Cliff Lee: Still a rooting interest?
Sports Irreverence and More from the Other Tip of the Goldberg
Being a huge sports fan, I don’t need to bet on games (I’m too destitute these days, anyway) to relish the action. A rooting interest does help matters, though.
Do I root for the mighty Yankees, even though it’s anathema for most Philly guys to ever root for a New York team? Make that a New York anything.
Do I cheer for Texas? They are the underdogs, and I was taught to never root for an overdog, unless my team is an overdog. And yes, the Phillies are certainly overdogs versus the Giants in the NLCS.
One more note before working out this dilemma in public. I should not tempt fate by thinking too far ahead and assuming future prosperity, especially in Philly. Even if some of us were too young to have lived through it, we are still jinxed and scarred by the "Philly Phade" of the 1964 team and other unforgettable collapses by local heroes in all four major sports.
For the purposes of this column—and I’ve already picked the Phillies in six over the Giants—I don’t accept that I may be jinxing them. I don’t play for or manage the Phils, and indeed, I don’t draw a paycheck from them or from anyone else these days, for that matter.
Which means, on to my dilemma (other than being broke).
Reasons to Root for the Rangers:
- The Rangers are the underdogs. They just notched their first postseason series victory in franchise history on Tuesday, while the Yankees are defending champions and winner of 27 of these championships. Plus, the Yanks had the better record this year in a better division and boast a much higher payroll.
- The Rangers have my favorite pitcher, Cliff Lee. Yes, he was only in Philly for a few months and may only be in Texas that long, but many Phillies fans fell in love with the guy. In a platonic baseball kind of way, of course. It helped ease the pain when Roy Oswalt came over from Houston, Cole Hamels became the 2008 postseason Hamels and H2O was unleashed.
By the way, to the best of my knowledge, the origin of H2O as the nickname for Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt was right here.
(Excuse the above digression. I just wish I had put H2O on a T-shirt. Would that make it a wet T-shirt? Have we saturated the topic?)
- Oh yeah, the Rangers figure to be an easier opponent to beat than the Yankees.
- We would not have to face that ageless, peerless Mariano Rivera guy; we’ll take our chances with the youthful Neftali Feliz.
Four pretty good reasons. So, why am I tempted to root for the Yankees?
Reasons to Root for the Yankees
- They’re not all that detestable. Yes, it’s hard to like A-Rod and it’s hard to like the overwhelmingly haughty Yankees fans, but does anyone really hate Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, two of the classiest winners in the sport?
- “W” used to be an owner of the Rangers and is still associated with that franchise. Not to hold a grudge, but...
- We would not have to face Cliff Lee. Yes, we have Halladay, who may more than neutralize the guy, but right now Cliff Lee is the best big-game pitcher on the planet. And, it would be hard to bring myself to root against him. Not to hold unrequited man-love for the guy, but…
- Revenge. Simply put, it would be sweeter to beat the “Evil Empire," which happens to be the team that beat us in the World Series last year.
As of right now, I’m leaning toward rooting for the Yankees, but only because I think it’s the Phillies' year no matter who they play. Let’s go out and prove it against the best.
This may all change if there is an injury or if my confidence wanes ever so slightly for any reason.
And it may change when that cool cat wearing No. 33 (I guess Nolan Ryan had dibs on 34) takes the hill for the Rangers.
One thing I do know: I’m psyched beyond reason to see Halladay v. Lincecum kick off the NLCS tomorrow night. As for those AL pretenders, let them deal with the two-time defending NL champions, H2O, the semi-articulate magical genius that is manager Charlie Manuel, and the Phillies home-field advantage.
I do profess to know the team that Rangers Nation (if there is one) and Yankees Nation would prefer to face, and they don’t play in South Philly.