Want to know why I consider myself to be a Phillies fan first and a baseball fan second? Because the World Series begins tonight, and I don’t care about it – at all.
I’m sure that there are some Phillies fans out there who do indeed care about the World Series and feel invested in which team ends up in a dogpile at the end. I don’t want to leave those people hanging, so I present to you this half-hearted attempt at a World Series preview.
If you’re hoping for detailed statistical analysis that delves deep inside the numbers, you’re out of luck. What you’re about to read is a preview of the teams from the perspective of an indifferent Phillies fan who doesn’t follow or care much about either team.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have received a lot of backlash on the internet lately. The main reason seems to be that America is sick of them winning all the time and hearing about how great of an organization they are. For instance, we’re apparently supposed to be really happy about the fact that the Cardinals allowed all-time franchise great Albert Pujols to leave and still continue to succeed. Because that’s what the good, smart teams do. They don’t just outspend the competition like the Yankees do!
According to some, the Cardinals represent all that is good and pure about the game of baseball, and this is reflected by their fan base. There are a few fan bases in America who have an inflated sense of self worth: Yankees fans have always thought that the baseball world revolves around them; Red Sox fans were insufferable whiners before 2004, and have become insufferable elitists since then; Cubs fans don’t stop bragging about how tortured they are; And (not unsurprisingly because everyone from Los Angeles has an inflated sense of ego) Dodgers fans think they’re really special simply because they get to watch games in Dodger Stadium and listen to Vin Scully.
Cardinals fans are different. Just as their team plays the right way, they cheer the “right way.” Because of that, it’s apparently pointless to hate them. Yes, the self-righteousness is off the charts. I imagine watching a game in Busch Stadium is like watching a game surrounded by 40,000 copies of Ned Flanders.
But enough about their fans. The Cardinals made it to the World Series largely due to a balanced offensive attack. They were only 13th in the National League in home runs, but they led the league in scoring because just about every player on the team gets on base at an insane rate.
Their pitching staff is also very good. The ace is the superb Adam Wainright, but every pitcher on the team is solid, except maybe for pitcher Jake Westbrook. Naturally, a rookie pitcher named Michael Wacha emerged at the end of the season to take Westbrook’s spot in the rotation, and was just named the MVP of the NLCS.
Boston Red Sox
After their epic collapse at the end of the 2011 season, it seemed like we should have been done with the Red Sox for a while. The team’s core was aging and expensive, and it felt like they were entering a down cycle that would keep them out of contention for a few seasons.
Wrong. Thanks in part to a bailout by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox are back in the national consciousness, and win or lose, we’re probably going to a column from Bill Simmons telling us just how much we should care about the Red Sox.
It’s apparent that the Red Sox can’t simply qualify for the World Series. They have to also bring with them a storyline that can be beaten to death by the media. In 2004, we got a million stories about the “idiots.” In 2013, the big storyline is that Red Sox players have beards.
Then again, the beard angle is probably preferable to being told how a Red Sox victory would help the city of Boston heal. I’m all for sports helping people deal with tragedy, but sometimes I’m made to feel like if I’m not supporting that team, I’m basically being anti-American. Anyone who cheered for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl probably knows what I mean.
The Sox offense is led by DH David Ortiz who inexplicably continues to hit as well as ever at age 38. They’ve also got former Phillie Shane Victorino on the team, so there’s at least one player in the series that Phillies fans can feel comfortable rooting for.
I honestly don’t know which way to go. Is “playing the right way” more important than beards and civic healing?
I suppose I could look at the rosters and try to determine which team is stronger. At first glance, it looks like the Cardinals have the better pitching, so I’ll go with them.
Cardinals in 6.