I am going to propose a four-team trade in the NBA. This is not a swap of players, coaches or picks. This is a trade of franchise names. The first move has already taken place, between New Orleans and Charlotte. The next three should happen by the beginning of the next season.
Of the many welcomed changes in the NBA for the 2014-2015 campaign, few are as pleasing as the return of the Charlotte Hornets. The original Hornets franchise still resides in New Orleans since moving from Charlotte before the 2002 season.
But the name was returned to North Carolina, along with the Charlotte era history and stats, and given to the team that had been playing since 2004 as the Bobcats.
Nobody seemed to like the name Bobcats. In fact, the fans of Charlotte voted to name the team the Flight after the Wright Brothers. Granted, that is also an absolutely terrible name. But Bobcats had the stigma of egotism. The new owner Robert L. Johnson was known as “Bob.” Essentially he named the team after himself.
And the Bobcats did not leave much of an impact on the NBA. Despite having Larry Brown as a coach and Michael Jordan as an owner (or maybe BECAUSE of his ownership) the team did not win a single post season game, let alone a series.
The Hornets have a more pleasant history, winning 4 different playoff series in Charlotte.
But with the Hornets name back where it belongs, let’s turn our focus to New Orleans. Their franchise is now called the Pelicans. No offense to those beautiful birds, but that is a dumb sounding name. That sounds like a CBA team from the 1980s. Or maybe a team in a movie about basketball where they couldn’t get the rights to actual NBA team logos.
As with Charlotte, New Orleans once had a great team name. They had the New Orleans Jazz. As “teams without an S in the name” go, New Orleans Jazz is about as good as it gets. (Much better than the Heat or Magic for my money.) It perfectly describes the feel of the city and what it is known for. Seriously, how far down the list would Pelicans be for Nawlins’ iconography?
Of course the Jazz still exist. They are in Utah. Truth be told, Pelicans could probably be found more frequently in Utah than any jazz musicians. The name Utah Jazz is so bizarre and contradictory that it is almost beautiful. I could try and think of a more absurd combination of team and city/state name, but I am at a loss. Even the Denver Mariners or Kansas City Dolphins would make more sense.
The Jazz have their great Stockton and Malone history along with a pair of trips to the finals. But that name belongs in New Orleans. It will bring back memories of Pistol Pete Maravich who brought his sweet moves across the state from LSU to the Jazz. Sure it would mean the New Orleans team would have three different names in four seasons. But think of how valuable the Pelicans jerseys would be for collectors.
With Charlotte and New Orleans taken care of, what should happen in Utah? Is there an NBA team name that could be a perfect fit for the Beehive State?
It is just sitting there and is North of the Border.
Take a look at this dinosaur. It is pretty ferocious and scary looking, isn’t it? Do you know what its official name is for paleontologists? It is the Utahraptor ostrommaysorum. Commonly, it is called the Utah Raptor.
They were fast, violent killing machines with giant claws that could grow to the size of a polar bear.
The Raptor name exists in Toronto basically because they were founded around the same time that Jurassic Park was super popular and everything Isaiah Thomas, the team’s original president, did was bonkers.
If he was putting together a team last winter with Frozencleaning up at the box office, he would named the team the Snowmen.
But the name makes scientific sense in Utah. It would be a scary mascot with links to the region instead of a reflection of what film was popular at the moment the team was made.
Where does that leave the Toronto team?
When Isaiah Thomas was reading the weekly movie box office grosses coming up with a team name, Toronto fans suggested several other names. The Grizzlies were one, but that is now taken. The Beavers were another one, but that would yield too many obscene jokes.
Guess what was another popular suggestion? The Bobcats. And if I am not mistaken, that name is now available.
So with this proposal, the 2015-2016 season would feature the Charlotte Hornets, the New Orleans Jazz, the Utah Raptors and the Toronto Bobcats.
What happens to the Pelicans? No doubt a D-League franchise could use a new name.
Paul “Sully” Sullivan is a Sports Contributor at The Scoop, and is also a successful baseball podcaster and stand-up comedian. Follow him on Twitter at @SullyBaseball.
When Joe Maddon opted out of his contract as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays on October 24, 2014 (as reported by CBS Sports), I thought there was only one destination for his next job. It was as clear to me as a Santa Monica day.
Inevitably, the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to announce they were going to let go of Don Mattingly as manager after 4 seasons, and reunite Maddon with his former Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman. Everything lined up perfectly and it would be a match made in baseball heaven.
I even began writing a somewhat snarky column for this website about the Dodgers being coy with their intentions while clearly pushing Mattingly out the door.
