Every year about this time a magical transformation takes place. Normally sane people go stark, raving mad as they cheer their favorites to the finish. The coolness in the air mirrors the coolness in neighbors’ stares as some new item of support gets unfurled in the yard. Promises get made only to be broken soon thereafter. And that’s just in the world of politics.
We are truly a blessed country because every fall we not only get the insanity of the baseball playoffs, we also get the truly mind-numbing inanity of the November elections. But this year is extra special because in addition to the antics of Democrats and Republicans, we also get the often unbelievable but usually entertaining shenanigans of the Tea Party.
Over here at RSBS we’ve made a tradition of putting together our annual playoff preview and this year is no exception. But each edition needs a theme and this year, in honor of our Teabagger friends, the theme just kind of put itself out there. Let’s get to it.
Like the NL, green tea has pomp, circumstance and history. The Chinese have been drinking the stuff since Europeans were letting blood to cure sickness and avoiding baths in the belief that water would kill you. Although it may have never gone away in the Asian world, the green stuff has experienced quite a renaissance in the West with the discovery of all it’s anti-oxidant properties. Likewise, with the NL finally in the driver’s seat after winning home field advantage at the All-Star game, you have to think they’re feeling a little renaissance of their own is due. But renaissance in what flavor?
Starting in the east (naturally, since we are talking about tea), we have the two-time defending league champion Phillies, the Japanese green tea of our preview. It’s classic, you know it and you know you’re probably going to see it again. Not only that, it just makes sense. Seriously, how would your bento box taste without the tea accompaniment? It belongs.
Meanwhile, the Lipton green tea of the NL, Atlanta’s own Braves, somehow found a way to get Bobby Cox back into the playoffs. Sure, it may not have been your first choice but it will get the job done. However, it’s also only going to get you so far. More on that later.
In the heartland, the Reds find representation in the classic Gunpowder variety of green tea. No one is quite sure how the tea got its name, maybe because it’s rolled into little pellets, maybe because it expands explosively when it hits the water. But there’s one big problem here. The way you know the quality is from the size of the balls. Smaller balls, better quality. Dusty Baker and his team aren’t exactly known for their small balls. Do you remember that brawl with the Cardinals? The Reds, their balls are a little too big.
Finally, out west we find the Giants, the Moroccan mint tea of the baseball world. It tastes good, there’s a lot to like but something’s a little off. Maybe it’s not strong enough, maybe there’s too much sugar but for whatever reason, it’s only good in small doses. That’s probably all right, though, since all we’re going to get from the Giants is a small dose when they exit during the first round.
Black tea found a home in the west but purists still sniff at its lack of tradition. Sure, it may have more caffeine, it may keep you going but where’s the ceremony? Now the fans of black tea will argue that theirs is still a noble tradition and despite their blends and flavors and addition of milk, the tea is still central. You’re not going to have any luck sliding that argument by the tea dogmatists, though.
Since black tea is a western thing, we’ll start out west with the preview as well. That means we dive straight into a steaming cup of Irish breakfast tea, also known as the Texas Rangers. Nolan Ryan owns the team and you don’t get much more Irish than that. However, in the land of black tea, the English reign supreme. Sorry, Nolan. It just wasn’t meant to be.
This leads us to Minnesota where the Twins find themselves represented by….wait a minute! That’s not tea. That’s herbal tea! C’mon guys. I can steep dirt in water and call it tea but everyone is going to know it’s just mud. Herbal tea is nice when you have a cold but it’s not “tea.” Hm, I guess that’s kind of fitting since the Twins are a “playoff team” but aren’t really a playoff team. Or at least won’t be for very long.
From here we find ourselves back east again with two very different teams. We start with the Rays, the Massala Chai of the baseball world. There are a lot of flavors going on there, it’s new, it’s hip. And it definitely works for awhile. The question is, when the chips are down and you have to pick just one, do you go for the spicy stuff or something proven?
And what could be more proven than the English breakfast tea that is the Yankees. Personally, I don’t like the stuff but a lot of people do. Not only that, it’s strong and it gets the job done. Sure, the tradition may not go as far back as the NL but when you can throw around names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Yogi Berra, you got something going on.
So what happens next? Well, it’s pretty simple. We line them up and see who lasts the longest. I apologize to everyone who lives west of the Mississippi but when I read the leaves, their fortunes don’t look good. Texas, Minnesota, San Fran and Cincy all go down in the first round leaving us an east coast finale in both leagues. I’m sure this doesn’t bother the broadcasters who will be reading tea leaves of their own and I’m sure they’ll be even more happy when the Yankees and the Phillies emerge to once again do battle in the World Series.
So, it comes down to this. Japanese green tea vs. English breakfast tea. The fact of the matter is, anyplace else in the world the green tea wins hands down. But this is America and the Anglo-Saxons decided to let all their chips ride on black a couple hundred years ago. Good thing they did because the Yankees win again.