Previews of the Phillies World Series
Greased poles, unruly fans, first-class sluggers and more
For the second time in as many years, the Philadelphia Phillies have clinched the National League Championship by defeating the L.A. Dodgers, securing a berth in the World Series. Their likely opponent may be the New York Yankees, who are leading the other Los Angeles area ball club, the Angels, 3-1 in the American League series. The New York coverage is already laying on the condescension toward the "city haunted by failure" in anticipation of a mid-Atlantic rivalry.
Sports fanatics are focusing on a few big things: how the team would stack against longtime Series favorite, the Yankees; whether the team's triumph over its reputation as a "team famous for losing" is a result of good luck; and whether the current Phillies squad is the best in franchise history. (The team has already beaten out its beleaguered predecessors for winning spots in back-to-back World Series.) Local newspapers are full of praise for star hitter Ryan Howard, while outside commentators are poking fun at Philadelphia sports fans --better known for unruliness and climbing greased poles than bringing home championships.
Some of the best takes:
- Yankees Have the Odds, Phillies Have the Hunger, writes Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN. "The Yankees have made a mind-numbing 48 postseason appearances. They've won 26 World Series titles and 39 pennants. They need another trophy like Mark Teixeira needs another vowel. Meanwhile, you can fit the Phillies' World Series hardware (two since 1883) into George Steinbrenner's Altoids tin." He also notes Philadelphia's little-brother envy: "New Yorkers consider Philadelphia a really nice imitation of Cleveland -- and Philadelphians know it too. Nothing would give this city more pleasure than watching the Phillies slice and dice the Big Apple into baseball submission."
- Team Will Go Down As City's Best, writes Hal Bodley at MLB.com. "This team is about as complete, from top to bottom, as one can be. It's much stronger than the 2008 edition and should match up well with either the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Angels in the World Series, which begins Wednesday in the American League city...One game at a time, [Phillies manager Charlie Manuel] keeps saying. And don't look back, just take care of today's game. That philosophy has led the Phillies to back-to-back pennants and my belief it's the best team in franchise history."
- Power Hitters in Both Dugouts, predicts Tyler Kepner at the New York Times, focusing on the possibility of a Yankees-Phils matchup. "The Phillies have a deep, American League-style lineup, with home run threats up and down the order. The two top home run parks in baseball were Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park, one of the many reasons a possible Phillies-Yankees matchup would be fascinating. Another is the knack for late-inning heroics by both teams, and not just in the regular season. The Yankees have two walk-off wins in October, and the Phillies have twice won games this postseason after trailing with two outs in the ninth inning."
- No Satisfaction Without the Trophy, writes Rich Hoffman at the Philadelphia Daily News. Despite muted expectations early in the season, the Philadelphia squad is refusing to fully celebrate its historic second victory. "And now, even as they can see the end of October, there are days left for Ryan Howard, days left for the Phillies. The incremental steps have all been taken. Or, as Howard said, 'One more step. We'll celebrate and get ready.'"
- Philly Fans Will Be Obnoxious, writes Dan Levy at the Sporting Blog. "Philly is a much happier place to be in September and October. But at what expense is our happiness turning off the rest of the country?...We know we're obnoxious. But it's not going to stop us from flaunting it. And it's not going to stop those drunken idiots from trying to climb greased up telephone poles. Welcome to, as Werth put it, the new Philly."