The World Series is almost over, and I still had no idea who I wanted to win. The Rangers are up 3-2, but with the way this whole shindig is going, it is almost impossible to tell who will come out on top. Every time I have thought that, for sure, the Cardinals have it in their hands, they have fallen apart accordingly. At the same time, whenever I have been convinced, undoubtedly, the Rangers have run out of magic, they pull one more trick out of their bat bags. And now they are one win away from their first championship ever. I cannot decide if I am happy about this or not.
So I made a list, pictured above. I gave myself five minutes - no more, no less - to write as many reasons as possible why I want each team to win. When the five minutes were up, I figured that I would clearly have an answer of some sort. And I guess I came up with one.
Now let me explain why I am rooting for Texas, and why I think they will ultimately win the World Series tonight.
1. “Lil Ron Washington on a float.” Really, need I say more?
2. “Addicts Everywhere.” I think it is so admirable what Josh Hamilton has done with his life, and I give him major props for remaining sober and being a role model for little kids. That said, between him and Ron Washington, can you think of better spokesmen for, like, the DARE Program? And by DARE, I mean the Drink Alcohol and Roll Ecstasy non-profit organization of champions. I can see the public service campaign now. Josh Hamilton: “Hey kids. You may know me from those awesome topless bar photos I took a few years ago when I was fucked up out of my mind. Well, after drinking my liver to setting home run history at the All-Star Game, I went on to win the World Series. So, really, drugs will ruin your life.” Ron Washington: “Oh hi there, boys and girls. Once upon a time, you know, about two years ago, I had a nasty cocaine habit and embarrassingly failed a league-administered drug test. Then I coached the Texas Rangers to their first World Series championship ever. This is a lesson to please stay off the white stuff, folks.” Coke-fiend Magoo and the Alcoholic All-Star Game Ass-Kicker. One win away from destiny.
3. “Cliff Lee – glad the Phillies worked out so well.” I may or may not hold a grudge against both Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers for their July 2010 shenanigans. But the following winter, when he had the chance to sign with the Yankees (or the Rangers) as a free agent, that bastard chose…the Phillies?! Because the Yankees are getting old and the Phillies have the best chance of winning and whatever bullshit he fed us back then. Thus, it would give me great delight, if the team he left went on to win the very next season without the great Cliff Lee.
4. “Adrian Beltre – Suck it, Boston.” The Sox could have re-signed him, but they let him go. And it looks like he jumped ship just before it sank completely. Nothing gives me greater joy than something that gives Red Sox Nation pain.
5. “Nolan Ryan.” How can you not love Nolan Ryan? He is still just as nasty and competitive and overpowering as he was when he was on the mound. Even if he is now old and fat. It is hard not to respect that fire, which he brings each and every night. Players (and owners) like him get harder to find with each passing season.
6. “Never Won Before.” Well, this would be the first title for the Rangers. So I guess that is historic and nice and all. Especially because it is the first full season that Nolan Ryan has been in charge.
7. “Cards Bullpen – deserve to lose.” I mean, if it wasn’t for Jason Motte giving away Game 2 and the bullpen collectively failing in Game 5, this World Series may be over already and the Cardinals may have been planning their parade. When you let your opponent back into TWO games, two games that you otherwise should have won, in a best-of-seven series, you deserve to fucking lose.
8. “AL Rules.” As a Yankees fan, born and bred in the American League East, it is almost impossible for me to root for any National League team in the World Series (other than the Mets. But we all know that I don’t have to worry about that too often). What can I say? I love the designated hitter. Always have, always will.
9. “That poor dead fan.” Sigh, I am going straight to hell. I couldn’t remember his name in my five-minute limit! Probably because it is “Shannon,” which is a girl’s name. (Straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200). Nevertheless, the Rangers should win it all for Shannon Stone, the firefighter and dad who plummeted to his death while trying to catch a ball for his son this past July. It would be especially fitting if Josh Hamilton hit a home run. Maybe the Rangers can make him a creepy statue, too.
10. “Albert Pujols is an ass.” After his disappearing act after Game 2 and subsequent temper tantrum, I am not sure if King Albert deserves another locker room celebration – or the media attention that surrounds it. He is a superstar and gets paid like one; he has an obligation to answer questions after a game. Particularly in the World Series.
11. “Mike Napoli.” I mean, the guy has just been an absolute beast. He didn’t get the respect he deserved all season, but he has made an undeniable impression in the playoffs. He deserves it.
