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October 28, 2009

Zimmer says Series too tough to call

Don Zimmer has an opinion about everything.

Daisuke Matsuzaka? "I hate watching him pitch," says the 78-year-old Zimmer, whose daughter and son-in-law live in Windham, N.H.

Evan Longoria? "I could watch him swing the bat all day long. He's special," says Zimmer.

On the importance of work ethic in baseball? "What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle and giving 110 percent all the time," says Zimmer.

But ask him who is going to win the World Series starting and he goes silent.

"I don't know," says Zimmer. "I wouldn't know how to predict it."

Zimmer's ambivalence might be enough of a statement. Nobody in baseball has had a better seat watching these two franchises, the Yankees and Phillies, than Zimmer.

Zimmer was in the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse as a special assistant when the Rays lost to the Phillies, 4-1, in the World Series last fall. And he has seen the 2009 Yankees more times than he can count.

"The Yankees have been the best team in baseball since Day 1 this year," says the former Red Sox manager. "But I saw the Phillies last year. And I've seen them in the playoffs. I think they're the only team that can keep up with the Yankees offense, which is as good as I've seen."

The key to winning?

"You have to be tough to beat the Yankees and the Phillies are as tough as it gets," says Zimmer. "It's a tough town to play in, like New York and Boston. The fans are tough on their teams. But if you can succeed there, you can beat anybody. The Phillies won't back down from the Yankees, I'll tell you that much."

CC Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees and Cliff Lee for the Phillies tonight.

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