This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
During the Yankees greatest stretch of success, they appeared in 25 World Series between 1921 and 1964, winning 20 of them. At the crest of that dynasty, the Yankees won 5 straight World Series championships from 1949 to 1953. The Philadelphia Phillies were the first of the teams that attempted to unseat the reigning champions, only to be crushed by the Yankees, losing 4 straight in the 1950 series.
The 1950 World Series was the Phillies first appearance in the Fall Classic in 35 years, and they did not return for another 30 years, when they bested the 1980 Kansas City Royals to claim their first World Series title. It was 13 years before the Phillies reached the World Series again, when they faced off against the reigning champion Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays held off the Phils and won their second straight championship in that 1993 series. The Phillies had little success until 2008 when they won their second franchise championship, beating the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.
This time around, it is the Yankees in the position to unseat the reigning champions. The Bronx Bombers were in a similar situation in 1996, when they defeated the reigning champion Atlanta Braves to hoist their first championship banner in 15 years.
The Philadelphia Phillies have been described as an ‘American League team playing in the National League’, and it will bode well for them to play like one if they hope to beat the New York Yankees, a team that has lost just 13 times since September 1st, including only 4 times at home. Both lineups are stacked with power, as there are 9 players between the two teams with 25 homers or more. Both teams have speed as well, with 9 players between the two teams with double digits in stolen bases. The pitching staffs for both teams are capable of shutting down even the best offensive lineups, as just a few arbitrarily selected statistics can help point out; the Yanks led the AL with strikeouts and the Phillies were 2nd in the NL with most complete games.
Many predictions about the outcome of this World Series will be thrown about over the next two days, but there is one point that cannot be disputed. There is no doubt that the 2009 World Series holds the potential to be one of the best ever.