Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Who to Cheer For

Unless "your" team is the Tigers, A's, Mets or Cardinals, you really don't care who wins the World Series. So I would imagine that after Tommy Lasorda coaxes you out of your kitchen cabinets, you're going to have to pick a team to root for.

(How dumb are those commercials by the way? You are either gonna watch the playoffs or you aren't - if you pay attention to baseball at all, you know when they are on. All those commercials do is piss off every fan who's team isn't in the playoffs. Especially the Red Sox one where the girl says "I'm a Yankee fan." If anything, those spots are making less people watch playoff baseball, if only because they smashed their TV the first time they saw them. Let's just let whoever does the commercials for Nextel handle all the commercials from now on and be done with it, alright?)

You can really use anything you want to decide what team to cheer for: who has the prettiest colors, your favorite player plays for them, who's mascot would win in a fight - but if you aren't emotionally attached to any team, you should really just go by this: How cool would it be if Team X won the World Series?

Here, then, is a little breakdown of just how cool it would be. Without further ado...

4. The St. Louis Cardinals.
The Tony LaRussa factor alone relegates them to fourth place on the list. LaRussa might be a hell of a guy - he probably is, actually. But he just looks like that idiot in the bar with four buttons undone on his shirt and three skinny gold chains around his neck that unabashedly hits on all the 25 year olds in sight. He ends up giving the whole place a weird vibe - he's just frustrating to have around. Same with him on TV: the sooner I don't have to see close ups off his greasy black hair, the better.

Besides LaRussa, I'm not seeing anyone all that compelling to cheer for. Eckstein looks like he's 12, so I guess you could cheer for the team with a Little Leaguer playing shortstop. Edmonds is a cool dude to watch play - gives up his body making some sick catches. And if you want the opportunity to say "Poo Holes" for as long as possible, well then...this is the team for you. Oh, and they have one of the Molina Brothers, but at this point, who doesn't?

Its not that anyone should cheer against them, I just don't see why you would cheer for them if you didn't have to. I really don't see anyone you can attach yourself to and or story line worth getting wrapped up in. Moving on.

3. The New York Mets
If Pedro doesn't get hurt for the playoffs, then the Mets might be a little higher on this list. Pedro is always good for some snippy, brutally honest quotes that make only kinda make sense and an above average chance we'll get to see him carrying around a midget. Honestly, can you ask for more than that? No, no you can not.

They have some legitimately cool players to cheer for, too. You're telling me you don't want to see Lastings Milledge stumbling around the outfield? Actually, you're telling me you just don't wanna hear the name Lastings Milledge? How about Julio Franco! I'm pretty sure I saw him beat out an infield hit the other day. Granted, three different players bobbled it and they still almost threw him out, but when you're as old as he is, that's damn good.

(By the way: DOB - 8/23/58...so he's like 46 years old. And I'm not even buying that. He's at least 55. Why wouldn't he just tell us the truth? It's not like he's some guy defecting from Cuba or something, trying to get a better contract. At this point, I would be even more impressed, wouldn't you?)

And I don't know why, but David Wright and Carlos Beltran just seem like fun guys to cheer for. 'Member when Beltran went like 34 for 35 with 25 home runs for the Stros two years ago? I wouldn't mind seeing him go on a tear like that again.

The Mets lose points for spending alotta money to put this team together, even if they don't have any real pricks on it. Its never any fun when the team with the highest payroll in the playoffs ends up winning it all. They get bonus points for being from New York for the sole reason that it probably pisses off Yankee fans that they aren't even the best team in their own city. (Is that how that works? Do the Yankees hate the Mets? Or are they just another team? Or are they kinda like, "OK well, at least a team from NY won"? Some one explain this to me.)

2. The Oakland Athletics
When a team goes out of its way not to spend money in basbeall - baseball! - you have to cheer for them, right? The whole "Moneyball" thing alone is worth it, I think. Yea, it is. I just decided.

Can you imagine if they actually won the whole thing? I think everyone likes the whole Moneyball theory, but they kind of dismiss it as a cute gimmick that can keep you competitive, but isn't going to win you a World Series. Like, "OK, Oakland, that's adorable how you win games on a budget, but its the playoffs now, so either don't come at all or just do us a favor and lose in the first round, and we'll see you next year. You can pick up your checks at the front desk. Thanks for your time."

