Now that I got the obligatory "respect" post out of the way, it's time to reveal what I REALLY think. Like you didn't see this coming.
Here are 5 reasons, descending in order of importance, why the Phillies will win their 2nd World Series title in franchise history. Some of these are fact-based, some are simply naive speculation, and some are omens gleaned from other Philly sports writers.
5. Home field advantage: Cowbells vs. the Liberty Bell. While the Rays "earned" the right to have 4 out of the 7 games played at their concrete encased aquarium, it's more than likely that half of those fans haven't been to a Rays game this season - if ever in their lives. Hardly an advantage. On the other hand, the Rays will be playing in front of 40,000+ of the best fans in all of baseball, who have yet to see the Phillies lose at home this postseason. And if the Rays think that playing in Chicago and Boston prepared them for Philadelphia, well, they're in for a rude introduction.
4. The National League is due: To quote Jim Caple, the self-appointed asshole who writes for ESPN.com, the Rays will win for no other reason than the fact they play in the American League. Seriously, that's the only reason behind his prediction of a Rays sweep: ( http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs2008/news/story?id=3656901 ) While the NL has had its ass handed to it repeatedly the last 15 years or so, there's no denying the senior circuit is the "good guy" in this equation. It's still the Pure league, free from the DH, free from evil franchises like the Yankees and Red Sox, and free from the sense of entitlement which will doom the Rays - and the American League - this October.
3. Shane Victorino: When you're from Hawaii, and your official pump-up music is "Buffalo Solder," you tend not to get caught up in the mainland hoopla. Shane delivered big time vs. the Brewers with his TKO grand salami off Sabathia that effectively ended that series. Once again, he came up huge vs. LA with a 2-run shot that tied game 4, and set the stage for Matt Stairs to climb the steps of my heart. Expect nothing less this time around.
2. Omens: The last (and only) time the Phillies won the WS was in '80, and their closer was Tug McGraw, #45. This time around, the year is '08 and their closer is #54 Brad Lidge. In '80, my father sported a mustache. In '08, I have a wicked neckbeard. It all adds up.
1. Cole Hamels: The best pitcher in this World Series series is the dude whose nerdly approach to pitching belies his fashion model looks. There's no way you're 24 years old and left-handed with a playmate wife and DON'T win the World Series. Yes, Cole is truly man-crush worthy.. not that there's anything wrong with that.
There you have it. Five reasons the Phillies will win in 5 and send us running naked down Broad Street.