PHILADELPHIA — There’s a lot of juxtaposition between the pending World Series rivals the Houston Astros and the Phillies. However, in most breakdowns, the Astros will dominate point-by-point comparisons. So, in honor of the age-old tradition of the World Series, we present a small version of this matchup…


The Astros appear to have unmatched power and depth, with Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and the mighty Jordan Alvarez among others. Including 38-year-old Yuli Gurriel, who also had a good season.

Certainly, the combination of Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, and the amazing Bryce Harper (how’s that for a postseason slash line: .419/.444/.907) can hang with anyone.

But 1 through 9, the Astros have to gain confidence.


On the pitching side, the Phillies could pitch Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola again in the first two games (Nola could start the first game as he’s better rested). They also believe Ranger Suarez can give them more than five innings next time around. After that – crap.

Houston leads the way ageless star starter and Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, the likely start for Game One on Friday. And he is supported by the likes of season openers Christian Javier and Framber Valdes. What’s more, the Astros are said to have arguably the deepest bullpen in the majors, even with Hector Nerys as part of it.

In any case, as good as the Phillies have been in going from the third wild card in the National League to a team approaching the first game of the World Series, essentially no one has been better than the Astros.

OK, so the defending World Series runners-up didn’t run away with the best record in the majors this season. That belonged to the Dodgers, who won 111 games only to fall flat on their face in the playoffs against the Padres.

But the Astros won 106 games, and while a league-wide win-loss comparison doesn’t matter much, the Phillies’ 87-75 record would be a full 19 games behind the 106-56 Astros.

More importantly, the Astros are a perfect 7-0 in the postseason, sweeping both Seattle and the New York Yankees with little trouble. And when there was one, like in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Mariners, Alvarez hit a three-run homer that looked like a rocket launch.

But there’s another comparison that may be more intriguing than any other: men running dugouts.


For Houston, there’s 73-year-old Dusty Baker, who doesn’t act like a guy who’s been around more than dirt, but certainly looks like a guy with 25 years of managerial experience when he’s playing. Dusty has been a baseball fixture for over 50 years. Many readers of print newspapers in this area may remember when he played for the Dodgers in the late 1970s, he seemed to kill the Phillies every time he came up to bat.

“I’m staying hungry,” Baker said in a recent story on “Some people, most people, root for us; some people oppose us. It doesn’t matter. It motivates you anyway. Many positive thoughts come our way. The city of Houston has a lot of positive thinking and a spiritual community.”

However, after the Astros’ cheating scandal following the 2017 Series Championship, “spiritual unity” is more like us vs. them.

After all, a casual search of social media (it doesn’t get much better than that) confirms that the Astros are still generally hated outside of their milieu. And that was before Ted Cruz started showing up at stadiums to cheer for them.

Either way, Baker, who despite leading all of his teams (Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals and Astros) to the playoffs and about to manage in his third World Series … has never won a title coach, and did so only once as a player with the 1981 Dodgers.

His Astros lost to the Braves in six games a year ago, and before Baker was hired, Houston was similarly stunned by the Nationals in 2019, the year a hungry Harper jumped from D.C. to Philadelphia.

This could be Baker’s best chance to win a championship as a manager, and it could also be his last chance. He is coming off a three-year deal, and during the ALCS at Yankee Stadium only said, “I don’t want to distract my team. I will inform at the end of this year.”

No doubt Baker will have many friends, family and fans during this streak. But so will Rob Thomson of the Phillies, who may be 14 years Baker’s junior but also a baseball lifer. The main difference: This is Thomson’s first (partial) season as manager, and he wasted no time getting the team to the World Series.

Moreover, his immediate future is more determined than Dusty’s, as Thomson was awarded a contract extension early in the NLDS against the Braves. Reiterating that he is the epitome of “luck”, Thomson described his current lot in life after Sunday’s win as “just unbelievable”.

“We got off to a slow start and it kind of snowballed,” he noted, recalling the spring when he was Joe Girardi’s bench coach. “Then they started picking him up and never looked back. I am so proud to be a part of this group. … Personally, it’s special, but there are so many guys on this club that have never even been to the playoffs. JT (Realmuto), all our young guys, all the guys that have been in this organization. It’s just amazing. So I’m really happy for them too. I’m probably more happy for them than anyone else.”

That would include himself, although Thomson wouldn’t spend much time talking about himself when the highlight of his career was unfolding before his eyes. In that respect at least, he seems like an even match with Dusty Baker.