Monday, October 3, 2016

Deserve's Got Everything to Do With It: 2016 MLB Edition

"I don't deserve this!" -- Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman)
"Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." -- Will Munny (Clint Eastwood)
-- Unforgiven

The 2016 Major League Baseball regular season is over. Although they had their 24th consecutive winning season, the longest active streak in the major leagues, the Yankees missed the postseason for the 3rd time in the last 4 years. That is unacceptable, but that's a post for another time.

I am now going to list the 10 teams that did make it, in the order of how much they deserve to win the World Series. Remember, this is not who I think will win, but who I believe should win.

Spoiler Alert: While you can probably guess who's last, the Cubs are not first!

10. Boston Red Sox, Champions of the American League Eastern Division.

Pro: I love Boston as a city. It is a liberal city. It is a great sports city. Fenway Park is a treasure.

Con: They cheat. They still have David Ortiz. Their fans are "Massholes." Besides, even if you don't hold their cheating against them, they won the whole thing only 3 seasons ago, and have won 3 titles in the last 13 seasons. And the Patriots won the Super Bowl only 2 seasons ago -- again, by cheating. Boston's won 9 World Championships in the last 15 years. That's more than enough. Screw 'em!

9. New York Mets, National League Wild Card representative.

Pro: New York, the greatest city in the world. Citi Field is a very good ballpark. The Mets haven't won a World Series in 30 years. Their fans have suffered enough.

Con: No, they have not. They are, by and large, obnoxious, idiots, with all the arrogance of Yankee Fans, having earned very little of it. Even if you don't buy that, they won the Pennant just last season. They don't deserve it. Also, Bartolo Colon is a steroid cheat. Yoenis Cespedes might be as well: Some fans call him "CesPEDes."

8. Texas Rangers, Champions of the American League Western Division.

Pro: They've never won a World Series, which certainly suggests they, or at least their fans, deserve to win one. Globe Life Park is a retro park, although not one of the better ones.

Con: It's Texas. It's Dallas (or its suburbs). These are people who think George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert are acceptable, and the rest of us are deplorable. Also, that stupid "Claw and Antlers" thing has got to go.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers, Champions of the National League Western Division.

Pro: L.A. is a liberal city, and a good sports city. Dodger Stadium is a classic ballpark, although it was never the best one, as the L.A. media machine has long told us. They're owned by Earvin "Magic" Johnson, basketball legend, and a billionaire who actually is a "job creator." They haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 28 years. Their fans have suffered enough.

Con: Or have they? Los Angeles has won 7 World Championships in the last 16 years. If you count the WNBA and MLS, that's 14 titles. (I won't count Anaheim, since anybody who roots for the Dodgers won't root for the Angels, and will root for the Kings, not the Ducks.) Also, it's L.A. The most shallow city on the continent. If there's a shallower city on another continent, I'm not aware of it. And it's the Dodgers. 1957. Never forget, never forgive.

Also, can we really stand a full moth of "Win It For Vin"? Seriously: If Vin Scully were broadcasting in Cincinnati, or Milwaukee, or even for the Chicago White Sox, he would have been overlooked, and probably forced into retirement 20 years ago. If Ken Harrelson, the much-derided White Sox broadcaster, broadcast for the Dodgers, the O'Malley family's public-relations apparatus and the L.A. media machine would be telling us how wonderful he is. Wake up, people: Vin Scully was always good, but he was never the best broadcaster in the business.

6. Toronto Blue Jays, American League Wild Card representative.

Pro: They haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 23 years. And Jose Bautista follows me on Twitter.

Con: Toronto is not my kind of city. It's liberal, but with some conservative populism that helped keep a Tory government in charge of the country for 10 years. It did win a championship only 4 years ago, the Grey Cup with the Argonauts. The Rogers Centre is a horrible stadium for baseball, with artificial turf and lousy atmosphere. Blue Jay fans didn't seem to exist from the return from the Strike in 1995 until those premature predictions of 2014. They are kind of acting like the Los Angeles Kings fans of MLB.

5. San Francisco Giants, National League Wild Card representative.

Pro: San Francisco is a wonderful city, a liberal city, a great sports city. AT&T Park is a great ballpark. The Giants are easy to root for. And Dodger fans hate them.

Con: They won only 2 years ago. And 4 years ago. And 6 years ago. Throw in the title the Golden State Warriors won last year, and nearly again this year, and the San Jose Sharks reached the Finals this year, and the 49ers reached a Super Bowl only 4 years ago... In the last 6 years, the Bay Area has reached 7 Finals, winning 4 titles. Also, orange uniforms.

Besides, the Giants also abandoned New York in 1957. It wasn't as bad, because there was far more reason for the Giants to leave town than the Dodgers.

4. Chicago Cubs, Champions of the National League Central Division.

Pro: I love Chicago. It is a liberal city. It is a great sports city. Wrigley Field might be the greatest ballpark there is, and the modern touches that have been added have helped. Cub fans have waited so long: 71 years for a Pennant, 108 years for a World Championship. It's time.

Con: Theo Epstein, who helped build the cheating Red Sox of 2003-11 (Ben Cherington built their 2013 "champions"), is their general manager. Joe Maddon, the classless thug who managed the Tampa Bay Rays of 2006-14, is their field manager. And there's the concern that, like the fans of the Red Sox after 2004 and the New York Rangers after 1994, their fans would go from annoying as losers to absolutely unbearable as winners.

3. Baltimore Orioles, American League Wild Card representative.

Pro: Baltimore is a terrific city, a liberal city, a good sports city. They haven't won a World Series, or even a Pennant, in 33 years. Camden Yards is a great ballpark.

Con: Buck Showalter. Also, orange uniforms. Also, Baltimore won a title only 4 years ago, with the Ravens.

2. Washington Nationals, Champions of the National League Eastern Division.

Pro: I like Washington as a city. It is a liberal city. It's not a great sports city -- it is still Redskins 1st, everything else 2nd -- but it's getting better. Nationals Park is a very good ballpark. And the city hasn't won a Pennant in 83 years (12 years longer than the Cubs) or a World Series for 92 years (not that much less than the Cubs, and a lot more than the Indians). Indeed, it hasn't won a title in 25 years (since the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI) or even been in the Finals in 18 years (since the Capitals got swept by Detroit).

Con: It's hard to like Bryce Harper. The team doesn't have much history (even if you count its 1969-2004 tenure as the Montreal Expos), and the history it does have (in Montreal and in Washington) is full of clutch-situation chokes. And betting on a team managed by Dusty Baker has never yet panned out. Besides, with Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg, their window for a title is far from closing.

1. Cleveland Indians, Champions of the American League Central Division.

Pro: I like Cleveland as a city. It is a liberal city. It is a good sports city. Progressive Field is a really good ballpark. And the Indians haven't won a Pennant in 19 years or a World Series in 68 years. Enough is enough.

Con: The city just won the NBA title. It may be their only title in 52 years, but it is still, for the moment, the most recently won World Championship. And they're managed by Terry Francona, who won those tainted titles with the Red Sox.

So, the most deserved World Series would be Cleveland over Washington.

I would be fine with either of them winning. Or the Cubs. Or Baltimore. Or San Francisco.

With my luck, it'll be Mets vs. Red Sox again, like in 1986. Fortunately, John Farrell is no John McNamara, Craig Kimbrel is no Calvin Schiraldi or Bob Stanley, and Hanley Ramirez is uninjured, unlike Bill Buckner in October 1986.

Or maybe Big Papi will juice up and be ready to humiliate New York one more time.

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