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Networks still biased when it comes to Tampa Bay Rays

October 17, 2008 |  5:40 pm

Wonder who was rooting harder for Boston to come back from a seven-run deficit Thursday night in Game 5 of the ALCS -- Red Sox Nation or TBS?

Turner Sports doesn't have the World Series, so this is their last shot at baseball this year, and the longer it goes, the happier they are.

Joe Maddon Fox has the World Series, but they already know they aren't going to get the latest one they wanted, Boston against L.A. Just the idea of Manny going back to Boston would have added a few points to the ratings.

Even without that, however, Boston is an easier sell than Tampa Bay. It's the historic Green Monster versus that big white tent covering Tropicana Field, making it look like an indoor rec center. It's the animated, gum-gorging Boston manager, Terry Francona, against Joe Maddon (pictured here), who remains boringly sedate behind those big glasses.

It's David Ortiz and Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis, familiar postseason faces, for Boston.

It's not that the Rays aren't exciting or good. They have a talented bunch of young kids who figure to make the team a contender for a long time. It's just that, right now, nobody among the general public outside Florida knows who they are.

Mention Evan Longoria and a lot of people think it's a typo and you meant Eva.

Come to think of it, if Fox could get Eva to throw out the first pitch and sit in the dugout seats, it might help the ratings.

Short of that, and assuming the Red Sox have exhausted their supply of comebacks, Fox will have to build interest through the early games of the Series, hoping that the games are close, the Rays' talent shines through and the team gains a national identity.

If it's only a four- or five-game series between the Phillies and Rays, it might be the lowest-rated ever.

Besides, just knowing how much Yankees fans hate seeing Boston still playing, there's only one thing to say about Saturday's game: Go Sox.

-- Steve Springer

Photo: Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon at a news conference Wednesday before the team's practice for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox in Boston. Credit: Chris O'Meara / Associated Press