Monday, October 26, 2009

World Series Preview

As a Mets fan, I know enough about both the Yankees and Phillies to write an objective World Series preview. I can do this because in addition to being a Mets fan, I am also a BASEBALL fan. I know good and bad baseball when I see it.

I saw a lot of bad baseball this season, having watched every Met game through the end of July. After that, well, everyone has a limit. One sentence sums up how bad the Mets were this year....."Luis Castillo was our best player."

I watch some Yankee games during the season, and I read about them every day, and I listen to the FAN. I do NOT listen to them on the radio, since John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are un-listen-able, but I know the Yankees well enough to talk about them.

It's a funny thing about the Yankees, I root against them, but I like and appreciate most of their top players. I root against them because ever since George Steinbrenner blew into New York, the Yankees became all about winning by outspending, and using their money power to win, because apparently, baseball is about winning. Nothing else matters, the game of baseball doesn't matter, families enjoying the game doesn't matter, fair competition doesn't matter, and having the best player money can buy (at every position) is the way to go. I hate the idea that kids become Yankee fans "because they win", an idea fostered by their Yankee fan parents. Note to parents....this is not healthy.

That being said, the Yankees have some truly great, admirable players, who not only play at a high level, they go about it the right way. My favorites are....

Derek Jeter - When I'm an old guy, and some young person (hopefully) asks me who was the best baseball player I ever saw, Derek Jeter is the man. Statistics don't matter, if you know the game, and you watch enough, you know that not only is he a great player, he is a leader who makes his team better.

Jorge Posada - Switch-hitting catcher with power, super clutch. Plus, if you know about his son's hardships and his family's struggles with that, you have to root for him. I also like him because some people, even some of his team-mates, question his defensive abilities. He keeps proving them wrong.

Mark Teixeira - Wow, this is the guy I wish the Mets had gotten. On the famous "Luis Castillo drops the pop-up on the last out and the Yankees beat the Mets" play, Mark Teixeira was running all the way from first, and scored the winning run. Note to David Wright - would YOU have scored on that? Note to Met fans - would ANY of our current players have scored on that ball?

Mariano Rivera - He euthanizes the opponents when he comes in. He may never retire. He is not perfect, though as close as possible. However, if you get to him once, you better win that game because you are not getting to him again. Ultimate professional.

Andy Pettitte - How long has he been pitching? Fifteen years? It always looks like teams will hit him, but in big games they never do. He also told the truth about Roger Clemens, and about himself, and earned my respect for that.

You can have the rest of them, even A-Rod....OK, especially A-Rod. I don't have much use for Cano, or Melky, or Swisher, or Matsui. I feel kinda sorry for Joba, because he is destined to be "Mariano's replacement", and as much as the Yankees have ALREADY ruined Joba, that will finish him off. Sabathia is a great pitcher, but the fat man is a hired gun, and not nearly as much fun as David Wells.

It does appear that the Yankees will be hard to beat in the World Series. Now, about the Phillies.....

We (the Mets) play them a lot. I suppose it's not a secret, but let me say something about the Phillies.....They are TOUGH, and they fight hard. Position by position, the Yankees have a better team, with better pitching and a much better bullpen. But the Phillies come to play, and while they have three top players (Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard), the guys that beat you are Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez. I don't care what their statistics are, if there is a way to beat you, they will find it.

The Phils are vulnerable to left-handed pitching, so Sabathia and Pettitte should neutralize Utley and Howard. However, other than Mariano, I don't like the Yankees pen against either of those guys, in either ballpark.

Will the Phils actually pitch Pedro against the Yankees? It would be sad if the Yankees bomb Pedro, and while I'd have some regret if he pitches well, I must admit that would be my preferred outcome.

The Phillies have some guys who are either great, or terrible. Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge in particular. The thing with them is, IF they are on, they are hard to beat.

Baseball is a game of intangibles. It sure looks like the Yankees are a "team of destiny". That doesn't win the games. Clutch pitching, defense, and toughness wins games. This will be a 7 game series, the Yankees will win 3 blow-out games, and the Phillies will win the series in 7.

Whether I am right or wrong, I still love the game, and I will spend the winter thinking about Jose Reyes' hamstring, and other similarly important issues.

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