An Andrew Friedman joke has become reality.
Six years after the executive left his position as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays to become president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the two teams he helped build into winners will meet in the World Series for the first time, beginning Tuesday.
"We joked when I left the team that we were going to meet up in the World Series one day, and for it actually to happen is surreal," Friedman said, according to MLB.com's Adam Berry.
Friedman was the architect behind the last Rays squad to reach the World Series in 2008, and he put a sustainable system in place that allows the low-budget team to thrive in the American League East alongside financial powerhouses like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. During his tenure, the Rays made the postseason in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
In 2014, the Dodgers pried Friedman away from the Rays with a five-year, $35-million deal. He's now brought the same approach that made the Rays successful to the west coast. That strategy, combined with the Dodgers' financial might, has turned Los Angeles into one of MLB's best franchises during Friedman's run as the top decision-maker. The Dodgers have won six consecutive division titles and reached the World Series three times with Friedman leading the front office.
The 43-year-old says that playing the Rays, who still employ some of his close friends, has added an extra bit of excitement to the World Series for him.
"It kind of hit me today, waking up and processing all the text messages and questions about it," Friedman said. "It’s definitely surreal. Some of my best friends in life are there.
"Just kind of growing up in the game with the people that I did, working with the Rays. We all started together and went to each other's weddings and were there when our kids were born. It was just an amazing chapter of my life, and the success that we were able to have, especially in the division that we played in, was incredibly rewarding. And I'll always think back on those times with the fondest of memories."