Monday, October 5, 2015

Deserve's Got Everything to Do With It -- 2015 MLB Edition

"I don't deserve this!" -- Gene Hackman
"Deserve's got nothin' to do with it!" -- Clint Eastwood
-- Unforgiven

When I put my Yankee bias aside and make suggestions as to who's worthy of winning the World Series, deserve's got everything to do with it.

The last 10 teams are listed in ascending order of worthiness.

10. St. Louis Cardinals, National League Central Division Champions.

Pro: Along with the San Francisco Giants (who didn't make the Playoffs this season -- after all, it's an odd-numbered year), they currently represent excellence in baseball, "doing things the right way." Their success has been clean. Nice ballpark. And St. Louis is a great baseball city.

Con: Yes, yes, we know: St. Louis is a great baseball city, will you stop telling us, already? Honestly, the Cards have reached the point that people got to with the Red Sox in 2013, the Yankees in 2002, the Atlanta Braves in 1996: People are now sick of them. They last won the Pennant just 2 years ago, the World Series just 4 years ago. They don't need another. Fans are mostly Tea Partiers, on top of their annoying parochialism.

9. Texas Rangers, American League Western Division Champions.

Pro: Showed character by coming back from a horrible season last year to win their Division, despite being pushed by Houston and Anaheim. Have never won a World Series in 44 years of trying.

Con: They did win back-to-back Pennants relatively recently, in 2010 and 2011, and were lousy in the World Series the 1st time, and in the 2nd, they actually found a way to choke worse than the 1986 Red Sox did. They also choked away a big Division lead in 2012. Not worthy. Possibly the lamest and least homey of the retro ballparks. Besides, it's Texas. It's Dallas. Tea Partiers. Plus, guilt by association with the Dallas Cowboys. To Hell with them.

8. Kansas City Royals, American League Central Division Champions.

Pro: Led their Division virtually wire-to-wire. Showed their excellence by winning their Division by the largest margin in the major leagues this season. Came within 1 run of a title last year. Haven't won the World Series in 30 years -- their city's last sports title, unless you count MLS' Sporting Kansas City, which just won its 3rd U.S. Open Cup in 12 years and has won 2 MLS Cups, most recently in 2013. Decent ballpark, which tore up the artificial turf years ago.

Con: I still think of their nasty, dirty-playing teams of the late 1970s, including George Brett and Hal McRae. And they did just play in the World Series last year. Also, most of their fans are Tea Partiers from Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

7. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card entry.

Pro: Showed some character in making the Playoffs when hardly anybody thought they would at the start of the season, and when many people gave them up for dead when they blew a big Division lead in July. Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia deserve a last hurrah, and some interesting young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino have already earned this shot. The critics of the new Stadium can shut up: It's great, if ridiculously expensive. Liberal City in a liberal State.

Con: The Yankee game experience is too expensive. Fans have earned some arrogance, but not that much. Last made the Playoffs only 3 years ago, last won a Pennant and a World Series only 6 years ago. No, Yankee Fans, that is not an eternity. Ask Met fans. Ask Blue Jay fans. Ask Royal fans. Ask Pirate fans. Ask Ranger fans. Ask Astro fans. Heck, ask Dodger fans. Better yet, ask Cub fans.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers, National League Western Division Champions.

Pro: They've done very well for themselves lately. They're exciting. Magic Johnson is a classy owner. Dodger Stadium is now the 3rd-oldest stadium in baseball, and feels historic without seeming old. Haven't won a Pennant or a World Series in 27 years. Manager Don Mattingly deserves a Pennant after 33 years of being in Major League Baseball. Liberal city in a liberal State.

Con: How long do I have to hold the O'Malley Treason against them? Until they move back to Brooklyn. Plus, they're still Dodger fans: They show up late, they leave early, and they can't get energized unless they're playing their arch-rivals, the San Francisco Giants.

5. New York Mets, National League Eastern Division Champions.

Yes, if I put my bias aside, I have to admit, they deserve it more than the Yankees do. They do -- their fans don't.

Pro: Got off the deck, made the necessary trading-deadline acquisitions, and surged from mediocrity to 1st place in a span of under a month, and, when challenged for that Division lead, held it. Have really energized a dormant fan base. Haven't made the Playoffs in 9 years, won a Pennant in 15 years, or won the World Series in 29 years. Most of the players are likable. David Wright deserves a title. Good ballpark. Liberal City in a liberal State.

Con: Lots of injuries, although that's not really a question of whether they deserve it. What is, is Matt Harvey's apparent consideration of his professional future over the chance to win now and become a New York Sports Legend. Actually, the worst thing I can say about these Mets is that their fans are obnoxious little twits who have all of the arrogance of New Yorkers, but have earned next to none of it, unlike Yankee Fans.

4. Houston Astros, American League Wild Card entry.

Pro: Have bounced back from 3 horrible season and a mediocre one last year to become one of the best teams in baseball. Have been rather humble with their newfound excellence. Have never won a World Series in 54 years of trying. And they're no longer playing on artificial turf and in hideous uniforms, and they now play in a stadium where the roof can open up and play under God's sky, which has to count for something. Plus, Houstonians hate Dallas, which also has to count for something. By Texas standards, it's a liberal city.

Con: It's still Texas. And they did just win a Pennant 10 years ago, more recently than some other teams on this list.

3. Toronto Blue Jays, American League Eastern Division Champions.

Pro: First time in the postseason in 23 years. Showed a lot of character in overcoming a big deficit to win the Division. Don't act like they're superior to anyone else. Liberal city in a liberal Province in a liberal country.

Con: Have won 2 World Series, in 1992 and 1993, more recently than some of these other teams. Awful stadium. Fans are annoying.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates, National League Wild Card entry.

Pro: Have now reached the Playoffs 3 seasons in a row, after not making it at all for 21 years. Great city, a liberal city. Great ballpark. Haven't won a Pennant or a World Series in 36 years. It's time.

Con: Not much, although their failure to reach a League Championship Series suggests maybe they're not quite good enough. The worst thing I can say about their fans is that some of them support Penn State. Second-worst? They love Sidney Crosby.

1. Chicago Cubs, National League Wild Card entry.

Pro: If I put aside my New York (and, to a lesser extent, Philadelphia) bias, Chicago is America's best city. Cub fans have waited so long: 70 years for a Pennant, 107 years for a World Series win. Wrigley Field. Plus, if they couldn't do it while Ernie Banks was alive, the least they can do is let them get to a World Series that would be dedicated in his memory. Finally, we'll never have to hear about that stupid Curse of the Billy Goat again.

Con: Michael Wilbon of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption would never let us hear the end of it. Too many Back to the Future Part II references if they do it here in 2015. Plus, George Will would be happy, and I don't think the world knows how to handle a happy George Will.

Therefore, if the Yankees can't do it...


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