Let's break down this series...
Philadelphia Phillies, NL Champions, Defending WS Champs...
The Phillies certainly have recent experience on their side. Virtually everybody on the roster played for the WS team of a year ago. That certainly bodes well for them. When you look at the Philadelphia starting rotation, it gets off to a great start with Lee. He was arguably the most important pick up of the 2009 season. The Phillies come back with more post-season experience in Pedro Martinez and then last year's MVP, Cole Hamels. Then Charlie Manuel has a choice, with either Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, or go right back with Lee depending on how the series is playing out.
The Phillies bullpen again is a source of questions. It seems like Brad Lidge has regained some of his form of last year, nailing down saves in the NLDC and NLCS. His confidence is back, but will it remain if a hot hitting Yankees team lights him up in an outing. Getting the ball to him has also been a tough chore at times. Chad Durbin did a nice job in the NLCS, Ryan Madson had his moments, veteran lefty Scott Eyre has been solid and Chan Ho Park has been a bit up and down. This is going to be important to the Phillies if they hope to repeat as champs.
We know that the Phils hit some home runs, and Yankee Stadium along with Citizens Bank Park, are both conducive to the long ball. The Phillies do not completely rely on the long ball though, with some speed at the top of their lineup with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.
New York Yankees, AL Champions for the 40th time...
Even though it's been a while since the Yankees made it to the World Series, there are a few key members of the team that have some credible experience in the post-season. Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera to name two. The Yankees manager, Joe Girardi also has WS experience as a player. The New York starting rotation is pretty similar to that of the Phillies, with CC Sabathia the ALCS MVP going in game one, AJ Burnett who has been up and down this post season gets game two, and Andy Pettitte will throw game three. It's very likely that Girardi will bring back Sabathia for a fourth game and possibly a 7th game if its necessary, and why not?
The Yankees bullpen is also quite similar to that of the Phillies. The only difference is a rock solid playoff and world series tested closer in Mariano Rivera. Getting the ball to him has been a bit of an adventure in the post season, but if the Yankees can get leads, and get him in the game, consider it won.
Home runs were flying off the bats of the Yankees this season as well. So again the offenses are similarly matched each team having some good table setters and good power in the middle of the lineup.
Who will win...
It's been a while since two teams that are basically mirror images of one another will face each other for all the marbles in the World Series. After thinking about some of the facts in the breakdown segment, I'm going to select the New York Yankees to win the series, and it's going to go the full 7 games.
The difference is going to be Rivera. He's about the only thing that really separates the two teams. I give the slight edge to the Yankees also in the starting rotation. Sabathia has been as advertised and worth every penny he signed for this off season and is there a bigger game pitcher in the post-season out there than Andy Pettitte? Defensively the nod goes to the Phillies, and I give them the slight edge in offense, but as many around baseball will tell you, good pitching can stop good pitching.
The other interesting thing to watch will be the use of the DH in the AL park and no DH in the NL park. Ben Francisco will likely start as DH for the Phillies in game one against the lefty Sabathia. To me the difference will be hard to notice. The Phillies are built almost like an American League team.
I really hope it's an exciting series that provides some drama, and that NO GAME IS DECIDED BY A BLOWN CALL BY AN UMPIRE!
Can I get an AMEN?
* The Phillies are the first NL team to go to back to back World Series since the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and 1996.
* The Yankees won the World Series in their first season in the Old Yankee Stadium, and played exactly 100 series games there.
* The Yankees are the last team to repeat as champions, they won three WS in a row, from 1998-2000.
Jimmy "The Greek"?
Jimmy Rollins is stirring up the pot a bit, making a bold prediction before this series starts. He told New York Newsday:
Rollins has made statements before, just ask the Mets in 2007. Rollins irritated that New York team by saying that he had no doubt the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East that year. He backed up his words by winning the NL MVP Award that season as the Phillies won the division.
Mentioned yesterday that Mark McGwire was hired as the Cardinals new hitting coach. It prompted an interesting comment from a viewer. To paraphrase, the question is, why is McGwire allowed back into baseball and Pete Rose is still banned? McGwire never admitted to steroid use, and basically dodged the issue in front of the US Congress. Rose, denied and denied and denied he ever bet on baseball, that is until it was time to sell a book, and he in a roundabout sort of way admitted to it finally. It's a tough call. McGwire never tested positive for steroids. The whole issue started when someone noticed the Andro (not going to even try and spell it) in his locker. I think the fact that McGwire has been out of sight makes many think he's guilty. I do believe that McGwire owes the game and the fans an explanation. He needs to hold a press conference before Spring Training starts to clear the air. Otherwise his presence is going to be a distraction to the Cardinals and to the game. He'll be the focus of the media every time the Cardinals visit a new city. This could be interesting.
Brad Mills has been hired as the new manager of the Houston Astros. Mills has been the bench coach in Boston under Terry Francona the last 6 seasons. He does have minor league managing experience, spending 11 seasons as a skipper for three different organizations.
The Ricketts family is finally the owner of the Chicago Cubs. They were approved by the other major league teams, and have taken a 95 percent controlling interest of the team, and Wrigley Field. The sale from the Tribune Company, was for a reported 845 million dollars.
Not sure if you realize this or not, but Brett Favre is playing the Packers this weekend in Green Bay. A special thanks to Fox-TV for making this point, VERY CLEAR during every waking moment of Sunday's NFL coverage. Ugh.
The NBA season opened tonight, somebody please wake me when it ends...
On that note...have a great night!