By Jose Bautista
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Major League Baseball World Series match up is now set.
After weeks of exciting postseason baseball, the National and American League finalist teams have been determined.
From the National League you have the 2008 defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
The American League has the most historically rich team in the history of the sport, the New York Yankees.
Both teams took rather easy roads to get to this final match up, losing only three games combined all postseason.
The Phillies made quick work of the Colorado Rockies in the Divisional round and slugged through Los Angeles Dodgers pitching in the National League Championship Series.
The Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins in the Divisional Round, and then dismantled the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Led by one of the marquee Yankee acquisitions this summer, C.C. Sabathia, and the otherworldly hitting of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who seems to have put his previous postseason woes behind him, the Yankees are set in their quest for the elusive 27th championship banner in the Bronx. The Yankees last made it to the World Series in 2003, where they were defeated in six games by the Florida Marlins.
The Phillies are anchored by first baseman Ryan Howard, who like Rodriguez has been on a torrid hitting streak. Midseason acquisition Cliff Lee is the clear-cut number one starter since Cole Hamels has had his share of troubles this year.
For the postseason, Rodriguez is batting .407 with five home runs and 11 runs batted in. Four of those home runs were to either tie the game or put the Yanks ahead.
Howard, who won the National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player award after defeating Los Angeles, is batting .355 with two home runs, fourteen runs batted in, and even a triple. For a 6-foot-5-inch guy weighing 255 pounds, he’s doing things this postseason he rarely does.
Both have passed Lou Gehrig’s mark of having batted in at least one run in eight straight postseason games.
While the match up should be interesting, entertaining and evenly matched for both teams, I feel that the Yankees will emerge victorious from this World Series in six games.
The Yankees and Phillies both have superb pitching and hitting.
While one could say that the Phillies have the experience since they won last year and there are quite a few Yankees who have never been to a World Series, I believe that the Yankees have the edge this time around.
The Yankees have home-field advantage, and even though the Phillies don’t need home-field advantage to win a series as evidenced this year and last, the World Series is different from any other postseason series.
For far too long Rodriguez has been the scapegoat for the Yankees’ recent postseason failures. He is now the new “Mr. October,” and I believe he will continue this into November after all is said and done. He has been a gigantic part of the Yankees’ success this season, helping out second year manager Joe Girardi after missing out on the playoffs last year for the first time since 1993.
Brad Lidge, the all star closer for the Phillies, has been perfect this postseason, but even he has to admit he hasn’t faced a lineup that’s as scary as his team’s in the playoffs.
With postseason legends Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter all on top of their game at the moment, I don’t see how the Phillies can counter for four games.
The World Series is the New York Yankees’ to lose.