Oh, publicly, the Dodgers backed Mattingly, as they did here in the LA Times, but who were they kidding? Arguably the best manager in baseball was there for the taking.
Remember when Joe Torre suddenly became available after the 2007 postseason and Dodger manager Grady Little just HAPPENED to resign? What a coincidence that Torre was hired before poor Grady was done packing the office.
The Dodgers were poised to take on the champion Giants next year, and baseball would see a Maddon-led team take on Bruce Bochy’s boys with two of the best skippers in the business in the same division.
Then a funny thing happened to Joe Maddon, and also to this smart aleck know-it-all writer. The inevitable signing with the Dodgers turned into a Chicago Cubs love fest.
Maddon headed to Wrigley, bought everyone drinks (always a fool-proof way to win over Cubs fans) and seemed poised to take credit for the emergence of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.
Poor Rick Renteria was kicked to the curb. While the stench of tampering hangs over the move, nobody could blame the Cubs for wanting to bring in Maddon (no offense to Renteria, who will no doubt find another job.)
Maddon is going to join the likes of Leo Durocher, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella as high profile managers hoping to complete the Don Quixote-like quest of winning a title for the Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers go into 2015 with Don Mattingly still at the helm.
Can someone please explain to me how this happened? Why didn’t the Dodgers at least put on the full court press and wine and dine Maddon? They offer one of the sweetest managerial jobs baseball and could be the fast track for Maddon’s elusive title.
The appeal of “Dodger manager Joe Maddon” was staggering. From the 2008 World Series to the 2013 Division Series, the Rays reached the playoffs in four different seasons, with a payroll slightly larger than the average In-and-Out Burger location. Friedman made all the right moves, and Maddon handled the continually changing roster perfectly, winning Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011.
One could only wonder what kind of success that tandem could have had with a solid payroll and fan support.
Oh, wait! There wasn’t a need to just wonder. The Dodgers could have brought Friedman and Maddon together with a $200 million payroll, the best attendance in the National League and an ability to keep stars instead of shopping them.
Forget trying to juggle a rotation without David Price, James Shields or an injured Matt Moore; Maddon could call on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in LA!
He would inherit a team that has won back-to-back Division titles and posted 94 victories last season. But they also have seen their division rival Giants win 3 World Series this decade, two since the new ownership took over.
As a sports city, Los Angeles is first and foremost a Lakers town. But with the Lakers on a downward spiral, the Dodgers have a chance to take over Southern California for the cool sports dollar.
But with a huge payroll and an easily distracted fanbase, losing in the playoffs to the Cardinals in back-to-back seasons is not going to cut it.
The Dodgers are going into 2015 with a sense of urgency. Kershaw is going to be 27 and Greinke 31, probably the peak year of this tandem. Yasiel Puig is a budding star, but difficult to predict. The left side of the infield is in disarray and the bullpen was, to be kind, unreliable.
Changes were made. Friedman pushed GM Ned Colletti to a vague new role. Farm director DeJon Watson and scouting director Logan White have moved on. Oakland’s former Director of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, is making to move to LA.
And yet with all these behind the scenes moves, Mattingly remains.
Mattingly has been the Dodgers manager for four seasons. That is a Presidential term. Plus, he was a hold-over from the Frank McCourt ownership. When Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson et al took over the team in 2012, they inherited Mattingly and Colletti.
Colletti’s inability to have any depth on the team for $200 million pushed him out. But what about “Donnie Baseball?”
For two straight years, he has made questionable decisions in the postseason. Whether it was pulling Adrian Gonzalez in a one run playoff game in 2013, or turning to Scott Elbert in a critical Division Series moment this year, there is no shortage of head-scratchers for Mattingly.
And of course Mattingly benched Yasiel Puig in an elimination game. Yes, Puig was not hitting well (except for an extra base hit the previous game.) Is it wise to remove one of the best bats the team has in a winner-take-all game? It didn’t work.
Is Mattingly a difference-making manager? Probably not, for good or for ill. But Maddon IS one of the few managers who at least seems to make a difference. And perhaps the arrival of Maddon to Los Angeles could have given the team a spark that is lacking with Mattingly.
Maybe Maddon would have figured out how to run the bullpen. Perhaps Maddon could get the best out of Puig and his former left fielder, Carl Crawford.
And what would firing Mattingly cost the Dodgers? He is signed for two more years, and eating that contract would mean swallowing roughly $9 million total, according to ESPN.com.
