Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Gheorghe Handicaps the MLB Playoffs

The 2015 Major League Baseball postseason begins today in New York with the American League Wild Card Playoff between the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels Houston Astros. Our staff has crunched the numbers, and determined who we think will win the World Series.

Of course we haven't done that. There have been no numbers crunched, and we don't have the first clue about who will actually make it through the baseball postseason's random outcome generator. What we do know for a certainty, though, is which teams you should root for, and which you should hate with passion.

In order from most odious to the pluckiest everyman/underdog story, then:

The New York Yankees celebrated their return to the postseason for the first time since 2012 with a full-on champagne and beer shower party. How True Yankee of them. This team is led by Alex Rodriguez, something Bomber fans seem to have conveniently forgotten as the team trudged down the stretch hoping that the season would end before the wheels fell completely from their wobbling conveyance. The only redeeming thing about a deep Yankee playoff run would be the fact that it would expose the extent to which Derek Jeter's stinking carcass impacted their results for the past three years.

I guess I don't really dislike the St. Louis Cardinals, but I sure am tired of seeing them this time of year. Throw us a frickin' bone here.

If not for their sunny hometown and its generally laid-back vibe (and the fact that people on the East Coast give fewer than two shits about anything that happens out West), the Los Angeles Dodgers would garner every bit of disdain as the Yankees and the other profligate spenders in baseball's upside-down economy. The Dodgers, in fact, make the Yankees seem penurious, outspending every team in baseball, with a payroll more than $50m higher than the second-place New Yorkers' $219m. Like Tara Reid on a plastic surgery bender, L.A.'s spending reached preposterous levels, more than doubling that of all but seven other MLB franchises. An early exit to the fiscally clownish Mets would be deliciously ironic.

Nobody outside of Dallas knows much of anything about the Texas Rangers, and they care even less. It's not that we dislike them, it's that we don't care.

If the Toronto Blue Jays were the Oakland A's, they'd be really confused. They'd also get a lot more love from the baseball press. The Jays are going to win the World Series. They're so far ahead of everyone else in baseball in terms of run differential, that the second place team can't even see them. They combine a ripsnorting lineup, a lockdown number one starter, and a tidy bullpen. They have the American League's best ERA post-ASB by a wide margin, and the league's highest OPS and runs scored over the same span. But they're not American. Hard to like foreigners.

It's not hard to like these New York Mets - they're young, they just toppled a particularly arrogant Washington Nationals squad, their superstar is the very model of modern classy ballplayer (until his closet aspargus porn videos finally surface), and they're not the Yankees. But they're still from New York, which counts against them fairly substantially in the underdog category. And their ownership defines both clueless rich and financially incompetent, a daily double that would've doomed lesser teams to Phillie-like ignominy.

The Kansas City Royals would be much higher on this list, but for the fact that they made it to the World Series just last year, and the bloom is off the plucky, out-of-nowhere small market kids.

It's a shame that the Pittsburgh Pirates play in the same division as the Cardinals. And yet another reason to hate St. Louis. The Buccos have the second-best record in all of baseball and still have to suffer the vicissitudes of the play-in game (against the team with the third-best mark in the bigs). After consecutive losses in that most random of all games, Pittsburghers will be forgiven their apprehension, safe in the knowledge that everyone will be pulling for them...oh, man.

The Houston Astros are this year's Royals - they arrived a year or so before we expected to see them playing meaningful autumn baseball. They're young (see Carlos Correa, who might not even shave yet), goofy (Dallas Keuchel's beard, for the win), and tiny (Jose Altuve is my spirit animal). They've got the best uniforms in the playoffs, and if it wasn't for the fact that they come from Houston would be overwhelming favorites for the top spot on this list.

You might argue that the Chicago Cubs are the safe choice here, that rooting for the Northsiders to finally break their World Series schneid is cliche. You'd be right. But this Cubs team is also hella entertaining to watch, with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro raking and Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester leading the pitching staff. Joe Maddon's the most fun manager in baseball, and might be the most likable skipper in all of professional sports. Set aside for a moment the certainty that a deep Cubs run would mean endless loops of Will Ferrell as Harry Caray, and ask yourself who you'd root for if your team wasn't playing in the postseason.

If you've got a soul, the answer is the Cubbies.


rob said...

it was a trick question. the answer: hate them all, because you hate baseball. jerks.

Marls said...

The Angels will be dressed like Astros tonight in order to fake out the Yankees.

rob said...

our copy editors probably should've caught that. way to go, head copy editor.

Marls said...

If the Mets don't win then I'm rooting for the cubbies. That said, if the Cubs manage to win a few like the Red Sox the northsider fans have a very high probability of becoming insufferable pricks.

Danimal said...

So Robert Kraft has a stake in Draft Kings?

Danimal said...

And Jesse Palmer and his skinny ties are on Good Morning America? Did you guys know this too? Whoa.

rob said...

barry petechsky at deadspin with a really good take on this year's yankee team (which actually overachieved), and yankee fandom in general:

That’s a shitty way to live—what’s the point of being a fan at all if you can’t find joy in incremental accomplishments?


TR said...

If you saw the prices they charged for games, you'd understand why the fans were antsy.

zman said...

Because Red Sox fans have such a sunny positive outlook when their team doesn't win it all.

rob said...

while there's certainly truth in that statement, z, the shitty, 78-84 red sox got a rousing sendoff after their final home game this year because they showed a bunch of incremental accomplishments over the season's final month.

Shlara said...

Does anyone else hate how apple re-organized podcasts and music on the iphone?
It takes 4 extra steps to get what you want, and that weird shaded screen is confusing...why did they need to change things??
Yes, I know I sound old.

T.J. said...

Shlara, it's awful. I hate it.

Mark said...

Caron Butler's account of the Javaris Crittenton-Gilbert Arenas feud/gun incident. Wow.


rob said...

just read that, mark. literally like a movie scene when crittenton turns around. insane.

Clarence said...

"It's a shame that the Pittsburgh Pirates play in the same division as the Cardinals."

Amen, and in the same division as the Cubs. I could root heavy for either of these teams. Once the Mets flail.