NEW YORK - The Phillies spent a good part of the 2009 season reminding everyone - coaches, players, fans, the Phanatic - that 2008 was history.
The glorious run that brought the club its second world championship was in the books, and holding on to it could only hinder 2009.
Another reminder of that came yesterday as the Phils prepared to defend that 2008 crown in Game 1 of the World Series in New York. The differences between Yankee Stadium and Tampa's Tropicana Field were more than just the dramatic drop in climate. Last year, Games 1 and 2 were held indoors; 70 degrees and cozy. Game-time temp last night was a very damp 52 degrees.
And although the venue is the much celebrated and much more expensive new Yankee Stadium, two Philadelphia fans said it was like a cheesesteak on a hamburger roll. Yuck.
"Tampa's stadium was such a dump, but I'm not overly impressed with the inside of this stadium," said John Stevenson, a lifelong resident of South Philadelphia. "There's a lot of concrete. It's like the Vet. From the outside, it's nice. But inside, there's no atmosphere. If this was Philadelphia - Game 1 - the place would be on fire."
The Philly boys might have been a little harsh - or jaded from being around a sea of Yankees fans dressed in navy blue. The $1.3 billion stadium is a significant upgrade from the old Yankee Stadium. The concourses are larger and the bleacher seats aren't as remote as the ones at the other facility. The outfield scoreboards are magnificent.
Stevenson and his brother, Dan, sat in leftfield, a relay throw from Johnny Damon and Ben Francisco. Before the game, the brothers patrolled the area around the Bronx stadium wearing bright-red Phillies jackets, looking in vain for an interesting place to wet their whistles. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe they weren't in the right spot. Or maybe the 26 championships already won by the Yankees tempered the insanity.
"We went to two bars. Nothing. The overall vibe is flat," Dan Stevenson said. "When we were in Tampa, they were banging those cowbells, which was a pain, but at least they were into it. People here don't seem like they're into it."
* Metal detectors were set up along the rims of the lower-level sections behind home plate. With first lady Michelle Obama attending the game, the Secret Service was definitely in the house. Particularly those three sharpshooters stationed on the roof in right-centerfield. Funny, don't remember Laura Bush swinging by last year's World Series. Guess she was busy packing up the White House.
* The tradition of fans cheering each Yankees player until he's acknowledged never gets old. In the top of the first, the crowd goes position-by-position until the designated player waves his hand or tips his cap.
* A lone Japanese flag hung in rightfield where a number of fans of Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui congregated.
* The wind was so strong, it blew over the protective first-base screen during batting practice.
Cliff Lee extracted a tiny measure of revenge for the Whiz Kids when he got through the fourth inning without giving up a run.
When the Phillies were swept by the Yankees in 1950, they held the lead for all of one inning: the seventh in Game 3 to be specific. (A tip of the cap if you remember that lead was provided by Mike Goliat singling in Granny Hamner.)
After Chase Utley homered in the third and Lee shut down the Yanks the following two frames, the Phils already led for longer in this series than in '50. Now all they have to do is win the thing.
Food for thought
Buzzing the concession stands, Carl's Philly Cheesesteaks were going for $10.75 a pop. (Fifteen-yard penalty to any Philadelphian who bought one, by the way.) Calorie counts also are included in the items.
The $10 Budweisers were 220 calories a pop and the $5 bag of peanuts was 1,190. The cheesesteaks registered between 425 and 605 depending, I guess, on how much grease Carl was using for that particular sandwich.
Chase Utley's homer marked the 26th consecutive postseason game he's reached base, breaking the record he shared with former Orioles great Boog Powell (1966-71). Utley went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in his first playoff game in 2007, but has reached base at least once ever since.
Utley, who homered in last year's Game 1 (and Game 3), is the first Phillies player to homer in multiple World Series. His homers off lefthander CC Sabathia were the first CC gave up to a lefthanded hitter at Yankee Stadium all season.
Last night's game was the latest in a calendar year the Phillies have ever played. The Phils' 2009 postseason started on Oct. 7 with a win over Colorado in the NLDS. The 1950 World Series ended on Oct. 7 when the Yankees finished off the sweep. Last year's World Series clincher over Tampa Bay was played Oct. 27.
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