Look, I know it is not my money. But that is less than what LA is going to pay Brian Wilson, and there is not even a guarantee he will be able to pitch next year.
Carl Crawford is going to cash checks for $60 million more dollars! But they are too cheap to bring in Maddon?
The Dodgers run with Don Mattingly as manager is like a stale relationship. They are together because of circumstances that are no longer relevant and they are staying together because it beats being single.
Now imagine someone in a stagnant relationship has a chance to date Charlize Theron. In that situation, you at least have to ask her out!
All the Dodgers had to offer was a huge budget, a gigantic media market, a contending team, the best pitcher on the planet and a chance to reunite with the GM who turned the laughing stock of baseball into a pennant contender.
The Dodgers have not seen a World Series since Kirk Gibson limped around the basepaths in 1988. Clayton Kershaw was a 7-month-old baby during that Series.
That same year, Mattingly was a star with the Yankees, who missed the World Series every year he was in uniform. He made his debut in 1982, just after New York’s 1981 World Series loss. He stayed until 1995, never winning a pennant, and retired. The Yankees went on to win 6 pennants in the next 8 years, winning 4 championships. He returned as a coach in 2004, and the team couldn’t win the pennant. He left in 2007 for LA, and the team won in 2009.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the American League West Championship last week.
As I type these words, they have the best record in all of baseball. And with only a handful of games left, they must be considered one of the favorites to make it to the World Series.
Is anyone excited about this prospect? Are there huge throngs of fans who are giddy at the concept of the Angels playing deep into October?
I have been a resident of Southern California for a while now. I have witnessed up close both the Dodgers and the Angels making it to their respective LCS. In my years of living in California, I have met maybe 10 Angels fans, and very few wearing Angels gear.
I remember seeing someone with an Angels cap and sweatshirt not long after Albert Pujols signed his long term deal with the Halos.
I said to him, “You must be excited about Pujols coming over, right?”
He responded, “Oh yeah, the new first baseman. I hear he is pretty good.”
At that moment I heard screams coming from St. Louis, a fan base that does not have a Rally Monkey nor a stadium with a fake Disney rock in centerfield.
Listen to sports talk in Southern California, and save for the playoffs, the Angels will scarcely get a mention.
And as a fan base, the they hardly can be considered one of the strongest. Yes, I know there are individual Angels fans out there whose love and devotion to the team has no boundaries and who wept a tear when Jim Fregosi passed away last year.
But as a whole, they are not a team that inspires much emotion, negatively or positively. There are not a lot of transplanted Angels fans across the country. People who move from where they grew up tend to keep the teams of their youth. That’s why Arizona has so many Cubs fans, and Florida’s most popular team is probably the Yankees.
Not a lot of people move out of California. Maybe that’s why California has many “Boston Bars” and “New York Bars,” but you would be hard pressed to go to Brooklyn and find an “Orange County Bar.”
Figuring out who Angels fans are is mysterious. In an annual study conducted by Emory Sports Marketing, every MLB fan base was ranked in terms of financial support and social media presence.
Their metrics put the Angels near the bottom in all categories, including the worst Social Media Equity in the American League. I confess I do not understand all of the math. But I do know that doesn’t look good.
Who do the Angels play for anyway? California baseball is intriguing, with the North and South rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers, and the chip on the shoulder and carnival atmosphere in Oakland.
Even San Diego fans, few that there are, have pride in their city and their underrated misery.
But the Angels?
Since 1996, the Angels haven’t moved, but have had three different location names, a state, the city they actually reside in, and the metropolis in another county that the residents of Anaheim seem to resent.
With the awkward “of Anaheim” suffix in their name, they represent the 56th biggest city in the country, playing for fans that only exist in between Irvine and Long Beach, who need prompting from a primate to cheer in a ballpark that has the Thunder Mountain Railroad in center field.
Ladies and Gentlemen your World Series front runners!
Fox might consider bringing back The X Factor because ratings for the World Series might be too low to record.
But before the cyanide capsules are consumed, the TV executives should keep something in mind:
While the Angels could be the World Champions nobody WANTS, they could be the exact champions that baseball NEEDS!
Kind of like eating vegetables, the Angels winning it all might not be so pleasurable, but it will be good for us.
What is the nourishment of the Angels?
Seafood… specifically Trout. Mike Trout.
As Derek Jeter fatigue has swept the nation a year after the Mariano Rivera celebration got the best of us, baseball finds itself lacking a marquee national star.
There are wonderful players to be sure . Die hard fans of the game like myself see that Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, Felix Hernandez and many more are thrilling and worth watching.
