Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall Ball

Back by popular demand - and thanks to both of you for asking -  a few thoughts on the "Great American Pastime."

No, not the pathological American obsession with accumulating weaponry - because, let's face it, the more guns we own, the freer we are. Hey, who needs health insurance when we've got an arsenal in the basement?
 I refer to the other G.A.P.  Major League Baseball! Defying time, possibly gravity, three and a half hour games, the threat of actually falling into a coma while watching, the great plays (which usually occur right after you've left the TV room to pee), the nearly supernatural consistency of umpire incompetence, the sheer annoying magic of it all.

It's October, the one month of the season that makes the previous six somehow bearable. That's right, I'm talking MLB Playoffs. Baseball pundits are quick to point out that anything can happen, which generally translates into the top teams mysteriously choking and some upstart Wildcard entry managing to sneak into the World Series.

(The Detroit Tigers, who should be the best team in baseball, but never quite are. Last year in the W.S. they were swept by the S.F. Giants, a team so far underwater in the standings this year that several of the players heads reportedly exploded from the pressure. How long these now headless team members will be on the D.L. is unknown)

 Forget the bookmaker odds, bet on the long shot, the dark horse, the team that defies the criteria of the upscale marketing demons.
Basically, it pays to root for guys who don't fit the standard profile. Not all that easy, since baseball, along with everything else, has been mostly homogenized, filtered down into a single blurry image of what the giant corporations running the planet have taught us not to only expect, but crave.

Case in point: Both  Miami Marlins' and Tampa Bay Rays' fans - all 237 of them, collectively, on average - apparently feel not the slightest bit of self-referential, irony-laced discomfort watching a game in stadiums named after brands of orange juice.

Still, there are glimmers of the iconoclastic. The Pittsburgh Pirates are back in the playoffs for the first time since your grandmother was in grade school. They're a wild, rough-around-the-edges bunch, who play really well, almost in spite of themselves, in a town in mostly rural western Pennsylvania, of all places.  They also have really cool uniforms.
All they have to do is get past the Cincinnati Reds in a one game punch out, which I'm predicting they will do. Today.

Of course, I'm also the guy who predicted that the entire Tea Party - along with Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian - would be abducted by aliens and transported to an intergalactic penal colony. 
 Just wishful thinking, I guess.

*Highlight of the post season so far:  The elimination of the Texas Rangers. Not sure why, but I have a visceral hatred for this team. It could be the two obsequious twits who announce their games, or the preponderance of all-white, overweight dumbbells in the stands, or possibly Nolan Ryan's fleshy scowl, or the fact that he drags George Bush along with him to the stadium, who sits there looking confused, wondering what time the Dallas Cowboys' game is supposed to start.
 Sayonara, Texas.

 Anyway, this is how I see it all playing out:

National League:
Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati, goes on to play St: Louis, beats them.
L.A. Dodgers beat Atlanta (a good though ultimately boring team)
Pittsburgh beats L.A. for National League Championship.
American League:
Cleveland beats Tampa Bay, goes on the play Boston, beats them.
Detroit beats Oakland.
Cleveland beats Detroit for American League Championship.

Cleveland / Pittsburgh play in World Series.

The odds against this particular outcome, by the way, are astronomically high.
A Detroit / L.A. or  Boston / St. Louis World Series are statistically much more likely.

But then as they say, in the Baseball Post Season anything can happen.

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