Save the potential Yankees-Cardinals World Series that looked possible about 10 days ago, you could do worse than a Giants-Tigers World Series. Sure, neither team has quite the history of their LCS brethren* but the Giants and Tigers are undeniably rich in history. Expect to see plenty of grainy photos of Willie Mays, Al Kaline, John McGraw, Ty Cobb, Robb Nen, and Jeremy Bonderman. If “The Catch” isn’t replayed at least once during every pregame show, I owe you a dollar.
* Nor the self-gratifying fan bases. “We’re the best fans in baseball!” “No we’re the best fans in baseball!” “And so knowledgeable!” “Look at all the championships we won before the game was integrated and before we had a vaccine for polio! So relevant now and why we’re better than everyone!” Ugh.
The question for Angels fans this last week of October is what team they should root for. Neither can really be qualified as an underdog: the Giants just won the 2010 Series and the Tigers dropped a ton of Little Caesar’s money this past offseason for Prince Fielder ($214M to be exact, which is a lot of Crazy Bread). And, for Angels fans, there isn’t an obvious team to root against like say division-rival Texas or the always-hated Yankees.
So if you’re a bitter Angels fan like myself and need help deciding which team to heap scorn upon, I thought I would break it down.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants were more fun two years ago because Fox loved cuing highlights from the 2002 World Series, the one the Giants choked away to eventual champion Anaheim. Nothing warmed my heart quite like seeing Dusty Baker prematurely give Russ Ortiz the game ball after exiting with a 5-run lead, only to see the Angels rally for one of the most dramatic wins in World Series history. I still don’t know how Scott Spiezio’s 7th inning homer cleared the fence.
But this year Angels fans can’t even live vicariously through our friends from up north. The Giants still have some things working in their favor, though. For one, they’re a California team. And if you’re the type to be overly paranoid about
liberal media east coast sports coverage bias, then the Giants winning the series is just another rebellious feather in your cap against The Man. It’s like the East Coast-West Coast rap feud of the 90s, only way lamer.
The Giants also employ Buster Posey, who could very well be the NL MVP to Mike Trout’s** AL MVP. After missing most of last season with a gruesome leg injury, Posey came back this year and raked while staking his claim as the best catcher in baseball. Posey posted 8.0 fWAR in his first full season (remember, in 2010 he was a call up and only played 108 games) and hit .336/.408/.549 in one of the toughest hitter’s parks in the game (his home OBP is actually higher than on the road but his slugging took a big hit — not a surprise). Oh and he’s only 25 and if the Giants win he will be two-for-two in championships in his career in which he actually finished the season. He’s good and really fun to watch.
** LOL just kidding. We’ll get to this.
Let’s see, what else. Matt Cain is kind of the NL version of Jered Weaver, a flyball pitcher that says “eff you” to BABIP and FIP and uses his home ballpark to excel. Brian Wilson is hurt so we don’t have to worry about him doing annoying Brian Wilson things (“Get it? He acts different than most players! SO FUNNY!”). Their color scheme is aesthetically appealing on TV. Kung Fu Panda is a solid nickname. Scutaro’s grit and scrappiness. By all accounts AT&T Park is amazing and, even on TV, has one of the best backdrops in sports.
Also, at least for me, I’m a 49ers fan. So personally it feels weird rooting for the Niners Sunday afternoon and applauding their home field advantage then on Sunday night saying things like “those Giants fans are so obnoxious, I bet they have wine and cheese delivered to their seat, AMIRITE?”
Likeability rating for Angels fans: 6/10 and 9/10 if California secedes
But yeah Giants fans are typically Californian, which is to say they excel at flooding the bandwagon. I know some Giants fans and most of them are very polite and supportive of their team throughout the season.
I also know people that unabashedly jump from A’s allegiance to the Giants when the time is right (so, basically, always). This year, for instance, I knew a Giants fan that has told me he disowned the A’s for various reasons but hey whatever he disowned them. Great. Then when the A’s were making a run at the AL West he would trash talk me and be like “there’s magic in Oakland baby!” Seriously, go away. Yeah this is more a personal thing I should probably work out in therapy once we unlock the origins of my chronic bed-wetting, but still. And now that the Giants are in the World Series, he conveniently jumped back. So yeah I want the Giants to lose just to spite, like, three people. I have misplaced priorities.
And have you seen Full House reruns lately? Good God they’re awful. We’re better off as a society if we distance ourselves from the 90s.
Unlike-ability rating: 5/10, 6/10 if Uncle Jesse pitches
I mean, they beat the Yankees. What else could you ask for? We should be adorning them with olive wreaths and holding Stars Wars type celebrations for defeating the Evil Empire (this post’s nerd level: rising). Not only did they beat the Yankees, but they crushed them so badly that the nutrients from my schadenfreude shake could sustain me for the entire offseason. Unless the Angels acquire A-Rod, then it’s not funny anymore.