But no player has yet become that bigger-than-the-sport figure that a new generation can have as their own star.
The Angels just happen to have a candidate for that role. Mike Trout is the best in the business and arguably its greatest all-around player. Loved by traditional fans for being a 5-tool, hustling player, and the new stats crowd for his off-the-charts numbers, Trout has something for everyone.
He plays with a flair for the dramatic, and has the humble, team-first quality that gave Jeter his aura while still being a decent pitchman.
Trout could be the new face of the game as attention shifts from the Northeast out west. In fact, the anonymity of the Angels franchise could work to Trout’s advantage.
Most of the annoyance fans have regarding Jeter’s farewell is based on their hatred for the Yankees. People have hated the Yankees for generations. Often times, their team lost at the hands of Jeter and the Yankees.
But the world doesn’t hate the Angels. There is no musical called Damn Angels. Save for a few A’s and Rangers fans, or maybe someone who doesn’t like those strange Head and Shoulders commercials where women are sniffing C. J. Wilson’s hair, people aren’t lining up to HATE the Angels. They have no baggage as a franchise.
When Michael Jordan took over the NBA, he played for the Bulls, a franchise that didn’t have the animosity of the Celtics or Lakers. Most people could not find Edmonton on the map when Wayne Gretzky showed up.
If the rest of the country could discover Trout, they would be rooting for HIM rather than the team. And what better showcase for Trout than a World Series?
Baseball has had potential national stars, especially in the wake of the 1994 strike, but they never took off with the World Series as a showcase.
Ken Griffey Jr. was a transcendent talent playing for an obscure team. He got the 5 homers and the Division Series-clinching mad dash home in 1995, but never saw a pennant with the Mariners nor the Reds.
Barry Bonds was one of the great players of all time. But nobody ever liked him, even before his body expanded faster than Bruce Banner on a bad day.
Alex Rodriguez couldn’t win a pennant in Texas nor Seattle, and by the time he arrived in New York, he was public enemy number one. Seeing him fail in October became a national pastime.
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were the Milli Vanilli of baseball.
Cal Ripken became that beloved pre-Jeter figure, but his lone World Series took place in 1983 when his consecutive game streak was only a few hundred long.
With Trout, the best young superstar in the game is currently in his prime. Since traditional northeast teams are out, and that regional bias will not not applicable this October, this could be a time for Fox, MLB, ESPN and Turner Sports to shine their spotlight on a new superstar.
He isn’t going to jail. He isn’t on steroids (we hope). He is in his prime. He is signed long term. He is the consensus pick for best player in the game. And he plays on a team that most have no ill will towards.
Other than that, he has nothing going for him.
So sitting here in late September, does anyone WANT to see the Angels in the World Series?
Not many do.
But not many enjoyed eating carrots and broccoli, either. In the end it was good to do, made bodies stronger and helped you live longer.
Baseball could use some of that nourishment.
Time to eat your veggies. A post-Jeter, bigger-than-life star plays in a tiny sliver of land between Los Angeles and San Diego. That could be the game’s future.
Paul Sullivan is a Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @SullyBaseball.
A few years ago, the New York Mets found themselves strapped for cash, despite playing in the biggest media market in the country. Their fans can thank Bernie Madoff’s schemes and the Wilpon family’s gullibility for that.
As a result, the team needed to make a decision. They had two home-grown star infielders and could not afford to sign them both to long-term deals. To save face, they surely could not let both Jose Reyes and David Wright go.
Jose Reyes signed with the Miami Marlins after winning the 2011 batting title. At the end of the 2012 season, David Wright signed a 7-year, $138 million back-loaded contract to become the captain of the Mets.
The Mets thought they were getting a huge star. It turns out they got Dan Aykroyd, and I say that with all due respect to them both.
Both Wright and Aykroyd are respected, and have the talent and aura of being a star. But both shine brightest when surrounded by stars rather than carrying the load on their own.
And both saw their career trajectories dip when they were not surrounded by the right supporting cast.
Dan Aykroyd’s early career seemed like he was a comedy super star. But really, think of his successes. On the original Saturday Night Live, he was probably the most talented pure actor, and got the most out of each sketches. His main talent seemed to be getting the most out of his co-stars. Whether it was being a Wild and Crazy Guy with Steve Martin, or a Conehead, or whichever character he played, he worked perfectly in the ensemble as John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray broke out to stardom.
When did Belushi’s star shine brighter than when teamed with Aykroyd on the screen and on records as The Blues Brothers? Which Bill Murray vehicle is more iconic than the Aykroyd written Ghostbusters? And in that film, the best lines (including the “Dickless” exchange) were set up by Aykroyd and brought home by Murray.
