Many baseball fans have complained that the World Series has not been entertaining or memorable during the past few seasons.
Last year Philadelphia and Tampa Bay had the now-infamously suspended Game Five, which made that series memorable for all the wrong reasons.
In 2004, the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, certainly memorable for Boston fans, but for the rest of the country the series was awful, with the Sox sweeping easily. That year's American League Championship Series was much more entertaining than the World Series.
The last really good World Series? I would say 2001, when the New York Yankees faced off against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It took seven games and a walk off win to bring home the trophy. Couple that with all the emotion, especially emanating from New York following the biggest tragedy in the country since Pearl Harbor, and you have a series for the ages.
However, baseball fans, there is no need to fear this year.
The saying is that "to be the best, you have to beat the best," and that holds true here. The Yankees, with the best record in Major League Baseball this year at 103-59 (the only team in the majors to win 100 games) square off against the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia versus New York has all the elements needed to make this year’s World Series truly exciting and memorable.
No, it’s not the Subway World Series of 2000 between the Yankees and Mets, but it’s still close.
This year it is the American League East champion against the National League East champion. With both cities separated by the New Jersey Turnpike and a rich sports history between the two fan bases (NFL’s Giants-Eagles rivalry anyone?), the geographic tension alone gives this matchup a boost in intensity.
If you’re going to any of the games, either at Yankee Stadium or Citizen’s Bank Park, make sure to bring your glove because there are sure to be a ton of souvenirs. Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia saw 207 home runs clear its fence, the most in the National League, while the new Yankee Stadium surrendered 237 home runs, the most in the American League.
Both teams led their respective leagues in runs scored.
Chicks dig the long ball, and so will everyone else that watches this series.
Combined, the two teams have nearly a $315,000,000 payroll, 75 total All-Star appearances, five Cy Young awards, five MVP awards, and three World Series MVP awards.
I could also just list names: Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, and Andy Pettitte.
These two teams are like their very own All-Star teams, having assembled the best talent in all of baseball. Now they will all be on one field in the sport’s biggest showcase.
Late Inning Heroics
Both these teams have a taste for dramatic wins.
The Yankees led all of major league baseball with 15 walk-off wins and 51 comeback victories in 2009. It wasn’t always the big boppers that got key hits either. Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano all got chances to play the hero for New York.
The Phillies also have their fair share of walk-off wins, especially in big games. In last year’s World Series, Carlos Ruiz won Game Three with a walk off infield single , giving the Phillies a 2-1 series lead that they would not relinquish.
Just last week in the NLCS Game Four, Jimmy Rollins came through with a walk-off two run double with two outs, putting the Phillies ahead in the series 3-1, and demoralizing pitcher Jonathan Broxton and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
These two squads are full of players who are very confident in their, and the rest of their team's, abilities. No deficit is too insurmountable and it’s never too late. Their penchant for coming from behind and making it interesting until the final out will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
Many fans who sought a Yankees and Dodgers matchup wanted to see Joe Torre back in the Bronx and while others wanted the opportunity to boo Manny Ramirez one more time.
However, these two teams are more familiar with each other than people realize.
For starters, Phillies reserve infielder Miguel Cairo played for the Yankees from 2004-2007.
In 2006, Yankees manager Joe Girardi got his start as the manager of Philadelphia’s division foes the Florida Marlins, where he was named National League Manager of the Year. That team went 6-13 against the Phillies that season.
Wednesday’s Game One starters—CC Sabathia for New York and Cliff Lee for Philadelphia—were teammates with the Cleveland Indians from 2002 to 2008.
Sabathia’s manager his first year and a half in the big leagues was Philadelphia’s current manager Charlie Manuel.
Probably the biggest tie between CC and the Phillies is last year’s NLDS, when Sabathia was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. In his one start in Game Two, Sabathia was shelled by the Phillies offensive powerhouse. He lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up six hits, four walks, and five runs. Lowlights included walking pitcher Brett Myers and giving up a grand slam to Shane Victorino.
While Manny Ramirez was certainly a popular nemesis to the Yankees, who was really New York’s No. 1 villain? That would be Martinez of course.
When asked about his history with the Yankees recently, Martinez replied, “Really? They have a long history with me.”
Pedro has a career record of 10-11 against the Yankees, and is 1-2 in the playoffs against them. Statistics aside, the memories Martinez and the Yankees created have been juicy; perfect to elevate the entertainment of the series.
There was the time, in a bench clearing brawl, that Martinez pushed aside then-Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground. There was also the time Martinez was asked about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry and he replied, “I don't believe in rivalries. I don't believe in curses. Wake up the damn Bambino, maybe I'll drill him in the ass.”
And of course, after a late-season loss to the Yankees, Martinez said in a post-game interview, “I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddies.”
Martinez against the Yankees is first class theatre. Martinez in the playoffs is domination. He is a career 6-2 in the postseason, including a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA in the World Series.
How much more drama can fans ask for?
Finally, there is the prospect of both clubs making history.
For the Yankees, a win would give them their 27th title, extending their stranglehold on the MLB record. It would also be their first championship since their victory in the 2000 series.
The Phillies have an opportunity to be the first team to repeat as champions since the Yankees did it in 1998, 1999, and 2000. They would also be the first National League team to win consecutive titles since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.
Both these teams are deserving of playing for the championship. They both have become teams that live to play in the huge moments like those that await them in the series. The teams are fearless and confident, and they will not back down to the other squad; rather they will answer every challenge that is brought up.
It is sure to be an exhilarating series, just you watch.