Friday, October 10, 2014

Your National League Championship Series Rooting Guide

And here is where I potentially end relationships with either all of my friends in the gaming industry in the Bay Area, or my wife's family in Missouri. Forward!


San Francisco Giants
Reasons to Root For Them:
Bruce Bochy is the best manager in the National League. MadBum has a nickname that makes 12 year olds of all ages giggle, but still pitches like an ace. The Freak is still lurking on the roster, and so is Kung Fu Panda. They’re still here and the Dodgers are gone – take that, ridiculous payroll increase. Tim Hudson gives interviews where he talks about balls, instead of just spouting clich├ęs. Hunter Pence plays right field like a crazed refugee from an unaired episode of Mountain Monsters, and has a swing like a steampunk sex toy in action. Buster Posey is a catcher who tries to steal bases, and how weird is that? And of course, they scored with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth to trigger that 18 inning jam-band-rendition-of-Freebird of a game with the Nationals, which is clear proof that they’re living right. Their stadium was – wait for it – built with private money. And McCovey Cove is awesome.
Reasons to Root Against Them:
Posey has a bad habit of making Dukeface every time he gets tagged out, which is a lot, because he’s a catcher. As a team, they’ve somehow transformed into the old Star Trek movie franchise, where only the even-year versions are good. No team that runs Travis Ishikawa out there in left field on a regular basis should be within sniffing distance of a World Series. They lost their ostensible ace to a series of cascade injuries initiated when he hurt himself trying to cut a sandwich into – and I’m not making this up – “fancy triangles”. Listening to people treat BABIP monster Joe Panik like he’s the second coming of Tony Gwynn is getting a little old. These guys took out their own first baseman for a month with a concussion when he got hit in the face with a ball during infield practice, and that sort of thing should disqualify a team immediately. Silicon Valley’s war of gentrification on the rest of the Bay Area and gravitationally imposing self-regard should not be rewarded. And between the Belt nonsense, the Cain injury and the refusal to promote Santiago Casilla to the closer role until late in the season, the Giants pretty much single-handedly borked my fantasy baseball team. Not that I’m bitter.
Player to Root For:
Hunter Pence. Because I’m fairly certain at some point during the series he’s going to go full Call of the Wildman on an innocent baseball in right field and tear its guts out with his teeth.
Secret Weapon:
Yusmeiro Petit. Six innings of shutout ball in the 18 inning game. 1 hit and 3 walks (1 intentional). Now that’s a nice thing to have in the bullpen.
Fan Base:
Evenly split between die-hard partisans who proudly show off frostbite they got attending games at Candlestick in July and nouveau techie types who can recite which microbrews are available at which in-park sushi restaurants but couldn’t explain the infield fly rule if they were looking up on Google Glass. Which they’re wearing. To the ballpark.

St. Louis Cardinals
Reasons to Root For Them:
They win consistently without bringing in big-name free agents. They’re fundamentally sound. The endless parade of fireballing young arms is amazing to see. Four homeless families are now living comfortably inside Lance Lynn’s beard.
Reasons to Root Against Them:
They used to employ Tony LaRussa. When LaRussa left, they hired Mike Matheny instead of promoting legendary utilimonster and coach Jose Oquendo, pissing off Dr. Mrs. The Sportsthodoxy mightily.  They get John Lackey next year at basically minimum salary, and that just ain’t right. They’ve added A.J. Pierzynski, who may well be the biggest jackass in baseball, to their roster for the NLCS, and every time you cheer for that guy, God kills a kitten. Their franchise is literally built on Budweiser.  Occasionally members of their fan base do something horrifyingly stupid, like this. And finally, in conjunction with the Giants, they’re getting over-familiar – one of these two teams has gone to the World Series representing the NL every year since 2010 – it’s like counting The Who’s “farewell” tours at this point.
Player to Root For:
Jhonny Peralta. All he does is catch everything that’s hit to him and hit home runs. Which ain’t too shabby.
Secret Weapon:
John Jay. Given a bigger role last year, he cratered. With competition for his job on board in the form of Peter Bourjos, he flourished and took back a full-time role. He’s got a little pop, a little speed, and a lot of glove.

Fan Base:
They’re the greatest fans in the world. Just ask them. They’ll tell you. Endlessly. 
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