Friday, September 30, 2011
My Postseason Preferences
Here, I rank the teams in the baseball postseason as to how much I'd like them to win the World Series:
1. New York Yankees. Easy guess: There is no sports team I have loved longer, or more.
2. Philadelphia Phillies. Granted, I wouldn't want them to beat the Yankees in the Series, but, living just 66 miles from Citizens Bank Park (43 miles from Yankee Stadium II, 47 miles from Citi Field), they are almost a local team. We do have a lot of Philadelphia-teams fans in Central Jersey. And they have suffered enough, even with the Phils' recent success. (The Eagles and Flyers still choke, and the 76ers have been a mess for years.)
Plus, nearly as much as Yankee Title 28, Phillies Title 3 would piss off Met fans to no end, especially since the Mets have won just 2 (though in far less time on the field than the Phils).
3. Milwaukee Brewers. Although the Brewers gave the Yankees a lot of trouble while they were both in the AL East, especially from 1978 to 1988, I have a soft spot for this team, in the National League since 1998. I don't know why. I was treated very well on my visit to Milwaukee in 1999, including a Brewers game. (They beat the Padres, with Jim Abbott notching his 86th career win -- he would win only one more.)
Of all these teams, the Brewers have the weakest postseason record: Counting this season, it's Yankees 50, Cardinals 26, Phillies 14, Tigers 13, Rangers 5, Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 4 (and that's if you count split-season 1981), Rays 3 (and they've only been around for 14 seasons).
Only 3 teams have gone longer without winning a Pennant (29 years): The Pittsburgh Pirates (32), the combined Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise (42), and the Chicago Cubs (66). Aside from the San Diego Padres (42) and the combined "new" Washington Senators/Texas Rangers franchise (51), no team has gone longer without winning a World Series (42). Counting the Milwaukee Braves' 1957 title (44), no city currently in MLB has gone longer without winning a World Series except Washington (87, and they didn't even have a team for 33 of those seasons).
Plus, it would give the people of Wisconsin a rare chance to hold both the NFL and MLB Championships at the same time, something only 5 teams have done: Detroit in 1935, Baltimore in 1971, Pittsburgh in 1979, Boston in 2004, and New York 5 times, most recently in 1987. (Cleveland and Akron sort of in 1920, and in the Bay Area, the 49ers and A's in 1989.)
4. Detroit Tigers. In spite of the 2006 American League Division Series loss, I have no ill will toward this club. True, it's the team of Ty Cobb, but it's also the team of Mickey Cochrane, South Jersey-born Hall-of-Famer Goose Goslin, New Yorker and Jewish sports icon Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, TramWhit (the double-play combo of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker), Jack Morris, and Mr. Ernie Harwell.
Seriously, if it can't be the Yankees, who would you prefer to win the AL Pennant: The Tigers, the Strangers, or the Strays?
5. St. Louis Cardinals. I have no love for this team, and it ticks me off to hear their fans call their city "the best baseball town in America."
Oh really? The Cardinals averaged 38,196 fans per game. The Yankees averaged 45,107 (2nd in MLB, slightly, to the Phils' 45,440), and the Mets, in a horrible year for them, averaged 30,108. If St. Louis had a 2nd team (as they did from 1902, when the Browns arrived, until 1953, after which they moved to become the Baltimore Orioles), would that team have averaged 37,019, to match the combined New York total of 75,215?
Plus, owner Bill DeWitt Jr. -- son and namesake of the Browns' longtime GM -- is a major Republican donor. Big, big reason to root against the Cards.
6. Tampa Bay Rays. I'm not happy that they seemed to be threatening the Yankees' place as AL East Champions, winning the Pennant in 2008 and the Division again in 2010. But now, the Rays are the team that shocked the Red Sox, which gives them some credit in my eyes. And, yes, what they've done with next to no payroll and a crummy stadium is remarkable.
But... their average home attendance was 18,878, ahead (and that, just barely) of only the Oakland Athletics, who are terrible at the moment and also have an inadequate stadium. At least the A's can argue they're only the 2nd-most popular team in their metropolitan area, behind the now-dethroned World Champion San Francisco Giants. What's the Rays' excuse? The enormous popularity of the nearby Marlins? Nope, the Fish averaged only slightly more this season, 19,007, and the Dolphins' stadium (which the renamed Miami Marlins are now abandoning for a park on the site of the Orange Bowl to open next April) is 253 miles away -- a 5-hour drive counting a rest stop.
To put it another way: 7 (nearly 8) NHL teams, 9 NBA teams, and even 6 Major League Soccer teams are averaging more fans per game than Tampa Bay, which is not only doing well on the field, but was billed as a baseball-mad area for years before they got their team in 1998! Tampa Bay has proven that it doesn't deserve a Major League Baseball team!
7. Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2001 World Series was terribly disappointing for me, although not heartbreaking like it was for a lot of Yankee Fans. I saw the nice side of it, as some good guys finally got their World Series rings after a long time: Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Womack.
In the 10 years since, we've learned the following: Johnson is a bastard who helped ruin 2 Yankee seasons (putting up the 2 most useless 17-win seasons in the history of Yankee pitching), Schilling is a publicity-hungry braggart who delights in acting like an ass and probably used steroids; Williams was caught using them; Gonzalez almost certainly used them (he wasn't a bad player but that season was an outlier for him, on a Brady Anderson scale); and Womack, in his one season as a Yankee (2004), was a malcontent. Besides, Arizona is a hotbed for political crackpottery, and has voted for a Democratic candidate for President only once (Bill Clinton in 1996) since 1948 (Harry Truman).
8. Texas Rangers. I don't care what the sport is: Dallas Sucks. Oil. Banks. Political extremists. That ridiculous TV show. And that's before we get to sports.
Okay, I like the Mavericks, but that's because of Mark Cuban, a real maverick if ever there was one. Other than that, the Rangers, the Stars, FC Dallas, SMU, and especially the Cowboys... Dallas sucks!
And by the way, Nolan Ryan was incredibly overrated.