St. Louis Cardinals
1. “I heart Fat Elvis.” Oh my god, I do. I fell in love with Lance throughout the fantasy baseball season. It was a gradual love affair. He was my absolute last draft pick and I sat him over Ike Davis for the first few weeks of the season. I am also naturally suspicious of men with mullets. While Lance started the season on a tear, I assumed that the hot streak would soon end. And I figured it was only a matter of time before Fat Elvis got injured. But then his hot streak turned into a season-long, injury-free comeback campaign of awesomeness. Our team slogan all year, as I have mentioned before, was “It’s not over until The Fat Elvis sings.” And although he had the very last at-bat for my team and could have won us the championship, I would still vote Fat Elvis as our MVP (just don’t tell Ryan Braun). I hope he gets another chance for glory this week. It won’t be the same as leading Joe Girardi’s Braces to a championship in our inaugural season, but I guess he would get a cool ring out of it.
2. “Cards are better/have better story.” Listen, the Cardinals have no business being in the playoffs, let alone the World Series. Had the Braves just closed out the final game of the regular season, we would not be having this discussion. They were down 10.5 games on August 25th and improbably won 23 of their final 31 games; during the same stretch, the Braves lost 18 of their last 27. You do the math. On September 29th, also known as Wild Card Wednesday, I said to, well, anyone who would listen that it was SO DUMB for the Phillies to beat the Braves. I thought the Cardinals had a lot more talent, and as shaky as their bullpen has been, the poor Atlanta bullpen kids looked utterly exhausted. When it came time for the playoffs, I figured that Philadelphia would prefer to play Atlanta over the Pujols/Holliday/Berkman beast of St. Louis. Which is why I thought they should have pulled a Joe Girardi and gracefully provided the Braves with every opportunity to make the postseason. They did not. And now the Cardinals are two games away from a World Series championship. You can’t have a better story than that. Unless it involves fried chicken and the Red Sox.
3. “Texans are awful.” Midwesterners are not much better, but at least they aren’t arrogant assholes like those people who hail from Texas. Scientific studies have proven it.
4. “Cliff Lee – the Rangers never should have stolen him from us in the first place.” Ah, yes, my aforementioned grudge. Considering the Rangers were bankrupt and being run by Major League Baseball just to stay afloat in July 2010, the fact that they somehow traded for Cliff Lee and acquired his salary was mindblowing to me. Especially considering that we had packaged Jesus with a big red bow and were ready to trade our best prospects. So, as far as I am concerned, the Rangers stole him. And because of that, I do not want them to win the World Series. Ever.
5. “Fantasy Baseball.” Beside Fat Elvis, I also had Matt Holliday and Nelson Cruz on my team this season. Forget for a moment that both of them were injured half of the time and they totally screwed me in the playoffs. They are both great hitters with tremendous power and questionable fielding skills, and I am greatly appreciative of their contributions this season. That said, in terms of illogical attachment to my players, if I had to choose between the duo of Elvis/Holliday and the all-or-nothing Nelson Cruz, the Cards win in a landslide.
6. “Bullpen Phone – it should work.” Really, the Cardinals bullpen sucks enough as it is. They do not need any disadvantages from otherwise reliable technology.
7. “La Russa’s Genius.” There are only a few managers who can accidentally bring in a relief pitcher, solely allow him to issue an intentional walk before yanking him, and then have the public think it was intentional, just another crazy move by one of the game’s best. That is what happened to La Russa in Game 5 (the aforementioned “bullpen phone” saga). The thing is, even with the phone error, Tony La Russa IS one of the game’s best. He has done such an incredible job with his team this season. And if they win the World Series, it will be all because of him.
8. “Matt and Jon.” Two of my very good friends are ginormous St. Louis fans. So I guess if the Cardinals win, it would make them happy. Which I guess should make me happy, as their friend and all. Still, I find it extremely hard to care about this World Series, and in particular, the St. Louis Cardinals.
9. “Adios Albert.” In the very near future, Albert Pujols will become a free agent. And what better way to say goodbye than to win him a big gaudy ring as a token of appreciation? Who knows if he will actually leave (in fact, I am hoping Theo goes in big to woo Pujols to Chicago).
So. 11 compelling reasons to root for the Rangers. Not bad. More than I expected, to be honest here. And only nine for the Cards. Which means I apparently want the Texas Rangers to win the World Series. And I think they will do it tonight, because this is their best and maybe only chance (with Carpenter perhaps available for Game 7) to close it out. One way or the other, list or no list, I don’t really care who wins tonight. I just hope it is one hell of a slugfest-bullpen-confusion-head-scratching-what-the-hell-just-happened kind of game.
I am already ready for pinstripes, pitchers, and catchers to report.
I am off to a green card interview on Long Island, but I hope you all have wonderful Wednesdays and please check back tomorrow.