What did I tell you? I may have been a game or two off on the final results, but I called it like it happened — the Yankees and the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. Here we are at last, one on one, mano a mano, red and white versus blue pinstripes, cheese steaks facing franks, a remarkable repeat going up against the rebirth of a dynasty. Sifting through all of these diverse elements, there’s one shared ingredient that should dictate the winner of this year’s Fall Classic. That of course is offense, offense and more offense. Wait, is that three ingredients, or one? Whatever, let’s keep this train moving.
The reason it’s going to come down to slugging is because the pitching is so even, it’s scary. Both squads boast a bona fide left-handed ace — CC Sabathia (NY) and Cliff Lee (PHI) — and have secondary starters that are lights out most of the time but get hit hard if they’re struggling — A.J. Burnett (NY) and Cole Hamels (PHI). Andy Pettitte (NY) is past his prime and so is Pedro Martinez (PHI), so Game Three is another balancing act. Critics may be inclined to give the Bronx bullpen the edge with postseason legend Mariano Rivera at the backend, but looking at overall productivity, it’s another dead heat as both teams had an identical 3.91 E.R.A. in the regular season.
With the east-side hurlers out of the discussion, we turn to the behemoth bats that both teams have fielded for their postseason runs. There’s no denying the pure power-speed combination of the Phillies, with Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to knock it out of the park and Rollins and Victorino to keep things rolling on the base paths. And then there’s Chase Utley, a new breed of second baseman that has no problem blasting a homer or swiping a bag.
But as I argued in my pick in the Yankees-Angels ALCS, the New York offense is just a little better than its opponent’s. One through five, the Yanks’ regular lineup of Jeter, Damon, Teixeira, Rodriguez and Posada combines a breadth of skill and wealth of experience that no pitcher can shut down. I fully expect Jeter — or Mr. October as he’s come to be known — to lead the charge at the top of the lineup, allowing Big-Tex and A-Rod to see plenty of pitches to go yard on. Whether in new Yankee Stadium or Citizens Bank Park, I would be shocked to see New York finish with less than five runs in more than one game, if in any at all.
The saying, “Defense wins championships,” may hold true in most cases, but not this year. In 2009, allow me to ordain the saying, “Money wins championships by buying players to tear the cover off the ball.” It may not have the same ring to it, but there’s no doubting its validity with this year’s World Series winner. Who’s your daddy now, Pedro?
Bankees in Six