And while Eddie Murphy exploded onto the scene with 48 Hours, it was when he starred opposite Aykroyd in Trading Places that his comedic genius was cemented.
Aykroyd made his presence known in many comedy classics, but never had to carry one on his own.
Likewise, when teamed with hitters like Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes, David Wright put up big numbers and shone. He won his Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, was a legit MVP candidate and looked like he was the durable superstar the Mets were searching for.
Essentially, Wright was going to be their answer to Derek Jeter.
But when the supporting cast around him weakened and he was asked to carry the load of leading the team, the Mets slipped into irrelevancy. Wright’s durability went away as he spent more time on the disabled list. His numbers took an alarming dip. And since the Mets arrived in CitiField as Wright’s squad, they have yet to finish at .500, let alone be a legit contender.
Sure he had the terrific World Baseball Classic that earned Wright the nickname “Captain America.” But nobody cares about the World Baseball Classic. They are spring training games. And his dramatic game-winning home run defeated the Italian team. Seriously. The baseball power house of Italy was his great conquest.
Wright got hurt and sat out the final games of the WBC, as Team USA was eliminated. Once again, he played best with stars surrounding him.
Yes, Wright will be at the top of most of the Mets’ records by the time his career his done. But when Jeter sets Yankee records, he passes names like Gehrig and DiMaggio and Ruth. When Wright became the All-Time Mets hit leader, he passed Ed Kranepool. See the difference? It is subtle.
He could never carry the franchise when he was dubbed the captain, but Wright will be paid like a team leader until 2020 (with money deferred until 2025.)
Likewise, when Aykroyd took the lead in movies, the results were not pretty. Dr. Detroit should have warned us that asking him to carry a film was going to be an uphill battle. When the likes of My Stepmother is an Alien and Dragnetdisappointed, we should have gotten the message loud and clear.
His directorial debut, Nothing But Trouble, was a notorious disaster. The Coneheads movie is almost unwatchable, save for a charming Chris Farley performance. His starring role in the S & M comedy Exit to Eden is cringe-worthy at best, and run-screaming-from-the-room at worst.
And to drive the point home, Aykroyd attempted to recreate the magic of The Blues Brothers on his own without Belushi. The result was Blues Brothers 2000, one of the worst studio films made in the last few decades and the movie that basically ended John Landis’ career in Hollywood.
The fact that Ghostbusters 3 has never been made is a wonderful gift to film-goers everywhere, especially in the wake of Harold Ramis’ death.
Now this is not to say that Dan Aykroyd is without talent. He is still quite capable in an ensemble cast. Put Aykroyd in Grosse Point Blank or Behind the Candleabra in a supporting role and he will shine. He was practically the lone highlight in 2001’s Pearl Harbor, a dramatic role which he played to perfection.
In 1989, Aykroyd received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor in Driving Miss Daisy. He was marvelous in that film, but he did not have to do the heavy lifting. It was Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman who carried that film.
And likewise, Wright had a terrific 2012 when he stayed healthy, and finished 6th in the MVP vote despite playing for a non-contending Mets squad.
This can not be stressed enough. I am both a fan of David Wright and Dan Aykroyd. They are both talented and should be beloved. But if you disagree with what I am saying, ask yourself these two questions:
Which season did David Wright carry the Mets to greatness?
Based upon what people have been complaining about in baseball for the last few years, this should be considered a golden age for the sport. So many elements of the game that were considered problematic have been addressed. Some of the greatest drawbacks reversed.
With that in mind, I can only assume every single fan is thrilled with the product and can not wait to tell people that baseball is at its best.
Let’s look at what has been fixed.
I’m sick of the Northeast dominating baseball. It’s the Yankees or Red Sox every year. Borrrring!
Perk up little campers! We are about to have our first Northeast-free October since the advent of the Wild Card!
And while the Red Sox are technically the defending World Champions, they have as good a chance of defending that title as the Montreal Expos have of winning the World Series. Sick of Red Sox Nation? Well take solace in knowing that they are about to miss the post season for the 4th time in 5 years. Lots of time to cry in Chowder and wear down the ’04, ’07 and ’13 DVDs.
Meanwhile the Yankees are barely above .500, fading as contenders and have gigantic holes that even their deep pockets can’t fill in 2015. Unless they have a blistering September, the Yankees will not be a playoff team in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the Wild Card was created. This will be their third dark October in seven years.
As for the other Northeast teams, the Mets and Phillies, the less said about them the better.
