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Around the Yankee Universe: The fun has just begun

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Phew! New York Yankees fans, we can all exhale now. Thanks mostly to the brilliance of A.J. Burnett and Mariano Rivera our team is now even with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 World Series.

Game on. Settle in. Don't make too many plans other than being in front of your TV at game time. This is just beginning to get good.

It's hard to say what Mother Nature might have in store this weekend when the 105th World Series comes to Philadelphia -- especially after what happened last fall -- but at this point, the overall outlook for Phillies-Yankees seems much easier to forecast.

A long and classic World Series is brewing.

"It actually feels like a World Series," (Cole) Hamels said while dressing after the Yankees' victory, aware that his comments were not going to go over too well down on Florida's Gulf Coast. "Tampa Bay had tremendously talented players, but it's not the World Series-type city and flair that you expect in a World Series. I grew up in Atlanta. They were always on TV. That's what you were accustomed to, that's what you thought of when you thought of a World Series.

"Unfortunately, Tampa Bay doesn't have that type of attention. They're gonna put up some tremendous statistics and do well. But the attention you get in New York makes it feel like a World Series."

Hamels might like the atmosphere in the Bronx. Apparently, FOX baseball columnist Ken Rosenthal isn't too impressed, though. Neither is Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins, whose mouth is fast turning him into a villian for Yankees fans. Remember his Phillies in 5 prediction? Check this from Rosenthal and Rollins.

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?

I think Pedro Martinez might disagree that the Yankee fans were 'tame and civil.' At least when they were focused on him last night, we know they weren't.

Brilliant A.J. took cue from Cliff Lee

After his tremendous, and much-needed, seven-inning performance Thursday night Yankee pitcher A.J. Burnett  gave a little tip of the cap to Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, whose interview after Game 1 inspired Burnett.

"You know, I actually sat and watched (Cliff Lee’s) interview when he was on the field (after Game 1)," Burnett said. "He talked about confidence and he talked about belief in his stuff, and all I told myself last night and today was the same thing. I went out tonight with confidence and I just, you know, the game just rolled by."

Burnett was as aggressive as he has been all season. I think he threw first-pitch strikes to at least the first nine hitters he faced.

"I wanted to come out and attack, feed off the crowd and the energy," Burnett said. "I think I’ve done a good job of being calm in situations, but I wanted to make it a point to come out with some fire tonight." "I knew it was a big game - the biggest game I’ve thrown for this team," he said. "But at the same time, you can’t let that affect you."

Ode to Mariano

Just for one day, I would love to be as eloquent as Sports Illustrated columnist Joe Posnanski. He might well be the best baseball writer on the planet currently. Fitting that this morning Posnanski is writing about the best closer ever put on the planet, Mariano Rivera.

There's no stadium in baseball quite as relaxed and certain as Yankee Stadium in the ninth inning with a lead. Rivera has not been perfect in his remarkable 15-year career ... but close enough. He has been so good that New York fans have grown almost unaffected by the tension and fear that is supposed to afflict the body in the ninth inning of a close game. With other closers -- even the best closers -- there's a jolt of adrenaline that runs through the stadium. It's like the beginning of a Springsteen concert. Here we go! This is going to be great! You rock!

But with Rivera -- even if he does enter to the strains of Metallica's Enter Sandman -- the feeling is different. It's more like the feeling of a superhero arriving on the scene. Thank God you're here, Superman! In New York, the game is won when Rivera steps on the mound. The rest is performance.

More Yankee Doodles

I will be the first one to admit I am no fan of Jay Z or Alicia Keys. But, I have watched their fabulous performance of 'Empire State of Mind over and over this morning. I have to leave you with it this morning, in case you haven't seen it. Gotta love the way the players reacted to it. Here it is.