Print and Go Back ESPN.com: MLB Playoffs 2009 [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fans pick Yanks to win it all

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- DH or no DH in the World Series? Just decide, darn it!

Baseball fans want a clear-cut answer on the designated hitter dilemma that pops up every October. Whether they'll stay awake to watch the games this week, nearly half say no.

Those were the findings of an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released Tuesday, with fans predicting the New York Yankees would win the championship and Alex Rodriguez would be voted MVP.

Cincinnati's Dan Driessen became the first World Series DH in 1976, and the issue has split baseball ever since. Fans seem equally fractured, except for this slight agreement: about three-quarters want an all-or-nothing solution.

The poll found 38 percent want no DH in the Series and 34 percent favor full-time use. Only 28 percent liked the current way -- a DH in AL stadiums but not in NL parks.

No surprise, Philadelphia slugger Matt Stairs wants to keep it. He figures to get a few swings for the Phillies at Yankee Stadium once the Series opens Wednesday night.

"You're talking to a guy who has served as DH most of his career. I wish baseball would go strictly DH," Stairs said Monday. "But I think it makes it interesting knowing that you come in the ballpark like this, you have an advantage of having a DH, then all of the sudden your next series the pitcher has to hit."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is fine with leaving things as they are.

"It's the only thing I've ever known, since I was a little boy watching baseball and staying up, you know, whether I was watching the Reds or the A's or all the clubs that I watched during the World Series, it's the only thing I've ever known," he said. "I actually kind of like it because I like the separation in the two leagues."

Major League Baseball did make one change for the Series this year, moving up start times to around 8 p.m. ET.

But only 53 percent of fans said they would stay up late to watch them. And of the fans with children ages 6-17, just 42 percent said they'd let their kids stay awake to follow the action.

Other poll findings:

• 58 percent of respondents said they would only buy a World Series ticket for less than $100.

• More than half said all World Series games should be played at night.

• Given a list of six choices for their favorite World Series moment, the top pick was Boston ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and winning the championship in 2004.

• 38 percent said the team with the best record should get home-field advantage for the Series, 37 percent said it should alternate between the AL and NL. Only 16 percent liked the current system, where the league that wins the All-Star Game gets it.

By nearly a 2-to-1 ratio, fans picked the Yankees to beat the Phillies for the crown.

"I just hope that they're right," Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. "I think baseball is the toughest sport to predict. During the football regular season you can predict some things and in basketball, but postseason time it gets to be a little hairy."

"In 2004, nobody thought the Red Sox could beat the Cardinals and that happened," he said.

Presented with a choice of four stars on each team, 32 percent of fans predicted Rodriguez would be the MVP, followed by Derek Jeter at 19 percent. Ryan Howard was the most likely Phillies candidate at 12 percent.

"I'm not going to get into all that," Howard said.

Damon played on that Red Sox team that won in 2004, and that victory resonated with 31 percent of fans. They were asked to pick their top Series moment from: Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956, Reggie Jackson's three homers in 1977, the Bill Buckner error in 1986, Kirk Gibson's home run in 1988, Boston's triumph in 2004 or the Chicago White Sox winning in 2005.

Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins has his own pick: Phillies in five games this year.

"Like I said, they're the Yankees. When they're in the World Series, they're expected to win," he said. "Fortunately, fans don't play the game. It's the guys in the uniforms that play between them white lines. Regardless of what they feel, we write the story."

The AP-Knowledge Networks poll was conducted Oct. 25-26, after the World Series matchup was set, and involved online interviews with 803 adults who said they were interested in Major League Baseball. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll was conducted by Knowledge Networks, which initially contacted people using traditional telephone and mail polling methods and followed with online interviews. People chosen for the study who had no Internet access were given it for free.