Sportswriters love telling people how unbiased sportswriters are, and a big part of that is rooting for stories, not individual teams. That’s pretty obvious. It’s much easier and much more fun to write about an unusual defensive play, or a no-hitter, or a walk-off hit, than it is to write about an arduous 12-5 yawner that stopped being close after the third inning.
And it’s not just writers who do this. Even without the professional self-interest, fans want to see the underdog overachieve. They want to see the unusual, the exciting, and they want the drama and uncertainty to last as long as possible.
So in the spirit of lasting drama, everyone ought to be rooting as hard as they can against the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers are kind of old news, with two consecutive division titles in their pockets. They rely heavily on slow guys who walk and hit home runs (and if you’re going to do that, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are two pretty good slow guys to have), and they’ve got a starting rotation that might be better than all the other rotations in the division. To balance those strengths come two glaring weaknesses. First, the bullpen has been quite good so far this year but is built on a foundation of quicksand. Second, they have the kind of defense one might expect when a lineup has a lot of slow guys who walk and hit home runs.
Now, none of this makes the Tigers particularly objectionable. The reason you should root against them is that they’re by far the best team in baseball’s worst division, and they’re starting to pull away in the standings.
Mike Trout should have won the American League Most Valuable Player award. He didn't, for reasons ranging from Cabrera winning the Triple Crown (a three-stat measure that conveniently leaves out a whole host of factors that point to Trout's season trumping Cabrera's) to Cabrera's team making the playoffs while Trout's went home (the Angels won more games than the Tigers, and basing an individual award based on the quality of a player's teammates is interesting) to Cabrera putting up better numbers down the stretch (as if wins don't matter in May, June, and July).
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP award, beating out Angels rookie Mike Trout by a healthy margin. And now it's time for the ANGRY OLD SPORTSWRITER! "Look, I know all you stat nerds out there are going 'Wahhh, wahhh, Trout should have won because he has a higher WAR.' You know what I think of that? HAR. As in HARDY HAR-HAR, morons. There's so much Trout love going around that I think the sports world is full of bears. And guess what? Bears eat salmon, so you're wrong there, too. Get a grip. Miguel Cabrera won a Triple Crown, you sniveling little Adlai Stevensons. Back when I was around, in the 1930s, that used to mean something. In fact, players back then would actually wear three different crowns to signify that they'd won. Was it uncomfortable? Sure. But I dare you to find a more beautiful site than Jimmie Foxx strutting around Philadelphia with three golden crowns perched atop his gorgeous head. There wasn't a man there who didn't get an erection. So can the stupid Trout arguments. Mike Trout is threatening to ruin baseball, and if Bud Selig had any cojones, he'd send him on the next ship to Venezuela, and he'd say, 'Either you take down that tyrant Hugo Chavez and his nationalized oil, or you don't come home.' And that's a Triple Crown we can all wear."
Miguel Cabrera did not sneak onto the throne. He could have sat out Game 162 and saved himself the risk of undercutting his AL-topping numbers: .330 average, which led the MLB, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. With the AL Central title locked up, manager Jim Leyland said the decision to start against the Kansas City Royals was entirely up to Cabrera. Last night, as Cabrera got up to bat, the first Triple Crown of the century was hanging in the balance.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Travis Blackley allowed just one run over six innings as the A's beat the Rangers 3-1 to move into a tie atop the AL West with just one game remaining. The loss is surprising, considering the fact that Nolan Ryan inspired the team in the locker room before the game by biting through a whole hunk of leather and fighting a cow. "I thought he'd never let up on that cow," said Josh Hamilton. "To a certain extent, it didn't feel like a fair fight."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Adam Scott bogeyed the last four holes in an epic major collapse, and Ernie Els sunk a birdie putt on 18 to win the British Open by a single stroke. "Looks like I've got a new friend," said a smiling Jean Van de Velde, who then struggled furiously to get out of the straitjacket he's been wearing for over a decade, screaming "friend!" in a terrifying, high-pitched voice, as orderlies rushed in to shut off the television.
2. LeBron James, Force of Nature I think it's a very useful thought exercise to sometimes just sit down and think about how LeBron James plays basketball like some kind of unholy combination of Magic Johnson, Shawn Kemp, and Khal Drogo.Watch this collection of LeBron's 10 best plays from just the first half of this season. Sometimes calling what he does "basketball" seems like it's underselling what he does.