The baseball playoffs are in full swing and already there have been exciting games and spectacular plays. And we’re only in the opening round, which means the best is yet to come.
And I just don’t care.
That’s because the Phillies aren’t in the playoffs for the first time in six years and that’s the only team I care about. And, let’s face it, Phillies fans have been spoiled in recent years. We knew they would be in the playoffs and it was just a matter of how far they would go. Things like playoff berths and even division titles were taken for granted – it was World Series or bust.
Well, like the song says, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. And maybe they didn’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot, but the playoffs did move out of South Philly.
I do root for the Orioles some, but not with a lot of passion or even that much interest. Like most people, I tend to pull for the underdog, especially when that dog is playing the Yankees, the team you either love or hate.
And that’s really where I am now and, I’m willing to bet, so are a lot of other people – I don’t necessarily root for teams to win as much as I root for teams to lose, especially the Yankees. I don’t have warm feelings for the St. Louis Cardinals or Atlanta Braves, either, two teams that seem to be in the playoffs almost every year. You can put the Giants in that category, too. Plus the Giants and Cardinals have won the last two World Series, so let’s get some new blood in there.
That brings us to the two teams I’d like to see in the American League Championship Series – the Orioles and the Oakland A’s. Neither team was supposed to make it to the playoffs this year, which automatically qualifies them as underdogs. It’s especially nice to see the O’s become a contender again after so many years of being a second-division team, and it’s nice to see people flocking to Orioles Park at Camden Yards again. That used to be the hottest ticket in town, but as the Orioles’ fortunes took a downturn, so did their attendance. Now, both are back.
Of course, that underdog theory doesn’t hold true all of the time and it’s hard to root for the Washington Nationals, even though their history of losing was even longer than the Orioles’. Maybe it’s because they took the NL East title that belonged to the Phillies for so long, or maybe it’s the fair-weather fans who ignored this team ever since it moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005 and now are elbowing each other for room on the Nationals’ bandwagon. At least Baltimore fans had a long history of supporting their team until they Orioles became so bad it was almost impossible to support them.
Of course, if the Nationals end up playing the Yankees in the World Series I’ll definitely root for them or, more to the point, against the Yankees. But the sad truth is that I don’t care, which is a shame. The World Series is still one of the great sporting events on the planet, with a long tradition behind it. And that brings us to another negative about the baseball playoffs in general and the World Series in particular – they start so doggone late. That means many kids – who are the future of the sport, both on the field and in the bleachers – are denied a chance to watch the excitement.
We all know the reason the games start around 9 p.m. ET – that’s prime-time viewing and that earns baseball the most television money. It’s hard to argue with somebody trying to maximize their profit – this is, after all, America – but it also seems short-sighted to deny the future of the sport a chance to watch its present. More memories are made in seven (or six or five or even four) World Series games than in all 162 regular season games combined.
I just don’t happen to remember any of them unless the Phillies were involved. So, I’ll probably tune into some of the World Series games this year, unless there’s a good John Wayne movie on another channel. It’s hard to beat the Yankees, but it’s impossible to beat the Duke.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.