The Tigers, unlike many AL teams, have never done anything to the Angels to make their fans hate them. No gut-punching postseason losses. No annoying faux-fanbase that wears pink hats and floods Angel Stadium whenever the Tigers are in town. Really, both clubs over the past 50 years are nothing more than beacons of mediocrity with some excellence sprinkled in every now and then.
While the Giants can at times be a bit of a bore to watch, the Tigers are usually always interesting. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer combine for the most dynamic 1-2 punch in baseball and finished as the top two pitchers in the AL for strikeouts. They have the best combo of top four hitters in Austin Jackson, Someone, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder. And Jim Leyland hilariously bats Delmon Young fifth, which gives me great joy.
Other random reasons to root for Detroit: they haven’t won since 1984, if you’re one of those people that roots for the American League all the time, not the Yankees, Verlander doesn’t have enough going on in his life and could really use a break, not the Yankees, Cabrera hit for the Triple Crown (admittedly a cool thing), Ty Cobb’s ghost will spike you and shout a racial epithet at you if you don’t, not the Yankees.
Likeability ranking: Sorry I was too busy looking at Kate Upton. What were we talking about?
If the Tigers win the World Series, Angels fans have to live with the bitter taste of a possibly inferior team winning. The Angels had a better record than the Tigers and played in a much tougher division. While the Angels played the Rangers and A’s (even the Mariners were solid for a last place club), the Tigers got to play like a third of their schedule against the Twins, Indians, and Royals. Plus the Tigers wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if the White Sox, losers of 11 of their last 15, didn’t choke like dogs down the stretch. Not to take anything away from the Tigers; if they win the World Series it’s obviously legitimate and they can’t help it if their division sucks. But the Angels were a better regular season team and it’s annoying that the playoff rules in place forbade them from qualifying but allowed the Tigers to play in October.***
*** For what it’s worth I think the Tigers would beat the Angels in a 7-game series. That’s also not the point. In a short series the Tigers weaknesses (shoddy defense, lack of lineup depth) aren’t as glaring.
There’s also the whole Miguel Cabrera MVP thing, which has been discussed ad nauseum on only every sports website ever. My feelings about the subject are known so I won’t dive too deeply into it. But the deeper the Tigers go the more the narrative becomes “look at what Miguel Cabrera did for the Tigers down the stretch” when in reality the Tigers starting pitching is on fire and mainly the reason they’re in the World Series. And yeah I know voting for MVP ended, but that won’t stop Buck and McCarver from lapping up the convenient Triple Crown narrative when everyone knows (or should know) that Mike Trout was the best player in baseball this year and it wasn’t really even close. And when McCarver opens his mouth and says something stupid about how Cabrera is actually a good defensive third basemen or how the key to the game for the Tigers is “Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown****” it’s going to make the World Series less enjoyable for me.
**** Watching Game 5 of the Cards-Giants series the other day and McCarver said the key to the game for the Cardinals was something like “hoping next plane trip is to Detroit.” That’s right. Not “attack Zito early in counts” or “shift the outfield positioning when Posey is batting” or any sort of actual baseball analysis. No. The key to the game was hoping their next pilot happened to land in Detroit instead of San Francisco. Sigh.
I know the MVP doesn’t really matter, or at least shouldn’t — I know what I saw and that’s all I should care about. But since the season was such a disappointment it would have been nice if Trout got the recognition the deserved.
If the Tigers win it will feel like they ripped off the Angels plan and succeeded with it: sign a superstar first basemen and pair him with strong starting pitching, a dynamic young leadoff hitter, and a lineup full of solid holdovers (except for Delmon Young/Vernon Wells). The plan worked, just not for the Angels.
Unlike-ability factor: 7/10 and let me go cry in my pillow
Neither team is particularly hate-able for Angel fans but neither is a team like, say, the Royals. If the Royals made it I would obviously pull for them because I’m a good person. But with the Giants and Tigers there are legitimate reasons to root against them. Most of these are petty, but that’s what our society was founded on. Be proud for your silly reasons for rooting against a team. Having another team fail is almost as satisfying as having your team succeed, or at least that’s what I tell myself as I quietly clutch my Trout hat and murmur the chorus to “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
With that said, I declare the Giants as the team I will root for to win the World Series. Mostly I just want a closely contested, exciting series (the LCS round was boring) like the 2011 World Series. You may have to go on a walkabout in Downtown Disney to discover your preference of champion. Your decision must not be taken lightly.
I’ve been right on the Tigers all postseason and dead wrong on the Giants so it’s fitting they meet. But I’ll continue my disbelief in the Giants and say the Tigers win in 5 games. I think their pitching is too dominant for the meager Giants lineup and the Cabrera/Fielder combo will get theirs against a solid but possibly a bit overrated Giants starting rotation.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewkarcher