Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 World Series: Phillies in 5

Here's my predictions for the 2008 World Series, between the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays:

Game 1, tonight at Tropicana "Field": Cole Hamels for the Phils vs. Scott Kazmir for the Rays. Hamels was the MVP of the NLCS. Home-field advantage has been the biggest key to the Rays' success.

I think if Hamels is on his game, and Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley take advantage of the hitters' "park" they'll be in, the Phillies will take Game 1, and this could be a short Series. The Phils might be able to shake off a loss by their ace on the road in Game 1, but the Rays would probably not be able to handle a loss by their ace at home in Game 1. Phils, 1-0. (That's the number of games; I'm not going to predict scores.)

Game 2, tomorrow night at the Trop: Brett Myers vs. James Shields. This may be the Rays' best chance at a win, as Shields is probably their best starter right now, and Myers is hardly at Hamels' level. Tie, 1-1.

Game 3, Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park: Jamie Moyer vs. Matt Garza. Garza was the MVP of the ALCS. But he's never pitched in anything like a World Series game, and not in anything like a postseason crowd in The Fighting City of Philadelphia. Moyer, a month shy of his 46th birthday, wasn't on the Phils' 1980 World Champions, but it sure seems like it. (A Philly-area native, he was at the Phils' victory parade. His big-league debut was with the Chicago Cubs in 1986.)

The Philly fans are going to be beyond nuts, sensing perhaps their best chance at a World Championship in any sport since the '83 76ers -- the '93 Phils were not going to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, the Flyers haven't had a Cup-worthy goalie since Bernie Parent, and deep down I think they knew the Eagles were not going to beat the New England Patriots in that Super Bowl. Phils, 2-1.

Game 4, Sunday night at CBP: Joe Blanton vs. Andy Sonnastine. This could be the Rays' last chance to make it a competitive Series, but Blanton has become a completely different pitcher since coming over in a midseason trade with Oakland. Phils, 3-1.

Game 5: Hamels vs. Kazmir, presumably. It won't make the Rays a total "fraud," but it will be cold water in the face, showing that they have work to do to earn the respect of baseball fans who, a year after the 2007 World Series, have already brushed last year's Colorado Rockies off as a fluke, albeit an entertaining one. Phils, 4-1 and a parade down Broad Street.

As Richie Ashburn would've said, "Hard to believe, Harry"? No, "Bet yer house on it, Harry!"

OK, considering the Bush Recession, don't bet your house on it. Especially since your mortgage company may have already done so. But the Phils will win.

UPDATE: While my pre-postseason predictions were really wrong -- I only got 1 out of 4 Division Series right -- my Series prediction turned out to be right on the money, including guessing which game the Rays would win.

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