Say what they will about the Yankees payroll, haters of the most successful team in baseball can't deny one forbidding fact: they've won 26 World Championships. Tonight's first game marks the Bronx Bombers' 28th appearance in the big show, but more importantly, it marks the team's return after a hiatus of six lonely years. Now that they're back and ready to play ball (literally), how will the Yankees fare against their regional rivals from Philly? Rabid fans will tell you it's going to be a steamroll. (Phillies boosters beg to differ.) Here's why:
  • Derek Jeter CBS Sports' Scott Miller sums up Yankee shortstop and captain Derek Jeter's pitch-perfect post season performance thusly: "By far, the best thing about the Yankees' re-emergence in the World Series following a five-year detour through the woods is getting one more chance to watch this Pinstriped Picasso paint another masterpiece."
  • Joe Girardi Successor to the Yanks' longtime visionary coach Joe Torre, Joe Girardi has taken the team he once bench-coached (under Torre) from missing the playoffs last year to this year's World Series. How? "He has spent most of his 45 years acquiring the experience that allows him to tell Derek Jeter and Alex Rodgriugez what to do," says the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers and Dan McGrath. "Few managers ever have been as quick to push buttons in postseason games as Girardi over the last three weeks."
  • The Bullpen CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain...Oh, and Mariano Rivera who, as Carl Bialik from the Wall Street Journal says, "truly ups his game in the playoffs" and will give the Yanks "a big bullpen edge over the Philadelphia Phillies."
  • The Dynasty Boys The holy quad of Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Petitt hasn't been to the Series since 2003...and they're itching for that fifth ring, says the New York Post's Joel Sherman. "In the end that is why the 105th World Series is so dear to the Dynasty Boys. They know now that it is not their birthright to play the final outs of a season. And, despite terrific years for the entire quartet, they see their baseball mortality sets in...There are no promises about tomorrow, even with record payrolls and a cast of stars. So you seize the moment, capitalize in the here and now." The Daily News's Peter Botte agrees: "Nearly a decade later and The Core Four are still waiting, still playing, still trying to recapture the magic that once had them on track to challenge Yogi Berra's collection of 10 rings and start filling up a second hand with diamond-encrusted jewelry."
  • The Women No offense to the City of Brotherly Love, but the Yankees' girls are so much more entertaining. Don't believe us? Two words: Kate Hudson.