10/26/09 5:25 PM EST
Phils welcome shot at perennial power
Club focused on task, but recognizes Yankees mystique
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Hate? No, Robin Roberts, who pitched Game 2 of that series for the Phillies, said he does not hate the Yankees.
"I'll tell ya," Roberts said Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "There were four things I didn't like. I didn't like Notre Dame. I didn't like Michigan, because I went to Michigan State. I didn't like the Yankees because they won even then. And the fourth was Russia. I didn't like them. But they're not an Evil Empire."
He was referring to the Yankees, not the former Soviet Union.
"They can play ball," Roberts continued. "They always could."
The Phillies learned Sunday night they would be playing the Yankees on Wednesday in Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. Asked on the night the Phillies clinched their second consecutive trip to the World Series if they are ready to play anybody, manager Charlie Manuel said, "We love to play. We'll play anybody, anywhere, anytime. I like that. I like everything about our club."
It will be Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee vs. New York left-hander CC Sabathia in Game 1.
Lee was the American League's Cy Young Award winner in 2008 with the Indians. Sabathia was the AL's Cy Young winner in '07 with Cleveland.
Former Cy Young winners.
Game 1 of the World Series.
It doesn't get much more intriguing than that.
"I think that's a pretty good matchup," Manuel said. "We have two Cleveland Cy Young Award winners going against each other. That's a pretty good matchup. Both of them are good pitchers. CC loves to pitch and he's very competitive, and Lee has the same kind of makeup, too. It has a chance of being a good game."
This is the World Series matchup most everybody wanted. The Phillies are trying to build a legacy, and if they are going to build one, why not add a little extra juice by beating the team that has won 26 World Series titles and 40 AL pennants?
"I think there's definitely a special mystique when you walk into Yankee Stadium, new or old," Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth said. "It's the cathedral of baseball. It's where everybody wanted to play as a kid. It's Yankee Stadium. As far as that goes, there might be something to that. A little bit of motivation, something like that. But all in all, it doesn't matter who we play or where we play. I think everybody knows that we've got a job to do and we know how to do it."
"It didn't matter to me," said Manuel, asked if he wanted to play the Yankees all along. "The Angels have a good team. Really. I'm glad that we're facing the Yankees in some ways, though. But at the same time, in order for us to continue to repeat as champions, we've got to beat them. That's all. They've got a good team. Everybody talks about them being, if not the best team in baseball, they're always talked about being the best. I hear that a lot."
The Phillies took two of three from the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in May, so they know the Bombers can be beat, but the Phils aren't counting on past success to help them this week.
"I think that those games don't really hold a lot of weight right now at this time of year," Werth said. "Our team is a little bit different. We went 2-1 over there, so we feel comfortable going into Yankee Stadium and playing baseball."
Werth's stepfather, Dennis Werth, played for the Yankees from 1978-81. Werth joked that Dennis stopped being a Yankees fan once the Yanks released him.
"There definitely were pinstripes throughout the house in certain places," Werth said. "You remember. It was all good, but I think right now, we're focused on another championship with the guys that I'm with right now."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.