Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Deserve's Got Everything to Do With It: 2014 Edition

Who should win the 2014 World Series? Of the teams still eligible, here they are, in ascending order of how much they deserve it:

10. Los Angeles Dodgers. Pro: Haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 26 years. Owner Magic Johnson is a great guy, who, unlike a lot of billionaire sports team owners, is actually trying to win 1st and make money 2nd. Manager Don Mattingly is also a great guy and a Yankee Legend. Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp deserve rings.

Con: This is the team of Walter O'Malley, who committed one of the greatest crimes in sports history by stealing the Dodgers from Brooklyn. It may be 57 years since that happened, 35 years since O'Malley died, and 17 years since his family sold the team, but as long as Dodger Stadium stands, it is a reminder that a beloved team was taken away for one reason, and one reason only: To make more money. (And it's not that the Dodgers weren't already making money: In the 1950s, only the Yankees made more.) This is the ultimate dealbreaker, and it automatically makes the Dodgers the least deserving, even if no one on the team has ever had anything to do with the O'Malleys.

Further Con: It's not just Southern California, it's Los Angeles, the most superficial city in the world. (Yes, even more than Miami.) While the Dodgers haven't won recently, the city has (the Kings with the 2012 and '14 Stanley Cups, the Lakers with the 2009 & '10 NBA Championships). Magic already has 5 rings as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers. Mark McGwire, one of the biggest cheaters in the history of baseball, is on their coaching staff, and he does have a ring (1989 Oakland Athletics). And seeing Mattingly win a Pennant, let alone a World Series, would end the Curse of Donnie Baseball, and I'd have to find another reason why the Yankees didn't win a Pennant from 1982 to 1995.

9. Kansas City Royals. Pro: Haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 29 years. Their city hasn't won a title in all that time. Nor have any of their players ever won one. Raul Ibanez, in particular, deserves one. Decent ballpark. Good city. Manager Ned Yost is a good guy, who's never won one (though he came close as a backup catcher with the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers).

Con: Although their city is majority-black and liberal, their fan base full of suburban and rural Tea Partiers from Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. And team owner David Glass married into the Walton family of Walmart infamy, and spent years spending next to nothing on the team, when he could afford to outspend the Yankees, Mets, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sorry, folks, but politics trumps sports, and that's a dealbreaker. And that's before I bring up memories of the old Royals' (1976-85) dirty play, from starting fights to Hal McRae kicking Willie Randolph halfway to Connecticut to George Brett's pine tar. (Wonder if he used that as hemorrhoid cream?) For all the good reasons to support the Royals, they are last among American Leaguers on this list.

8. St. Louis Cardinals. Pro: Good city. Good ballpark. Team is run the right way. Manager Mike Matheny is a good guy who never won a ring as a player.

Con: Owned by Bill DeWitt Jr., a major donor to conservative causes and candidates. Team appeals to Tea Partiers about as much as the Royals and the Atlanta Braves do. Won the World Series 3 and 8 years ago, so the city doesn't need another so soon. They've got John Lackey, who not only won a ring with the 2002 Anaheim Angels (as that team was then known), but also with the 2013 Red Sox (cheaters); and, besides, he's a jerk, who doesn't deserve another ring. Some would say the same thing about A.J. Pierzynski, who already has one (2005 Chicago White Sox). And while the city's passion for baseball, especially proportionately, is great, aren't we all sick of hearing about how "St. Louis is the best baseball town in America"? It's not, and even if you don't think New York is, there are other contenders.

7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Pro: Decent ballpark. Manager Mike Scioscia is a good guy. As far as I can tell, only 2 players have rings: Albert Pujols (2006 and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals) and David Freese (also '11 Cards). Old friend Don Baylor (from the 1980s Yankees) is one of their coaches.

Con: Won a World Series comparatively recently, 12 years ago, already with Scioscia as manager. Their small city also won a title with the Ducks (2007 Stanley Cup). They're in Southern California, in particular in Orange County, infamous for right-wing politics (although that has changed somewhat, with the grown of Hispanic and Asian immigrants). The Rally Monkey.

6. Oakland Athletics. Pro: Haven't won a World Series in 25 years, or a Pennant in 24 years. A good liberal city, which hasn't won a title in all that time. A's fans have had to watch their cross-Bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants, win 2 of the last 4 World Series. And they have to not only sit through games at the outdated Oakland Coliseum, but wonder if their team will even exist in 5 years time, or if it will move. Adam Dunn deserves a ring. Scott Kazmir is on their roster, and seeing him win a ring would really piss Met fans off. Manager Bob Melvin is a good guy, who was briefly a Yankee and never won a ring as a player. Chili Davis and Mike Gallego (from the 1990s Yankees) are on his coaching staff.

