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11:45 a.m. - October 04, 2007
A Baseball Playoff Primer
Well, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s time for the baseball playoffs!

(OK, everyone who is running in fear from a sports post – hang with me. You’ll learn something. Trust me!)

It all started yesterday, and yes the Cubs lost, the Cubs lost. (Ah, crud…) But all in all it was a good day.

So when I’m not accidentally losing emails that somehow got into the spam folder, (Mo-ron!) and actually doing work, I’ll be watching the playoffs. (Oh, well, except for when The Office is on, and the first game of the Wild’s season is tonight. And then there’s this weekend, as I have client review, then I’ll go see Into The Wild and then eat ribs at Famous Dave’s – but yeah – other than that it’ll be baseball. Unless something else comes up…)

So, who am I rootin’ for, besides the Cubs?

Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Cleveland - In deference to the City Mouse, and to Becks, I must back Cleveland in the AL. Why? Well, they are as tortured of a franchise as the Cubs. They last won a World Series in 1948, though they were in the Fall Classic in 1995 (losing to the Braves in six) and in 1997 (where they lost to Florida in seven thanks to some bad relief work from Jose Mesa (also known as Joe Table) and an error by Tony Fernandez that allowed the winning run to score in extra innings. Think of that – you lose a world series in extra innings of the deciding game because a groundball goes through the legs of an infielder. That’s the way Charlie Brown’s team would lose – not a Major League team. But that’s why I love baseball…)

At any rate, Cleveland has a fine team led by pitcher C. C. Sabathia (who wears his cap at a jaunty angle – though I think he’d seriously give anyone who called it ‘jaunty’ a beatdown) and outfielder Grady Sizemore. Plus they have wonderfully named players like Jhonny Peralta (yep, that’s Jhonny) and Ryan Garko (who has a soap opera first name and a Steven Buscemi character’s last name. Plus they have a player whose nickname is “Pronk” (Travis Hafner) and a relief pitcher (Tom Mastny) who was born in that baseball hotbed of Indonesia – who later went to Furman and is from Zionsville, Indiana (where I lived for a few years).

I mean, it’s a neat cast of characters. What’s not to love? Oh, the mascot. Well, points off for Chief Wahoo.

2. Boston - Back a few years ago, I reveled in the fact that Boston won the World Series, especially the way they came back against the Yankees and then took care of the not-as-evil-as-the-Yankees-but-close-in-my-book St. Louis Cardinals. But now, the whole “Red Sox Nation” schtick is getting old. Enough already! They spend money like Britney in a Wal-Mart with an open bar. But I like Kevin Youkillis (YOOOOK!), Dustin Pedroia, and then who can’t love a player named Coco Crisp. And they have a pitcher named Manny Delcarmen, who I think was also an extra in The Departed as ‘Thug #3.’

3. Anaheim…er…California….er….Los Angeles - Ok, the Angels. Well, they used to have a tortured past, but they’ve won a recent World Series. Their owner does things the right way, but now there’s that whole stink about calling them the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. Could it not be the “Angels of Orange County, Including Anaheim, Fullerton, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Garden Grove, Irvine, and Los Alamitos?”

Anyway, I’ve always thought that franchise was bland. Even if they have Reggie Willits, who actually LIVES in a batting cage (no lie) and someone named Chone Figgins (it’s pronounced “Shawn”), and a relief pitcher named Bootcheck. I mean, Bootcheck.

4. The Evil, Despicable Monolith That Is The New York Yankees - Need I say more? It’s like rooting for Haliburton or Tom Delay.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Chicago - I’ve been a Cubs fan since 1977. I’ve been more excited about teams (1984 and 2003) but I think this year they have a good chance of winning it all. They’ve come together at the end, have a good starting rotation and bullpen and have some young scrappy players that I like. Wow, this is almost actual baseball content.

One of their best infielders is Ryan Theriot, and if you look closely, the back of his jersey says THE RIOT (there seems to be a pregnant pause in between the E and the R). They also have an exciting young outfielder named Felix Pie, and who doesn’t love Pie? (OK, his name is pronounced Pee-ay. But still…) And when Ted “Pictures Of” Lilly pitches, I have to listen to the Who, and that’s OK any time.

2. Colorado - Never mind the fact that I have three Rockies game worn jerseys, I’ve always liked them. And I like them even more now that they’re a young scrappy team that no one knows about and they won 14 out of 15 games just to get INTO the playoffs. Their best player is an MVP candidate that is bald at age 27 (Matt Holliday – and yes while he didn’t touch home plate during their play-in game remember George Bush didn’t really win the 2000 Election either, but we as a country have somehow survived, in a way), their bullpen includes a lefty that gave me the nickname Daisy amongst my softball team (I wore his game worn jersey to pitch – it’s Brian Fuentes – and the smart-asses started calling me that) and a young stud pitcher named Manny Corpas. (At the Corpas – Corpascobana – is that a stretch?)

Mind you, they won their play-in game even after pitching the corpse that is Jorge Julio deep in extra innings. So there may be some karma intact.

3. Philadelphia - It’s not that I don’t mind the Phillies. Not at all. I like Cole Hamels, despite his soap-opera name, along with Chase Utley, another soap-opera name. Ryan Howard (another one!) is a manster of a masher. They gutted out the season and came back to beat the Mets (who were ahead by seven games with 17 left in the season) to win their division. I also have a game-worn from them as well (ok, it was game issued as Billy McMillon was the last cut in 1998 but they had a jersey for him anyway – and actually that’s phitting for the Phillies’ perennial phutility.)

But they’re just my third love in this horse race.

BTW – the Mets loss has had an effect on their fan base…



4. Arizona - They’re playing the Cubs in the first round. Like I need another reason to stick them here. But actually, I’d root for them over any team in the AL except for Cleveland, and that would be a close race.


Well, there you have it. So instead of rotting your brain with stooopid shows on network TV, watch some real drama! It’s DIRTY, SEXY, BASEBALL!

 

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