Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The World (Sigh) Series

Why did it have to be the Yankees and the Marlins? I didn't need to see Boston-Chicago to be happy; just one of those sad-sack franchises would have sufficed. Count me among those who can't get too excited about the World Series this season. Sure, there's the anticlimactic hangover of the two superb League Championship Series, but more than that is the feeling that I don't really care who wins.

By rights I should be jumping on the Marlins' bandwagon. They're the only underdog left, and what they've accomplished this year is nothing short of amazing. Overcoming key injuries, a managerial change, and better opponents, Florida has earned its way to the Series, and even managed to swipe Game 1 from under the Yanks' noses Saturday night.

But shouldn't their fans have to suffer some more? Two World Series appearances in 11 years of play? C'mon. As the late and dearly lamented Kirsty MacColl once sang, "You just haven't earned it yet, baby."

Not only that, but the irrational Phillies fan in me can't help but manage a fair amount of juvenile resentment that the Fish stole the playoff slot that rightly belonged to the Phils. This is nonsense, of course. Florida is where it is on merit, and I shouldn't allow my anger at my own team's incompetence -- managerial ineptness, front-office caution, underachieving play -- to prevent me from giving the Marlins their due. But I will anyway.

As for New York, who can get behind the Yankees anymore? Yes, Joe Torre and Derek Jeter still seem like good guys, but, geez, does this team have to be in the playoffs every damn year? Rooting for the Yankees, it used to be said, was like rooting for U.S. Steel. Now it's like rooting for Microsoft. An omnipresent owner, a Borg-like presence in every baseball city in America (you can always find some frontrunner strolling the streets in a Yankees cap), and the sense that no matter how flawed they become, they'll still come out on top -- all that's missing from the Yanks is a paper clip in Yankee pinstripes asking Alfonso Soriano if he'd like help laying off the outside slider.

Putting it wonderfully was the Inquirer's Bob Ford, who last Saturday wrote, tongue firmly in cheek, that the Curses of Jeff Conine and Jeff Nelson had finally been lifted. "Call it silly if you like, but the real curses are gone now and the Yankees and Marlins are back after all this time," Ford wrote. "Explain that away."

Who Will Win: Yankees in six
Who I Hope Wins: Cubs or Red Sox


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