Thursday, October 29, 2009

Revenge Is Sweet After 59 Years

It's still a bit early for fans of the Philadelphia Phillies to be claiming that the Phils have avenged the Whiz Kids' loss to the New York Yankees in the 1950 World Series.

But, between Cliff Lee's heroics on the mound and Chase Utley's heroics at the plate, the Phillies rolled to a 6–1 victory over the Yankees in the World Series opener in New York last night. And that's a good start.

I'm sure it was sweet for the Phillies to celebrate their first world title in nearly 30 years last year. But they beat the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that didn't even exist the last time Philadelphia played in the World Series. Beating the storied Yankees would be a much bigger feather in their caps.

Knowing that they can clinch the championship at home now after the teams play Game 2 at Yankee Stadium tonight, Phillies fans ought to be feeling pretty good today. A Philly win tonight means the Phils can win the title by winning two of their three home games. Even if they lose tonight, a sweep in Philadelphia will accomplish the same goal.

Home field advantage belongs to Philly now. That's the kind of momentum a team gains from winning the World Series opener on the road. A win tonight would be icing on the cake — but it would be hard for the Yankees to ignore that it is also the kind of momentum that is tough to overcome in a seven–game series. Not impossible. Just damn hard.

Joe Posnanski marvels, in a column written for, at Lee's composure. Lee performed, he writes, "like he had already seen the game and knew how it turned out. He pitched like he was on Tivo."

I have to admit I feel a certain affinity for Lee. He was born in Arkansas, the state where I grew up. His hometown is Benton, where I worked for the local newspaper when Lee was a boy. He attended my alma mater, the University of Arkansas.

I'm happy for him, as I am when anyone from my home state succeeds in his chosen field. I felt the same way when Kris Allen won the "American Idol" competition last spring.

I don't really have a horse in this race. I'm a Dodger fan and, if I had had my way, the Dodgers would be playing the Yankees in the World Series, not the Phillies. But that isn't how it turned out.

Will the Phillies wind up winning the long–awaited rematch? Or will the Yankees rally and break Philadelphia's hearts again? I don't know. But, while I'm sure Phillies fans would prefer a four–game sweep — as payment in kind for the 1950 World Series — I'd rather see it go seven games, no matter which team wins.

That might be tougher for the diehard fans of both teams, but it would be more entertaining for the rest of us.

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