Ah, New Jersey. The strip of land stuffed in between two of the country’s major cities, New York and Philadelphia. The North East Corridor, the Accella Express, the New Jersey Turnpike, I-95, US-1, and the list goes on…with the MLB World Series taking place between the two cities the next week or so is going to be commuter chaos and broadcasters will make more cliche’d references to all of the above and some interesting side notes on the travel state that will dominate things. Lovely, indeed, a series that has nothing to do with Jersey were Jersey will be as much of the headline as anything else when the cliche’s finally end.
As for the WS, which is the real topic of this post, it is the Yankees versus the Phillies. So, two teams with 100 year histories are about to make some history despite not having much more than the existing city rivalry to speak of. The last time they faced in a World Series most of the fanbase probably wasn’t even born.
It figures to be a tight series overall with lots of story lines to be exploited by unimaginative broadcaster cliches and terrible commentary by myself and fellow blogger (and Phucking Phils Phan) Bobby. Surprisingly, Bobby and I agree on the final outcome, Yankees in six. However, we both get there in slightly different ways. It could go either way if the series makes it the full seven, and then, Bobby and I actually disagree, and pick the other one’s team to win it.
the City that Never Sleeps versus the City of Brotherly Love
The 26 previous titles and 40 AL pennants give the Yankees not only a commanding lead in titles but also winning percentage in the fall classic. Every time they’ve opened a new stadium, they’ve won in October. Their league leading wins this season stemmed in part from their ability to crush home runs and out-pitch opponents along with taking advantage of sub-.500 teams consistently. there isn’t even a good cliche to end with other than… Nostalgia.
The defending champion Phillies are no slouches either as they attempt to become the first NL team to repeat since the Big Red Machine. Other than the ‘what have you done lately?’ ‘oh, won last years series,’ the Phils don’t have a lot of nostalgia (unless you count those 10,000 franchise losses). However, the Phils dominated the NL in a similar fashion as the Yanks did in the AL with home run happy hitting and strong pitching. Newness.
edge… Yankees, nostalgia and the fact that there’s no rest for winners! Besides… there’s hardly anything brotherly about Philly sports fans (lub u bob!).
Lady Liberty versus the Liberty Bell
NYY cranks out the runs. Not just any runs either. Home runs. And, lots of them. Big towering ones. The type that causes pitchers heart attacks because up and down the lineup everyone hits them. It is not just about the jacks though. The Yanks showed they could play small ball when they needed to and were more aggressive on the base-pads than what they are normally given credit for (as long as Posada isn’t lumbering between bases). During the season they had a very balanced lineup with a threatening presence top to bottom. In the playoffs it felt cooler with Tiex and Swish both struggling and as a team a bit of inconsistency with RISP but should either, or scary, both, come to, well, then apart from NL park pitcher hitting you couldn’t design many more sick lineups than this in a perfect fantasy draft.
Phils are no slouches either in the jack department. They can pretty much pop one out of the park anytime they want it seems. What makes their lineup dangerous is the consistency in which they do it, through the season and to this point going into the series. Although it’s not quite as dangerous top to bottom as some AL teams, the producers produce and it is really designed more like an AL team than an NL which is what makes them so dangerous in the WS. If Utley and Ibanez heat up, it becomes a much more potent lineup and the little things they do could go a long way.
Push… liberty is liberty, after all.
Pizza versus Cheese Steaks
The Yanks have a solid ace in CC. They have a solid (and well seasoned) #3 in Pettite. Now, AJ is an anomaly, when he’s on, he’s been soooooooo on, but when he’s off for an inning it is terribly off (lets just hope it’s the second and not the seventh when it happens!). There is no number four once again in this series, so the rest is up to the depth of the bull pen. But given the fact that CC pitches three times and gamer Pettite pitches twice, even if AJ implodes, this could be the difference in the series with the Yanks starters being clearly ahead.
Phils have a great story line sending their mercenary Cliff Lee to the hill against his former team mate to open game one. Ex-Yankee killer Martinez takes the ball for game two but will good Pedro or bad Pedro show up? Good Pedro is the story of lore, bad Pedro is the Mets worst nightmares, both are capable of being game changing. Hammels is slated for game three and considering his inconsistency all year one has to wonder what that will bring in what could be a crucial pivot game. As for the rest the youth of Happ and the mediocrity (yet consistency) of Blanton are options for #4, but #4 by committee is never a good sign and the starters just aren’t as convincing in a three man rotation.
