At the beginning of every baseball season, whenever somebody is making their predictions about how everything will turn out six months later, you can reliably hear two things: The American League East is a “strong division,” while the National League Central is a “weak division.”
Any division with both the Yankees and the Red Sox just has to be strong, because the opinion makers in the world of sports have decided it must be so. And yet one of these two teams didn’t even make the playoffs this year, and the other didn’t make it out of the first round. True, another team from this division–the Tampa Bay Rays–did make the playoffs, but they were the first team out after being swept by the Rangers.
So the supposedly weak NL Central put two teams into the playoffs, had both of those teams advance to the NLCS, and the winner of that series–the second best team in the division during the regular season–is playing in the World Series next week. Who’s in the weak division now?
It’s not easy watching the Cardinals win again and again, while my team has to perpetually either watch the postseason from the outside, or be terribly disappointed when they do make it. The Cubs are supposed to have advantages the Cardinals don’t, in terms of money and fan base and all of that, but it never turns out that way.
So what am I supposed to do? Root against the Cardinals out of spite? I’m not that petty. I know lots of Cardinals’ fans, and I don’t blame them for feeling good about what their team has accomplished. I tip my cap to them, and hope I’ll live long enough for the shoe to be on the other foot.
Or for the first baseman to be on the other team. The Cubs will make a play for Albert Pujols in the offseason, and the money will be there when push comes to shove. I can’t imagine how Albert stays around after this year, winning the World Series or not. But that doesn’t change the fact that right now the Cardinals are in a place that I can only dream about.
There’s nothing more pointless than watching a horse race if you don’t have money on one of the horses. A rooting interest is needed, whether it’s a race, or a game, or any other form of competition. And the World Series is the same way. I just can’t bring myself to root for an American League team. It’s like they are the other, when it comes to baseball.
So I don’t want the Cardinals to win, necessarily. But I do want to have some sort of an interest in how it all turns out. Because after next week, baseball will go dormant for a few months, and the NFL just doesn’t make up the difference for me. And go ahead and cancel the whole NBA season, while you’re at it. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
So here’s to a good, competitive Series over the next ten days or so. No sweeps, obviously, and a seven-game series would be ideal. I can’t sit it out, so I’ll go with my NL tribe and pull for the Cardinals. But it certainly won’t be easy.