The 2009 World Series will begin in thirty minutes. I feel like I’m 12 years old again. Last year I enjoyed the Phillies march through the postseason immensely (almost to the point of feeling guilty about it). I thought this year I would be more accustomed to it and that it would have a lesser effect on me. I was wrong. This postseason has been great; I’m savoring ever moment.
When the playoffs started I wanted a Phillies vs Yankees World Series, and now it is here.
In sports I am slow to hate a franchise. In fact, there are only a handful of teams I truly despise. My problem is that I love history and I respect individuals, neither of those is conducive to blind hatred.
Over the years I formed a dislike for the Yankees. That dislike was a result of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees large payroll, and the fact that the Red Sox were the biggest rival (as a young fan I enjoyed reading about the history of Boston baseball, and I hoped to see the Curse of the Bambino broken). That dislike for the Yankees is dissipating, maybe this series will renew it?
When I look at the past I love the Yankees. Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Ford, Munson, and Jackson. Stories of records and historic ballgames, pictures of Yankee Stadium, and roots that can be traced back to the infancy of the American League. I love the history, the pride, the commitment to excellence.
When I look at the current roster I respect most of the players. Derek Jeter may be overrated defensively, but he is a good leader and a very good ballplayer. I’ve always been an Alex Rodriguez fan, and I must admit I am happy he has had a good postseason (though I hope he cools off now). Mark Teixeira is a player I have always liked. There isn’t anyone on the roster I really dislike (maybe that will change in a few days).
I should also state that New York is a great city. As someone who identifies with Philadelphia, I feel no animosity toward New York.
The Yankees spent a lot of money heading into this season. The free agents and new ballpark cost money that most other clubs can only dream about. And I don’t like that about baseball.
I’m proud that the Phillies have developed many of their own prospects and signed the discards of other teams. For this reason the trade for Cliff Lee caused me some duress this season. I love the deal, but it saddens me to see an acquisition fueled by economic hardship.
My Thoughts on the Series
This is the first time I remember following a Phillies team that truly convinced me that they can win any ballgame. Instead of feeling impending doom while I watch them play, I feel expectation. Something good is going to happen.
That being said my feet are anchored firmly on the ground. My heart tells me the Phillies will remain hot and win this series. I really think they can will. My head just smiles and looks at numbers and match ups, then tells me the Yankees should be favored.
Here is a quick breakdown of the team with the advantage as I see it:
Starting Pitching: Yankees. Sabathia, Burnett, and Petitte are a solid 1, 2, 3. Lee is good for the Phillies, but Martinez and Hamels are concerns. The Yankees will be more patient against Martinez than the Dodgers were, plus he got numerous long outs at Dodger Stadium that would be souvenirs at New Yankee Stadium. Hamels is an enigma. He could throw a complete game shut out or get rocked for 10 runs in the first and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Middle Relief: Push. I see this as very even, especially when Happ and Blanton are in the pen.
Closer: Yankees. Lidge blew two saves against the Yankees this season. Not comforting.
Catcher: Yankees. Posada is probably my least favorite Yankee, but he swings a better bat than Ruiz (even though Ruiz is Mr Choochtober). If the Phillies run all over Posada the balance might swing over to the Phillies favor. Ruiz is a much better defensive catcher.
Firstbase: Push. This is a tough call. Howard is very hot right now, so as a Phillies fan I would be inclined to give him the edge. Add to this the fact that Teixeira has had a poor postseason. But Tex plays better defense and is a switch hitter. Howard has bad numbers against lefties. I suspect Howard will see lefties and many bad pitches this series. In my mind it is a push.
Secondbase: Phillies. Chase Utley is the man.
Shortstop: Push. Another tough one. Jimmy is much better defensively. Jeter had better offensive numbers. If you offered me the ability to pick whichever one I wanted for this series I would go with J-Roll, but I’m biased.
Thirdbase: Yankees. No discussion here.
Leftfield: Push. Once again I am inclined to lean the Phillies direction and go with Raul, but Damon had a solid year. Both parks in this series are well-suited for Damon. Raul has been cold. The Phillies will use Ben Francisco in left for the first game and DH Raul, I suspect Raul will play the field in Game 2 with Stairs as DH.
Centerfield: Phillies. I’ll take Shane over Melky any day of the week.
Rightfield: Phillies. I’ll take Werth over Swisher any day of the week.
Designated Hitter: Yankees. The designated hitter is an abomination (how about that, I used the word abomination twice on this blog this month). I hate the DH rule. Just in case you haven’t picked up on my feelings toward the DH, I don’t like it.
Coaching: Phillies. Charlie usually makes solid decisions and Davey Lopes is the best coach in baseball. When it comes to strategy I feel Charlie will use substitutions better than Girardi.
So there you have it. 5-4-4 to the Yankees, and I think the starting pitching is a major factor.
My Heart Says: Phillies in 5 games
My Head Says: Yankees in 6 games
Right now my heart and head are not speaking to each other.
It’s time for baseball.