In Defense of the Reigning World Champions
Editor’s Note: We’ve given (and will continue to give) the Yankees so much love around here, we thought it was a good idea to give a Phillies fan a chance to chime in. Here’s joePA with his take:
Chase Utley said it best after the Phillies won the city’s first championship in over 25 years: “World f*cking Champions.” That’s exactly what you need to know about the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies.
Despite the taunting by the New York media machine, a glossy, title-less new Yankees Stadium, and the Post’s moronic cheap shots, defending the title is still the major story arc for the Phillies’ return to the World Series. The feverish excitement in Southeastern Pennsylvania is contagious to the point of delirium, particularly with Philly’s notoriously crude and lude fans. In the drunken hysteria of winning the National League Pennant for the second year in a row, an asshat in Fishtown shot his drinking buddy. Folks are even offering and peddling sex for tickets to games (and it’s working!). G-Love, Philly’s hometown white boy rapper, has stepped into the studio to cut a track under the name GuerrillaDelphia for the team’s return to baseball’s big show.
The Phillies’ bullpen became a major issue after the All Star break, as it began to give up hits and runs. Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee added the much-needed sting from the mound in the off-season, but the power hitters at top of the Yankees’ line up will give the ace lefthander a run for the money. Cole Hamels has struggled and hasn’t brought the same magic to this year’s playoff. He will still be a deciding factor in Game 3. Brad “Lights Out” Lidge has finally emerged from his slump, saving three games in the first two rounds. He has yet to give up a run in the off season. As far as bats go, Ryan Howard has been Mr. October. As we’ve seen in the off-season, Howard is an explosive slugger when he steps to the plate. The improvements in his swing have also made him a remarkable hitter, batting .360 with 10 home runs and 12 doubles since the beginning of September. Rollins is a torpedo on base and dangerous at the plate, as the Dodgers found out in Game 4. Manny Ramirez had already hit the showers at the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a comfortable lead when Rollins’ clutch walk-off double stunned L.A. With 25 steals, Shane Victorino — “the Flyin’ Hawaiian” — is also a significant threat on the bags. This is an important advantage the Phils have compared to the Yankees: speed. With 31 home runs and 93 RBIs this season, Chase Utley’s prowess at the plate has been a major offensive factor. However, Utley’s critical defensive errors have been nerve-wracking and the weakest link throughout the off-season.
Though the Phillies’ roster is significantly underpaid compared to the Yankees bench, the team plays with heart. South Broad Street is a notoriously challenging place for any team to play, even though it’s a hitters park and just a 100-mile trek due south on the Turnpike through the dirty Jerz. Jimmy Rollins predicted on “The Jay Leno Show” that the Phils would take it in 5. I’ll bet a Pat’s cheese steak — wit onions — and a six pack of Yuengling they’ll take it in 6. “