Ws_logo The New York Yankees are the definition of the greatest franchise in all of professional sports. They just won their fortieth American League championship of all time. If you are a historian of the game you know how truly amazing this number is. No one else is remotely close. This year the Yankees dispensed with the Twins and the Angels with relative ease. Now they face the best team they have played so far, the reigning World Series Champion Philadelphia Phils. If I had to pick a winner this evening it would have to be the Yankees. The Phils are tested and strong, especially when it comes to team chemistry and hitting. But after Cliff Lee they are not as solid as N.Y. in starting pitching and their bullpen does not compare.

These have to be the best two starting lineups in baseball. Both can mash the ball and manufacture runs both. And both are always able to come from behind and win when down early in the game by four or five runs. So this could be a great offensive series. Expect more than a few home runs playing in two of the most home run friendly parks in all of baseball.

Both teams have good starters, or at least two good starters. My concern for the Phils is with Cole Hammels. He was dominant last year but has never regained that level of excellence this season. This has carried over into the post-season and now he may be the weak link in the Phils starting rotation. When C. C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee match up the irony is really strong—only a year ago, before the trade deadline, they were both pitching for the Cleveland Indians. Now they square off against one another representing Philadelphia and New York. They should both give us solid starting pitching for at least two, maybe three, games.The "wild card" for the Phils is the old veteran Pedro Martinez. How will he fare against the Yankees?

In my view the bullpen strongly favors the Yankees. Watching the Phils play the Braves a lot during the regular season it was obvious that the Phils bullpen was not dependable. Brad Lidge has not been a solid closer and this could well cost Philadelphia a game in this potentially tough series. Mariano Rivera, on the other hand, just gets it done in the post-season. Advantage: Yankees.

So, my guess is that the Yankees win in six or seven games in a very entertaining series. It could turn out to be a great series of both teams play at their best but I think the Yanks will prevail in the end. Joe Girardi has proven to be a great manager, winning in both Florida and New York. He is the manager the Cubs really wanted. If he wins he does it in his second year in the pressure cooker called New York. I am not a huge fan of either team but I will enjoy the series, as always. Real baseball fans look forward to these games and remember them for a long, long time. "Play Ball."

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  1. Bob Myers October 27, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    The Phillies are not at all unhappy with the title of underdog, and hopefully the underdog Phillies will prevail. From my FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes connection I hear that Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino have shared their testimony and attend Bible study. Brad Lidge has a deep and clear faith. I have heard Ibanez is believer. I’m not as up on the Yanks, but know about Andy Pettitte’s faith. So in addition to enjoying the great sport of baseball, I like to look for examples of Christ-like sportsmanship and humility.

  2. John H. Armstrong October 27, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Bob, me too. I believe a few Yankees are believers as well. I have had the privilege of doing MLB chapels over the years and pray for a lot of these guys who know our Lord.

  3. Joe Heschmeyer October 27, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    We’ve had our agreements and our disagreements before, and on more important issues, but I’ve never been so appalled by something you’ve said before. The Yankees are “the definition of the greatest franchise in all of professional sports”? I’m just in shock.
    I gotta go with Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture on this one: – Short and sweet.
    I’m kidding of course. Pettitte sounds like a great guy, and former Yankee David Cone’s sister was in a prayer group with my mom back when he was a Royal: he sounded like a great guy from his sister’s description.
    I won’t be rooting for the Yankees this (or any) year, but I have to respect a lot of the guys on the team, like Bob said above.

  4. Dave Moorhead October 28, 2009 at 12:10 am

    John, I agree with you… If forced to pick a winner tonight it would be the Yankees in six. Why? Don’t forget the home field advantage. The Yanks haven’t lost a home game throughout these playoffs. You can’t pitch around the Yankess while you can get away with pitching around Ryan Howard; not without risk, but a lot easier than with any of the Yankees. And also, Rodriguez is hot out of his mind. He should have been the ALCS MVP. I just wish the Dodgers were there!

  5. Richard October 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    You guys are out of your mind! Have you seen the Phillies play lately? They are HOT! Phillies in 5!

  6. Steve Scott October 29, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Phillies in three. Three thrashings and a forfeit for not showing up in game four!
    p.s. Mariano Rivera is a Christian, too.

  7. John H. Armstrong October 29, 2009 at 7:38 am

    If the Phils could pitch Cliff Lee four times maybe!

  8. andrew November 3, 2009 at 11:14 am

    John, you are proving to be prescient. The series (unfortunately as a phils fan) is playing out as you described, the bullpen will be their undoing (as it was almost last night despite an 8-2 lead)

  9. John Espino November 4, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I think the boys in my house are cheering on the Yankees, mostly because C.C Sabathia lives (or lived, he just moved to NJ) in our town, and is locally from Vallejo, and he is a household name in Little circles out here.
    Other than that, we are hoping for at least 7 games for them to do it.
    Baseball crazy here in CA!!

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