The Series of the Whole World
The World Series is not named after the world. It’s named after the long-defunct New York World newspaper. It’s a good thing that it wasn’t the New York Crab or something similarly ridiculous, because otherwise it would be hard for us to conflate the results of up to seven baseball games with ruling the Earth. But as a good friend of mine reminds me: don’t take points off the board. The World Series it is, and you can make of it what you want.
Already, I’ve seen one of my friends from Chicago say he tuned out baseball a month ago, implying that what we’re doing out here, one local and three express train stops from where I’m typing, is a fancy little East Coast party in which “real America” has no interest. Well, “real America” can bite my b***s. Your teams had a chance to make it, but your teams sucked. Plus, the writer in question roots for the Cubs. Which is its own problem.
This World Series may be East Coast-centric, but it has the chance to be the best since the 2002 series, which pitted NoCal (Giants) vs. SoCal (Angels) in a Bonds-fueled fight to the finish. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about West Coast Bias then, but that’s because almost nobody watched. Anyone skipping this year’s game has the potential to miss a Fall Classic that lives up to that capital C.
To put it simply, both these teams are bad-ass, and feature awesome and compelling baseball players. Even better, both teams deserve to be there. These have been the best teams over the course of the season, and they’ve pulled off the rarest of modern feats by turning April to September skill into October magic. These teams aren’t just happy to be here, nor did they expect to be. They went out there and kicked butt every day to get to this point.
In that sense, this Series has a distinctly retro feel, and not just because these teams are both more than 100 years old. This one harkens back to the days of AL winner vs. NL winner, stacked club vs. stacked club. Furthermore, you’ve got the historically best franchise against the defending champion, which makes for all sorts of compelling, if possibly silly, storylines. If Cliff Lee is nervous enough to be intimidated by the Yankee Stadium atmosphere, he’d probably have quit playing after A ball.
Lee is one of two midseason Philly acquisitions that pushes this series over the top. The other is Pedro Martinez. Lee and Pedro will start games 1 and 2 in Yankee Stadium. I’m a little worried about that second one. Here’s where nostalgia may work against the Phillies. The idea of Pedro pitching a World Series game in the Bronx is cool on the surface—but, like the Limericku, in practice it might be clunky. I see Mark Teixeira batting against Pedro and I can feel the fear in my stomach.
Alas, after that the pitching matchups turn in favor of the Phillies if pretty boy Cole Hamels can put it together. And if you thought this series was East Coast-centric now, wait until game four, which is scheduled to take place four hours after the Giants/Eagles game ends, across the parking lot. If there’s such thing as a New York/Philly rivalry, it is most usually most loudly demonstrated in Giants/Eagles. If you’re turned off by East Coast sports, this isn’t the day for you.
But you know what days will be? Games 5, 6, and possibly 7. At some point, this series is going to become good enough that any baseball fan won’t be able to afford to miss it. This is the real deal, and the type of World Series matchup we’ve waited for for almost a decade—a pairing worthy of the name.