The Phillies' World Series opponent wasn't set when they punched their ticket on Wednesday night, but that didn't stop skipper Charlie Manuel from channeling Joe Namath. "Let me tell you," Manuel told 46,214 delirious fans at Citizens Bank Park. "We've got one more step, and we're gonna get it." Not exactly as bold as Namath's famous pre-Super Bowl III pledge that, "We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it."
But close enough. And why not? Manuel had plenty of reasons to feel good about his club after it dispatched the Dodgers, four games to one, in the National League Championship Series to move on to baseball's ultimate showcase, the World Series. The Phillies outscored the Dodgers in the NLCS, 36-15, including 26-8 over the final three games, and became the first National League team since the 1996 Braves to advance to the World Series in consecutive years. If Manuel's prediction comes true, the Phillies would be the first team to defend a world championship since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. The last NL club to successfully defend a title was the 1976 Reds, and the 1907-08 Cubs and the 1921-22 Giants were the only other NL teams to do it. "Getting to the World Series two years in a row is not easy to do," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Wednesday night, and he should know. The Yankees made it to the World Series six times with Torre as their manager, including the three-peat. "We gave them a fight," Torre said in defeat. "As I say, they just wouldn't back down, and they kept going. "But they are certainly a better team. We don't know who they're playing, but they're certainly going to represent our league very nicely." Manuel & Co. will have to get through the Yankees or the Angels -- New York held a 3-2 series lead in the American League Championship Series entering Saturday's Game 6 -- to repeat. The Phillies took two of three games from the Yankees during the regular season in Interleague Play. They haven't played the Angels since 2008, when the Halos swept a three-game Interleague Series.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.