MLB baseball has taken a backseat as of late. Well at least in Cincinnati (ironically). NFL Football and College Football have been at the forefront of the sporting scene. In Cincinnati we feature the Cincinnati Bengals, one of the hottest topics of the NFL off season (and now the regular season), and the 2 time defending Big East Champion, Cincinnati Bearcats (though they have struggled). Plus, even though the Reds are still alive, they are up by 7 games with 11 games left. Fans will turn back to baseball in October for the first time in 15 years though.
But the real story going on in baseball. As predicted in March by TheSportsKraze in my “MLB Preview,” is the hot streak of the Phillies and the continued great play of the Yankees. These two teams appear to be back on a collision course to meet in the October (really November) Classic. And to be honest, other than my Reds, which I still am holding out great hope to see go all the way, this would be the matchup that I would most want to see. These are the best teams in their respective Leagues (though I would say people could argue that the Rays are right up there).
Many people had said the Phillies were down and out. Many had said that they would not be able to catch a streaking Atlanta Braves team. Well many were wrong. This team is just far too talented not to advance to postseason play. They have had to deal with many injuries (not as many as the Red Sox). Well now they are getting healthy. Their pitching staff is zeroing in. And after winning 9 of their last 10, they are 4 games ahead of the Braves with 11 to play.
A main reason why this team has risen to the top of the NL East has been the rejuvenated play of former World Series MVP, Cole Hamels. Though Cole’s record is just 12 and 10, he has an ERA under 3, has won 6 straight, and has thrown over 200 innings. The man has been on point down the stretch and will continue to be. They also of course feature Cy Young Candidate Roy Halladay. Question marks about who will be their number 3 come playoff time still loom. But not many teams can say they boast a better 1/2 combo at the top of the rotation. The one thing that astonishes me about this team is that they still do not have a regular batting over 300 (a topic I said could hurt them last March). They have 3 regulars batting above .280. And they are not struggling offensively in that they have guys like Ryan Howard, Jason Werth, and Chase Utley, among others in the lineup. But this could come back to bite them in their pursuit of a World Title.
And how about those Yankees? Last night they had a beautiful ceremony to honor the “Boss,” George Steinbrenner. On a night where they honored an owner who stressed winning more than any owner of all time, they picked up a huge victory over the team that is chasing them, the Tampa Bay Rays. Now I will state, there are no guarantees the Yankees win the AL East this year. But it is a guarantee that they will make the playoffs. And in my eyes, the Rays will not be able to beat this team in a 7 game series. The Yankees have all the necessary tools of a team looking to go back to the Fall Classic.
First of all they have the 4 best winners of our generation in Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettite. Secondly, they have the big bats of Mark Teixara, Robinson Cano, and Alex Rodriguez. They have lock down starters in CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and hopefully Pettite for the playoffs. And they have the greatest playoff closer of all time in Mariano Rivera (he will snap out of his recent funk for October).
It is a collision course folks. Look for a rematch of last year’s Fall Classic (I got the Yankees in 6 as I picked in March). It will be fun.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.