Monday, October 20, 2008


Best Case Scenario

Well, that’s a bullet dodged. I don’t think I’ve ever refused to watch a postseason baseball series as long as I've been a fan, but if it had come down to the dreaded Red Sox-Dodgers matchup I just may have had to put on the blinders and start preparing myself for the Kings’ valiant run at 25 wins in the NBA. Rooting for the Dodgers is out of the question, but rooting for the Red Sox is nearly as high on the repulsive meter. Due to my up-close-and-personal experience amidst throngs of poorly-hygiened, obnoxious Sox fans, I’d find it almost impossible to form an uneasy alliance with them. Never has a truce been made between two parties that hated each other so since the X-men and Apocalypse put their differences aside to defeat Stryfe during the X-Cutioner’s Song (totally random reference that no one will get? Check!)

Luckily for me and all fans of good in the world, both the Dodgers and Red Sox lost. Instead we get a Phillies-Rays matchup that is already being touted as the most boring bout of blands to ever battle. A lot of people are already pooh-poohing the predicted poor ratings return and are suggesting the World Series will be anti-climactic, but I disagree totally.

First, anything that screws over FOX is fine by me. I honestly don’t give a flying fuck if the ratings for this series are low, because 1) I’ll be watching each game regardless, 2) even if TV ratings are low for this series, baseball is currently setting all kinds of attendance records and is swimming in cash, so thus 3) the only entity being hurt here is FOX which, again, is something we should all be pulling for.

FOX’s baseball coverage is absolutely unwatchable, from the bat-swinging robots appearing at every opportunity to the claustrophobic camera angles supposedly meant to show us every single pore on the pitcher’s face to the boring profiles of the players’ personal lives that, trust me guys, no one cares about. I’d shut it off and listen to the ESPN radio broadcast, but I’m a child of the ‘90’s raised on TV, and I ain’t weaning myself off of it now.

Then there are the announcers. FOX has maybe the worst collection of on-air personalities I’ve ever seen, in any sport. Luckily we were spared Thom Brennaman this postseason (thank you TBS for picking up the ALCS), but there was still plenty of mediocrity to spread around. Much ink has been spilled about how bad the Buck/McCarver tandem is but I personally can’t stand Kevin Kennedy on the pre-game shows. My goodness, his “analysis” consists of nothing but old-fashioned, tired baseball cliches that aren’t relevant anymore and all of his predictions turn out to be all kinds of wrong. I did love when Kennedy asserted after Game 3 of the NLCS that the beanball wars would fire up the Dodgers, then they went on to lose the next two games and the series.

The second reason I like this World Series matchup is that it's just plain good for baseball. For the past decade, ever since the 1994 strike, we've had baseball people (Bud Selig being one of the most outspoken) telling us that it's just impossible for lower market teams to compete with the big, bad Yankees and Red Sox, and thus we need a salary cap and all that. Yet here are the Rays, with the lowest payroll in the AL, in the World Series, fresh off a victory over those big market baddies the Red Sox.

The Rays are a testament to brilliant front office decision-making and should be seen on a national stage by baseball fans everywhere. New ownership came in three years ago, swept out the incompetent Chuck LaMar (who some people, incredibly, want to give a lot of credit for the Rays' current success), and went about molding all the young talent into a winner. Through intelligent scouting, smart drafting, brilliant free agent pickups (Carlos Pena, anyone?) and smart trades (the Garza trade is looking like a heist right now), the Rays overcame their financial handicap and a history as a laughingstock to get within four wins of a World Championship. How is that not a great story?

As for the Phillies, they haven't been there since 1993, they haven't won a Series since 1980 (complete with Tug McGraw's heart-fluttering goofiness), and they have three of the most exciting players in the game in Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. Most of their best players (including the aforementioned three and Cole Hamels and Pat Burrell) are all homegrown, speaking once again to the idea that success can be won through smart scouting as opposed to just having the most money.

This Series may not have the sex appeal of some over-hyped or convoluted rivalry, but it's a matchup of two baseball teams run the right way. If that's boring, then I guess I'm just a big, uh, bore. And at least it won't be the Dodgers.

*Actually, Apocalypse ended up being killed by his own minions in that fight, so I don't know how well that speaks to my chances, given the sheer numbers that comprise the Red Sox Nation.

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