Saturday, October 15, 2005


Allegiences Part I: ALCS

It's fun to watch the playoffs without knots in my stomach. The four teams still in the running all have the tools to win, which makes them fun to root for. I, like most people, have little reasons to want or not want to root for various teams. And as we all know, when the ties are loose, they can change as we watch.

The sentimental pull for the casual observer had belonged - without question, until two nights ago - to the Chicago White Sox. The media has been selling their story - and indeed it is an easy one to sell. Much like our own Sox a year ago, the breaks are falling their way at every turn, adding a touch of magic to the quest...

But ah, emotion is fickle, sympathy a delicate balance for sports fans. One call has turned the tide. We all know it's not their fault... yet we can pull for them no longer; A gift game cannot be overlooked. As I realized the game was starting last night, I thought about how I would feel regarding either outcome: Angels win, series 2-1* huh. could've been 3-0. Nobody knows what it should be. White Sox win, series 2-1 in their favor... could've been the Angels with the edge still. It's easy to feel like that's how it should be, but let's face it: NOBODY KNOWS. Truth is, with a tie game going into extra frames, Chicago still had an advantage. Chances were good for them to win this game... we will never know.

I think I pissed some people off on Thursday by "defending" this call in a couple of places. There are quite a few areas of contention - it's not a simple situation here of "what does the replay show?" So let's go through the elements:

Josh Paul made a rookie mistake, and he will tag with every strike three for the rest of his career, no matter where he catches the ball. Given the high profile of this event, we just might not see this happen in MLB for another hundred years. But the damage has been done. As I watch tonight's game 4 of the ALCS, the White Sox lead 5-2 in the 4th, and look to take a 3-1 lead in the series by the end of the night. Another plate call has been missed in this game at the halo's cost, and people are frustrated.

I have reasons to like both teams. Before "the call" I was leaning toward the white sox. The "break the curse" sentiment had me a little, but mostly I think they are the better team. Both have pitching staffs that I salivate over, but the pale-ho's can score more runs; the Angels can struggle at the plate. The White Sox fully admit to have gotten lucky in game two, but since that time have had the momentum. And I whimper... like many, I just can't bear to see the white sox win anymore. I don't think it's their fault, I don't blame the ump, I don't begrudge the base...


I, heavens forbid, hope the White Sox go all the way. And I hope they do it by showing everyone that they are the deepest and most talented team in baseball right now. It's not their fault the ump made a life-threatening error. Everyone on the field makes errors. In fact, I wish there was a place in the box score for errors by an umpire, which would only be tabulated after post-game views of the call. This would not pertain to balls and stikes. Maybe this line of reasoning has to do with the fact that, like Reb, I smoked a bowl (not, at least this early), but I'm just pointing out that the ump's ineptitude should not be the reason to root for the other team. These games for me are of the mildly rooting kind, not the heart racing gut busting type of rooting that occurs when the Sox of Red are playing. My team....mmmm that sounds good.
I hear ya, peter*. I agree that their team, by measure of quality, deserves to go all the way... that's entirely why I was rooting for them before, but this is not always why we root for a certain team, and the emotional ties tend to pull us just a bit tighter. I had qualms about rooting for the white sox, which makes the switch - the burden of sympathy, if you will - a relief. I will explain in Part II, NLCS.
For what it's worth, I'm still rooting for the Other Sox. The Angels are normally my #2 team after the Red Sox, but they won it a couple years back (beating the MFY along the way, heh he heh) so I'd like to see the Other Sox get one now. I'm rooting for them to win the whole thing. One less curse for writers to harp on I say.

*I should also state that I did not see the crazy mixed up call that everyone's been talking about. Baseball's pretty much over for me and I just check the scores to see what happened... so feel free to discount my baseball comments. I'm in full-on Patriots (and Bruins during the week) mode now.
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