If the first two games of the 2009 World Series have taught us anything, it’s that we should be in for a long series. Fans in New York and Philadelphia still have reason to watch every game intently, but what about the rest of us? Tons of fans simply tune out once their team is eliminated, and if you were a Brewers fan this year, odds are you didn’t pay much attention to much of the last month or so of the season, let alone the postseason.
There are fans who like to keep watching, though, and often times their attention turns to the underdog. There wasn’t much hope for the little guy this year, with small-to-mid market teams like Minnesota, St. Louis, and Colorado all getting bounced in the first round. For the first time in awhile, we have two teams with hefty payrolls battling it out for a world championship, unfortunately proving that the best way to get to the playoffs is to buy the best players.
If you like seeing teams that do it the “right way” succeed, though, there still may be hope for you. For one, you can always root against the Yankees. It’s one of America’s greatest pastimes, along with rooting against the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, and Detroit Red Wings. It’s easy to hate on the teams with the most success.
But aside from just hating the Yankees, the Phillies are an incredibly easy team to root for. Yes, they’re the defending champions and were in the race for the best record in the National League all year, so it’s hard to take them seriously as much of an underdog. But, for the most part, they’ve put together back-to-back pennant winners “the right way.” In the past year, they’ve only really added one high-priced free agent in Raul Ibanez. Most of their star players — Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cole Hamels, to name a few — were home-grown. They took on low-risk, high-reward players like Jayson Werth as reclamation projects. Even the big trade for Cliff Lee can’t be viewed in a negative light by Brewers fans, considering they made a similar deal to get into the playoffs last season.
Yes, the Phillies entered 2009 with a payroll of about $113 million. It was, though, the first time in team history they topped the $100 million mark, and this year’s total is mostly a result of Philly being able to retain their young stars as they earn bigger paydays. Howard signed a 3-year, $54 million extension before the season. Utley earned $11 million this year due to an extension he signed a couple years ago. Even the big contract handed out to Ibanez only cost the Phils $6.5 million this year.
The Brewers, a team comprised mostly of home-grown talent, can certainly sympathize with another home-grown team. Add in additional factors like National League pride, and I made up my mind early that I was going to be pulling for the Phillies.
Do you have a rooting interest in this year’s series? Feel free to comment below — all that’s required now is a name and an e-mail address.