jimmy Rollins demands a trade, Pat Burrell leaves as a free agent, and the Phanatic isn't seen in late October for another 15 years.