Baseball: World Series starts tonight
NEW YORK ó All-Stars at most spots, mixed in with MVPs and Cy Young winners. A rich roster, full of World Series success.
So how come the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies are such underdogs?
Probably because they’re facing the team that has defined championship baseball for so long.
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees, hoping to include Alex Rodriguez in a full-throttle celebration this October.
A pair of franchises separated by a 90-minute ride on the New Jersey Turnpike, with no real rivalry to speak of despite their century-long histories.
That could all change starting tonight. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and the Phils are set to dig in against CC Sabathia in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium.
“I think the fact that we’re playing the Yankees and it’s close to Philadelphia and how the fans and the media react to it and how both cities look forward to it, that puts more icing on the cake,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Monday. “It does something for the game.”
The Phillies worked out at Citizens Bank Park before hopping an Amtrak train for the hour-plus trip to Penn Station in midtown Manhattan. Whether they ride back up next week will be decided later ó none of the last five World Series has lasted more than five games.
In the meantime, all aboard!
How much of the country will tune in to the all-Northeast matchup remains to be seen. The folks in Las Vegas already have taken a look ó in spite of the Phillies’ credentials, the Yankees are heavy 2-to-1 favorites.
Philadelphia is trying to become the NL’s first repeat champion since the 1975-76 Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. The Yankees return to the Series for the first time since 2003, having last won in 2000.
Cliff Lee opens for the Phillies, hoping to continue their run that includes a five-game romp over Tampa Bay in last year’s World Series. At 16-4, Philadelphia has assembled the best record over a 20-game span by an NL team in postseason history.
Manuel hasn’t shown any tendency to pitch around opposing sluggers, so Lee, Cole Hamels and Pedro Martinez figure to challenge Rodriguez from the get-go. A-Rod hit .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs through the playoffs. This is his first foray into baseball’s big event.
“A lot of great players have never had the opportunity to play in the World Series,” Rodriguez said Sunday night after the Yankees’ clinching win over the Angels in Game 6 of the AL championship series.