Tuesday, October 27, 2009

World Series 2009- TPC's Take

Elvis impersonators, Casinos and bachelor parties belong in Vegas. Surfers, freaks and Movie Stars belong in Hollywood, the World Series has come back to where it belongs, the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium in 'da Bronx, NY.
Yankee Stadium will host Game 1 tomorrow night featuring the AL's best, Bronx Bombers and the NL's best (for two years running) the Philadelphia Phillies in a very intriguing matchup with numerous subplots, which The People's Champ will breakdown right here-right now!

Who will be A Team for the Ages

The 2009 version of the Yankees have drawn comparisons to the Great 1998 Yankee squad, which many consider the greatest Yankee Team of all Time. This years version features what may be the greatest offensive infield ever to play the game at one time, with the AL's HR and RBI leader, Mark Texiera playing 1B, Robinson Cano and his .320+ average, 25HR's and 204 hits at 2B, Derek Jeter in one of his finest seasons hitting .334 and 214 Hits (Jeter and Cano became the first middle infield combo in MLB history to both amass 200+ hits in a season) and the Great Offensive force in Baseball, Alex Rodriguez at 3b (30HR and 100RBI in only 124 games after his preseason hip surgery). They have a borderline Hall of Fame Catcher in Posada, a productive OF in Swisher, Damon and Melky. Their starting pitching, although lacking in depth, features CC Sabathia, who will finish at worst, top 3 in this years CY Young Voting and was the ALCS MVP, AJ Burnett and the winning pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettite. Despite his struggles to date in the postseason, Phil Hughes was as dominant a force as any out the bullpen this year and the Greatest of them All, Mariano Rivera is as dominant as ever (statistically speaking, Mo's best two seasons were his last which is incredible considering most closers lack of longevity).
The Yankees led the league with 103 wins. They led the league in HR's, Runs, On Base Percentage and were second on Batting Average. They were tied for third in the AL in ERA despite playing in the friendliest hitters park in the league and led the league in Strikeouts. They dispatched a good Twins team in 3, and beat an Angel team that has been a nemesis for them for years in 6. A win in this World Series would justify their offseason $400M shopping spree on Tex, Sabathia and Burnett (not to mention the already inflated payroll). It would also cement their place as one of the great Yankee squads of all time.

The Phillies? Well, all it will do for them is become the first NL team to win back to back World Series since the Big Red Machine in the mid 70's. While the Yankees were slugging their way through the AL, the Phillies were doing likewise to the NL, leading the circuit in HR's and Runs. A lineup featuring the games biggest slugger in Ryan Howard, all World 2B Chase Utley, former NL MVP and the only legitimate comparable to Jeter, in Jimmy Rollins at SS. They are clearly the most stacked team in the league and their postseason bludgeons of the Dodgers have not veered anyone off that opinion. While their pitching has been an issue (we'll get into that soon) and their bullpen is their biggest weak spot (despite the apparent re-emergence of Lidge being a dependable closer), the Phillies are as tough as Rocky Balboa (Philedelphia's best known athlete). They get hit, they get bruised but they keep coming back. A win here will cement their place in history and with a core in their primes, they could be the next great Baseball Dynasty.

Arod and Howard
Coming into this postseason, Arod was the most maligned star this side of Lindsey Lohan. We all knew about his failures to perform in the clutch. He was Mr. April thru September to Reggie and Derek's Mr. October (s). He was the guy managers would intentionally load the bases to face in big spots. He was the guy with all glitter and with no glory. But a funny thing happened on the way to 2009. He got divorced in a public mess. He was named as the only one of 104 MLB players that were supposedly anonymously tested for steroids (after of course proclaiming many times he never touched the stuff- most famously on 60 Minutes). He then went public in an interview supposedly in a tell all interview that many felt was staged and didnt tell all. He then missed the first month of the season and Spring Training with hip surgery. He then realized that maybe all this stuff has gotten the "I always need to be perfect" monkey off his back. It got him to relax. To enjoy the moment and to trust his teammates. He no longer cared that this was Jeter's town and he should be happy to be along for the ride. He started getting big hits. Big Home Runs. He played a flawless 3b all season. But all tjis would mean nothing if he couldn't carry it into October. Well, all Arod did in October was produce the most clutch and dominant offensive performance we have ever seen. He has 5 HR's so far, 3 of which tied games in the 7th, 8th and 11th innings of games. He has been walked 6 times in the last 3 games, including twice late in the game with 2 out and no one on, a situation so against the book but with Arod, it's the right move now- rewriting a new book. He looks possessed. You see his eyes and you know he's going to do damage. He has become Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Mark Messier and Tiger Woods all rolled up into one. It says here he will have a World Series for the ages- if Manuel decides to even pitch to him.

Howard had fared a little better than Arod through his run last year and has been as dominant as Arod this season, albeit without the huge clutch hit. Howard had a dominant NLCS with 2 HR and 8 RBI's in 5 games. He is already the games most feared HR hitter and a great World Series will fuse his place forever in baseball lore.
This years winner between the two titans will play along way as to who wears the ring.