ARLINGTON, Texas – The World Series matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays is a rare meeting of baseball’s best for the title, and a matchup of organizations with Andrew Friedman’s imprint.
Friedman was the Rays’ director of baseball operations from 2004-05 and then general manager from until he left in October 2014 to become the Dodgers' president of baseball operations.
Game 1 is Tuesday night.
Retired first baseman James Loney, a veteran of both organizations, describes the Rays as “feisty.”
“We were always fighting. But we always did feel like we were the better team,” he said Sunday. “I don’t ever feel like we went out there overmatched. We didn’t care who was pitching. We didn’t care what kind of lineup they had. We were bringing that mentality and I think the Rays team this year has that.”
“Both teams are really committed to winning and trying to find any kind of edge they could,” added Loney, who played for the Dodgers from 2006-11 and the Rays from 2013-15. “The Rays are really known for their analytics and getting in there, trying to find different ways to beat hard teams: Is it a bullpen guy that we need to use in maybe an unorthodox situation? And the Dodgers, I felt we kind of started doing that towards the end of my career.”
Despite the shortened schedule and expanded playoffs, the teams with the best record in each league meet in the World Series for just the fourth time since Major League Baseball realigned each league into three divisions in 1995.
Reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, newcomer Mookie Betts and manager Dave Roberts' Dodgers went 43-17, the best record in the National League by eight wins. They overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NL Championship Series, beat Atlanta 4-3 on Bellinger's late home run in Game 7 Sunday night and reached the World Series for the third time in four years.