“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” Earl Weaver
C C Sabathia
Well Baseball Fans here we are, the day before the beginning of the World Series of Baseball to be played between the current World Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the resurgent New York Yankees. The series arguably should be one of the best in years. There is no doubt that these teams are the best in baseball and no controversy that one or the other does not deserve to be in the series and if you can sum up who will win this series it is just like Earl Weaver said: “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” The two teams are well matched with each having great seasons and dominating their playoff opponents.
Charlie Manuel took his Phillies from last year’s series title to the very hard to achieve return to the series in the following year. Manuel is a great manager who survived some rocky times where the ever loving Philadelphia fans and sports writers were calling for his public execution outside Independence Hall. In doing this he managed the Phillies to a 93-69 record in the regular season, a 4 game win over the red hot Colorado Rockies in the Division Series and a 4-1 thumping of the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Phillies hitting and the pitching of late season acquisition Cliff Lee from the Indians have been the secret to the Phillies success. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth provide the power for the Phillies who hit 244 home runs in the regular season and scored 820 runs with a team batting average of .258. Their pitching staff had an ERA of 4.16. Since the Phillies are in the National League their pitchers hit which has to drive down the team average. The Phillies pitching which was at times problematic held up in the playoffs with only one meltdown by the bullpen in game 2 against Colorado and one shelling of a starter, Cole Hammels in game 2 of the NLCS in Los Angeles. Brad Lidge who went from the best reliever in the league to being relieved of his closer duties toward the end of the season came back and has not allowed a run in the playoffs. Speaking of the playoffs the Phillies were 7-2 and hit 14 home runs, batted .261 with their pitchers having a .304 ERA.
The Yankees make their first return to the series since 2003 when they lost to the Marlins and the collapse in the 2004 ALCS which spelled beginning of the end of the Joe Torre dynasty in the Bronx. Under new skipper Joe Girardi the Yankees failed to make the playoffs in 2008 for the first time since 1994. The job of managing a team like the Yankees requires a certain finesse, to quote Earl Weaver “A manager’s job is simple. For one hundred sixty-two games you try not to screw up all that smart stuff your organization did last December.” In the off season the Yankees added C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to their arsenal, improved their bullpen as their “home grown” relief staff matured into a formidable force, and overcame off season controversy and injury with Alex Rodriguez and Girardi was able to make the adjustments and the Yankees came together as a team, not just a high priced bunch of individuals who happen to play together. During the regular season the Yankees went 103-59 with the best record in the Majors. They hit 244 home runs with a team average of .283 and the team ERA of 4.26. In the playoff they went 7-2 with 14 Home Runs, a team batting average of .262 and ERA of 2.04.
During the regular season the teams met for one three game series at Yankee Stadium where the Phillies took 2 out of 3. Game one the Phillies won 7-3 with Jimmy Rollins hitting the first pitch out against A.J. Burnett in a game that netted 7 home runs. The Yankees won the second game 5-4 coming from behind as Alex Rodriguez hit a tying home run of Brad Lidge and Melky Cabrera singled in the winning run giving Lidge the loss. The rubber game was won by the Phillies 4-3 in 11 after Lidge blew a second save attempt in the 9th.
Looking ahead at match ups we know that both teams can hit, so the key will be pitching, as Earl Weaver said: “The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Game one will see C.C. Sabathia against Cliff Lee. The two former Indians team-mates have performed magnificently in the playoffs with both dominating their opponents Lee pitching 24.1 innings with a 0.74 ERA and Sabathia 22.2 innings with a 1.19 ERA. This one should be close and it will likely be decided on a big hit or a mistake, if the game gets to the bullpen and is close the Yankees should win. In his career Lee has faced the Yankees 9 times and is 4-4 with a 5.02 ERA and a .297 team ERA when facing him in 52 innings work. Sabathia has a career record of 1-1 against Philadelphia and a 4.36 ERA with Phillies hitters having a .265 average against him in 20.2 innings pitched. All things equal I have to go on past performance and give the Yankees game one.
Game two pits Pedro Martinez against A.J. Burnett. Both men are capable of big game performances and both are no stranger to the other team. Martinez has faced the Yankees 32 times with a career record of 11-11 against the Bronx Bombers including big games in the 2004 ALCS when pitching for the Red Sox. He has a career 3.20 ERA against the Yankees as well as holding them to a .211 team batting average. Martinez has had a long recovery period and is not the same as he was a few years back but he owned the Dodgers. Since returning his is 5-1 in the regular season with a 3.63 ERA. He gave up 7 home runs in 44.2 innings. Burnett has a career record of 5-8 against the Phillies with a 4.75 ERA and with the Phillies and an opponent team batting average of .263. In his one appearance this year against Philadelphia he gave up 5 runs on 8 hits including 3 home runs in 6 inning work. This game is hard to call but I think that the Phillies take this one unless Pedro has a very bad outing. If the game is close and Burnett can get the game to the bullpen the advantage shifts to the Yankees with Mariano Rivera in waiting in the bullpen. He is the Yankees silver bullet should the game be close.
The series should go back to Philadelphia knotted at one. In game 3 the Phillies will pitch Cole Hammels against Andy Pettitte. Hammels was MVP of last year’s World Series. Hammels is a career 0-1 against the Yankees in 2 starts in which he has pitched 13 innings with a 2.77 ERA and a .286 opposing team batting average. This year he got knocked around a bit in Yankee Stadium. This year Hammels has went 10-11 in 32 appearances with a 4.32 ERA and his opponents hitting .277 against him. In the playoff he has suffered in 3 games and 14.2 innings work he has a 1-1 record but has given up 20 hits including 6 home runs, 12 walks with a 6.75 ERA. Making him the game 3 starter is a good move by Charlie Manuel giving him the start in Philadelphia rather than New York but I do not think that this will save him. I expect that the Yankees will hit him hard. Andy Pettitte gets the start for the Yankees. In 7 career starts against the Phillies he is 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA and a .273 opposing batting average. He was knocked around by the Phillies in his appearance against them this year though the game was a no-decision for him. During the regular season Pettitte went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and an opposing batting average of .271. During the playoffs he is 2-0 in 3 starts with a 2.37 ERA and .246. I give the advantage to the Yankees as I do not see Hammels pulling this one off.
When we get to game 4 the starters are not announced by assuming that the Yankees will pitch Sabathia and that they will win. I expect that the Phillies will take game 5 with Cliff Lee back on the mound and force the series back to New York where Andy Pettitte will get the win. If by some chance the Phillies win game 6 the Yankees will take it in game 7 with C.C. Sabathia going strong and Rivera closing the game out. Two other factors could play a part in this series, the first is the weather and while the weather is not expected to be too bad you never know what happens this time of year. The second factor that will likely hurt the Yankees is the lack of the designated hitter in the games in Philadelphia.
My prediction is the Yankees in 6 with an outside chance that the series will go seven games. I expect that there will be much drama as the two teams are stacked with talent and personality. Jimmy Rollins has predicted a 5 game Phillies win which if you ask me is a pretty ballsy statement. The Phillies certainly are confident as the reigning champs and will not go down easily. This has the makings of a classic World Series that no matter who wins should be amazing to watch.
And now a Book and Bible Burning Update: The Grand Master Pastor Marc has announced “game on” and that he is going ahead with the Halloween Book burning at Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton North Carolina. It begins at &PM until all the books are done… well done. Anyway, don’t bother to bring the marshmallows or beer as Grand Master Pasto Marc has put this announcement on his website:
“This event is not open to the public. Only our members and those by special invitation from the pastor only. All others are tresspassing.” (Marc’s misspelling and grammar errors not mine.) Of course the Beloved Grand Master Pastor Marc is a “true scholar” as opposed to the rest of us apostates by his reasoning that a “A true scholar is one who believes the Bible (KJV) whether he understands it or not.” And a ‘scholar’ (most) today is someone who does not believe the Bible (KJV) is the Word of God, but questions it.”
He advertises “Great preaching and singing” but since he will likely be the preacher, and maybe his daddy too it seems a little like chest pounding to me. The fact that this great preaching and singing will be simply entertaining the faithful versus reaching the lost seems a little disingenuous when he talks about wanting to save souls while not attracting media attention. Anyone who posts to the web knows that it will be seen and if controversial picked up by the media. Likewise his stated goal of only wanting “to make a statement to our community not to the world” rings hollow as he put it on the web, attempted to advertise in the newspaper and gave a TV interview. He claims that it has been twisted and lied about by “commentators, reporters, and announcers” about but they are his words on TV as well as the website. It’s hard to twist someone as straight forward as the Grand Master Pastor Marc. He loves his community and the media, especially the media of whom he makes the following comparison. Our Media 2000 Years Ago-Same As Today.
Acts 17:5″But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason (this is not your typical brother that would be “Blown away”), and sought to bring them out to the people.” As far as I know the media in Canton and Ashville is not heavily Jewish, nor have I heard about anyone assaulting his house, unless assaulting is meant being asked for media interviews. The problem for the Grand Master Pastor Marc is that he wants to control and spin the message, and the one time he got on TV he looked stupid simply because he answered their questions. Oh well if you want to get an invitation I do suggest calling him at 828-648-0213 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The website is here: http://amazinggracebaptistchurchkjv.com/Download99.html
The church if you want to do a tail-gaiter off campus the address of the church and location of the book burning is 6841 Cruso Road Canton , N.C. 28716. Look for the Sheriff and Fire Marshal who will be parked out front waiting to cite him for burning without a permit.