In the wake of yesterday’s victory over the Yankees and in the human sweatbox of a new and crystal clean subway station, I encountered many forlorn Bomber fans. While upset about the outcome of Sunday’s thriller, they all seemed to echo the same sentiment: “Helluva series.”
This is what happens when two highly talented marquee teams hook up, not to mention the myriad intangibles: Memorial Day weekend, beautiful weather, national television, a world champion, the sport’s most prolific franchise, the plush palace ballpark. This three-game soiree had all the trappings, like the fat Memorial Day frankfurter I loaded with onions and cole slaw Sunday afternoon at the stadium. Two games came to the final half inning, with one ending on the final at bat. The third game played tight with some big television-friendly blastoffs. They publicized the series with gusto; the efforts paid off.
After the conversation starter of “helluva series,” those Yankee fans dove into the points they took away from the set: Raul Ibanez is an unbelievable player, Carlos Ruiz is a nasty little runt, Chase Utley can beat you just by being on the field, the pitching was superb. Then they’d interject with this nugget: “I could see this again in October.”
One of the fantastic aspects of baseball is acquiring the feeling that something special is afoot. And sometimes the play of two teams causes one to believe there’s better baseball ahead for both teams, and maybe against each other. You get that sense when the Phillies and Mets meet — the game takes off. Last season I felt it during those six games between the Phillies and Cubs — these are two cream teams, and the rest of the National League should bow down. This weekend, the Phils and Yanks played like two teams destined for greater things, and maybe, against each other in the Fall Classic.
This comes on the heels of discovering — via Scott Lauber — that Mr. Predictor 3000 likes the Phillies and Yankees to meet in the World Series (he devised this likely before this three-game set). He’s likely not far off.
The national media would salivate over this: The New York Yankees seek their unprecedented 27th professional championship, and what stands in their way? The defending world champions. Either way there’s victory — the Yankees standing on top of baseball’s mountain once again; the Phillies proclaiming the next great baseball dynasty, a modern-day Big Red Machine. Start with these base names: Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter. Throw in Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Brad Lidge, then throw in Hideki Matsui, Mark Teixeira, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Brett Myers and Joba Chamberlain for good measure. Heck, Andy Pettite and Jamie Moyer. One one side you have Yankee Stadium, the billion-dollar blue and stone cathedral with history and high-class amenities. Counter that with Citizens Bank Park, the worker’s affordable red and brick bandbox with a carnival outfield and face-close fans. You got Bleacher Creatures? We’ll give you Ashburn Alley.
Seriously, who wouldn’t love it?
Red Sox and Mets fans, of course, wouldn’t love it, which is appropriate, as those teams also played a marquee series this weekend. No, we cannot make assumptions based on one weekend.
Still, who wouldn’t love it?