Con: The Coliseum, once a great place to watch baseball, has been ruined due to the degradation of age and the construction of the Mount Davis bleachers ruining the intimacy. The players on their roster with a ring include Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss and Jon Lester, all with the 2007 Red Sox; and Lester and Jonny Gomes with the 2013 Sox. Since they benefited from their teammates' cheating (if not, as far as we can prove, their own), they don't deserve another one. Nick Punto also already has won (2011 Cards). And after all these years of hearing that general manager Billy Beane is a "genius," the fact remains that he's been their GM since 1998, as long as Brian Cashman has held the job with the Yankees, and in 17 years he's never won a Pennant. I could handle it if the A's won the Pennant, but not with Beane.

5. San Francisco Giants. Pro: Good ballpark. Good city. Manager Bruce Bochy is a good guy, who managed to piss off Los Angeles by winning Pennants with both San Francisco (the 2012 and '14 Giants) and San Diego (the 1998 Padres). His coaching staff includes some 1980s Yankees: Dave Righetti (a San Jose native who grew up as a Giant fan), Roberto Kelly, Joe Lefebvre and Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens. The team is run the right way. Although most of their players have won at least 1 title, 1 who hasn't is the winningest active pitcher, Tim Hudson (214 wins). Hunter Pence is also a good guy who hasn't yet won one. Winning a 3rd title since the Dodgers last won one, especially since the Dodgers beat them out for the National League Western Division title, would really piss them off. Then again, anytime San Francisco does something good, it pisses L.A. off.

Con: Won the Series just 2 and 4 years ago, so they don't need another. Certainly, Jake Peavy (who won last year with the cheating Red Sox) doesn't need another.

4. Washington Nationals. Pro: The franchise has never won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 46 seasons of trying in both Montreal and Washington. The District of Columbia hasn't won a Pennant in 81 years, or a World Series in 90 years. The metro area hasn't won a title in 23 years (the 1991 Redskins), or even been to the Finals in any sport in 16 years (the 1998 Capitals). Say what you want about elected officials, lobbyists and federal government workers living in the area, but it needs a winner. Good ballpark. Ryan and Jordan Zimmerman (no relation), Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg deserve rings. And any team that features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as mascots is worthy of respect.

Con: The manager is Matt Williams, who cheated his way to a ring with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. (Yes, he was caught.) Their player who already have a ring are Jayson Werth (2008 Philadelphia Phillies), and he abandoned the Phils at a time when they could have really used him; and Matt Thornton (2013 Red Sox, who won by cheating). Also, do you think Bryce Harper deserves a ring? Based on his current attitude, I'd have to answer that with his favorite expression: "That's a clown question, bro." One of their pitchers is Tyler Clippard, and, while him getting a ring wouldn't be as annoying to Yankee Fans as Kazmir getting one would be to Met fans, it would be another reminder of a bad Yankee transaction. So would Rafael Soriano: While we Yankee Fans don't miss him as a closer (we have David Robertson and Dellin Betances), we could certainly use him in place of, say, Shawn Kelley. Also, their coaching staff includes Tony Tarasco, who is still whining over the Jeffrey Maier Incident 18 years ago.

3. Baltimore Orioles. Pro: Haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 31 years. Good city. Good ballpark. As far as I can tell, none of their players has ever won a title.

Con: Did just make the Playoffs 2 years ago. City just had a title in the NFL nearly 2 years ago. Manager Buck Showalter, formerly the Yankee manager, turned out to be a jerk.

2. Detroit Tigers. Pro: Haven't won a World Series in 30 years. City needs a winner, very badly. Good ballpark. They have a legend in the making without a ring, Justin Verlander. Their manager, Brad Ausmus, is a decent guy, who made the Playoffs 6 times as a player (5 times with Houston, 1 with Los Angeles), and never won a title. In fact, only 1 player on their roster (that I know of) has won one.

Con: City did have a couple of titles recently (2008 Red Wings, 2005 Pistons). Have made the Playoffs 4 years in a row now, and won a couple of Pennants recently, yet tanked in the Series when given these chances (2012, 2006). Their most significant player, Miguel Cabrera, already has a ring (2003 Florida Marlins).

1. Pittsburgh Pirates. Pro: Haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 35 years; only the Seattle Mariners, who've played 38 seasons without winning a Pennant, have waited longer. Fans had to suffer through years of penny-pinching management before these last 2 Playoff-bound seasons. Good ballpark. Good city. Manager Clint Hurdle is a good guy, who's had awful luck. Not only did he run into the cheating Red Sox in 1 previous World Series, as manager of the 2007 Colorado Rockies, but he managed to play for the George Brett Royals, the Whitey Herzog Cardinals, and the Davey Johnson Mets, and managed to win only 1 Pennant and no World Series. As far as I can tell, none of their players has ever won a World Series, including some good guys, like catcher Russell Martin, whom the Yankees didn't lift a finger to re-sign. Also, Ike Davis (son of former Yankee pitcher Ron Davis) winning a ring right after the Mets got rid of him would be fun.

Con: Can't think of any, unless you count making the Yankees look bad by having Martin, Mark Melancon and Jose Tabata win.

So... Let's go Bucs!

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