Fat boys eat Pizza. CC and company have the edge in this department, Yanks best Phils (though, that cheese steak is damned good).
Bagels versus Pretzels
The Yankee pen was a weakness, than a strength, then a weakness… and yet, Mr. Automatic, Mo Rivera can cap out six out saves like its nobody’s business. Period. End of Story. Case Closed. Enter Sandman! He’s home grown talent like the top four bridge guys to him, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain, as well as Aceves who is a product of great overseas scouting by the Yanks. When those five are on, it has the potential to slaughter with Rivera to end the kill. There were a few rough patches during the post season with the bridge youth, but even when they were less than stellar, they are still able to get something done as a unit.
Phils went into the post-season with more questions in the pen than answers, beginning with one B.Lidge (the B stands for blow save?!?!). Lidge turned it around and so Madson and the rest of the crew. The biggest difference is there is a question to the depth of that middle relief, as they haven’t been tested yet. The starters took care of business, but if, under the pressure of a bad start, or an extra inning game, there isn’t a lot of experience and a lot of examples of being crushed under pressure to this point. The arms are there, no doubt… but are the heads?
If you are gonna deep fry dough make it a morning treat you wake up to with a happy face on. Yanks, if for nothing more than Mo-bot.
The ‘pike versus I-95
Yanks are not weak in the field. But they aren’t exactly strong either. Tiex undoes all the things you have to scratch your head at coming from the rest of the infield on double plays. Even if the weather sucks Cano is still solid at 2nd, Jete is a headshaker at SS and A-roid (um, rod) plays a solid third. It’s a good IF unit overall, so no qualms there. Melky’s arm carries the entire outfield, even if Swish and Damon are both weak on positions and Gartner is not much of a D upgrade. Catcher will be the majority Posada which is a woe, but for the games with the crazies pitching he might be an automatic out but Molina can carry a game in his own right in his management.
Phils have some gold glove flash to work with as well with Victorino leading the charge in the OF. Add in the athletics of Werth and the depth of Ibanz’s game and that’s a solid OF overall. Not scary, but definitely more fleet footed and better armed. As for the IF, Howard is big and lumbering, the Jay Giambi type (whom, I know NY, I did love) while he’s receiving Chuck Knoblauck style fielding from Utley and less than his gold glove heritage play from J-Roll and nothing a lumbering Feliz adds to the mix helps, so far. Not the most amazing setup for in infield on the D but if the K’s come from the pitching the plays won’t be as big an issue. As for catcher, holding the majority of the Yanks in check would be the Ruiz who is alright, but what he really bring to the table is the constancy of his call, like the Molinas and V-tek in Boxland, he’s got that covered.
Defensive driving 101… all tri-state area drivers suck, but Philla people leave the city more than NY’ers, they got the ‘sperience. It’s actually a push depending on how the pitching goes how much the fielding comes into play with the Phils having a slight edge especially in the OF
Skyscrapers versus Ben Franklin’s
Yanks have former Yank (and, yet another Joe!) catcher at the helm. The second year manager resurrected the team from last years first time since what seamed like forever failure to make the playoffs to get to the series. Yet, don’t be surprised, the team was built much better to do this after lifting the weighty contracts of players who were suckling off the tit of the Yanks legacy from early in decade as they were ready to retire. This isn’t Joe’s ability to manager, it’s a leaner team that came together. No doubt. And, next year, with even more open contracts they will fill in more holes and make Joe look even more genius.
Phils have Uncle Charlie. He’s kind of that creepy, blue collar industry guy that seems to always win the lottery. He isn’t likable, actually, he’s kind of abrasive, but he’s diligent and gets the job done. He took a great team build and molded it into this over the past few years to become the first NL team to make it here back to back in a long time. Irony is a blessing it’s against the Yanks, but that could be another post altogether. What matters is his experience managing AL style baseball for an AL built team that is facing the definition of it.
Ben Franklin was the father of this country. Uncle Charlie is the father of Philly sanity. No sense in arguing with it: Skyscrapers get hit with lightening… Ben channeled it, edge Phils.
And there you have it. Tonight, game 1. We’ll see where it goes from there.