If you read between the lines of this piece by ESPN’s Jayson Stark, you might get the impression that havin’ a lot of star power is all that matters in baseball. Funny … All these years I thought it was winnin’ the World Series.
Personally — and I fully admit I’m old school … in fact, I’m more like prehistoric school — I couldn’t give a rat’s hiny if people are buyin’ Bryant’s or Trout’s or Big Papi’s jersey, or if kids are sculpting their heads like a Bryce Harper doll (other than the fact than they look like morons). I’d rather have a team of no-names with Darth Vader’s charisma, but who play the game with a purpose defined by winning, instead of how many Muscle Milk commercials they’re in.
As luck or karma or divine intervention or Theo Epstein’s nuclear-powered brain would have it, the Cubs have both this year — stars and studs. Maybe that’s divine intervention after all. I think Mr Stark is right, the National League, at this point in time, has more Hollywood than the American League.
To which I say, “So the hell what?”
That has about as much to do with goin’ home with the hardware as the color of your tooth brush. And I don’t care who you are … you could be Buster Posey or Robinson Cano or Jesus H. Christ (I think he’s from the Dominican) … winnin’ the Series is the be-all end-all of human existence for ballplayers.
Let’s start off by goin’ back to the 70s, when Mr Stark points out that the stars burned brightest in the National League. Despite that assertion, the American League took the Series 6 times in that decade. Is that a landslide? No. But it’s an indication that buyin’ a guy’s jersey doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome in October.
In the 80s, it was an even split; 5 for the AL, 5 for the Senior Circuit. In the 90s, though, there musta been some kinda eclipse on the Star Effect thing, cuz despite the red carpeted American League, the NL claimed 6 titles. Coulda been worse, too, cuz there was no Series in ’94. Hard to say, on account of the players and owners were too busy crappin’ on each other to do their jobs. (Yeah, my ass is still a little chapped over that one.) Anyway, 6 outta 9 went the other way. From 2000-2009, though, it’s 6 for the Junior Circuit — a bit better than half, so I’ll concede that one. I sorta, kinda, reluctantly also gotta give in on this current decade we’re in, since the National League has taken 4 outta 6, so far, and it’s during that time that Stark says the star quotient has shifted from the Junior to the Senior Circuit. However, I hasten to point out that the 2012 Giants nearly escaped death twice in the playoffs, so I don’t think it was their Hollywood status that got ’em to the Series, let alone helped ’em win. They were like friggin’ White Walkers — nothin’ coulda put them down that year.
Now lemme say right here, that we still got 4 more championships to decide in this decade, and it wouldn’t make me the slightest bit itchy if the Cubs won all of ’em. In which case, I think my argument starts to fall apart a bit. Fine. Bring it on. I’d sooooo rather have the Cubbies sittin’ on top of the baseball world, that have my theory validated.
Hey, and those of you who are sayin’ I don’t understand the game, are full of pine tar. I get that it’s about the money, pallie. That’s been the holy grail since George Steinbrenner bought the Yanks. It’s also why the Friendly Confines aren’t so friendly when it comes to actually goin’ to a ball game. You practically gotta mortgage the brown stone these days. So, yeah, I get the friggin’ money part … and I understand that more money means bein’ able to sign and pay the guys you draft. But seriously, if spendin’ money on star players had anything to do with winnin’ the Series, the Yankees and the Dodgers would have won every one of ’em since 1999. And I think we know how that’s gone.
That’s about all I gotta say, except for these two words: Barry Bonds. Buildin’ a franchise around a star, or stars, because they’re also popular for some reason is about as effective as usin’ Windex to cure cancer. The Giants went that route, and it wasn’t until (speakin’ of cancer) that malingnancy was removed from the clubhouse that they went from bein’ the Giants to the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Three friggin’ times, too, in this decade. They filled their roster with guys you never heard of … until you did. And you did cuz they won. And won again, which had nothin’ to do with how many times they were on Colbert.
Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.