There's a reason the Phillies are again vying for baseball supremacy, and it has nothing to do with Jimmy Rollins' fielding, Chase Utley's clutch hitting, or even Ryan Howard's home-run power.

The reason is Jane Arimoto's earthworm.

That is, her dead, dried-up, good-luck Phillies earthworm.

It all started last fall, when Arimoto was jogging through her neighborhood in Springfield, Delaware County, as the Phillies prepared to play Milwaukee in the opening round of the National League playoffs.

As she loped past a park, Arimoto happened to notice a mummified worm on the sidewalk. Strangely, it was resting on a leaf. And odder still, it was curled into the exact shape of a Phillies "P."

Arimoto kept on running, because, after all, if your interest is dead worms, all you need to do is wait for the next rainstorm and you can have all you want. But as she jogged on, Arimoto couldn't shake the feeling that Mother Nature was trying to tell her something, that the Grande Dame was giving the Phillies a big, celestial thumbs up.

Arimoto turned back. She picked up the worm and put it in her pocket, then ran home and showed it to her husband, Steve, who immediately began to wonder why he had married her.

Undeterred, Arimoto, a 52-year-old teacher turned freelance artist, placed the worm on a shelf near the TV. The response from friends and family who gathered to watch the games was decidedly mixed. But after the Phils beat the Brewers, pretty much everybody got on the invertebrate bandwagon.

Plainly, this P-shaped worm had Phillies spirit.

But even a win-producing worm can't be perfect. When the Phillies lost a game, the creature's magic apparently having faltered, the worm was tossed into the trash. Fortunately, Arimoto soon came to her senses. Not wanting to be responsible for a Phillies collapse, she fished the worm out of the garbage.

The worm remained near the TV as the Phillies beat the Dodgers for the National League crown and then stomped the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

After that, Arimoto secured the worm in an undisclosed location, not wanting to overwork its Phillies karma and because her husband was threatening to throw it out.

She figured there was no point getting into an argument and opening a can of, well, you know. Her good-luck charm would have to go underground for a while.

So at the start of this season, she put the worm in a bowl near the TV, close enough to exert its winning power on the Phillies, but still hidden from sight.

The team won the division title.

As the playoffs began, Arimoto brought the worm out of hiding, placing it in full view beside the TV.

And what happened?

Goodbye, Rockies. So long, Dodgers.

Today the worm holds its honored place on the shelf. And the Phillies are playing for the World Series championship.

Coincidence? We think not.