The 2008 Tampa Bay (don't call them Devil) Rays are one of the best stories in baseball. I am required by law to say that, but lets talk about what could be the x factor in this American League Championship Series, experience.
The Red Sox have been in 4 of the last 6 ALCS's, Tampa just got on the big stage. True they never blinked all year when everyone was predicting they would crumble under the pressure, or because of their September schedule, but now there are 4 teams left, soon to be 2.
Last year the Sox were down 3-1 against the Indians in the ALCS, and I can't remember one person saying the Red Sox weren't going to the World Series. Beckett pitched and won game 5 in Cleveland and then it was really over, because the Tribe was not winning in Fenway. That was part of the post 2004 feeling they say every Red Sox fan has. Yeah maybe, it's also called the experience factor.
In 2004 the Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees and exercise all their demons from the previous 86 years. Big deal right that was 2004? Wrong. You can't teach experience. The Rays are young, fast, full of energy, and underdog which are all good things, but they've never been here before.
Experience doesn't win ball games, I'm not saying that, but it can certainly go a long way in helping. I'm interested to see how the Rays react if they are down 2-0 and Jon Lester is pitching game 3 at home on Monday. I'm looking forward to see how the Rays recover from a 6-4-3 rally killing double play in the bottom of the 8th inning and go on to lose games 1 or 2 at home. I want to see how Joe Madden manages his bullpen, and if he pushes guys, and when he takes his starters out. I want to see how their starters bounce back if the Red Sox jump out to an early lead. Maybe they handle everything perfectly and Tampa goes to it's first World Series in team history, that would truly be an amazing story.
The Sox will still have to make the right pitches and hit at the right times to win the series, but if they are down 3-1 in the series going into game 5, I'm not writing them off, because the Sox have the experience card.
As stated, Sox in 7, play ball!