Tonight, October 28th, at about 8 pm the New York Yankees will take the field in their new $1.5 billion dollar Yankee Stadium to face off with the Philadelphia Phillies, both winners of their respective League Championship playoffs. They will battle to win the best of seven game series to determine who will be the baseball World Champions for 2009.
The Fox network will carry the series. I am sure they dreamed of an East-West match up of the LA Dodgers and New York Yankees as the optimum and best ratings-creating pairing. However, the Yankees – Phillies will assure good ratings from the large metropolitan East Coast cities like NY, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. (You can bet those Bostonians will not be rooting for the Yankees as evidenced by my Boston fan brother Donald’s disdain for them. Oh no, he literally hates the Yankees and he’s representative of probably 99% of those who live in New England.)
Both teams are rather evenly matched in their rosters and especially their pitching rotation. Tonight the Yankees will start their acquired star and highly paid roster addition ($161 million seven year contract signed last winter as a free agent) , C. C. Sabathia, a 6′ 7″, 290 pound fireballing behemoth who won 19 games this past regular season. The Phillies will counter with their own ace, Cliff Lee. Both had once been teammates for the Cleveland Indians and Cy Young Award winners in consecutive years, 2007-08. Both were traded by Cleveland for financial reasons. Now both these formidable lefties will be a decisive pitching advantage for their teams.
Pundits pick the Yankees because they are the better team based on the huge payroll for their players – in excess of $230 million dollars overall – almost double that of any other team. The Yankees won 103 games in the regular season and breezed through the playoffs. They have home field advantage which may be a considerable edge since the Yankees won 41 of their last 51 games at home.They have the momentum and the roster to win it all including their elite closer, Mariano Rivera, possibly the best at that in baseball. He has a 0.77 ERA in 84 postseason appearances.
Others say the Phillies will win it. They have the confidence factor in that they are the reigning champs and as such will battle hard to retain their crown. They have the muscle to out slug the Yanks in a seven game match up especially considering both ballparks are home run friendly. They have good pitching and good defense to back it up. They have a team of big time players capable of going up against all the Yanks have to throw at them.
The fan factor is possibly a toss up as to which are the more avid. Both are inflicted with what is known as the BIRG Syndrome (Bathing In Reflected Glory). Both are hard for a visiting team to play in front of and will harangue, harass, and hamper all players on the field within hearing – or even throwing – distance of them with no mercy shown. However, experts in observing fan behavior accede that the Philly fans are decidedly nastier than any in baseball – perhaps a slight edge over the remarkably nasty New Yorkers.
So, taking all I can read and see into account, analyzing all available facts and equalizing the intangibles, I predict it will be an exciting World Series – perhaps the most closely decided in recent years. That I am predicting for sure. Look for a game winning late inning home run in at least two games, amazing pitching in at least two more. And some crazy plays in several games. Let’s hope the umpire crews are rested and rehearsed enough not to make some of the egregious mistakes they made in the playoffs.
I am inclined to pick the Yanks in seven games. Sorry Peggy.