Root Root Root
The baseball playoffs are about to fire off and the sportsverse is in its annual rush to prove exactly how smart it is by making a snap judgment about who’s going to win win each series… because Bud and the Morning Zoo Crew read some bullets off ESPN.com this morning and now they get to talk about CC Sabathia like they know him.
They are going to tell you:
NYY over MIN
TBR over TEX
NYY over TBR
PHI over CIN
ATL over SFG
PHI over ATL
PHI over NYY
And they may be right in so far as the Sports-tron 9000 Prob-o-Matic.
What I can’t figure out is why baseball and it’s media partners have given up and decided to treat baseball like football or basketball. Unless you can afford an entire World Series it’s not a gambler’s game so why do we try to cover the playoffs like a bracket? Every year someone like Billy Hatcher or Marty Barrett or Buddy Biancalana ends up hitting like Joe DiMaggio and blowing up a series. Or a pitcher hits a dominant streak and carries a team straight through. So why treat it as a one off event?
Baseball has huge advantages over football or basketball in that it’s season is sixth months long, its players (except for catchers) aren’t obscured by equipment and there is 120 years of history to draw on. MLB and it’s media partners (“Baseball”) has 6 months to create narrative around the athletes and the competition that they’re engaged in which culminates in a huge scale season finale and autumn roles in and the year ends.
Why isn’t Roy Halladay a poster? He’s everything columnists have been telling us no longer exists. He’s legend seeking boomers Bigfoot – a fireballer who finishes his own games and the cowboy friendly non-nickname nickname.
Why can’t anyone get a mental image of Joey Votto?
Who is Adrian Gonzalez?
The broader question for me is: Why does the general public give a good goddamn what the “ratings” are for a series? They don’t have enough knowledge for the data to have context and likely don’t own any shares in the media conglomerates producing the series, so why is the overarching story about who Fox wants to play in the World Series? Why is this taking airtime that could be filled by my seeing shot after shot juxtaposing Joe Mauer and Johnny Bench? The hell with Fox. We all know that they’re going to pimp their primetime lineup and McCarver (shut UP) will mushmouth some things and they will try to rock n roll baseball like it’s 3-on-3 basketball. Let’s stop pretending we care about them.
Daddy needs his stories.
So let me tell you what I want.
I want Francisco Liriano to be magical and slide into a Pedro-esque groove.
I want Joe Mauer to be Joe Mauer.
I want the Yankees to fight hard but bow out as they begin to age sowing the seeds for the narrative of next season.
I want the impossibly talented Rays to take out the Rangers in a gritty series that begins a new rivalry.
I want the H2O troika in Philadelphia to live up to their reputation…
but lose to the Braves in 7 the NLCS leaving The Roy’s without a ring and with a grudge.
But most of all? I want a rematch.
This is Bobby Cox’s last post-season after 30 years managing. His Braves have once again made the playoffs through no discernable means and I want them to face the Twins in the World Series.
You can’t do better than a rematch of the 1991 Fall Classic.
There are plenty of (new!) characters to create narrative around, flashbacks to ‘91 to intersperse and whichever way it goes? It’s a great story. Analysts will tell you that the Coasts won’t watch a matchup like that. That people only care about Their Team. Maybe it’s true, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s true that we no longer have a national game of the week to share, but there is a 24/7 sports machine (RIP George Michael) that needs feeding.
Baseball can do that with character after character and storyline after storyline for six months so that by the time we get to this point? We have to know if Jason Heyward and a ragtag band of castoffs can get Bobby another ring and avenge 1991? Is Derrek Lee the new Sid Bream? Can Mauer and Thome hold together long enough to bring a trophy back to the North County? We just have to know how it turns out.