“Eight Simple Reasons” Why The Phillies Will Win the World Series

Mitch Waxman

Reason #1: MVP.

How many MVP’s has the Tampa Bay Rays franchise ever won? Zero. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have each won one more MVP than the entire Tampa franchise. And just for added effect, second baseman Chase Utley is a perennial MVP contender himself. The Phillies already have hardware of their own, and after this series they’ll just have more to add to the collection.

Reason #2: Unmatched Acting Prowess.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past six months you’ve probably had that “Five! Five! Five dollar foot long!” song stuck in your head at some point. So it might be partially due to the fact that Subway’s jingle is one of the worst songs ever created that I relish each opportunity I get to hear Ryan Howard spit rhymes on TV in front of a huge Subway sub. If you haven’t seen Howard in action you’re missing out, he literally knocks his appearance “outta sight.”

Reason #3: Depth in the Lineup.

When the Rays won the ALCS I’m sure it was a happy time for many, but for Jason Bartlett it must have been simply relieving. It’s safe to say Mr. Bartlett did not have one of his best series, but Bartlett isn’t alone as the bottom of the Rays order has glaring holes. The Rays are a revolving door in right field, with Rocco Baldelli, Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez all seeing time, yet none of them is particularly good. It’s the same story with the Rays DH position, switching between the ancient Cliff Floyd and the up and coming (but not quite there) Willie Aybar. The Phils, on the other hand, avoid these issues. Their two biggest holes are at third base and catcher, yet Carlos Ruiz makes up for his bat with his defense (something Jason Bartlett no longer seems to do), and Pedro Feliz hits enough home runs to keep Philly fans relatively happy.

Reason #4: Mascot/ Team Name

I don’t think anyone in the world knows what a “Phillie” is. Is it a horse, a Philadelphia resident, or something entirely different? Regardless, it allows the club to use the “Philly Phanatic” as their mascot, easily one of the most popular mascots in any of the four major sports. The Phanatic is a huge, green giant with crazy hair who prances around and pumps up the crowd. Meanwhile the Rays had to redefine themselves this year. Devil Rays wasn’t cutting it so they chopped off the “devil” and made the World Series (they lose the “devil” and make the World Series…hmmm). The coolest thing the Rays have in their park is a tank of live Rays in center field. How can you see these rays and still watch the ones on the field? The Phanatic comes to you while you can still watch the game; that alone makes him better.

Reason #5: Home Field Advantage

Diehard fans don’t mysteriously show up for the playoffs. If they are diehard fans, where were they when the Rays were drawing 10,000 people a game in the regular season? Now this may not seem like such a big deal, but the difference between diehard fans and bandwagon jumpers comes out when teams deal with hardship. There’s a reason that the Red Sox could come back from a 7-0 lead in Game 5 of the ALCS, Boston has more diehard fans than anyone. Had the Rays been in that situation, I don’t think the crowd could have gotten them back in the game. Phillies’ fans are known for their constant self-loathing and their “What’s the worst that can happen” outlook, yet Philadelphia is a city that is so desperately yearning for a sports title that they won’t give up easily. Win or lose, Philadelphia knows that they will open the season next year with sell-out crowds every day, and that puts a ton of pressure off the players.

Reason #6: History

Baseball history is at work for the Phillies. The Tampa Bay franchise may perennially be looked at as an expansion franchise, because along with the Arizona Diamondbacks it may very well be the last team ever to join the MLB. And to make matters worse, this is only the first season that the Rays have even made the playoffs, much less the World Series.

Reason #7: Experience

In the ALCS it seemed quite evident that the magnitude of the situation was getting to the Rays. These guys are accustomed to playing meaningless games in front of a few thousand people, not playoff games in front of a sell-out crowd ringing cowbells. I’ve given Jason Bartlett a hard time, but he is normally a sure-handed shortstop. Has he lost his defensive skill? No, he simply got nervous because of the situation. It’s true that the Phillies have not been to the World Series since 1983, but their roster is flooded with veteran players, some of whom have been to the Series with different teams. Others, like Jamie Moyer, are just so old that nothing rattles them anymore.

But the players aren’t the only area where the lack of experience will factor in. Tampa Bay’s management and fan base hasn’t been anywhere near the World Series since the team began either. If the Rays start the Series slowly, will management get flustered and start Scott Kazmir on three days rest? Will the fans not cheer at the right moments?

Reason #8: Closers

When Tampa Bay had Troy Percival closing at games, this was much less of an issue. Percival may be old, but he’s been there before and had a reasonable shot at getting the job done. But when Percival went out with an injury, Dan Wheeler was thrust into the job. Dan Wheeler as a set-up guy is what I’d consider a strength for a team, but having Dan Wheeler close games would scare me more than if I was hired as Pacman Jones’ bodyguard. In factm in Game 7m Tampa manager Joe Maddon seemed to have so little confidence in Wheeler that he used four different pitchers in the eighth inning, finally turning to untested rookie David Price to get the job done. Every win the Rays get in this series will end up being dramatic because of this issue.

Arguably the Phillies biggest strength is their closer position. Brad Lidge hasn’t blown a save all year. Lidge is as close to automatic as they come, so if the Phillies are up late in the game things may not be as dramatic as they would be the other way around.