World Series Exchange

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By Soxman and Paul M. Banks
 
It is the end of October and the fall classic is about to begin.  You can hear crickets at U.S. Cellular Field and Wrigley Field, but there is lots of buzz at the sportsbank.net headquarters and the Sox Cave, where two of baseball’s best minds discuss the 2008 World Series.  Yes, sports fans even with the Boston Red Sox eliminated, Paul M. Banks can still talk some baseball.  Will it be hell or cow bell for him?  Let’s get down to it.


 
 
(SM) Well Game 1 is upon us and to be completely honest, I cannot be more excited about this year’s World Series as two underdogs truly have earned their place at the table.  The Phillies are searching for their second World title in their team’s long history of more than a century, while Rays are searching for the first in their short term history which is barely over a decade. 
The Phillies were predicted to finish no better than third by most experts while the Rays were picked to finish last in the power-packed AL East.  The Rays have the second lowest team payroll in MLB at $43 Million (compared to A-Rod alone making $33 million) while the Phillies are middle of the pack at $98 million.  The heck with a “Manny Chronicles” World Series or what the ratings are going to be!  How can ANY fan of baseball not be excited about this series?  Your thoughts?

(PMB) I heard my NBC cohort Darryl Hawks slam this series as boring and claim no one will watch it. I couldn’t disagree more! Yes, these are two franchises with pathetic histories, but that’s what makes it all the more intriguing for me. These teams are the anti-Yankees, who everybody hates! So most people should be all for this. And we all know that East Coast teams draw good ratings, so what’s not to love about this best-of-seven starting tonight?
 
 
 
 
(SM)  Another thing that really sits well with me is that much of the key talent on these clubs are home-grown.  Hamels, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Burrell, Victorino with the Phillies and Longoria, Upton, Crawford, Shields, Price, and Sonnanstine for the Rays.  With the pitching staff the Rays have, and the young core anchored by Longoria (.272, 27 HR, 85 RBI in 478 AB), the Rays especially have the players to be a great team for years to come.  Your thoughts?    
 
  (PMB) Both teams are also not driven by just one or two marquee players, and instead employ a true team concept. The reason both squads are here now is because there was truly no sure out up and down each of their respective line-ups in crunch time. Of course, the most dominant pitcher of the postseason for the Rays has been Matt Garza, who was once the 25th overall draft choice of the Minnesota Twins. Good to have him out of our division, I’m sure you’ll agree! It’s too bad we can’t see former Sox Aaron Rowand face James Shields in this series. As Shields owes his training habits, and therefore much of his success, to Rowand.  
 
 
(SM) There is a lot to love about these teams.  First, the Rays have a power arm rotation, a National League-like grinder offense, and arguably one of the quickest outfields in the game.   They have great defense at all positions, and I believe the fastest outfield in the game. Yet, the power house capability of the line-up really turned on in the play-offs, made most evident by 2008 Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, who hit two home runs against the White Sox in the division series and four more against the Red Sox in the ALCS.  Plus, center fielder B.J. Upton, who hit only nine dingers in the regular season then a RUTHIAN  seven in the play-offs.  This put both players in the record books for post-season homers and we still have the World Series to play.  Your thoughts on the Rays?
 
 
  (PMB) First the Rays eliminated our Sox, than they eliminated my third or fourth favorite team in the Boston Red Sox, so I certainly agree that they have lightning in a bottle right now. And I agree that they do have the fleetest of foot outfield in the game. My player to watch is infielder Willy Aybar, the man with the best walk-up music (well tied because Nick Johnson of the Washngton Nationals uses it as well) and my karaoke song on Thursday nights in SICA, Flo-rida. Appropriate for a Florida team. He’s hitting .367 with seven runs driven in this postseason and the chances of opposing pitchers getting him out is “low low low low low low low low low.” Also, David Price possibly reprising the closer role ina an effective manner is key to this series. I doubt original closer Troy Percival will be 100%, if he does pitch in crucial situations at all.

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(SM)  The Phillies have three MVP candidates in Jimmy Rollins (.277, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 48 SB), Home Run King Ryan Howard (.251, 48 HR, 146 RBI) and Chase Utley (.292, 33 HR, 104 RBI, 14 SB).  Brad Lidge, who struggled with his control in Houston, hasn’t blown ONE save as a Philly to re-emerge as the best closer in baseball.
  
