I watched more baseball this season than I have in years (partly due to having gotten into Roku and MLB.tv); now the fun part starts. Let’s have our own fun with predictions and opinions.
Baseball · It’s better than other sports because they play on dirt! And also, because there’s no clock, there’s never a reason to run it out.
And because the tension in the late stages of a close game; not remotely equaled by any other sport.
MLB.tv · It’s really done astonishingly well; the virtues of baseball and the Internet mesh without any visible stress or strain, and I know that didn’t happen by accident. I wish I’d helped build it.
Wildcard Games · What a stupid idea, drop it next year. The regular season offered plenty enough end-game drama that the extra-team-in-the-mix was superfluous. Also, baseball offers two well-developed modes of competition: the 162-game season and the postseason series. This single-game thing is a distraction, can be derailed by a single umpire error, and devalues the regular-season heroics.
Prediction: The Yankees and Nationals will both win the division series and would have against either wildcard candidate, so it won’t have mattered anyhow.
A Theory of the Playoffs · I mean, maybe you’re just a fan of one of the teams or another, and that’s fine. But for the rest of us, a principled approach is helpful. So here are some principles.
Prefer teams from scrappy underdog cities. Which is to say, Oakland over San Fran and Baltimore over DC.
Prefer teams from your time zone. Because you’ve seen more of their games and understand them better.
Cheer against the Giants. Because they still owe the world for Barry Bonds, and because I hate that fucking stadium, whatever phone company it’s named after this year; overpriced tickets, overpriced food, full of hustlers pitching investors on cellphones while they ignore the game.
Prefer teams that employ Ichiro Suzuki. Because he’s been playing with so much power and grace for so many years, it’d be nice to see him get a ring.
So, of the eight remaining teams, I have positive feelings about five. I loathe the Giants and have no feelings whatsoever about the Reds or Cardinals. That leaves the Orioles (they get no respect), Yankees (Ichiro), Nationals (exciting young team), Tigers (Cabrera, Verlander, Fielder, what’s not to like), A’s (came back from 13 games down, that’s just crazy).
The sad part is that the two most appealing teams, the Tigers and A’s, are playing each other in the first round. In the World Series, I’m hoping the Nationals get in and lose against, well, any of the alternatives.
Having said that, I’m not sure I’d bet on anyone against the A’s in this month of this year. But if they lose they’ll be back, as will Orioles and Tigers. But Ichiro might not.