So Northeast haters rejoice! You will have the October of your dreams.
Stars Always Leave Small Market Teams! It Isn’t Fair!
Well, talk to the Phillies and Yankees about how great signing stars to long-term deals can be!
That being said, more and more teams are locking up their key players to long-term deals. Andrew McCutchen, Felix Hernandez, Evan Longoria, Mike Trout, Salvador Perez, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Jonathan LuCroy won’t be hitting the open market anytime soon for a bidding war. Fans can actually get attached to these players.
Now sometimes that can backfire. Everyone thought it was great when Troy Tulowitzki stayed long term with the Rockies. Joey Votto and Joe Mauer signing long-term contracts warmed the cockles of everyone’s hearts. Will they regret it? They can’t all dump bad contracts to the Dodgers.
But hey! At least they aren’t all going to New York or Boston!
My Team Doesn’t Have A Chance! The Economics of Baseball Prevent Us From Making A Winner!
At one point this was a true statement. But if your team can’t put together a winner NOW, then blame your team’s management! As of now, both the Mariners and the Royals would make the post-season. If they do, it would mean every single baseball team would have made the post-season since 2005 with two exceptions: the Blue Jays and the Marlins.
And there are many ways to reverse your team’s fortune. The Rays, Pirates and Nationals built through smart drafts. The Athletics added through shrewd trades. The 2013 Red Sox slapped together a squad of bearded mercenaries. The Cardinals constructed a near-dynasty through the farm and letting players walk at the right time.
The Marlins and Blue Jays are building a solid foundation, and even the lowly Astros have hope for the future. So cheer up and be patient! Your team will give you an October before you know it.
Steroids Have Made A Mockery Of The Game
Have you noticed players look a little thinner these days? Have you noticed that testing has caught more players?
How about the 50-homer season? It hasn’t gone the way of the Dodo, but they are the outliers. Forty-some-odd homers will give you the league lead these days. The slug fests and toppling of records is all but over.
Scoring is down, and pitching duels are up, just like everyone wanted.
Plus the users are not getting into the Hall of Fame, so you can rest easy knowing that the great ballplayers, drunks, racists and bigots of the past won’t have their reputations sullied.
We Need Instant Replay!
Boom! You’ve got it! If we had this a few years ago, Armando Gallaraga would have a perfect game, Jorge Orta would have been out and we’d never had heard of Jeffrey Maier!
I Hate A-Rod!
Well then this year must have been heaven for you. Be prepared that he will be back next year.
Paul Sullivan is a Sports Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @SullyBaseball. Be sure to check out all of our great content at TheScoopZone.com!
Baseball likes to pretend its appeal is pastoral and heart-warming and all about apple pie, summer days and playing catch with dad in the cornfield. In truth a lot of what baseball and its fans like to concentrate on is venomous, petty and making other people angry.
Pushing buttons of other fans and reveling in their misery is an essential part of baseball fandom today.
More people know Bill Buckner’s name or Steve Bartman’s than can name who won those infamous games. Rooting against the Yankees is an American tradition. The rest of the country seems to be tired of the Red Sox and their fans.
Yankee fan Michael Pacholek forwarded to me the sure-fire ways to anger Red Sox, Yankee and Met fans. I decided to take it to the next step.
Every single fan base can be predictably angered in a sentence. It could be a misconception that frustrates fans. It could be a fact they try to deny. Or it could be a shortcoming they cannot avoid, but wish people would stop bringing up.
I could be nice and not list which button to push for the fans of every single team. But I am not nice. I am a baseball fan.
“The Diamondbacks are a dirty team who hit players on purpose.”
Say that and watch them pull out charts showing how many times other pitchers pitch inside. Sit back and grin knowing they are trying to convince themselves and not you.
“The Braves are the Buffalo Bills/Susan Lucci of baseball.”
Watch the Braves fans say, “At least we won!” and “14 Division Titles in a row is the greatest achievement ever” and repeat it. When they pause, just ask, “Remember Mark Wohlers pitching to Jim Leyritz?” and then avoid the Tomahawk coming your way.
“Cal Ripken was a selfish player.”
Insulting Cal Ripken is the most dangerous thing to do in Baltimore short of getting Omar mad at you. Try it anyway. If you are feeling even more adventurous, imply he was on PEDs.
BOSTON RED SOX
“PED’s invalidate the three championships.”
Oooooh you can get Boston fans pissed this way. There is no way Red Sox Nation will have the greatest moments of their collective lives erased by some pesky details about the pee of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. “We will NOT go back to 1918!”
“You guys are happy being losers.”
The whole image of Cub fans being content with a nice effort from the team while getting trashed in the bleachers may have had validity in the 1980s and 1990s. But the close call of 2003 and the disappointment of 2008 have raised a sense of urgency in Wrigleyville. Keep in mind they always had company in their misery. But the Red Sox have won 3 times since Bartman, and the White Sox and their fans have 2005. More than a century of losing is more than any beer can cure.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
“I thought all Chicago fans were Cub fans.”
Say that to a die hard White Sox fan. Not even winning the 2005 World Series removed the chip on their soldier about the White Sox lack of attention in the city.
“Pete Rose was the biggest disgrace in baseball history.”
That one will really land. Go ahead and try to explain why betting on games is bad, even to win, and that the Reds could have won the Division in 1986, 1987 and 1988 if Pete wasn’t betting. You will get fans yelling about steroids, Pete’s stats and a lot of other unrelated topics while their faces will be redder than anything on their uniforms.
“Your logo is racist.”
The best part of this one is that no matter which opinion an Indians fan would have on this matter, it won’t be subtle. Either it will be embarrassment for the incredibly un-PC image, or they will say “IT HONORS THEM!” while getting their face so red, you’ll wonder if they have war paint on.
“You can’t count the offensive numbers Coors Field.”
Deep down, Rockies fans must know that all offensive numbers in Denver need to be taken with a grain of salt. But say that out loud and they will bring up humidor and Troy Tulowitzi’s stats on the road faster than a Dante Bichette homer leaves the yard.
“Mike Trout deserved those MVPs.”
Oh, I am sure there are a few Tiger fans who understand the great value of Mike Trout. But for most, let’s just say you are insulting Miggy’s Triple Crown. And that won’t fly in Motown.
“Bagwell and Biggio were juicers.”
Bagwell seems like a more likely suspect but, man! Don’t bring it up around any Astros fans anytime soon. Yeah, there were no positive tests… just a couple of guys hanging out with Ken Caminiti and showing great endurance during the steroid era.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
“You didn’t REALLY win the 1985 World Series.”
If there was instant replay in 1985, you know and I know that Jorge Orta would have been called out. That 9th inning of game 6 of the 1985 World Series would have played out a lot differently. Chances are they lose to St. Louis. And the only thing keeping the Royals from being a Championship-free franchise and never winning a title for George Brett or Mr. Kaufmann was a blown call that would overturned today. Royals fans know it, even if they can’t admit it.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
“It’s the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim in Orange County
in the United States on Earth!”
The Angels have the stupidest name in baseball. Their fans know it. And they have heard about it for the past 10 seasons. You know how a tall person rolls their eyes when someone mockingly asks, “How is the weather up there?” or, “Why don’t you play basketball?” That’s the Angels fan base when you refer to that stupid name.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
“You all just show up late and leave early.”
Just say that to a die hard fan wearing a Fernando or Garvey or Koufax jersey, and you will get a lecture about the 110 and 5 freeways and the off-ramps leading into Chavez Ravine. Just kindly nod and remind them of all the cars seen leaving the parking lot during Kirk Gibson’s homer.
“Tell me about Jeffrey Loria.”
The odd thing about Loria is they have actually won a World Series under his ownership. But any goodwill with the fans was crushed, smashed and put into the foundation of the taxpayer-swindled stadium as he cut payroll.
“Ryan Braun is a cheater and a jerk.”
There are lots of jerks and cheaters in baseball. Why should people care so much about Ryan Braun? Why should people try to discount the 2011 Division Series win because Braun used PEDs? That was the only Brewers post season series victory since the 1982 ALCS. Who is to say there weren’t Diamondbacks using PEDs? OK, Braun crowed too much and threw some people under the bus while lying. Brewers fans don’t have a lot of history to cheer about! (On the other hand, there is no denying he is a cheater and a jerk.)
“Joe Mauer should try to hit more homers.”
This is great to get fans mad because it cuts both ways. Minnesota’s favorite son stuck around instead of going to the Red Sox and the Yankees, and now he is a first baseman with no power eating up the payroll. Some fans want him to try and jack balls out and earn his money. Others want him to remain a good pure hitter and not change. Either way, you will test the whole “Minnesota nice” thing.
NEW YORK METS
“Fred Wilpon… discuss.”
To understand how hated Fred Wilpon is by the Mets fan base, just do this simple exercise. Imagine Donald Sterling, and replace his sex scandal with getting swindled by Bernie Madoff, and you have a good idea why burning him in effigy is a daily event in Flushing.
