[Eric Simon of Amazin Avenue already beat me to it -- but I'm changing my vote. I actually decided this a few days ago, but wanted to wait to see if the Series continued before writing about it.]
Like all Mets fans, I had a long time to think about what I would do should the Yankees and Phillies match up against one another in the World Series. With the Yankees plowing through the American League, and with the Phillies making the Dodgers look like the Toms River little league team, it seemed almost inevitable.
In my post last week, entitled Why I am Rooting For the Yankees, I explained my decision. It was well thought out, it was serious, and the logic was rock-solid. With the Phillies in our division, I reasoned, they were the real enemies -- anything against the Yankees was simply based on feelings of inadequacy.
But as I watched Game 1, it became clear that no amount of logic could undo what has been a lifetime of conditioning -- I can't root for the Yankees. It didn't matter that I love New York and hate Philadelphia. It didn't matter that the Phillies talked trash about us in their victory parade last season, or called us chokers, or beat our pants off for the last three years. None of that mattered.
I found myself, over and over again, reflexively rooting for the Phillies. When Utley homered off of Sabathia, I cheered. When the Phillies piled on the insurance in the later innings, I was happy.
In baseball, when there is a bang-bang play, there is no time to think. The umpire signals a certain way, and you react. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't compel myself to root for the Yankees.
After Game 3 ended, I found myself contemplating which way I would set up the rotation if I was Charlie Manuel. I kept hoping that they would pitch Cliff Lee in games 4 and 7. I kept looking for reasons to believe that A.J. Burnett wouldnt be able to come back and pitch a gem on short rest.
Suffice to say, I gave up even trying to root for the Yankees before Game 5 began.
[It doesn't even matter that baseball-reference.com has somehow already declared the Yankees the winners of the series.]
So now, I am going to get to root for my favorite player tomorrow without guilt. Without conflicting emotions. When Pedro Martinez goes out there, in Yankee Stadium, with a chance to push this series to a Game 7, I will be rooting like crazy for him.
More importantly, with no guarantees that Pedro will come back for another year, we might be witnessing the last time Pedro Martinez ever throws a pitch in the major leagues.
For a lot of reasons, tomorrow night's game becomes one of the most important games of my generation.
The greatest that I have ever seen, pitching on the grandest stage, against our mutual nemesis. I hope that anyone with an even tangential interest in baseball is able to witness it.
I hope Pedro still has a little magic left in his arm. After all these years, I wouldn't bet against him.