Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The Fall Classic: Who To Root For
It is usually easy. I am a National League fan and barely follow the Junior Circuit during the season, so I tend to root for the National League representative. Except there are some NL teams I can't bring myself to cheer for, like the Braves and Phillies, two perennial Met killers. Other rules of thumb: If the Yankees reach the Series, I root for their opponent. Conversely, having gone to college in New England, I have a soft spot for the Red Sox, and pull for them when they make it in.
Which bring us to this year's match-up between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. How to choose?
Let's start with the managers. I can't stomach Cardinal skipper Tony LaRussa and his arrogance, micro-managing style, and Tea-Party politics. Ron Washington, the Rangers manager, has a more laid back style, both on and off the field. He has overcome in recent years a positive drug test and the destruction of his home in Hurricane Katrina. Big edge to Rangers.
The players. The Cardinals have an explosive offense, led by Albert Pujols, one of the premier players in the game, and boast one of the best pitchers in Chris Carpenter. I love watching them play. The Rangers have a more balanced lineup from Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus at the top of the order to Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz, who bat sixth and seventh. Totally subjective, but I think the Rangers team is more fun to watch overall.
The fans. I've been fortunate to have attended games in both places. Taking nothing away from the Texas fans, the Cardinal fans, all decked out in red, are impressive -- incredibly loyal and knowledgeable, and remarkably polite. The fatal flaw for the Rangers is that George and Laura Bush sit with Rangers' owner Nolan Ryan in seats directly behind home plate and are thus in constant view on TV. (Doesn't Nolan have any other friends?) Edge to Cardinals.
Intangibles and grudges. The Cardinals, with many of the same players, beat the Mets in the 2006 National League Championship Series in heartbreaking fashion. Former Met Endy Chavez, who made a miraculous game-saving catch in the seventh and deciding game is playing for the Rangers. Yadier Molina, who hit a game-winning home run three innings later, is still playing for the Cardinals. Big edge to Rangers.
And there you have it. Let's Go Rangers.