Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Sleeper Or Another 2008 Classic?

The World Series starts tonight and has a lot to live up to. 2008 has been a year of spectacular championships, from the Giants' Super Bowl, to Kansas' overtime NCAA championship, to Tiger's overtime U.S. Open, to Lezak saving Phelps' gold medal quest, to that last minute flurry by the Penguins in the the Stanley Cup, to Federer/Nadal at Wimbledon, to Fresno State winning the College World Series, to Celtics' Game 4 comeback in the NBA Finals, to the ALCS drama, almost every major sporting event saw a spectacular finish (except college football, once again).

So will the Rays and Phillies live up to that expectation? A lot of things say yes: great pitching staffs, great hitting, great speed on both clubs; young, exciting players on both clubs; monkey-off-the-back drama for both clubs. But a lot of things say it will be over early too: the World Series never goes long anymore; the Phillies were red hot and took a full week off - so did the Rockies last year; the Rays might actually truly be by far the best team in baseball; Dan Uggla of the Marlins committed three errors three months ago, so the Rays get to play at home.

It has been sad that the World Series has stunk every year. I haven't even really watched one since the Angels beat the Giants in seven in 2003. Since then, I was either too bitter about the Mets losing, hated one or both teams so much that I couldn't watch them, it was a foregone conclusion, or it just wasn't interesting. For instance:
2007 - Red Sox over Rockies (foregone conclusion, bitter about Mets)
2006 - Cardinals over Tigers (bitter, forgone conclusion, hated both)
2005 - White Sox over Astros (couldn't care less)
2004 - Red Sox over Cardinals (foregone conclusion)
2003 - Marlins over Yankees (bitter, hate Yankees too much to watch)
2002 - Angels over Giants (good series)
2001 - Diamondbacks over Yankees (great series)
2000 - Yankees over Mets (Roger Clemens is the devil)
1999 - Yankees over Braves (foregone conclusion, bitter, hated both teams)
1998 - Yankees over Padres (foregone conclusion)
1997 - Marlins over Indians (zzzzzzzzzzz)
1996 - Yankees over Braves (like choosing which eye to gouge out)

So the World Series is never good anymore. Though we all say the same thing about the Super Bowl and yet in retrospect, there have been some stellar ones in the last decade. And one thing that is good about the WS is that in the last nine years, 15 teams have played. Everyone has a shot in any year, and no one proves that better than the Rays.

So I will watch. Ultimately I am a baseball fan, these are two real baseball teams (built from the ground up, small ball, etc.), and it is for all the marbles. The problem is that this series kinda feels like a cosmic "f-you" to Mets fans. Consider:

-The Rays' Game 1 starter was a Mets prospect traded for a guy whose career with the Mets predictably looked like this: 3 seasons with the Mets - 10-14, 4.42 ERA, one season with more than 5 appearances (since then he is 0-6 in 26 appearances with a 10.17 ERA). The Mets traded a raw, young prospect with good mechanics for a raw, young prospect with bad mechanics because Rick Peterson was sure he could fix him. Guess, what: the experiment ended in Tommy John surgery and Peterson has since been canned. And Kazmir never needed any fixing - he was an instant starter in Tampa. At least Kazmir was only the AL All-Star Starter and World Series Game 1 starter so far. No Cy Youngs yet.

-The Rays are stealing the thunder of one of the great accomplishments in Mets franchise history: the worst-to-first 1969 Amazins. Other teams have done this since, but none like the Mets or Rays - without big name free agents or even big name trades.

-The Phillies are the Mets' new nemesis now that the Braves stink.

Prediction: Rays in 6. I think it will be a good Series, not a classic. The Rays pitching is very good, but not sweep-good. And the Phillies will struggle in the first two games, being at the Trop, and having had a been off, but they'll find themselves when they get back to Philly. Too little, too late though.

Lastly, I gave Frank TV a try yesterday, something that I am deeply ashamed of. "How bad could it be," I thought? I mean the guy does do some pretty accurate impersonations. Having watched an episode (entitled "Frankapalooza," so you knew it was gonna be utterly devoid of creativity) I now know that what Caliendo and the producers of the show do not seem to grasp is that accurate (sometimes) impersonations do not equal funny television in and of themselves. There has to actually be something funny done or said. This was thirty minutes of people wearing costumes and saying things while mimicking other people's voices. They forgot to tell jokes.

No comments: