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The 2020 World Series has a UCF Connection

Tampa Bay Rays batters are coached by a UCF Baseball all-time great

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 World Series begins tonight, and if you’re reading this, the safe guess is that you’re rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays if you’re rooting for any team in this series. That assumption relies heavily on proximity. Maybe you’re a Vero Beach resident who spent so many spring months at Dodgertown, but regardless, there’s a much greater intersection of Rays-UCF Knights fans than Dodgers-UCF Knights fans.

But if you don’t have a dog in this fight and would like to have a rooting interest, look no further than the Rays’ dugout. Tampa Bay’s hitting coach is Chad Mottola, a former UCF Baseball star and one of the greatest male athletes in university history.

It’s believed that Mottola is the first UCF Baseball alum to coach in a World Series.

Catcher Drew Butera remains the only alum to play in a World Series. He won it with the Kansas City Royals in 2015. You could technically count relief pitcher Cody Allen, who was the Cleveland Indians’ closer during the 2016 Fall Classic. But unlike Mottola or Butera, Allen didn’t finish his collegiate career as a Knight; he transferred after his second season.

Mottola has spent just over four years in his current position with the Rays. With his tutelege, second-year second baseman Brandon Lowe was a top-20 hitter during the regular season, according to weighted runs created plus. And during this postseason, outfielder Randy Arozarena has become an absolute phenom, crushing seven homers in 14 games and taking home ALCS MVP honors.

So, watch the World Series. Game 1 will air on FOX at 8 tonight. Root for the Rays or root for the Dodgers. If you don’t care for either, root for UCF Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Class of 2008, Chad Mottola.