Got the earmuffs ready? No, not to guard against the potential chill of the 2009 World Series -- but to muffle the offensive thunder it will generate.
The line has been drawn in the sand and, in long-ball lingo, both the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees are over it. The most power-packed World Series ever is about to take flight, one which could produce all sorts of hitting records.
At least, that's the universal speculation. You might have even read about it in astronomy journals. The Big Bang Theory?
The Yankees (244) and Phillies (224) combined for more regular-season home runs than any World Series opponents in history. In fact, only two prior Classics featured pairs of 200-homer teams, 2001 between the Yankees and the D-backs and 2004 between the Red Sox and the Cardinals.
Between them, the Phillies and Yankees have six players who hit 30-plus homers and six others who topped 20. And note this: The only player in either lineup to not homer in double-figures is Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz, who stopped at nine during the regular season, but has stood up as one of his team's most dangerous October hitters.
With such nitro at the trigger, it is natural to wonder about mitigating factors. Sorry, enemies of crooked numbers, there are none.
Yankee Stadium hosted the Majors' most home runs this season, 161. Citizens Bank Park was runner-up, with 149.
Phillies pitchers were taken deep 189 times, the third-highest yield in the big leagues. Yankees pitchers gave up 181 homers, 10th most among the 30 Major League staffs.
The wonderful offshoot of such matching might, of course, is the potential of some minor nuance, a subtle ingredient, spelling the difference.
It could be Jimmy Rollins' loose uniform top, brushed by a pitch for a painless hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded. Or Brett Gardner's speed, barreling into Chase Utley on the pivot, causing a wild relay. Maybe even omnipresent Derek Jeter again being where he has no business being, making a game-saving defensive play.
Who knows? No one knows anything. But everyone knows one thing: It will be pulsating. When they call it The Show, this is what they mean. Soon after they raise the curtains, the Phillies and the Yankees will raise the roof.
Actually, there is a second thing everyone knows: It will end in disappointment for someone.
As Colorado manager Jim Tracy noted after the Rockies' National League Division Series loss to Philadelphia, citing the postseason's cruel creed, "At some point in time it will always be painful unless you play the last game of the year and win."
Phillies: Finally, someone who can go toe-to-toe with the Yankees, and with A-Rod. The Phillies ranked second in the Majors in homers. But, while Ryan Howard is matching Alex Rodriguez's other-worldly pace, their lineup has shown slightly more offensive versatility in the postseason, relying less on the long ball. And Jayson Werth has teamed with Howard for October's best one-two punch (seven homers, 24 RBIs).
Yankees: Twenty-seven outs of torture. They got whole in the final two American League Championship Series games, after having ridden Rodriguez's and Jeter's shoulders through their first seven postseason games. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon awoke to drive in seven of their last 11 runs after having totaled the same seven up to that point. They'll lose a big bat in Hideki Matsui's in the middle three games in Citizens Bank Park, but shouldn't miss it.
KEY LATE-GAME MATCHUP
Phillies' J.A. Happ vs. Yankees' Teixeira: If the ankle Scott Eyre turned in Game 4 of the NLDS continues to trouble him (he was nearly invisible against the Dodgers), Happ would inherit matchup lefty duties. At some point, that will mean being brought in to face Damon and sticking around to turn the switch-hitting Teixeira to his "weaker" right side. In Happ's May 23 Interleague start against the Yankees, Teixeira went 2-for-3 off him, both hits singles.
Yankees' Mariano Rivera vs. Phillies' Howard: The NLCS MVP's postseason mantra has been "Get me to the plate, boys," and if the batters in front of him comply in a ninth-inning situation, Howard and The Cutter will meet. They hardly know each other, with Rivera having gotten the best of Howard all four times they've faced each other, including in the bottom of the ninth of the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, when Mo elicited an infield grounder with the tying run on base. Most recently, in May, Howard managed a 10-foot dribbler in front of the plate. Next time, a World Series could hang in the balance.
Phillies: Can Ruiz possibly still be a secret after his MVP-worthy Championship Series? Not in the strictest definition, but he still remains lying in ambush compared to the higher-profile men around him who must command more attention. Ruiz is also the secret component that turned the Phillies' uncertain pitching staff so stout against the Dodgers; he nurses pitchers along like a devoted nanny. And while the Dodgers gave him few opportunities to fire his arm -- running only five times, twice unsuccessfully -- it remains locked and loaded.
Yankees: Superscout Gene Michaels and his cadre of advance snoops who bird-dogged the Phillies. If their work on the Angels was any indication, the Yankees again will appear to be playing with a sixth sense. Their defensive alignment in the ALCS was uncanny, repeatedly positioned perfectly for the hardest-hit liners. As for the scouts' book for pitchers -- they draped a collective 7-for-48 ALCS collar around the Angels' two main pistons, Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu.
Phillies: They showed no limp whatsoever in the NLCS but, in a relative sense, their biggest concern has to be Cole Hamels. The Phils won both of his starts against the Dodgers, but only by scoring 18 runs in them. Last October's King Cole lasted a total of 9 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs and 13 hits. Most alarmingly, left-handers went 5-for-9 with three homers off the southpaw. Damon, Cano and Matsui are salivating so much, they need bibs.
Yankees: Joe Girardi got away without using struggling setup man Phil Hughes in the ALCS clincher by having Rivera notch his first six-out postseason save since 2004. But that won't work for a long run, and Hughes needs to get back on track after getting hit at a .391 pace in his first six postseason outings. Joba Chamberlain could step in as the eighth-inning guy, but you'd prefer not juggling significant roles at this late stage.
AND THE WINNER IS ...
The Phillies will win if ... Hamels remembers who he is (the young lefty who went 4-0 in the last postseason) and Pedro Martinez forgets who he is (a 38-year-old who has been back in semi-retirement for six weeks, pitching a total of 14 innings since Sept. 13). The Phillies won't survive in a battle of bullpens. They need solid starts from someone other than Cliff Lee.
The Yankees will win if ... They keep checking the start times and just show up for all the games on time. Seriously, this is a loaded team engineered to win. Lest the Phillies muscle up on and chase the starting pitcher early, everything is neatly and oppressively laid out for Girardi. The lineup is without a weak link. They all step into the batter's box and regard the opposing pitcher with that "You're mine" leer.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Change for a Nickel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.