The World Series matchup is set, and improbably, after the unpredictability of the 2020 season, the Series will actually feature the two teams which compiled the best records in their respective leagues -- the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There have been plenty of normal seasons in which that didn't happen. In fact, there was a stretch from 2002 through 2004 in which the wild-card winners (the Angels, Marlins, and, of course, Red Sox) won it all despite not finishing with the best record in their own divisions.
So, naturally, in a year in which nothing goes according to form, the two chalk winners end up facing one another in the World Series.
There are other similarities in play, too. Both franchises have Andrew Friedman in common. Friedman ran the Rays from 2006 through 2014 before taking over the Dodgers for 2015. Both teams once employed Manny Ramirez, too.
But mostly there are differences. The Dodgers can trace their lineage to the 19th century while the Rays are millennials, having recently turned 22.
And then there is the matter of payroll, where the teams occupy opposite ends of the financial spectrum. While exact end-of-the-year figures aren't available, Dodgers again spent north of $200 million on their 40-man roster -- as they have for seven of the last eight seasons.
Meanwhile the Rays are strictly bargain-basement types when it comes to spending. Their payroll is expected to finish in the area of $75 million -- or, about one-third what the Dodgers spent. While the Dodgers routinely spent near the top of the game, the Rays have never come close to $100 million on their 40-man rosters and only twice have topped $100 million when it comes to their competitive balance tax numbers.
Put more starkly, the Dodgers were third in CBT payroll...and the Rays were third from the bottom.