If they won, it would really make teams think twice about throwing cash at aging superstars. I really thought Oakland was idiotic for letting Miggy go a few years ago, but now Oakland is in the ALCS, and Baltimore fans are staging "Free the Birds" Nights and walking out en masse on their team. This prove two things, I think: I'm an idiot and Billy Beane is a smarty pants.

All of their guys seem like the kind of player who would go flying after a pop-up, slam into a wall, fall into the dirt - make the catch - and then not even bother to brush the dirt from their uniforms. Hard to cheer against those kind of players. But if the A's won it all, it still wouldn't be as cool as if the Series was won by...

1. The Detroit Tigers
Two things have me convinced the Tigers need to win the World Series: their on-field celebration after winning the ALCS and Jim Leyland.

I didn't see the Tigers celebrate knocking The Biggest Payroll in Sports out of the playoffs live, but I caught some of the highlights later on, and let me be the first to tell you...there aren't too many cooler celebrations in the history of sports. Running out onto the field and spraying champagne on your fans? That's top of the line right there. I was split on whether it would be cooler if Detroit won or Oakland won, but after that celebration, it's not even close.

Imagine being a Tiger's fan and suffering through the last 20 or so years. They lost a hundred games four times (can you really imagine losing ONE HUNDRED TIMES at...well, anything? And they did it FOUR times). They lost 90 games nine times. They only had three winning seasons - including this year. Imagine loyally suffering through all of that, expecting some variation of it again this year, and then being sprayed with champagne as your team advances to the ALCS. Aside from actually getting a uniform and being inserted in the lineup, I think that's the absolute apex for fandome right there.

Say what you will about Detroit, but they sure do get their fans involved. First Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson, and now this. Going to a game in Detroit - any game - has potential no other place really has.

Reason No. 2 is Jim Leyland. Is there a more bad ass manager in the majors right now? Remember that tirade he had at the beginning of the year? Remember how the media drilled him for it? Lookin' pretty smart now, isn't it? And I think this pretty much ends the "Are Managers Actually Important" debate once and for all.

Leyland just seems like the guy who knows exactly he right way to do everything and is pissed off that he has to explain it to everyone. He must be some kind of motivator, too. I'd love to play for him.

And Detroit absolutely cleans up in the cool players to cheer for department. Pudge - who doesn't win with him on their team? He's baseball's answer to Robert Horry. Verlander - if you don't think I'm tuning in just to see him hit triple figures on the radar gun, you're nuts. Carlos Guillen, Joel Zumaya, Brandon Inge (yes, I had to look these names up)...these guys just seem fun to watch and cheer for. That closer with the crazy 'stache.

Its one thing to cheer for an underdog in basketball or football, where at least there is a salary cap and some semblance of an even playing field. But in baseball, where the salary structure is so out of whack, its an entirely different thing. Teams in baseball are doormats because they just can't afford to compete - more so in football and hoops, anyways. So its absolutely enjoyable - at least for me - to see someone spend under $100 million and win the World Series.

As long as someone from the AL wins it all this year, that's cool with me.

4 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

Freckles said...

I think you just like his name.

Anonymous said...

i don't think pudge should be on the cool players list. he shouldn't definitely shouldn't be called pudge any more after shedding about 40 lbs since 'roid testing and he shouldn't have been called pudge in the first place. carlton fisk is pudge. secondly he's lost plenty. he's one once and now twice. he was in texas for 12 yrs and won nothing won that year in florida nad detroit sucked the last 2 yrs with him.

Anonymous said...

hi, point23 aren't you somehow related to this jim leyland fella? i think you might be distantly..check it out. then you can brag to all your readers how you are.

point23 said...

I have no idea if I'm related to Jim Leyland. My mother's maiden name is Leyland and they do claim some distant relation to him; what that relation is I have no idea. So he might be, he might not be. Let's put it this way: I've never seen him at a family reunion, and I'd be stunned if I ever did.

Either way, he still seems like a pretty cool dude to me, and I still want the Tigers to win it all. But Oakland will work, too. AL! AL! AL!