Saturday, April 25, 2015

Tampa area again torn on World Series loyalties

CLEARWATER, Fla. - This year's World Series will be the "Battle of the Causeway," according to the staff of the popular Lenny's Restaurant in Clearwater.

"It's because of the Yankees in Hillsborough County [Tampa] and the Phillies here in Clearwater [Pinellas County]," said Lenny's general manager Kevin Schauer. "We're just separated by Tampa Bay. People say, 'Just come over to Clearwater on the causeway,' thus, 'The Causeway Series.' "

The Yankees' spring home in Tampa and the Phillies' in Clearwater are connected by the Courtney Campbell Causeway across Tampa Bay, a distance of approximately 15 miles between ballparks.

During the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays, Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard didn't support his "hometown" team, but supported the Rays from St. Petersburg. Hibbard even went so far as to sport a Rays mohawk haircut, a situation that Schauer thinks has been corrected this year.

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"I have had no discussions with the mayor but I'm sure this time around the mayor is 100 percent behind the Phillies," Schauer said.

Schauer was asked if he thought a friendly wager might be made between the cities' mayors, Hibbard and Tampa's Pam Iorio.

"I think it would benefit him [Hibbard] to make a wager because I think the Phillies will win it in six," Schauer said.

No word has been received from either city official as to a wager.

Even though he is an ardent Phillies fan, Schauer won't be attending any Series games in Philadelphia, since the team considers him a jinx . . . and he is a team player.

"I went to the games against the Rockies in 2007 and they were swept," Schauer said. "Then I was banned from games in Philly in 2008 because the team thinks I am a jinx. I'm hoping to attend Game 2 in New York . . . That is all the team is allowing me to attend."

Schauer can't really be considered a jinx, since Lenny's has fed the team for the past three spring trainings. The Phillies have gone on to make the playoffs all 3 years and, of course, won the 2008 World Series.

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