It's often said that baseball writers don't root for teams, or players; instead they root for stories. Of course you have to take that with a grain of salt, since it's baseball writers who are often saying that. In real life, many baseball writers do retain sentimental attachments to certain teams, and they do pull for certain players.
In a general sense, though, it's true: Baseball writers root for good stories more than anything else ... especially when their favorite teams are dead. You know, like me and the Kansas City Royals. I also follow, without great passion but with some real interest, the Seattle Mariners. Also dead. So with the (unofficial) second half of the season about to begin, I got to thinking about which teams I would like to see in the World Series. I mean, sure: PIRATES. That would seem most excellent. What I really got to thinking about was which particular matchups I would like to see in the World Series.
This isn't a science. Some of the elements of the calculus are quantifiable, and some are not. Most of the elements:
- uniqueness of matchup
- number of years since last matchup
- geographical proximity of two teams
- esthetic values of uniforms and ballparks
- other stuff, like poetic justice and whatnot
- longstanding grudges
Like I said, we could set up a spreadsheet and quantify some of this stuff. But I'm going with my gut, and here are the top 10 World Series match-ups I'm rooting for ... and by extension, the teams I'm rooting for, to one degree or another, down the stretch:
10. Tigers and Pirates
The Pirates, for all the obvious reasons. The Tigers, because they too hail from a Rust Belt city, and in their case a Rust Belt city that's just become the biggest city in American history to go bankrupt. What's more, the Tigers and Pirates have never met in a World Series.
9. Red Sox and Braves
This would (almost) cap a nifty little comeback fro the Red Sox, who finished last just a year ago. The Red Sox and Braves have never met in a World Series, although they came oh-so-close in 1948, when the Sox lost a one-game playoff to the Indians for the American League pennant, which deprived Boston of a Hub Series, as the then-Boston Braves won the National League flag.
8. Pirates and Orioles
Rematch of the '71 and '79 Series. In both, the Orioles were favored but lost. Aside from his final desultory season, those two Series stand as roughly the only blot on Earl Weaver's Hall of Fame career. And with the Orioles potentially hosting the World Series this year, history might either be repeated or rewritten.
7. Tigers and Cardinals
Winning the World Series would hearten the good citizens of Detroit. The only thing more heartening? Doing it against the Cardinals, just as they did in 1968, when Detroit had been aflame, both literally and figuratively.
6. Orioles and Nationals
This one writes itself, even if nobody west of the Beltway would care much.
5. Indians and Braves
Once and for all, the world really should see Chief Wahoo and the tomahawk chop every day for a couple of weeks. And we'll go from there.
4. Red Sox and Dodgers
Classic ballparks. Classic uniforms. Vin Scully. First-ever postseason meeting of two iconic franchises.
3. Indians and Reds
Too much local color? I don't know. Maybe. But the Reds have been around since the 19th Century and the Indians since 1901, so it's time to cross this one off the list of World Series matchups.
2. Pirates and Yankees
Look, I can't exactly root for the Yankees. There's really no team I'd like to see them play in the World Series ... except the Pirates, especially as I'll soon be standing on the site of Bill Mazeroski's big home run. Mazeroski's still around, and so is Yogi Berra, who could only stand in left field and watch as the 1960 championship sailed over the wall. Hmmm, maybe a re-creation's in order?
1. Athletics and Pirates
They've never faced off in October. It's about time that nobody's allowed to say that Billy Beane's never won anything. Both franchises evoke the silly '70s. And, you know, Pirates.
Hey, I'm like you: I wanna see the Royals and the Cubs in the World Series. But I think the chances this year aren't so hot. So who do you wanna see?