NEW YORK -- It's been said many times over, but it still bears repeating -- to be the best, you've got to beat the best. For the Yankees, that means one thing: Bring on the Phillies.
The Yankees have known for days that as long as they could vault past the Angels in the American League Championship Series and get to the World Series, it would be the Phillies in the visitors' dugout at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Having the defending World Series champions in their building sounds just right to the Yankees, who are appearing in the Fall Classic for the first time since 2003 and trying to win their first title since 2000.
"They're world champions, and you have to go through the world champions to be one," Johnny Damon said. "I like that. We know they're going to be tough. We know their additions with Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco from the Indians; they're going to pose a threat to us. Hopefully, we can overcome them and just play well."
The Yankees do not have a wealth of experience with the Phillies, but they had a taste in May, dropping two of three matchups with Philadelphia in the Bronx. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was already starting to think about a reunion of CC Sabathia and Lee under the lights.
"We saw them three times, and we know offensively they're loaded," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We'll probably have two ex-Indians probably matching up in Game 1, their pitching has been very good, their bullpen has thrown very well in the playoffs and they were there last year. They're a team with a lot of experience."
The one victory the Yankees put over the Phillies this season was a memorable one. On May 23, Melky Cabrera connected off closer Brad Lidge for one of New York's 15 regular-season walk-off wins.
Those hard-fought battles remind New York that, just as no one expected the Angels to hand anything over, the Yankees should have celebrated on Sunday fully expecting the Phillies to bring a title fight up the Jersey Turnpike.
"Yeah, they are going to be tough, they're swinging the bats well," Andy Pettitte said. "We will celebrate this one and start getting ready for them. But they are a great team, they are the world champions, so hopefully, we have a great series against them."
Joba Chamberlain said he also was not expecting any sort of cakewalk when he comes in late to face the Phillies.
"We know it's going to be tough," Chamberlain said. "They're the defending world champions, and they're back for a reason. We've got to play our game, continue to be successful and just be the team we've been all year."
A.J. Burnett, who will likely start Game 2 against the Phillies, said that he believes he has learned from his first three playoff starts against the Twins and Angels.
"I'm going to be ready to go," Burnett said. "I'm going to be energized and full of emotion. I learned a lot from these first two series, pitching in the postseason and being on the road. I'm just going to tell myself to breathe."
Between swigs of champagne, Jorge Posada also thought it was much too soon to look ahead to the Phillies, having just dispatched a very tough Angels club.
"Let's not talk about that right now. Let's not jinx it," Posada said. "We are enjoying this. We'll enjoy it a little bit more tonight, and we'll think about them tomorrow."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.