New York - Philadelphia: Let's get it on!
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I have heard it called the Liberty Series. I have heard it called the Battle of the Broads...Broadway versus Broad street, get it?
I am just going to call it exactly what it is: the most anticipated World Series I can remember. I don't recall the last time I actually got ready to watch a World Series when I truly felt that I was watching the two best teams in baseball.
Truth be told I am originally from New York. I grew up idolizing Don Mattingly and I loved the New York Yankees. You could probably describe me as one of those elitist Yankee fans who people around the country can't stand. I refer to them as the Varsity and I love the fact that they spend a lot of money.
They make the most money, why can't they spend the most? There is a reason why television ratings won't be in the toilet for this World Series. How many other teams would have beaten the NFL in the television ratings battle on Sunday night?
I know it is probably taboo to root for teams in this profession, but it is not 1950 anymore. The media are fans just like anyone else. Some like to think they are different, but they are not. It does not change the fact that I can look at this series objectively.
The CC Sabathia-Cliff Lee matchup is about as good as it gets.
So now that we all know where we are coming from, let's get down to business.
On paper, the Yankees are the better team. They won 103 games in the better league. They have a stronger lineup. The Phillies may have more depth in their rotation, but they can't match the top-three starters of the Yankees. And the bullpen is not even a discussion with the great Mariano Rivera in the equation.
So, this should be an easy pick here, right? Wrong.
I said it a few weeks ago and I still believe it. The Phillies have IT. I am not sure exactly what IT is, but they have IT. They are not going to be intimidated playing the big, bad, Yankees.
And they shouldn't be, they are the world champions.
Everyone knows about Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but more often than not, it is the secondary players like Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz who kill you. They are as close to an American League team as there is in the National League.
There is just something about this team that makes you think they are never out of it. Even though they won last year, you still get the sense that the Phillies are hungry.
In case you haven't heard, Jay Z will be performing before Game 2, and for some reason, the movie Rocky IV keeps popping into my head. James Brown sang "Living in America" before the Apollo Creed-Ivan Drago exhibition. Creed was there dancing around with Brown, while Drago just watched, getting ready to (literally) kill him.
Couldn't you just see Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter bopping their heads along with Jigga, while in the other dugout, Werth and Victorino get ready to pounce?
Either way it is going to be a great series. I will be shocked if it was a whitewash either way.
Game 1 is going to be huge for both teams. For one, the Yankees can't afford to lose and have their season rest on A.J. Burnett in Game 2. The same has to be said for Philly with regards to Pedro Martinez in the second game. I don't care how good he looked in the NLCS.
The CC Sabathia-Cliff Lee matchup is about as good as you are going to get. Actually, for those of you care about this sort of thing, it is only the sixth time in Series history that former Cy Young Award winners will be squaring off.
And we might get that matchup three times in this series.
With that said, though, let's not forget these two teams led their respective leagues in home runs. So if you are expecting a 2-1, 3-2 game on Wednesday, or in any game over the next week or so, for that matter, this might not be the series for you.
I fully expect four-plus-hour games and a lot of runs. In other words, take a nap if you plan on watching the post-games interviews.
All the Phillies have to do is get a split in New York. If they do that, they will be in good shape. I think they will win two of three either way at Citizens Bank Park.
I can't believe Charlie Manuel is pitching Martinez in the Bronx. I think he is just asking for trouble in that one. I don't think he is going to pitch well. I don't think Burnett is anything special either, but if it is a battle of bullpens, I like New York's chances.
That is why tonight is so important. It is going to be the difference as far as who has the lead back in the Bronx in Game 6, because like I said before, the Phillies will win two of three at home.
With all due respect to Ryan Howard, this whole postseason has been about Alex Rodriguez. I said before the playoffs started that I thought he would be huge. It wasn't exactly a bold prediction. All you had to do was watch him during the year to realize that he was a different player.
I don't expect him to go away in this World Series, but I don't expect him to carry the Yankees either. Mark Teixeira started to show signs of life towards the end of the Angels' series. He will be the offensive difference- maker for the Yankees.
As much as I like the Phils' grit, everything just points to the Yankees here.
I don't think Cole Hamels can just flip the switch. He has been mediocre all season, and Manuel must feel the same way or he would be starting Game 2 in the Bronx instead of Pedro. As average as New York's bullpen has been in these playoffs, it was a huge strength for it in the second half, whereas the Phils entered the postseason with the worst bullpen situation of all.
The Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine is safe. The National League will not have a repeat champion. I expect the Yanks to win the first two games in the Bronx, lose two of three in Philly, then return home with a 3-2 lead next week.
PREDICTION: YANKEES in SIX
WORLD SERIES MVP: MARK TEIXEIRA