It’s that time of year again. October, when football has started, hockey is probably being played somewhere in Canada and the WNBA season is over. Assuming there’s still a WNBA. Anyway, all that aside, October is also notable for being the only month when it is worth visiting the state of Michigan and for the glorious event known as the MLB playoffs. And in honor of those playoffs, even though I’m a day late, it’s time to dust off another time honored tradition and bring you my second annual Post-Partisan Playoff Preview: TV pundit edition.
After starting with the American League last year, I felt it only fair to begin with the National League this time around. That’s right, the National League, the right-leaning denizens of Major League baseball. Their’s is a more conservative style of play, well suited to the talking heads who avail themselves on Fox News at any and all hours of the day. Designated hitter? No, thank you. We like having an automatic out every 9 batters. Home runs? Nah, we prefer letting our guys linger on base. Government intervention? Only when it helps out our stock portfolios.
And in this fray, we begin with the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies, our Rush Limbaugh. Still the undisputed champion, just like Rush, the Phillies have been showing the cracks that come with age and being at the top for so long. The Oxycontin that is Brad Lidge could spell the end for the Phils when it comes to close games but there’s no doubt that they’ll move on from the first round.
And the main reason they’ll move on is because they’re face to face with the Glenn Beck of the NL playoffs, the Colorado Rockies. No one is denying that they’ve got star quality but both Glenn and the Rockies are missing something. For Glenn, maybe it’s those tears or the fact that he can’t spell. For the Rockies, maybe it’s that they never seem to be able to play well until it’s almost too late. But either way, they’ll both continue playing second fiddle to the guys above them.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers are almost as slick as their preview stand-in, Bill O’Reilly. Show him the facts and he’ll show you something completely unrelated. Everything is tangential in “The No-Spin Zone” and tangential is a great way to describe how the Dodgers play. 15 game lead? Hm, maybe we can get one of our guys suspended for 50 games and play like we’re all on Ambien to tighten this thing up. But at the end of the day, they get the job done. And whether you like it or not, there’s too much talent there to be ignored.
And that’s why we bid adieu in the first round to our Sean Hannity, the St. Louis Cardinals. Things are pretty easy when you’re beating up on a guy like Alan Colmes, you know, kind of like playing in the NL Central this year. But when the chips are down, good luck against real competition.
On the other side, the American League, things sort out a little bit more easily. There are those who belong and those who just make you sit up and go “hm?” The National League has definitely been ascendant the last few years, winning 2 out of the last 3 World Series but the American League has a stranglehold on the All-Star Game. Whatever that’s worth.
On this side, we start at the bottom, with the Alan Colmes of the the American League, the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins! Really, you’re not excited either? Yeah, it’s pretty hard to get excited about someone who snivels in the corner while getting the snot beat out of them. No one likes a bully but no one really likes the guy who’s bleeding all over after getting beat up by the bully either. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Minnesota Twins!
Out west we check in with the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) as they do their best Rachel Maddow impression. It’s not that anyone dislikes the Angels (or Maddow) or that they wish them ill. It’s just more that they don’t matter. Kind of like the AL West and MSNBC.
And the reason they don’t matter is because they’re going to get beat by our Wolf Blitzer, the Boston Red Sox (of Boston). Although maybe not a pundit in the traditional sense, Wolf does manage to insert his personal views into the conversation. And he sure does espouse a righteous anger when explaining how CNN is the only network you can trust. But it’s just a lot of noise from someone who used to matter and really doesn’t so much anymore. Yep, kind of like the Boston Red Sox.
Which only leaves us with the flatulent faded glory of our Larry King doppleganger, the New York Yankees. You know what, we’ve won 26 championships so what do you know? Hey, I’ve been on TV since it was invented so what do you know? They both have an excuse but something smells a little funky. Which isn’t to say that they can’t get nasty from time to time. Best to give them a wide berth.
And this brings us to the answers you have all been seeking. I’d love to see Hannity and Colmes reunited in the World Series but since they both go down in the first round, that’s going to be kind of hard. Instead, Bill O’Reilly finally claims the coveted conservative mantle from Rush as the Dodgers avenge last year’s loss and knock off the Phillies in the League Championship Series. Meanwhile, Wolf and Larry make it an all CNN final in the American League as the Yankees square off against the Red Sox. And, true to form, the Yankees
win the pennant.
