The Phillies are the rare defending champions that return to the World Series as underdogs. They do not have as potent a lineup as the Yankees, as deep a starting rotation, as reliable a bullpen. But they are not far off in any phase and they have the edge in home-stadium advantage, recent World Series experience and possibly motivation. The Yankees are playing for yet another banner. The Phillies are playing for a place in history. They are attempting to become the National League's first repeat winner since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76, baseball's new Big Red Machine, and they are inspired by the notion that no one believes they can do it. This series will be full of high-scoring games, and just as the Yankees dynamic offense will inevitably wear down the Phillies pitching staff, the Phillies can do the same to the Yankees, with speed at the top of the order and power through the middle. Besides, as upset picks go, it's generally a safe strategy to take your chances with a team that just won the title.
Here are five reasons why the Phils will bring home another ring:
The Yankees led the world with 244 home runs this season, but the Phillies weren't so far behind, leading the National League with 224. Of those, 110 came from left-handed hitters
All season, the Yankees had one of the strongest bullpens in baseball, the Phillies one of the shakiest. But relief pitchers are like field-goal kickers, capable of wild momentum swings, and as
The X-Factor is a farm animal. For weeks,
When a team wins the World Series, comes back the next year and wins the division, rallies from two runs down with two outs in the ninth to clinch the NLDS, and then rallies from one run down with two outs in the ninth to take control of the NLCS, they can no longer be considered a fluke. The Phillies are a legit champion, and the way their roster is set, they have a chance to build a dynasty. They have more at stake than the Yankees, but oddly enough, the Yankees are under more pressure. They have gone nearly a decade without a title -- longer in Yankee years -- and they are loaded with mercenaries who signed up for one. The Phillies have a few of those types, but by and large they are the same group that won it all last year, and the camaraderie they forged through the '08 playoffs has steeled them in '09. Over a long and difficult series, the heart of a champion is tested, and the Phillies have shown again and again that they have it.