  
  (PMB)   Ryan Howard is an intentional walks machine like Barry Bonds. Excpet the ingredients that went into making him are more cheese-steaks and Subway sandwiches in place of Winstrol and HGH.  There’s a reason for all the free passes, HE’S REALLY GOOD AT BASEBALL! Sure, seam-heads like us and people in Pennsylvania know who he is, but I still don’t think he gets the credit that he’s due. He likely will after this Series. I think if the Rays get to Jamie Moyer, who’s older than John McCain, and shut down Shane Victorino, then their chances of winning the Series is very good.
 

(SM) What intrigues me most about this series is the match-up:
 
The Rays were 21st in MLB with a .260 team BA while the Phillies were 23rd at .255
 
The Phillies were second only to the Chicago White Sox in team HRs at 214, while the Rays were 10th at 180.
 
Both teams are also very quick.  The Rays led MLB with 142 SB, while he Phillies were 4th with 136 SB.
 
They are also very evenly matched in pitching.  The Rays had a 3.82 team ERA  while the Phillies had a 3.88 team ERA. 
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Ok now let’s briefly hit keys to the series.  Here are mine.
 
There will be a lot of focus on Hamels and Kazmir.  Whoever establishes themselves first will likely set the pace for the series and their team.
 
Both teams have to produce with runners in scoring position.  If there is any weak link that both teams share, it is in this area.  The Phillies are average at hitting .263 (15th in MLB), while the Rays are awful hitting .246 (3rd worst in MLB)
 
The Phillies also hit better than the Rays in domed stadiums (.285 vs. .270) but both team batting averages are good for third and 4th in MLB.
 
That said, the Phillies pitching staff has struggled indoors producing a 4.88 team ERA in 2008, compared to the Rays 3.35 team ERA, 4th best in MLB.  What do you think?
 
 
(PMB) I think this exchange is getting really long, and I have to get ready to catch a flight to New York City for business in a couple hours, so I’ll rest on your laurels here. You’ve said all the critical stats that fans need to know. Well done.
(SM) My key player to watch on the Phillies is Brad Lidge.  In my opinion he was the best closer in baseball this year posting a 1.95 ERA, 41 saves, and 92 Ks in 61 IP.   Can he put the demons of the 2005 World Series behind him, where he completely melted down?  Will the ghost of Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams haunt him?  Who is your player to watch on the Rays?
 
  (PMB) I’ll answer your question about the ghost currently haunting the Phillies this Halloween season below. As for the Rays, keep on eye on how Scott Kazmir comes out early and sets the tone, or not. We all remember how the Sox put him in a compromising position early, but they didn’t finish the deal. If he gets into the Phillies heads early and intimidates them with his heater, that would be huge for Tampa.

He MUST own the corners of the plate against this lineup and be consistent with his location to keep the Philly sluggers in check. Also keep on eye on Cliff Floyd, my SICA homeboy from Thornwood, who will be looking to shine on the brightest stage. I predict he will be an unsung hero.
 
 
(SM) Final thought and its quick.  Who wins the series?
 
My guess is that the Rays complete their improbable run and win the series in six games.
 
  (PMB) I say Phillies in six. I think the Rays are running on fumes right now and their hot streak will have to end sometime. Of course, this is just the beginning for them, as they have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Plenty of high draft picks have not reached the parent club yet, and when they do I think we will see them as a regular fixture in October. For the Phillies, they will finally break the curse of Billy Penn. Wikipedia defines this curse as

The Curse of William Penn is an alleged curse, sometimes used to explain the failure of professional sports teams based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to win championships since the March 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper, which exceeded the height of William Penn’s statue atop Philadelphia City Hall. Since then, no Philadelphia major sports team (baseball, football, basketball, or hockey) has won a league championship. The last professional team to win a championship in the four major sports was the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1983 NBA Finals, when they swept the Los Angeles Lakers in four games. This curse has gained such prominence in Philadelphia that a documentary film by the same name, The Curse of William Penn, has been produced about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_billy_penn

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Comments

  1. Peter Christian says

    Do I get props for predicting the Phils would not only be in the Series but would win it?

  2. Sox it 2 Me says

    Love the exchange. Soxman you are a walking stat machine!

  3. Sox gal holla says

    Soxman, is that blond your Mary Jane? I can’t compete with that. She is beautiful. Awesome article.

  4. Soxtober Kid says

    Soxman i honestly could have cared less about the WS but i think I might watch it now. Be safe in New York Paul.

  5. Nice preview of what i’ll be watching tonight. THX guys!

    Honesly I think it is just insane that they do not have you on TV, radio, or something, you seem like you would be great at it!

  6. Ko’d Konerko says

    Would be funner to watch if Rowand was still with the Phils. Hey there is nothing wrong with a guy who gets his pwer from food, right Batboy?

