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Shift to Philly will give Series a needed jolt

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Ken Rosenthal,
Fri Oct 30, 1:27 PM UTC

NEW YORK - As a native New Yorker, I never thought I'd say this, but here goes:

Thank goodness the World Series is leaving New York so we can get a little atmosphere.

"Our ballpark is so loud and rowdy, I was really expecting some of that here," Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "It was very tame and civil."

Rollins flashed that devilish smile of his, the one that all but says, "Put it on the back page."

From mystique and aura to tame and civil.

What has the Bronx come to?

"Expensive tickets running loud people out," Rollins said, referring to the high prices at the new Yankee Stadium.

OK, Jimmy, but does it feel like more of a World Series than last year, when the Phillies faced the Rays?

"When we get to Philly it will," Rollins said, flashing that smile again.

Normally I do not write about fans, or buy into the notion that one city's are better than another's. Passion is passion, and passion is what makes sports so much fun.

Still, we are headed toward perhaps the best World Series since 2002, raising the question of whether the new Yankee Stadium will be awake for Games 6 and 7. At least one of those games figures to be necessary, for neither team is likely to sweep the three in Philly.

Is it too late to reopen the old Yankee Stadium one more time?

Pedro Martinez was in the house Thursday night — Pedro Martinez, the old Boston devil. The crowd of 50,181 mustered a few spontaneous, "Who's your daddy?" chants. But more often than not, the fans needed a prompt from the stadium organ to get going.

Of course, the gloriously sensitive Pedro identified one fan spewing "all kinds of nasty stuff" while holding his daughter on one arm and a cup of beer in his other hand.

The guy, if not an outright plant, certainly was an exception.

Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett pitched the game of his life, striking out nine, allowing only one run. The old stadium would have been rocking each time he reached two strikes. The new stadium barely registered acknowledgment.

I asked the three Phillies outfielders in Game 1 — Ben Francisco, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth — if they had heard any abuse from the fans.

"Crickets," one of the outfielders said, and I don't even know why I am granting him anonymity; it's not like revealing his identity would put him in any danger.

The "Bleacher Creatures" at the old stadium had a special vulgar song just for former Red Sox right fielder Trot Nixon. Nothing like that at the new place — though I guess it is conceivable that "The Creatures" might compose a nasty little sonnet for Werth before Games 6 and 7.

None of this, it should be noted, seems to affect the Yankees. Their 57-24 record at home was the best in the majors during the regular season. They were 31-8 at home after the All-Star break. And they are 6-1 at home in the postseason.

Still, the new stadium just isn't as lively as the old — or for that matter, as lively as Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004 but is the rare new stadium that is more electric than the one it replaced.

The Phillies actually had a better record on the road than at home in the regular season, but they're 11-1 at home during the past two postseasons. I'm not going to try to quantify the effect of a boisterous home crowd; there almost certainly is none. All I'm saying is that games in Philly are a blast — the way games at the old Yankee Stadium used to be.

This World Series, as we already have seen, will be full of drama. Cliff Lee's mastery in Game 1. Martinez vs. Burnett and a two-inning save from Mariano Rivera in Game 2. An 0-for-8, six-strikeout start by Alex Rodriguez. The usual blown calls by the umps. The usual questionable moves by both managers.

A seven-game Series would be a breakthrough for the sport. As much fun as it was to see the upstart Rays in last year's event, the Phillies and Yankees just make the whole thing seem bigger, even if the volume at the new Yankee Stadium is turned down.

"It actually feels like a World Series," Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels said when I asked him to compare the atmosphere to last year's.

Hamels went on to say that the Tampa Bay area was not a "World Series-type city" and that the entire experience lacked "the type of flair" one would expect from the sport's championship event.

"I grew up watching the Braves and Yankees," Hamels said. "They were big cities. They had big players. They had the attention. They were always on TV. They were teams you grew accustomed to, teams you wanted to see.

"We've been able to do that. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay doesn't draw the attention you want. You can't take anything away from their players. They had no choice. They had to go there. They're very talented, and they'll be playing a long time. But there is something about Yankee Stadium, about New York, the attention you get. It really makes it feel like a World Series."

Well, not quite.

Hamels, 25, never played in the old Yankee Stadium, so he cannot grasp the difference.

Tame and civil is no match for mystique and aura.

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