From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
In a crazy world of sports turned upside-down since March with a global COVID-19 pandemic, is it “normal” that the two teams sporting the best records in Major League Baseball this season meet in a World Series at a neutral site?
The Dodgers (43-17 record in the regular season) and the Rays (40-20), both top-seeded in their respective National and American league playoffs, will face each other beginning with Game 1 tonight at Arlington, Texas.
Both teams had to survive grueling, seven-game series to reach their destinations. Tampa Bay blew a 3-0 ALCS edge, only to have Houston tie it, before the Rays prevailed in Game 7.
Los Angeles, which has come up short in each of the past seven postseasons, including losing a pair of World Series matchups in back-to-back years, showed fight and determination to overcome a 3-1 NLCS hole against Atlanta. Los Angeles advanced thanks to Cory Bellinger’s go-ahead, seventh-inning home run in Game 7 on Sunday night.
It’s clearly an intriguing matchup against two well-balanced teams, who have deep rosters, a couple of top-flight starters and above-average bullpens.
I’m sticking to my original prediction from three weeks ago — Dodgers in seven games — based on their deep postseason experience up and down the batting lineup and the pitching staff. However, the Rays are pesky and their lineup versatility is a thing of beauty, orchestrated by manager Kevin Cash.
n With the NFL season nearing its midpoint, it’s a good time to look at the NFL’s top MVP contenders. As expected most are QBs.
1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks — Veteran QB is a magician and clearly the front-runner (1,502 yards, 72.8% completions, 19 TDs, 3 INTs).
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers — Tough-minded QB, coming off elbow surgery, had thrown at least two TD passes in each of his team’s first four games (1,178, 69.1%, 11, 1).
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers — Two-time NFL MVP’s team suffered first loss Sunday but QB still is going strong (1,374, 65.5%, 13, 2).
4. Derek Carr, Raiders — Much-maligned QB has started off with big air game (1,442, 73.1%, 11, 1).
5. Josh Allen, Bills — Third-year QB enjoyed terrific first four games before running into the aggressive Titans (1,326, 70.9%, 12, 1, through Sunday).
Honorable Mention — QB Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), QB Ryan Tannehill (Titans), DE Myles Garrett (Browns), DT Aaron Donald (Rams), WR D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks) and QB Drew Brees (Saints).
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com