I posted this on October 1. We now have some results, and it already hasn't gone the way I'd hoped:
Here are the teams in the 2013 Major League Baseball Playoffs, ranked by how much they deserve to win the World Series.
In my opinion. Which you clearly care about, since you’re reading this.
10. Boston Red Sox. You know the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Well, it’s time to ask the Red Sox, and in particular David Ortiz, “When did you stop taking performance enhancing-drugs?” My guess is that the answer is “Never, we just know how to beat the system better now.”
9. Los Angeles Dodgers. They would be dead last if not for the presence of The Scum. Never forget the Treason of ’57. Also, I need to know that there was a real reason that the Yankees didn’t win the Pennant from 1982 to 1995, and again from 2004 to 2007. Especially since the Dodgers and their manager rebounded tremendously (and without their best player, the injured Matt Kemp) since I wrote this in June.
8. Atlanta Braves. They haven’t won a Pennant since 1999 or a World Series in 1995. They are baseball’s great underachievers. What’s more, their fans are mostly Southern redneck Teabaggers who cheered when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 got gutted by the Supreme Court.
7. Tampa Bay Rays. Maybe the team deserves it. The fans don’t. They averaged 18,645 per game. Dead last. And 54.7 percent of stadium capacity. To put it in perspective: Across the State of Florida, the Miami Marlins averaged 9,000 more fans per game — and they won 30 fewer games than the Rays, and the fans knew it was going to be an awful season. So why didn’t the Rays’ fans, who are now used to a winner, come out? It can’t just be the fact that they have the most ridiculous stadium in MLB. (Maybe not the worst — more on that in a moment — but definitely the most ridiculous.)
6. St. Louis Cardinals. Won the Series in 2006 and 2011, got to the NLCS last year, and won another Pennant in 2004. They don’t need this. Although they would like to prove they can win a Pennant without Albert Pujols, something they haven’t done since 1987.
5. Oakland Athletics. I wouldn’t object much to them winning, and it would give the San Francisco Bay Area 3 of the last 4 World Championships. Plus, they haven’t won a postseason series since 2006, and only that one since 1990, their last Pennant. They haven’t won a World Series since 1989. On the other hand, they’re trying to blackmail the taxpayers to get the Oakland Coliseum replaced, and it may just be the worst stadium in the majors. (As opposed to from 1968 to 1999, when they had the best stadium in the Bay Area, as the Giants were playing in Candlestick Park.) And if the A’s do win a Pennant, we’ll once again have to hear that Billy Beane is a genius. If you’ve been a team’s general manager for 16 seasons and you haven’t won a Pennant, not only are you not a genius, but you probably should have been fired about 6 years ago.
4. Cincinnati Reds. They haven’t won a World Series or a Pennant since 1990, or a postseason series since 1995, and they’re a great baseball town. But they hired Dusty Baker as manager. They did not learn the lesson — and by now, they should have — that Dusty is a great regular season manager, but he can’t win in the postseason.
3. Detroit Tigers. They won the Pennant last year, reached the ALCS the year before, and won the Pennant in 2006 — but had to beat the Yankees all 3 times to do it, so that’s a mark against them. On the other hand, they play the game the right way (as far as I can tell). And Detroit, really the entire State of Michigan, needs this, as they’re stuck with an economy that still hasn’t recovered from the batterings they took in the recession of the mid-1970s, let alone the ones since, hindered by their Teabag Governor Rick Snyder. And the Tigers haven’t won a World Series since 1984. I have no problem with them winning it.
2. Cleveland Indians. A surprise Wild Card team, having been terrible after their near-miss for the Pennant in 2007. They haven’t won a Pennant since 1997, or a World Series since 1948, 2nd-longest among current teams behind the Chicago Cubs, and 2nd-longest among current cities behind Washington (which didn’t even have a team from 1972 to 2004). What else does Northern Ohio have to cheer for? The Cavaliers stink. Ohio State isn’t all that close to Cleveland, and they’re still under the Jim Tressel cloud anyway. There’s no hockey team. The Browns have improved, but the fans will need a few more weeks before they can take that seriously. (They’re sure enjoying the bad start by the Steelers, though.) The Cleveland market needs this.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates. They hadn’t reached the postseason since 1992, and having won a postseason series, let alone a Pennant or a World Series, since 1979. And with the Steelers getting off to an 0-4 start, and the Penguins putting goalie Tomas Vokoun on injured reserve, Western Pennsylvania really needs a winner. Downside? The only one I can see is that people who hate the Yankees will bring up the “payroll” argument again, plus reminding us that the Bucs have A.J. Burnett, Russell Martin and — ugh — Kyle Farnsworth. Well, so what.
Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland is a big rivalry in football, but it’s not even possible in the NBA (Pittsburgh doesn’t have a team in it) or the NHL (Cleveland doesn’t, and Pittsburgh vs. Columbus is not a substitute). I wonder what a Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland World Series would be like. It’s never happened — indeed, only once has it even come close, in 1908, when both teams finished just a game out of 1st.