PHILADELPHIA -- Game 3 of the 2009 World Series could set a new standard in Halloween entertainment value, even though the existing standard is already reasonably high.
The New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies are tied at 1. The Series moves from Yankee Stadium to Citizens Bank Park for Game 3 on Saturday night. Two worthy left-handers, Andy Pettitte and Cole Hamels, will be charged with the task of prevailing in this pivotal contest to give their squad a Series lead.
This is postseason baseball's second trip to the end of October and beyond. But on Halloween night, apart from trick-or-treat, a popular and by now traditional form of entertainment is one more viewing of the 1978 John Carpenter classic "Halloween."
This movie is so much better than anything else in its genre that it is like comparing the Yankees to the Pittsburgh Pirates. No matter how many times you watch Michael Myers trying to carve up Jamie Lee Curtis, it never really gets old. And Curtis remains perhaps the bravest babysitter in recorded history.
But as a viewing option Saturday night, Game 3 should be able to take over from even this bastion of American culture. Game 3 is going to be compelling on several different levels. For one thing, unlike the movie, you don't know how Game 3 is going to turn out.
Beyond that, somewhere on this relatively short World Series journey, the designated hitter has disappeared. There are very few sports in which championships are contested under two completely different sets of rules. But the Senior Circuit is still having none of the DH, so baseball, charmingly or stubbornly, will once again change the fundamental nature of the lineups in the middle of the World Series. For Games 3-5, no DH.
New York was victorious in a World Series game for the first time since winning Game 3 in 2003 at Florida. The Game 2 win broke the Yanks' fifth-longest World Series skid.
Will it make a major difference? Well, the Yankees' resident designated hitter, Hideki Matsui, played a major role in Game 2, hitting the sixth-inning home run that proved to be the winning run in the Bombers' 3-1 victory. New York manager Joe Girardi said on Friday that the Yankees were hoping that Matsui was physically able to play the outfield so that his bat wouldn't be lost.
Asked if the loss of the DH was a disadvantage to the American League club, Girardi said it had been during the Interleague portion of the regular season, but it did not have to be during the World Series.
"The real problem that I had with our DH in situations, we played nine Interleague games in a row on the road, and to me, that's a distinct disadvantage, because you lose your DH for nine days and then it might take him another three days to get going," Girardi said.
But as far as coping with this situation for three nights in Philadelphia, Girardi said: "You know, our club is not necessarily built to come into this ballpark, but our club is able to handle it."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, on the other hand, said he thought that the National League manager had a tactical advantage in being familiar with how to manage a game with no DH.
"I managed in both leagues, but I like in part managing in the National League, because there are more decisions you make and you have to make more moves, and there's things that come up in the game," Manuel said. "But the pitching thing is the biggest; it's when to get a guy, especially the starter. And I think that becomes big."
And for an encore...
Cole Hamels will become the 11th pitcher to return to the World Series the year after being selected MVP of the Fall Classic. The complete list of those pitchers and their Series performances in the year after they were selected as MVP.
The two pitchers in question are coming from dramatically different places. Pettitte is coming off a clutch performance in the clinching game of AL Championship Series against the Angels. He is now the all-time leader in postseason victories with 16.
For the Phillies, Hamels is having a difficult time encoring from his heroics in the 2008 postseason. Last year, Hamels was the MVP of the NLCS and the World Series, as the Phils won everything and he worked to a 4-0 record with a 1.80 in the postseason.
This year, Hamels is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three postseason starts. The Yankees need Pettitte to be what he has typically been in his postseason history. The Phillies need Hamels to be what he was last year at this time.
"Cole Hamels his pitched some good games this year, and when he's on, the biggest part I would say is the consistency," Manuel said. "When he's on, he's very capable of beating anybody. I'm hoping when he pitches that he's on.
Hamels is 25. Pettitte is 37. As the younger-generation left-hander here, Hamels will be trying to outdo one of his pitching role models.
"I watched Andy Pettitte a lot growing up," Hamels said Friday. "Andy Pettitte and Tom Glavine, those were the guys I emulated when I was a little kid. I always got to watch them. They always pitched big games and they won. Andy Pettitte has been very effective for a long time, and he's always the kind of guy I've looked at and hoped to be one day in his shoes. Now I'm here and I'm going to be able to face him in the World Series."
That is very compelling stuff, more compelling even than Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis, trying desperately to convince the placid small-town citizens that Michael Myers is actually more dangerous than the atomic bomb. Game 3 might be, could be, should be, even better than this on Halloween night.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.