But, the way things stand in the world today, even with a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the left leaning punditocracy just can’t hang in there against the overpowering noise of the right wingers. And as left coast meets right in a broadcast and advertising orgasm, the old Yankee manager knocks off the new one. Just make sure you don’t miss the inevitable sucker punch because when the pundit-o-sphere is involved, you can be sure it’s coming.
Besides Chinatown flea markets and the out-of-this-world chili at Ramova Grill, the best part about living on the Southside of Chicago is having the White Sox play in my own backyard.
Because as a Cardinals fan far removed from my old Busch Stadium stomping grounds, I know I can always find good, learned, baseball-lovin’ folk at New Comiskey (only newbies and yuppies call it The Cell — so I’m told).
And on Monday night, Southsiders came out to the park in droves. It was hot. It was humid. The rain was coming down hard. But Mark Buehrle was on the mound and it’s no secret that White Sox fans love them some Mark Buehrle. Over 36,000 people came out to see him duel the Royals’ Brian Bannister… yes, 36,000! On a Monday night. With an hour long rain delayed start. Against the Royals.
Now that, dear readers, is some serious dedication.
Perhaps the influx of fans was due to the high hopes of a pitcher’s duel.
Well, we didn’t get it.
‘Cuz when Yuniesky Betancourt goes yard, you know the pitching ain’t so great.
Indeed, it was a back and forth battle throughout, until the Sox broke it open in the 7th inning and appeared to have the game in hand.
But Scott Linebrink seemed focused on tempting the Royals’ scouts, who seem to go after the poorest of performers. Yes, Linebrink’s Kyle Farnsworth impression was brilliantly played by blowing a 3 run lead in the 8th on a Mike Jacobs rocket launch over the right field wall.
Fade to black?
Not so fast. Alex Rios walked to start the bottom of the 8th. Scott Podsednik continued his 2005 renaissance with a go-ahead run-scoring double… and then later Ozzie Guillen brought in the Fat Man to seal the deal.
Sure, it was a great game and all… but the whole time I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy sitting in front of me:
Don’t hate ’em ‘cuz they’re right.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Kevin Gregg.
Old defensive liability power hitters who strikeout 150+ times a year and can’t hang in the National League should retire.
And yes, perhaps players should go back to wool uniforms (‘cuz when you’re itchy, you play with an edge).
Verily! The Gospel according to Jeff hath been spoken.
With that, I virtually extend my hand through the interwebs and take that of my calloused and oft misguided colleague, Mr. Krause. Indeed, I accept his dubious (and ultimately self-deprecating) proposal knowing full well that victory is in my near future.
And, since we’ve opened up the Gospel, let it also be known that:
The closer is the most overrated role in baseball.
And Albert Pujols is the only man who could make me gay.
Wait, did I just say that?
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
What would it take for you two to switch caps for a day? Would Allen
ever wear a Cards jersey? Would Jeffy ever not insult the Detroit
Tigers? Is it an impossibility?
Impossible is a big word. It’s like when people tell you to never say never. However, in this case, it’s pretty unlikely. See, the thing is that it’s not even so much about the Cards and Tigers’ rivalry because, let’s be honest, since they play in different leagues and have only met a few times in the Series, it’s hard to really call them rivals. It’s like Batman fighting Lex Luthor. Yeah, I can understand why they wouldn’t like each other but there’s just not that same enmity. Batman against the Joker? That feels right.
No, this isn’t about the rivalry between fans of two baseball teams, it’s a rivalry between two different ideologies. Jeff comes from the old school, where the pitcher hits (or doesn’t, as is usually the case) while I have fully embraced the balls out style of play in the American League. Does this mean that I don’t appreciate an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel or that Jeff doesn’t jump up and down when someone crushes the ball out of the park? No. But it does mean that when it comes right down to it, we have a fundamental disagreement about what is good for the game. Jeff would like to see all the players still wearing wool. Me, I’m a fan of synthetics that wick sweat away. Is one of us right and one of us wrong because of this?
But here’s a modest proposal for my friend. Next month the Tigers and Cardinals play an interleague series in St. Louis on the 16th, 17th and 18th of June. Despite the fact that I’m giving up homefield advantage, I’m willing to agree to the following bet.
Whoever’s team wins that series and thereby illustrates the dominance of their respective league gets to make the other person wear an article of the winning team’s paraphanelia for an entire weekday and then write a post about the experience, praising the winning team’s superior play and including photos from their day at the office. I have faith in my Tigers.
What do you say, Mr. Lung? You game?