NEW YORK YANKEES
“You just buy all your championships.”
Before you finish your sentence, Yankee fans will remind you that Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera, Bernie et al were home grown. Then they will preface every other sentence wit,h “27 rings” and, “You are jealous” and then rattle off all the players they expect the Yankees to sign in the next few years.
“It is a bunch of nobodies on that team!”
The A’s currently have the best record in baseball, will no doubt make the playoffs for the third straight season and probably make it 3 division titles in as many seasons. They have more All Stars than any team in baseball. And yet people still talk about them like they are a rag tag bunch of anonymous misfits managed by Morris Buttermaker and whose playoff run is a million to one shot. Maybe it will take 4 straight division titles for anyone to notice.
“You boo Santa and vomit on little girls.”
Every team has fans who are drunken jerks (even in San Diego.) But it always seems dopey in Philadelphia. Phillies fans resent that label and refuse to be painted with the same brush as the biggest slobs. But inevitably something stupid will happen at a game in Philadelphia and the reputation will look justified.
“Francisco Cabrera -“
You might not even be able to finish saying that particular third string catcher’s name before you get clobbered or at best given a stern look. The whole, “They haven’t had a winning season since Francisco Cabrera” narrative is over. But until they get to the World Series, his shadow will loom over the franchise… and every Pirate fan knows it.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
“Trevor Hoffman was overrated.”
Hoffman was one of the most beloved Padres of all time, which shows you what a different market San Diego is than other baseball towns. Hoffman lost big games in the 1996 and 1998 postseason and almost single-handedly kept them out of the 2007 postseason with a pair of blown saved. But hey, as long as he piled up regular season saves that nobody remembers, then go ahead and love him.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
“Remember Dusty Baker?”
Just say his name and watch Giants fans react like they just bit a lemon. The Giants had some of their most successful San Francisco seasons under Baker. And yet his managerial style seemed to age the entire Bay Area. When he let his son run on the field in the 2002 World Series, it wasn’t even the 4th dumbest thing Dusty did that October. And no, two World Series titles this decade haven’t let Dusty off the hook.
“They spent a lot of time making sure the Safeco Experience is great.”
For too long the Mariners seemed more concerned with making the experience at Safeco a great one than putting a quality product on the field. Yeah, the seats are great, the views ideal and the food is awesome. Griffey, Edgar, Big Unit, A-Rod and Ichiro have come and gone without a World Series appearance. Time is ticking on Felix. A World Series experience would be even better!
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
“You are the best fans in baseball.”
You know the kid in class who keeps getting praised by the teacher sometimes gets resentment from the other students? You know the office mate who the boss always praises starts to get on everyone’s nerves? That’s kind of what is happening to Cardinal fans now. This title has led to an inevitable backlash, and some on the internet go out of their way to point out the BAD Cardinals fans. This won’t end well.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
“What is up with your attendance?”
Man, the few real Rays fans that exist get really sensitive out of their horrific attendance. They will counter with their local TV ratings and how hard it is to get to the Trop and all other other stats. And none of those will wipe away the facts that their attendance, including postseason, is pathetic.
“Wait, you were one strike away twice in the same GAME?”
Not to mention one very poorly timed Nelson Cruz leap from winning the 2011 World Series title. That would have been nice. It won’t take much to get under a Rangers fan’s skin. Drop these two bombs and run. (Oh, and here’s a bonus – keep referring to their location as “Dallas” and watch what happens.)
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
“It is tough to win in that Division.”
At one point, playing in the AL East was an act of futility for teams not playing in New York or Boston. So the narrative went that only the Yankees and Red Sox could afford to get the players to win and the other teams were there as punching bags. And the Blue Jays had some winning squads in the late 1990s and early 2000’s but couldn’t make the playoffs since the divisions expanded. But then the Rays ended that talk in 2008. Since 2012, the Blue Jays are the only AL East team to not play in October. And if the Royals make it this year, they will have the longest postseason drought in the game. Don’t remind Blue Jays fans.
“They should never have benched Stephen Strasburg in 2012.”
The best chance the Nationals have ever had to bring a World Series to Washington, and they decided to play innings limits with Strasburg? Either Nats fans will grumble, “We know, we know” or they will scream that the bullpen blew the series! And then ask, “So, you want Strasburg to throw his arm out?”
So there you have it! Go out to the world and make a baseball fan angry. It is part of your duty as a fan!
Paul Sullivan is a Sports Contributor for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter and check out his podcast at @SullyBaseball.