10/27/09 9:43 PM EST
Host of firsts for World Series Game 1
Matchup features Fall Classic debuts for A-Rod, Ibanez
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The weather forecast is for a light drizzle at game time following a rainstorm. AccuWeather.com is predicting the temperature to be 46 degrees on Wednesday night. But there'll still be plenty of heat."This feels a little bit different than had we played it in the old Yankee Stadium," said Phils first baseman Ryan Howard about the yard on the other side of 161st St. that's in the process of being torn down. "The guys who created the Yankees history did it across the street. These guys are trying to build their own mystique." Among the Yanks' 26 World Series titles, 20 were won in the House that Ruth Built and the last six were captured in the House that George Steinbrenner refurbished and reopened in 1976. The last World Series game played by the Yanks was Game 6 of the 2003 Fall Classic in the refurbished ballpark, won by the Marlins, 2-0. It was Josh Beckett over Andy Pettitte. Pettitte is back on New York's roster this postseason. It will be his eighth World Series -- seven with the Yankees and one with the 2005 Houston Astros. "It's been six years since the Yanks have played in the World Series," Pettitte said during Tuesday's interview sessions, "but it seems like an eternity." Pettitte is joined by Derek Jeter and Marino Rivera as veterans of seven Yankees World Series, four victories. Jorge Posada is playing in his sixth. The Phillies, as a unit, are returning almost an entire roster to the World Series, including seven of the starting eight position players. Raul Ibanez? It's his first. He wasn't on the team last year that defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games to win only the second World Series in franchise history.
It took 126 years for the Phillies to get there twice in a row. Talk about establishing your own mystique."This is a lot of fun for us," said Brad Lidge, the Phils' right-handed closer who has yet to blow a save in either postseason. "This is a pretty important game for both franchises. For us, going back-to-back is a remarkable accomplishment. We still have four more games to win, and we feel confident we can do it. I'm sure the Yankees do as well. Whatever happens, it's a great occasion for both franchises." Two years ago, Sabathia and Lee were teammates on the Cleveland Indians squad that blew a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series and lost in seven games to Boston. Lee, who was 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA, wasn't even on that postseason roster. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young Award for 2007 and, a year later, was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Lee came back to win the '08 Cy Young and was traded this season to the Phillies. On Wednesday night, they are slated to hook up in their first World Series starts. Sabathia, who signed a $161 million free-agent deal last winter with the Yankees, was 19-8 and was named MVP of the Yanks' six-game ALCS win over the Angels for winning two games. He's 3-0 in the postseason. Lee was a combined 14-13 this year for the Indians and Phillies, but he has been a dominant 2-0 in his three postseason starts. "We're close," Sabathia said about his relationship with Lee. "We have always been. We came up together. We opened up the new stadium this year against each other [a 10-2 win for the Indians and Lee], and that was pretty cool. It's just weird, because a couple of years ago, we were talking about pitching in a World Series together. Now, we're in different clubhouses." For A-Rod, the quest has been just as weird. It took him 16 years, 2,214 games and 9,823 plate appearances in both the regular season and postseason to make it to the World Series. As a kid growing up in Miami, he dreamt of this moment. "I was a big Mets fan," said Rodriguez, who was 11 years old in 1986 when the Mets won the World Series for the first time in his life and the last time for the franchise -- in seven games over the Boston Red Sox. "That was one of the happiest days of my life. When I saw Jesse Orosco close it out for the Mets and throw his glove in the air, I was in bed, jumped up and hit my head on the ceiling." On Wednesday night, he'll be creating some first-time World Series memories of his own. So will a plethora of other players.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.