EDITORS NOTE: This article has been altered, specifically in my breakdown of the MVP discussion. Text in bold is my retraction.
Yesterday the 2012 Red Sox season was mercilessly put to rest. For the past couple months baseball has been dead to me, and probably most other Red Sox fans. I haven’t watched many games. I haven’t checked scores every day. In fact its gotten so bad that I really just stopped following baseball as closely as I normally would. But yesterday that ended. There is no indication that things will get any better next season for the Sox but for now fans of the Fens can sit down and watch some playoff baseball without being constantly reminded of the circus going on in Boston.
I have never been one to believe in switching teams and I am not abdicating that now. Your team is your team whether its pounding out 100-win seasons or trotting out minr league lineups with three games left to go against your arch rival. However when your team is not in the playoffs I think its is permissible to favor one team if not openly pull for them.
For example back before the Celtics were what they are right now, from 1996-200 and then the 2006 and 2007 seasons there was always a team that I found myself getting to know and getting behind. From 96-98 it was Jordan’s Bulls because, you know, I was just like every other person in America. Then in 1999 it was the eighth-seeded New York Knicks and their improbable run to the NBA finals. Honestly the Larry Johnson four-point play is one of my great basketball memories from childhood. (The Celtics went 19-31 that season in their sixth straight losing season so cut me some slack. There weren’t a whole lot of pantheon moments from a team with Ron Mercer on it). Then I went for the Kings and Garnett’s T-Wolves during the first two years of the Kobe-Shaw three-peat. Took some time off as the Celtics actually made the playoffs and then in 2006-2007 was all in for Steve Nash and the Suns.
So what does that have to do with baseball? Well everyone knows watching sports is more fun when you have a vested interest. It’s why people love confidence pools and fantasy in football. Every game suddenly has something to watch. So who should Red Sox fans be pulling for this October, since they won’t be seeing anyone with a B on their hat play an inning.
Why you should pull for them: A team that no one even expected to have competent players on at this point in the season somehow
managed to win 93 games and push itself into the playoffs while also coming within a whisper of the AL East Division Crown. The
squads $81,428,999.00 payroll is less than half of that of the Sox and this team is still in the playoffs. The rotation isn’t anything to feel fantastic about and on offense they have a number of boom or bust batters like Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds but there is also some exciting young players like Manny Machado that no one seems to have figured out yet. Then there’s the bullpen that has been lights out thanks to a guy named Jim Johnson who had 51 saves this season. Baltimore is that feel-good story this season and has somehow caught every single break with something like a record of 178-0 in extra innings games.
Why you shouldn’t: This is the same team that put the final bullet in the 2011 Red Sox collapse and then stormed the field and celebrated like it they had just won game seven of the World Series. Also Kevin Gregg pitched for this team this season and I am none to fond of that goggled-up d-bag.
Why you should: Yet again Detroit won in the junior circuit of the AL where it never seems like one team dominates. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had better records than the Tigers while playing in divisions that each had two playoff teams. So seeing Detroit win would be a bit of an upset special although less akin to Baltimore’s due to the talent on the Tigers roster. After blowing up last season Justin Verlander has largely been more ignored this season, and unfairly so. The dude went 17-8with a 2.64 ERA this season while leading the league in complete games (six), innings pitched (238 1/3) and strike outs (239). Don’t know what pitcher I’d rather watch throw in October. Plus the Tigers have the first guy to win the Triple Crown since 1967
Why you shouldn’t: Miguel Cabrera made it so Red Sox fans cannot hang their hat on Carl Yazstremski being the last player to win the Triple Crown. Oh and Trout’s the MVP and it’s not even close. I was on some sort of drugs with what I wrote earlier.
Why you should: Think of these guys as Baltimore Version Two. Or better yet Baltimore Light. The A’s have the second lowest payroll
in baseball and all season trotted out guys you had either never heard of or thought might be pitching in a Venezuelan slow-pitch softaball league if anywhere at all. Yet somehow this team did the unthinkable and WON its division over the Texas Rangers. Yes, the same Texas Rangers that have won the AL pennant the past two seasons. Also this team is filled with Red Sox castoffs like Jumpin’ Josh Reddick, Coocoo for Coco Crisp, Brandon “Brother of Santana, Cousin of Randy and childhood friend of Sinorice” Moss and George “It’s the Cataracs” Kottaros.
Why you shouldn’t: This could threaten us with a sequel to last year’s Hadrball. It would be called Hardball 2 with the two silhouetted behind hardball like in the new Taken. It would tell the story of how Billy Beane flew to Cuba to rescue his daughter from Communist nationals and mobsters while also scouting and signing rookie of the year runner up Yoenis Cespedes.
Why you should: Isn’t it about time for the Rangers. Two straight seasons of devastating losses in the World Series. Can’t help but feel for that squad and it’s Dallas Cowboy-worshipping fan base. Would it really be fair to have Tony Romo, of the five-interception fame, at quarterback and see your team miss out on a World Series all in the same month? Oh, okay Philadelphia fans I guess you’re right. The Rangers also have a couple of Red Sox castoffs including Adrian “Don’t touch my head” Beltre and David “Missed Out on a Golden Marketing Campaign with the Dropkick” Murphy (s). Also seeing a guy like Michael Young win a ring would be good to see. He has been one of the most consistently solid players in the league for so long and still barely gets recognized for it. And fianlly the Rangers red alternate hat might be one of my favorite in baseball.
Why you shouldn’t: If the Rangers win a World Series with Mike Napoli on its roster it might transform Naps into an even mightier beast and with how much he feasts on the Red Sox that just isn’t a risk you’d want to take. Also Ian Kinsler is a poor mans Dustin Pedroia who acts like a rich man’s version. Don’t want to see that crooked-nosed, high-socked wearing troll win much of anything.
There is another team in the AL playoff hunt but if you would even consider pulling for the Yankees then you clearly started for the Red Sox post-2004 and need to be dragged into the street and shot. Or at least stop pretending to be a Sox fan.
For my money I throwing it in with the A’s. I like what Baltimore did this season but you know the farther they get the more the Red Sox failures will hurt. The Tigers seem to be in the playoffs every season and won’t have to shock the world again next season to get back. The Rangers have been winning in recent seasons and still have a window open. Oakland just has that perfect storm of humble nobodies who don’t make sense being there and would just be the best story. Plus I have never really stopped loving Josh Reddick.
P.S. My predictions for the outcomes of the first round. Rangers over Orioles in the one-game playoff. Then Rangers over New York Yankees in Four. Detroit over Oakland in Three.
Which AL team is going to win it all? Want to tell me how stubbornly stupid and behind in the times I am on the MVP discussion? Drop a line on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or blast off in the comments.