The Prediction: Phillies in 7.
The Phillies have arguably the best lineup, top to bottom, in Major League Baseball. But just as important as how good they are is how clutch they are: they can never be ruled out of any game. They took the lead in the ninth inning in three out of their seven wins this postseason and have clutch hitters up and down the lineup.
The Phillies’ rotation may not be quite as strong throughout as the Yankees’, but most of the pitchers in it have been showing up big time so far in the postseason. Cliff Lee has been remarkable ever since he stepped into a Phillies uniform, and Pedro Martinez has shown that even at 37 he’s still got the stuff to be a quality major league starter. If 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels can come close to replicating what he was able to do last postseason, this could even turn into an edge for the Phillies.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has admittedly done an impressive job in guiding the Yankees to the World Series in only his second year managing. Yet the way he has managed his bullpen in the team’s losses has raised some eyebrows among many Yankees fans. Charlie Manuel knows what his team needs to do to win and has shown that he knows how to lead a team to victory in the playoffs.
Out of the 24 experts on ESPN.com who made predictions before the playoffs started, exactly none of them picked the Phillies to repeat. Only six of them even had the Phillies making the Fall Classic. The team has heard all year about how they faced a weak Rays team last year and they won’t be able to deal with the best that the American League has to offer this time around—and it’s ready to respond.
The Postseason Experience
The Phillies have won 16 of their last 20 postseason games dating back to last season. No National League team has ever done this. This is a team that thrives off of the pressure of October (and November). It knows what it takes to win in the postseason and it has at least one more strong series in them.
The X Factor: Brad Lidge
While he may not be quite the force that he was in 2008, the Phillies’ closer has put together quite a solid effort so far in the 2009 postseason, allowing only one hit in his five appearances while making three saves. If he can act like his 2008 self for one more series, the Phillies will be near impossible to take down late in a game.
Why You Should Care
Take a look at the players on this team. They’re class acts. Not a prima donna among the group, and not a single player who’s ever been accused of taking steroids. Compared to the Yankees, run by maniac owner George Steinbrenner and functioning on a $201 million payroll—and really, now, who do you want to see take this matchup? Cardinals fans here at Wash. U. can gain a bit of legitimacy for their team, as a Phillies win gives a bit more respect to the top teams of the much-beleaguered NL.
Kurt Rohrbeck is a Phillies fan and wrote an intentionally slanted article. For an opposing argument from a Yankee fan, see Daniel Kurzner’s article “Prediction: Yankees in 6 games” on studlife.com. For a neutral perspective on the World Series, see Steven Simon’s article “2009 World Series Showdown” on studlife.com.