The World Series is finally here. After another grueling 162 game season and two rounds of the playoffs, the Fall Classic is back. This year features what many thought were the two best teams all year, the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. Two of the most passionate baseball cities collide in what should be an epic battle for the crown. The rough, blue-collar Philly fans and the obnoxious crowd from the Bronx will surely make this Series even more memorable.
Besides the fan bases of the East Coast, the Yankees and Phillies are extremely similar ball clubs. Each has a devastating lineup from top to bottom as the Yankees and Phillies were the top two home run hitting teams this year. Add to that the fact that Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park are notorious bam boxes and we could be in for a high scoring affair. Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard have battled for the title of Mr. October this fall, and will get to decide it head to head. They each tied Lou Gehrig’s mark of eight consecutive postseason games with an RBI. It could come down to which slugger can keep up with this blistering pace. Trying to combat the offensive power surge will also be a key factor.
The big matchup on the mound is one between two former teammates. Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia played in Cleveland together for parts of 5 years. Indians fans can only wonder what happened. The aces have remained friends, and now could single-handedly decide who goes home with a ring. The lefties could face each in three games if it goes the full seven. It will certainly be intriguing to watch. Lee has gone 2-0 with a .74 ERA this postseason. Sabathia has been just as good, compiling a 3-0 record with a 1.19 ERA. The Phillies ripped Sabathia last year when he was on Milwaukee. Many attribute that to CC being blown out just to carry the Brewers into October. Lee is no stranger to the Yankees as he faced them throughout his time in the AL. Will they continue to dazzle, or will the opposing lineups be too much to contain?
Another area worth noting is the bullpen. The Yankees have Mariano Rivera to close things out, but the bridge needs some repair. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have struggled in the playoffs. The Phillies have overcome some problems of their own. Brad Lidge was the question mark coming into the postseason, but he has converted all save opportunities and given up no runs. The rest of the ‘pen has made things interesting. Ryan Madson has blown a few leads and J.A. Happ has been uncomfortable without a more defined role. Both bullpens are vulnerable until the ninth, when the closers take over.
Even better than the battle between J-Roll and Troy Tulowitzki in the Division Series, is the matchup of Rollins and Jeter. The shortstops are the leaders of their clubs and have come through in the clutch. Jeter has had another solid performance leading the Pinstripes through October. Rollins came through in a big way with his 9th inning double against the Dodgers, effectively ending any hope for L.A. I give the edge to Jeter at the dish, but J-Roll is the standard defensively.
Perhaps the most fascinating possibility in this World Series is the chance that Pedro Martinez takes the mound in the Bronx. Martinez could pitch in Game 2 in Yankee Stadium, bringing back the memories of Pedro’s days as a Yankee menace. The veteran famously called the Yankees “his daddy” and was in the middle of a legendary brawl in 2003. Now, Martinez seems different and much calmer. But when the bright lights go on, the competitor will most definitely be ready. In his lone start this postseason, he went 7 shutout innings. Can he do it again?
So, which team is going to win it all? I think the Phillies will come out on top and repeat as champions in a dramatic seven game series. They have a slightly more balanced lineup. Everyone is on the same page and the Phils’ clubhouse has a quiet understanding of what needs to get done. The Yankees haven’t been quite as perfect as it seems, as the Twins and Angels each had plenty of opportunities but didn’t take them. The Phillies will take advantage with their relentless lineup, effectively leaving the Yankees without a title. The Philadelphia Phillies will be World Champions of Baseball once again.