World Series

Are Championships The **Only** Thing That Matter?

It’s easy to make fun of the Miami Marlins.  My husband did yesterday, and I’ve been known to dabble in it a few times myself.  After spending a shit ton of money on free agents that Jeffrey Loria later turned into Canadian currency, the Miami Marlins are bottom feeders.

But OHHHHHH! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT??!?!  THEY WON A CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2003!!  THEY WON TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS OF EXISTENCE!!! BLAHHHHHH!

The Marlins have never won a division championship either.  They never built for the future and quickly dismantled those teams just for shits and giggles.

They won those championships by accident.

So the Mets have won two championships in a 50 year existence.  Guess what? So have the Phillies, in over 100 years of existence.  They also have over 10,000 losses in their history.

The Atlanta Braves also have existed since 1966 (but existed in many other forms for over 100 years too).  As the Atlanta Braves (I’m not looking at their entire existence, get over it), they won ONE championship in 1995.  Remember how dominant that team was in the ’90s?

And the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos? Not a one.

Out of the Phillies (a team that is well over 100 years old), the Mets (51 years young) and the Marlins, whoever wins the next championship will be the winningest National League Eastern Divisional team.

Funny how that puts things into perspective, right?

So when someone comes back at me with history, it’s a very limited history scope, and it’s a very revisionist one as well.

My question then is: are World Championships in baseball the be-all, end-all?

Look at the Houston Astros.  They’re a fucking train wreck and a half now.  They’ve never won a championship in their 51 year existence either (they’re the same age as the Mets).  Yet, they’ve had such greats as Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, hell even Roidger Clemens play for them.  Biggio and Bagwell were the “Franchise.”  They may not have any hardware, but their history certainly is not irrelevant.

Fans still love the Chicago Cubs.  They haven’t won in over 100 years, and they, too, only have two championships to their credit.   Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, they all played for the Cubs.  Know what else they have in common?  Never played in a World Series.

A team like the Mets has Tom Seaver in the Hall of Fame, who won a championship with the team.  Mike Piazza, who should be in the Hall, played in a World Series just once.

The Marlins have Jeff Conine.  They traded away a future Triple Crown winner and MVP in Miguel Cabrera.  They got rid of Josh Beckett who was instrumental in bringing a World Series to Boston in 2007…another team, mind you, that didn’t win in 86 friggin years at one point.  (Though they had exorcised that demon prior to Beckett going there).

The Mets happen to share a city with the team that has won the most championships throughout sports, the New York Yankees at 27.  The second winningest franchise?  The St. Louis Cardinals, with 11.  Third and fourth are the Oakland A’s, and the San Francisco Giants.  Funny this is that the Giants didn’t win a championship in San Francisco until 2010, after over 50 years of relocating to the Bay Area (till 2009, they were tied at 5 with the Cincinnati Reds).

I don’t think we’d be as hell bent as a fan base on winning, or measuring our pee-pees with other teams in the division, if we saw the larger picture.  That larger picture is that your existence isn’t solely based on winning it all.

Oh don’t get me wrong.  It’s nice.  I’ve been through two, and I really wanted my husband to experience for another one of his teams this year since none of his teams have won anything since 1986.

But I’d take the Mets, post-traumatic Mets disorder and all, and their quirky yet rich history any day over the Marlins luck of the draw in winning championships by accident any day.

Is It Necessary?

I just want to state up front that I am not a fan of instant replay expanding to baseball.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I don’t mind it in certain circumstances.  Like arguing strikes/balls or swinging/holding, I think is dumb, a waste of time and takes away from the game.  The home run “instant replay” is good for now.  Maybe extend to fair and foul balls.

During the Cards and Rangers World Series game, on a nationally televised game, the first base umpire clearly let one get away, as he called a runner at first safe, after he had been tagged.   Unfortunately, the entire postseason has been marred with botched calls at one point or another.  That’s not to say it hasn’t been around baseball for-freaking-ever.  The Cardinals were on the bad end of a bad call in 1985, which directly related to the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series. How hard is it, though, for a first base umpire to make a call when he is standing RIGHT THERE as the play unfolds?  Perhaps at that point, it’s less of an instant replay thing, and a “better umpire” thing.  (Thanks to Senor Solly for posting that on the Gal For All Seasons page).

I’m all for improving the quality of the game, but I even said on a podcast for Living with Sportz that I didn’t like instant replay that “I’m a purist.”  Yet, I know there have been some give-and-take with that definition.  I mean, my dad has lived through generations that started with the starting pitching encouraged to not only finish nine innings, but go the distance in extra innings and now has specialty pitching.  I grew up with only two teams from each league making the postseason, and now four teams do, and there are two rounds before the World Series.  I mean, the game changes, for better or worse.  I think instant replay is a waste of time in certain circumstances.  There are some things that just beg for getting better umpires, and not nickel and dime everything in instant replay.  Look at football.  They have instant replay and they STILL sometimes fuck up calls!

I’m curious to think of what the readers here think about it.   Feel free to comment away.  In the meantime, I will state that I will be very upset if the Rangers lose to the Cardinals tonight because of a blown call (though they did mount a realistic comeback).  Whether instant replay would have come into play is inconsequential.  Where are the rulers coming down on the umpires for screwing up an easy call to begin with?  Not to mention, Matt Harrison COULD have pitched better and gotten his stuff together.

It’s never just one thing, just the visible one.  I’m sure Steve Bartman can tell us about that.

Dog and Pony Show

I know that I am flogging a dead horse, but may I ask what the hell does the All-Star Game in July have to do with the World Series?

Apparently, a lot, since home field advantage for the World Series, is decided by a game that has nothing to do with the outcome of the season or who goes to the game or what.  I’ve been on my soapbox on that quite a bit, so I won’t go into my “Bud Selig is a fucking moron” rant.

Yet as I am watching the opening game of a potential seven game series between a Wild Card winner and the AL West divisional champ…well I guess if you want to wax poetic about it, the fact that a Wild Card team is in the World Series is a testament to the Wild Card age.  I get that.

But am I crazy to think that there’s no way in hell that a Wild Card team should have home field advantage in the World Series UNLESS they have a better record than the other team?

If you think about it, Prince Fielder (first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, whose team was beat by the National League Champion, St. Louis Cardinals) gave the NL home field advantage by hitting a rocket of a home run off CJ Wilson, the starting pitcher for the AL champion Texas Rangers tonight…and ultimately for what?  So that the team who beat Fielder’s team that didn’t have a better record in the regular season can have home field advantage.

I just want to state that I have no problem with how the teams got there…in fact, the Cardinals have had a pretty improbable run, a longshot for the Wild Card, and “backing in” on Game 162 day by the Atlanta Braves to the Philadelphia Phillies: the team the Cards beat to get to the NLCS.  Baseball is an amazing sport, one of great stories and dramatic themes.  The Cardinals are no exception to that.

Yet, when I think back to “great stories” or “dramatic themes,” I don’t go back to the All-Star Game and say, wow, wasn’t it great the NL won home field advantage for the World Series then?  No, I mean, even though Prince Fielder’s team had a chance to go to the big show and directly profit off that win, if Carlos Beltran had hit the home run to get the NL the win, it would make even LESS sense.

The All-Star Game is a dog and pony show, and I don’t even really care to watch it each year (I mostly do so because my husband likes it still…whatevs).  It’s hard to say that there wasn’t an “earning” of home field advantage because that would diminish the Cardinals’ run to the big show, that’s not what I’m saying.

But I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s ridick that a team with a worse record gets home field because of a game that means absolutely nothing three months earlier over a team that has a better record and may be used to their “advantage.”

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.