  7. Very cool! Thanks for the updates. It looks like the Phils have the advantage on paper and yet Soxman picks the Rays…BOLD.

  8. Billy Blast says

    No way Floyd does anything in this series. He is like he 2005 Carl Everett…along for the ride.

  9. Soxman picks the team that beat us, yet he loves Philly. Nice write up!

  10. Rays in six. Awesome article guys. Better than any preview I read online today.

  11. I thought soxman was single? Who heard that was his GF?

  12. Very good points on keys to the series. Still remember the look on Lidges face when Pods popped it out of the park in 2005!

  13. I have a friend who sat by soxman in 2005 and she HEARD him call pods homer before he stepped up to the plate. Amazing as Pods did not go deep once in the regular season.

    That girl looks a little …ya know..don’t think soxman is in to that.

  14. Heidi Hot Sox says

    Soxman is my future husband he just does not know it yet.

  15. Good job Soxman and Paul. I agree it was an awesome preview.

  16. Challenge: postion by postion who has the advantage?

  17. I think soxman is into brunettes. I could be wrong.

  18. Cubby blue says

    The Phillies are a tough team guys. The world will get to see now.

  19. Bleeding Cheese says

    They sank Milwaukee easily. I didn’t see them coming.

  20. Anything Soxman and Paul write is gold. A++++

  21. Wow I never knew how closely matched these two teams were. thanks guys, this was really a great read. It is obvious you put a lot into your postings.

  22. The hell with sportcenter I got my preview here!!!

  23. Nice preview. It might be fun to watch after all. I’m not a conformist so i’m glad the facist media didn’t get their wish to see a world series centered around an idiot whose agent is the denfinition of cancer in MLB.

  24. This blog is approved for all ages. ;)

  25. Your blogger of the week checkin in to say AWESOME JOB AS ALWAYS. soxman deserves an emmy.

  26. Philly off to a good start. Way to go Paul. Seriously though Soxman you really do have great articles.

  27. No way thats Soxman’s girl. Hot totally but he seems like he would like class as well.

  28. Soxman we love you baby.

  29. Mullet Kelly says

    Soxman love it! You guys really do write great stuff. Those cow bells are VERY loud!

  30. Tommy Tutone says

    Blackened rays as soxman says. Revenge for the White sox!!!

  31. Disney Mom says

    Soxman you were right on the defense. Upton just made a killer play to end the inning!!!

    Paul what are you doing in New York? Becoming a Yankee? LOL

  32. I just quoted your blog stats to my dad. Thanks for making me look so smart Soxman. You guys are the best.

  33. Texas Bagpipes says

    Thanks from Houston for the break down. You are right on Lidge!

  34. You are totally right about the starting pitchers setting the tone Soxman. The Fox guys just said the same damn thing…Wow.

  35. The Little Flirt says

    I would like to throw my hat into the I’d have Soxman’s kids ring. LOL.

  36. Ladies, i dont think that girl is SOxman’s Mary Jane. don’t worry about that, I think he may still be on the market. I don’t know if he’s into brunettes. I just know I very much am. LOL!

    We should give props to Pete for picking the Phillies.

    Amy, yeah I hate Manny, am all for a non-Manny World Series. I hate the Yankees and Mets too

  37. It’s cold in New York. Luckily I picked a hotel close to the United Nations, it where I’m going to do a story on the UN Environmental Program. I’m not a superhero like Soxman, but I’m doing my best to “save the world” ha ha.

    Thanks Sox Mom for the endorsement

  38. The Little Flirt says

    Soxman told me at a game once that you liked work for Al Gore or really liked Al gore or something. Truth?

  39. You all really do cover sports well. Your calls were EXACTLY right. The starting pitching set the pace and Lidge was the X factor last night without a doubt.

    The key player last night on the raise in my opinion was Pena. He made a bad error, and got picked off at first.

  40. As for the girl…She’s smokin but looks like a poison ivy type. Soxman has been there with the type before.

  41. paulmbanks says

    PT, Yeah I was actually impressed by what McCarver had to say last night. mostly becase I’m never usually impressed by what he has to say.

    Carlos Pena has the most power on the Rays, I think you’re right that he’ll play a big role in this thing.

  42. paulmbanks says

    TLF, yes Al Gore is my hero, but I’ve never met or worked for him. I have recoved a few awards for the articles I’ve published on the environment though.. and I did write for the Kerry campaign in Chicago in 2004. I was a contributor to the Chicagoland for Kerry newsletter last election.

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