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Monday, October 26, 2009

First Take on Phillies-Yankees World Series

It seems like many of the pundits are favoring the Yankees. There appear to be three main reasons for this: 1) the Yankees pitching is better than the Phillies from top to bottom; 2) the Yankees' hitting is formidable; and 3) the Yankees are very hot at home and have the home field advantage. All are good reasons.

That said, the Phillies played well on the road this year and in Yankee Stadium. Their hitting is formidable too, and they have a knack for being resilient and coming from behind. Their pitching, on paper, isn't as strong as that of the Yankees, but, then again, they don't have Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Ryan Franklin, either, not to mention the dynamic combination of Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday. Yes, Cole Hamels is a question mark, yes, three good post-season appearances doesn't sell many that Brad Lidge is the same as he was in 2008, and, no Phillies' fan can say with great certainty whether Pedro Martinez the future Hall of Famer will show up in Game 2 or whether either Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ will pitch better in this series than they did in either the NLDS or NLCS.

So, if you live in Central New Jersey or north, the Phillies shouldn't have a chance. The AL is the superior league, A-Rod is showing up in the post-season, Jeter and Posada have been their before, Andy Pettitte is clutch, Mark Teixeira is awesome and who has a better #1 starter than C.C. Sabathia? All good points.

But, the Phillies are the defending national champions. Their lineup resembles that of an American League team. Rollins more than holds his own against Jeter, Carlos Ruiz is a good field general and clutch hitter, Cliff Lee has been good in the post-season, Ryan Howard has far out-hit Teixeira in the post-season, and the Phillies' outfield is (much) better than the Yankees'. Also, the much-criticized bullpen has bent but not broken, Brad Lidge seems more relaxed, and somehow they find a way to win -- they keep coming at you. That will be the view espoused from northern Delaware through south Jersey, Philadelphia and the four counties surrounding it.

This ought to be a great series. This year the best team in each league is representing its league in the World Series. Both have great players, both have great fan bases, and both represent large cities. It's a match-up of the defending world champs against the most-heralded franchise in baseball. What more could a fan ask for?


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