It’s time to start mentally preparing for next week’s World Series, because my God, that is going to be one physically frustrating and stressful final week of baseball.
If you aren’t an A’s, Tigers or Angels fan, and you don’t work for Major League Baseball, then you’re probably ecstatic with the ALCS matchup. Baltimore versus Kansas City? I’m expecting to wake up any minute now. The Orioles haven’t won an AL pennant since 1983 and the Royals haven’t had one since 1985, the last time they were in the playoffs. Those are the second and third-longest droughts in the American League (win something, Mariners).
As great as dynasties are in retrospect, they can suck in real time with the same teams winning over and over again. It’s so refreshing to see new teams in a position to seriously compete for championships. But then we move onto the National League, and oh no, is that a nightmare for the impartial baseball fan. San Francisco versus St. Louis was the most vomit-inducing matchup possible.
Either the Giants or Cardinals have been the NL representative for each of the past four seasons, with a guaranteed fifth about to occur. San Francisco won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, while St. Louis won it all in 2011 and lost in six games to the Red Sox last year. Not to mention the Phillies won the pennant in 2008 and 2009. That’s three different teams in the past seven years. Is the rest of the National League really that bad?
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I effing hate the Cardinals. I have zero problems with the Giants other than I’m tired of seeing them win. San Fran has a remarkable manager in Bruce Bochy and lovable players like Pablo Sandoval, so it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they continued their even-year streak and walked away with the 2014 championship. Plus they would eliminate the Cardinals in the process.
Consider the Giants as Vladimir Lenin to the Cardinals’ Joseph Stalin. They aren’t the best option, but they’re better than the alternative.
Anyway, this is the baseball season we’ve come to. On one side, there are the established powers—veteran guys with playoff experience playing for two of the sport’s preeminent franchises. On the other, are two upstart underdogs whose simultaneous presence at the cusp of the World Series still feels surreal.
Baseball loves to promote parity thanks to its revenue-sharing program, and there’s been a fair share of unexpected teams to make the World Series in recent years—Texas, Tampa Bay, Colorado. But for all that talk, it’s been a long time since one of those teams actually won the World Series. You’d have to go back to 2003 when the not-yet-called-Miami Marlins knocked off the Yankees.
I hesitate to call the impending World Series a David and Goliath matchup. That would imply that the AL winner has a slim chance, when in reality, the Orioles had a better regular season record than both NL teams and the Royals, with 89 wins, fall right between the 90-win Cardinals and 88-win Giants. The AL champ will be an unlikely one, but the World Series won’t be lopsided in favor of the NL.
Enjoy the relatively stress-free week of the League Championship Series, where you’ll be unhappy with one World Series participant and pleased with the other regardless. Next week’s World Series will be one of ecstasy and anger.
Are you as disgusted with the NL matchup as Jim? As happy with the AL one? Let him know at email@example.com.