Friday, October 22, 2010

The promised land in sight

The two league championship series are taking rather parallel paths.

In both, the favored team (Phillies in the National, Yankees in the American) split the first two games, then lost Games Three and Four — and then, with elimination looking them in the eye, won Game Five.
In one of the key plays of the game, Raul Ibanez beat
Pedro Sandoval to third base on a force play on a bunt
Thursday night.

There are differences, of course, most notably that the Phillies get to fight out the rest of the series in their home park, while the Yankees have to go to Texas.

But the fact remains that both are still breathing, still dangerous. And in fact, I rather expect the Phillies will pull this one out.

Back in 1985 — so long ago that I not only hadn't started writing the print column yet, I hadn't been with The Free Press a full 12 months — I predicted that the Kansas City Royals would win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards took a 3-1 series lead, and I continued to believe that the Royals would win. My logic: as I saw it, K.C. had the better of every pitching matchup the rest of the way.

Kansas City did win (with a little help from a blown call). And I see a lot of similarities between their win and the Phillies current situation. The Phillies will be at home, they have Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels lined up — and it doesn't hurt any, either, that they are clearly the best team in the National League.

The Giants might have had their best chance to wrap this up last night. Tim Lincecum was better than Roy Halladay. But the defensive liabilities in the San Francisco lineup — the Giants have a lot of them — emerged at the wrong time, and the Phillies are alive. Alive and, in this corner of the world, favored.

The Yankees are another matter. They have the slight disadvantage of going on the road, and this bigger disadvantage: Cliff Lee awaits in a Game Seven. Texas would rather wrap it up tonight, but that trump ace is a comfort.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, the pressure is on the Giants to win Game 6, or else face playing Game 7 on the road. Meanwhile, the pressure is always on the Yankees and the Rangers have Cliff Lee at home for Game 7.