All that being said, the Phillies can win this series. The starting pitching may not be as good as the Rays, but has done a good job of keeping the Phils in games. I think the one area where the Phillies may have an edge is in the Bullpen, although LHP David Rice may play a critical role for the Rays. The hitters I have as a draw, the Rays are more balanced but I am expecting some firepower out of , who has yet to hit a dinger in the post-season. Someone like is going to have to come up w/ a big hit in this series for the Phils to succeed. Defensively I like the Rays outfield - boy can they cover ground - I like the Phils in the infield and up the middle. The Rays have more speed, however I think the Phillies can make better use of what speed they have, although Navarro is significantly better at gunning down runners then Ruiz.
There are other intangibles that I think mean very little - Phils have been off for a week this could hurt them, Rays are coming off a very emotional series conquering goliath, Rays inexperience, Maddon and Manuel's handliing of their pitching staffs, The Rays do have a home field advantage - the whole astro-turf/dome thing works for them, Historically this is the Phils 5th world series against the AL East - The Phils have lost the previous 4 series. the 100 season Philadelphia champinship drought etc etc. Yes this is all out there, but it is all just stuff for reporters to talk about during downtime prior to and between games. The game is won between the lines by the players on the field.
With this in mind, I pick the Phillies in 5
I like Cole Hamels in game one - The Phils need to win tonight - I do like the Phils hitters chances against Kazmir. I like to steal a game - he has not pitched well in the post-season, but he knows how to win. This leaves the Myers/Shields and Blanton/Sonnanstine matchups. The Phils hitters or bullpen will have to come up big somewhere to win one of those games. Then the Phils turn it over to Cole for game 5.
Finally, I pick the Phils in five because I am a fan - I don't believe in curses or destiny, I do believe these are two very good teams that play very hard and have earned the right to be here. This is a great stage to see some talented young players - Howard, , Rollins, Cole Hamels, , B J Upton, Longoria, Carl Crawford, , Kazmir, Navarro, Bartlett, Carlos Pena - They all deserve this series.
Mostly I am happy for guys like Pat Burrell, Jamie Moyer, and . These are all guys I have laid down good money to see play at one time or another and they have busted their butts to make themselves better ball players - that is always worth seeing.
Philadelphia Phillies @ Tampa Bay Rays: Tropicana Field, St Petersburg FL Wednesday October 22nd 2008 8:35 PM
2008 UD Spectrum #73 Cole Hamels