Fasten your seat belts, this series has the makings of a classic. I can’t remember two more evenly matched teams butting heads. Here’s how I see it position by position….
Starting pitching – For me, Lee and Sabathia are almost a wash (making tonights game a treat). I’ll take Pettitte over whomever is Philly’s #2 guy – Martinez or Hammel. I’ll give a slight nod to Burnett over Martinez or Hammel too. Edge: Yankees
Bullpen – I’ll take Rivera over God, much less Lidge. As for the rest of the set up crew I’ll give the nod to the Yankees…barely. Edge: Yankees
Catching – Well, you’ve got the hitting of Posada (and occasional defense of Molina) vs. the defense and scrappy offense of Ruiz. If you know anything about me, this is a no-brainer…Ruiz wins. Edge: Philly
First Base – Tough one for me especially since Teixeira isn’t hitting too much lately and Howard has been amazing. That being said, I’m gonna go with Tex and his defense and potential offense. Edge: Yankees
Second Base – Another tough one…I think I’ll take Cano because Utley’s Steve Sax imitation on his double play turns scares the hell out of me (I hope not, but it looks like he might have a mild case of the yips.) Edge: Yankees
Shortstop – Is it the range and speed of Rollins or the offense and intangibles of Jeter? Gimme Jeter please. Edge: Yankees
Third Base – My ultra keen sense for the obvious tells me A-Rod. Edge: Yankees
Left Field – Even though I’ve really enjoyed the way Johnny Damon is playing, I’ll take my man Raul Ibanez over just about anybody. Edge: Philly
Center Field – Same thing. Even though I’ve enjoyed the way Melke Cabrerra has played, I’ll take the Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino. Edge: Philly
Right field – No brainer…and it’s not because Swisher is stranding runners like none other. It’s because, like Ibanez, I’ll take Werth’s game over almost anybody. He’s the man. Edge: Philly
Bench – Both are good, but I’ll take Stairs and Dobbs. Edge: Philly
Managers – I’ve gotta say, Manuel’s style has really grown on me. It turns out that underneath that country bumpkin demeanor is a man with a tremendous touch for the game. His decisions have been spot on for me, he doesn’t panic, I think he really knows hitting, and I love the way he seems to treat his players. I don’t know Girardi well, and we all know not to judge a book by its cover, but he seems a little too military/uptight for my taste. That being said, I think he’s good and I love his hitting coach Kevin Long. Edge: Philly
Intangibles – Boy, I really like both of these teams. For the first time in a very long time, I like the Yankees grittyness and swagger (Swisher and Teixiera have rubbed off.) Even A-Rod is sliding into home plate hard, running catchers over, and giving more than his tired cliches when interviewd. Philly is my favorite team to watch though. I love the way they run the bases, the loosey goosey way they play, the way Ruiz catches, the way Manuel manages, and they have the best mascot in the game. Edge: Philly
Pick – Philly in seven.
I don’t mean to bring the mood down, but I need to recognize the passing of a great baseball man, Ken Mallard. Coach Mallard was an old school character of the game, an underground baseball legend, and a staple to the southern California baseball scene. He headed the Estancia high school baseball program from around 1970 till 1994. His tough love and contributions to the game will be missed.