Royals Nightly
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Feeling pretty torn on who to root for in this series. Many contradicting factors floating around:

1) Boston's the AL team, usually, absent any compelling reason to root one way or another, I root for the AL team... I've just always been an AL guy.

2) Boston's a saber-friendly organization. I'm not really sure what Bill James exactly does for the Red Sox, but its at least cool that the organization would hire him in any role. Both Theo and John Henry are, as the kids say, "down with" statistical analysis, and generally in favor of the largely Weaver-ite strategy approaches that the Buster Olneys and Tim McCarver's of the world bemoan so loudly. In short, they've tried to convince people that bunting, batting average and the joys of small ball are overrated. This is a good thing, and its nice that the right approach to the game is housed in one of the most beloved and well-funded franchises.

3) Boston's on the East Coast. As such, the Sawk's are damn near a media darling, and somehow kids growing up in Idaho know all about the "curse of 1918" or whatever.

3a) Thus, somehow their fans are more "suffering" than say, uhh... Royals fans. Hmm... you have the second highest payroll in baseball, play in a revenue-generating tourist attraction, and are a perennial play-off team... Would you like fries with that? The Royals won 83 games last season and the collective attitude among the "Royals Nation" (to use the now trendy nomenclature) was that this was nothing short of a miracle. Spare me your pity.

4) But, theres the whole KC-StL thing. These cities seem to hate one another, although I'm not totally sure why. (Actually, Bill James 1986 Abstract, which as a brilliant breakdown of the epic '85 World Series has some pretty good commentary on the KC-StL rivalry.) The Cardinals have sorta become the Midwest version of the Yankees-Sox... vaguely self-important and self-congratulatory and myopic. Hence, the repeated "best baseball city in America" angle.

5) As implied by above, the Cardinals aren't particularly "new school" in their approaches. LaRussa's a fairly unique, if not ever-changing manager... but he's still overly-interested in giving the other team outs, fetishizing clubhouse character and the endless double-switching. On the other hand, his approach to relief matchups- in his own unique way- is a positively stathead gesture.

6) The Cardinals are the underdog. I like underdogs.

7) The Cardinals are a classic midwestern/southeastern Americana team. There are diehard, lifelong Cardinal fans from the Dakotas, down to Iowa, through Missouri and along the Mississippi down into the South. Large pockets of Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama are all parts of the Redbird reach. Its a reminder of the days of radio re-broadcasts, pre-expansion baseball and pre-Cable/internet. In short, its cute in its own way. Personally, I'll always prefer the opinions of the Midwest and Trans-Mississippi Southeast to the media fueled opinions of the North East megalolpolis.


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