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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Playoff time

My interview with Free Exchange on Campus is now up: part one comes first, and it is followed, as is the night the day, by part two.

Now, on to more important matters: playoffs!

I’ve decided not to do any prognosticatin’ this year, because I’m no good at it except when it comes to Super Bowls (like this one and that one) and the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  So I will simply reveal where my sympathies lie.

St. Louis v. San Diego:

Neither team deserves to be here.  I like the Cardinals on principle, mainly because of Albert Pujols and his eight-year-old daughter, Isabella, who has Down syndrome.  But backing into the playoffs without even making a beeping noise (a lovely image I have stolen from moioci in comment 67 of this thread) is just wrong.  I mean, really.  Celebrating your “division” “title” while down 5-0 to the Brewers on the last day of the season is kind of pathetic.  So I’m rooting for both teams to lose in an unprecedentedly bad series.  What will happen then?  See Oakland v. Minnesota, below.

New York Mets v. Los Angeles:

Let’s go Mets!  The Dodgers only kinda sorta belong in the postseason anyway.  But then, that’s what I thought the last time these teams met, back in ‘88.  And the result was one of the ugliest game-7 losses I’ve ever seen (though not quite as bad as Royals-Cardinals ‘85).  We don’t have Pedro.  They have a lion-in-winter Maddux.  Weirder things have happened.

Oakland v. Minnesota:

Isn’t there any way for both these clubs to win?  They’re so very likable and spunky, and they both have a recent history of lamentably early exits from the AL playoffs.  Perhaps when the Cards and Padres both lose, we can dispatch the team that finishes second in this series to go play the Mets in the NLCS.  Weirder things have happened, like the Seattle Seahawks representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

New York Yankees v. Detroit:

At this point I think Yankee fandom deserves a separate 3000-word post of its own.  See, I encountered Yankeedom as a preadolescent New Yorker in ‘73, when Steinbrenner was a green young thing and the Yankee faithful were all about Horace Clarke and Bobby Murcer.  For the next twenty years or so, I lived in a comprehensible world in which the Yanks were sometimes good and sometimes mediocre, and made the postseason for a nice stretch in 1976-81.  Then things started getting strange. I had no problem rooting for the new and improved, nice, neo-Yankees as they took down the Braves and Pretenders Padres in the late 90s, but since then it’s become absolutely obligatory for the Steinbrenners to win every single year or else.  At least the blusterin’ Boss hasn’t sacked Joe Torre the way he dumped the fine Dick Howser in 1980.  But there’s something else going on here, something that speaks to New York’s self-representations in general.  It’s as if we inhabit a foul world in which the most ludicrous, outsize, odious images of New Yorkerdom have carried the day so completely that Rudy Giuliani, George Steinbrenner and Donald Trump can be seriously considered heroes and icons, and the ridiculous lyrics of “New York, New York” can be sung completely without irony (even though those lyrics are themselves artifacts of neo-New Yorkism, and belong up on the wall next to velvet paintings of the Brooklyn Bridge).  And yet, and yet, in 2003 and 2004 I found it impossible to want them to lose in the AL playoffs, which is also matter for another post, because it touches on Boston’s self-representations in general.

Oh, is there another team in this series?  Almost forgot.  Go Tigers.  We are all Tigers now.

Newt Gingrich v. Matt Drudge:

In the Battle of the Wingnut Titans, the “blame liberal PC for the Foley scandal” angle will very likely beat out the “these kids are 16 and 17 year old beasts” angle, not least because it has better legs and boasts a deeper pitching staff (Rush Limbaugh, Gary Bauer, the Wall Street Journal, Johan Santana—oops!  not Johan Santana.  Sorry about that one!) But in the end, this series is probably moot, because none of these guys can hold a candle, or a radioactive reindeer antler, to the Poor Man’s beyond-belief brilliant “IMs-in-context” defense of Rep. Foley.  Get out the brooms for the second round, ‘cause it’ll be the Poor Man in four.

Posted by Michael on 10/03 at 07:48 AM
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