Monday, June 14, 2010

Bad time for a rematch

For the first time in my journalism career, I will be covering a state championship game. Best of all, it's a baseball championship game. Against all odds, one of the area high school teams that we cover at the Gettysburg Times has won every single postseason game it has played for a chance to do something no area baseball team before it has accomplished (at least according to the archives that go back to 1977). Nothing beats Major League Baseball as far as sports are concerned, but it's times like these that I consider myself infinitely lucky to be a professional sports writer.

It's really a shame the New York Yankees won't be facing Roy Halladay AND Cole Hamels in their upcoming clash with the Phillies at Yankee Stadium. Philly fans have been waiting all season long to say that, but it does look like Hamels is finally approaching the dominant hurler he was in 2008.

They'll have to triple the normal security in New York for tomorrow night's series. Plenty of people will be drive up I-95 to see their home team, and considering that they will enter the same place in which the Yankees dethroned the Phillies as world champs last November, tempers will undoubtedly flare throughout every section and every row.

It actually makes me glad I won't be there.

I also wouldn't want to see A-Rod break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the ninth with a towering home run to right center. I wouldn't want to witness the careless flipping of the bat as he watches his shot leave the yard, throwing one fist in the air and popping the pink bubble gum in his mouth. He'll pop it with authority, basking in his superstar smugness and the knowledge that he is the latest in a long line of spoilers who have denied Roy Halladay's pitching brilliance with a win.

Halladay should be 10-2 right now, and the confidence he gives his teammates should allow him the expectation that they will support him on the other end. But thus far, Halladay as had to be "perfect" to let his success show at least somewhat in his record. Over his last five starts combined, the Phillies have scored a paltry five runs for him. Halladay has gone just 2-3 over that stretch. A complete-game loss is almost unheard these days, and it's even harder to believe that Halladay has one this season, particularly with such a loaded lineup.

Sure, Halladay's one really bad start of the season came against another AL East opponent, the Boston Red Sox, but the Yankees would be foolish to think that they're in for an easy night.

The Phillies offense also can't think the same about CC Sabathia, who hasn't recorded a win against Philadelphia (including the postseason) since June 2007. Sabathia is also off to his usual slow start, as four of his six wins this season have come against the down-and-out Baltimore Orioles. However, the Phillies aren't hitting much better than the O's right now.

The Phils need to kill the scenario playing out in my head because I don't see Kyle Kendrick enjoying much success against the Yankee lineup, and Jamie Moyer still has yet to prove that he can pitch against a hot-hitting club. The A-Rod bomb I'm envisioning will spark a three-game sweep that reduces the Phillies to a doormat for the Twins when they come to town at the end of the week.

Tomorrow night the boys in red will have to make Halladay feel good about only giving up one run to the opposition. Shane Victorino will need to reach base at least twice. Chase Utley will need to rediscover the stroke that allowed him to go deep on Sabathia three times in last year's Fall Classic. Raul Ibanez must maintain his recent surge, and for heaven's sake, Ryan Howard, just leave those tailing breaking balls alone!

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