Before I start endlessly analyzing and fretting over the Hot Stove rumors, I want to talk about what is right before us: the League Championship Series. We have plenty of time to talk about the former–the void between the end of the postseason, and Spring Training. I have enjoyed watching these series even though the National League Championship Series didn’t end the way I wanted it to.
I was completely surprised that the Dodgers lost in only five games. To be honest, I didn’t think they would get past the powerhouse of the Cardinals, let alone sweep them. With guys like Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Albert Pujols, I thought that the Cardinals would have gone a lot further than they actually did. They had the caliber to be in and to win the World Series, but fate just didn’t have it that way. I thought they had Game 2 (I think it was?) in the bag when there were two outs and an easy fly ball was hit to Matt Holliday, but instead of catching it to win the ball game (and perhaps instill some confidence in the Cardinals), it hit him right in the crotch.
The Dodgers seemed to have luck on their side, and it was a 2008 NLCS re-match. The Phillies may have an emerging postseason legend in Cliff Lee and the ego-maniacal Cole Hamels whose pride from winning the World Series last season seemed to cloud his ability to pitch well, but the Dodgers have a deep lineup, a good starting five and a fabulous bullpen. I really wanted the Dodgers to advance to the World Series as well because I knew that regardless of whomever won the ALCS, the World Series would be enticing as long as the Dodgers were there.
Had the Dodgers advanced, they would have played either the Angels or the Yankees. If it was a matchup between the Dodgers and Angels, we would have had the first “subway series” since the one in New York in 2000. This subway series would have meant that I would have been up until roughly 2 am every morning, sleepwalking my way through school. Yet the intensity that arises from a series like this is so alluring, that a lack of sleep would have been well worth it. It’s almost like a civil war, and it will augment the rivalry between the two teams like nothing else can.
Not that I would ever root for the Yankees, but if the Dodgers were representing the National League, I can’t say I would have minded too much if the Yankees were to advance. It would have been Joe Torre vs Joe Girardi. The Yankee manager that was fired for his supposed inability to advance the Yankees to the World Series despite their winning four World Championships under his leadership.
I’d like to talk about that for a second. I thought that whole scenario was completely ridiculous. I may be a Red Sox fan, but I have no problem admitting that Joe Torre is one hell of a manager. The same way that I can admit that I cheered for Derek Jeter when he surpassed Lou Gehrig, and the way that I consider Mariano Rivera a God; I consider Joe Torre a superb manager. I understand when managers are fired because their teams play miserably and are in last place, but I don’t understand when managers are fired despite their team getting to the postseason. Getting to the postseason is an honor–only 8 teams out of 30 do it a year–and a manager should be honored for that (most of the time) not scolded for their team’s failings. *Note: the whole Grady Little leaving Pedro in is another story*
Anyway, the Dodgers vs Yankees would have been a great matchup, and of course I would have been rooting for the Dodgers even though it hurts me to see Manny Ramirez’s postseason heroics.
Instead of dwelling over what could have been, I suppose it’s best to look at what we have at hand: the Phillies advanced to the World Series, and Game 6 between the Angels and the Yankees is tonight. I don’t like the Phillies. I root for the Marlins because I live in South Florida, and the Phillies are the Marlins’ division rivals. I may be a bit jealous because the Phillies did what the Red Sox failed to do last year–advance to the World Series for the second year in a row (please don’t hate me Phillies fans, I respect your team nonetheless). They could be the first team since the Yankees to repeat World Series victories, and the second team this decade to have two World Series victories (the first, of course, was the Red Sox). I guess it’s just that having the Phillies in the World Series doesn’t excite me as much as the Dodgers would have.
Tonight, I’m rooting for the Angels–just like I have been for the entire ALCS. Although it’s hard to admit, they played better baseball than the Red Sox did. I know that they are a good team, and I know that they have what it takes to beat the Yankees. It is so foreign to me to be rooting for Bobby Abreu since I’ve always had something against him for taking Juan Pierre’s spot in the All-Star game a couple of years ago (the fact that he played for the Yankees only augmented this feeling). Torii Hunter’s ego may bother me, but I know that he’s a fabulous center fielder, and a great team leader. Lackey pitched his heart out in Game 5, and Mike Scoscia made a huge mistake in taking him out (for the record Scoscia is probably my least favorite manager in the Majors). Out of the teams that remain, I want the Angels to win. I want them to win it for Nick Adenhart, because that would be beyond baseball.
The one interesting thing about having the Phillies in the World Series is that whoever wins from among the three teams that remain, that team will have two World Series victories in this decade. The Yankees won it in 2000, the Angels won it in 2002, and the Phillies won it last year. The question is, who will it be? And it is that unanswered question that keeps me watching baseball.