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Last year, this Yankee fan supported the Giants in the World Series because of Brian Wilson and his beard. The closer was strange, dramatic and controversial; he completely captivated me.
This year, after the Yankees lost in the division series, I cheered for Detroit in the ALCS because I loved Jim Leyland’s dry sense of humor in the pre- and postgame press conferences. In the NLCS, I supported Milwaukee because Zack Greinke has a lovely (but less extroverted) Brian Wilson style of weirdness that made the 2010 World Series so entertaining.
When both of those teams were knocked out, I had to ask myself: Who I am going to root for now? Picking a club to cheer for makes the World Series exponentially more fun and exciting to watch. Usually, I find myself naturally gravitating toward a specific player, manager or team back-story once my team has been eliminated. However, that hasn’t happened this year. Thus far, there is nothing that grabs me, intrigues me or appeals to me about either Texas or St. Louis.
Considering the Fall Classic starts tonight, I realize that I don’t have that much time to make my choice. So, I decided to delve a little deeper into each club to try to find something—some quirky, emotional, fascinating detail that I had previously overlooked—to push me toward one team or the other.
On August 25th, St. Louis was 10.5 games out of a playoff spot. They earned the wild card on the final day of the regular season in one of the most electrifying nights of baseball ever.
In the NLDS, they beat the Phillies—top World Series contenders. The final game was a showdown between two best friends, Roy Halladay (who has thrown two postseason no hitters) and Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals won that game 1-0 and proceeded to roll over the Brewers in the LCS.
Their improbable ride into the playoffs and through both series has been thrilling.
Texas beat the Rays after losing Game 1 and continued on to best the Tigers, pretty much neutralizing Justin Verlander (the rain helped with that, too).
The most interesting part of the Rangers’ story is that they made it to the Fall Classic last year and lost, which earns them the sympathy vote. Once is rough. Twice would be depressing. It’s also worth noting that they got this far with a solid but unremarkable rotation, which did not include Cliff Lee, who was on the team in 2010.
Albert Pujols is a superstar. Lance Berkman is the comeback kid (too bad he couldn’t perform on the Yanks last year). Carpenter stepped up against his best bud when it really counted, and many analysts believe he’s the Cards’ key to victory in this series.
Nelson Cruz, who won the ALCS MVP, has been the unexpected hero this postseason. Josh Hamilton has an uplifting story of redemption (he also has a babysitter). Neftali Feliz is a solid closer and has one of my favorite names in the MLB. (My other favorite is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Runners up include Coco Crisp and Al Albuquerque.)
I know that Tony LaRussa is a world-class manager who has taken his team to the World Series six times, but his hair freaks me out. The length, the mousey brown dye, the gray roots and the straw-like texture are too much. Every time I see him on TV, I cringe because I feel embarrassed for him.
I’ve always thought Ron Washington seemed like a pleasant, old-school baseball guy. He’s clearly a strong manager; the Rangers have gone to the World Series two years in a row. However, he might be a little too even-tempered for me. Where’s the drama, Wash? Where’s the humor?
The Cardinals are on an unbelievable run. The Rangers are making a second try at it. While their stories are equally compelling, their players and managers are equally un-compelling. I feel a bit desperate for a reason to care about either team, so much so that I’m seriously considering rooting against Texas simply because I have such distaste for one of their most visible supporters (a certain former president).
What do you think, New York fans? Who should we root for any why? I’m grasping at straws here. Help.