by Charlie Miller
The 2011 World Series is evolving into one of the classic matchups in history. We’ve seen a 1-0 game through eight innings won in the ninth with two sac flies. We’ve seen a monumental blowout with Albert Pujols making history with three home runs. We’ve witnessed a young pitcher coming of age with a gem in Game 4 as Derek Holland shut down the Cardinals for 8+ innings. Baseball fans must be thrilled with this fall display.
Well, most fans. But there are some fans who are not enjoying the 2011 postseason.
Boston fans can’t be too excited about October baseball this season. Red Sox fans spent almost 100 years watching the World Series believing it was meant for the Yankees and other teams. Until 2004, when a miraculous eight-game run in October changed history in Boston. Since then, Red Sox fans are convinced they are entitled to a berth in the postseason. Oops. Not this year. To make matters worse, fans lost the only manager, Terry Francona, to have won a World Series in Boston since 1918 and the team’s architect in GM Theo Epstein.
Folks in Atlanta can’t be too happy either. In addition to the memory of blowing a supposedly insurmountable wild card lead in September, the Braves’ fans are constantly reminded what Mark Teixeira did for the franchise. The kid who played collegiately at Georgia Tech was acquired from Texas for Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz at the trade deadline in 2007. (Jarrod Saltalamacchia was also in the deal and was subsequently traded by Texas to Boston.) After posting a .295-37-137 line in 157 games over two seasons, the Braves did not believe they could re-sign Teixeira and dealt him at the deadline in 2008 to the Angels for Casey Kotchman. Kotchman didn’t impress over 130 games, so he was traded to Boston for Adam LaRoche at the next deadline. And so the revolving door at first base for the Braves continued. LaRoche hit .325 in 57 games, but left as a free agent at the end of the year. While the Braves are home watching, Harrison, Andrus and Feliz are enjoying their second World Series in two years, a constant reminder for Braves fans what could have been. For good measure, there are also those shots of Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright (once an Atlanta farm hand, who missed this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery) and shortstop Rafael Furcal, whom the Braves desperately tried to re-sign after the 2005 season.
Most New York Yankees fans believe the World Series doesn’t exist if the pinstripes aren’t a part of it. But here’s news, Yankees fans: there have actually been 107 World Series in baseball history, not just 40.
Milwaukee fans are still gnashing their teeth over the fact that the Brew Crew finished six games ahead of the Cardinals over 162 games, yet couldn’t win more than two out of six against St. Louis in the playoffs. What’s worse is having to watch Nelson Cruz of the Rangers. Cruz was dealt to the Rangers along with Carlos Lee for a couple of Corderos, a Mench and Laynce Nix. Boy, did that deal work well. The Brewers, whose bullpen couldn’t hold the Cardinals down in the NLCS, could have used Mike Adams, now of the Rangers, who was originally signed and developed by Milwaukee.
Royals, Pirates, Nationals fans are enjoying it as always. After all, it’s always other teams in the World Series.
Cubs fans are certainly enjoying the party. That’s what Cubs fans do — party. They’ll pass the innings talking about how the Cubs will be there next year — although none of them actually believe it.
Think Padres fans would like to have the Jim Edmonds-David Freese trade back? Sure, he scuffles at third base, but the guy can hit, even at Petco Park. With a little better offense, the Padres might have had reason to hold onto reliever Adams, who has become the best setup man for Texas.
Reds fans are clearly miserable. Not only because the hated St. Louis Cardinals are basking in the postseason sun, but it was the Reds who took the chance on believing Josh Hamilton had resurrected his career. For some reason, they were only partially convinced and traded the future MVP to Texas. At least the Reds have Edinson Volquez, though.
Blue Jays fans may need long memories to remember Chris Carpenter in a Toronto uniform, but Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski pitched there this summer and have been important pieces for St. Louis. And just as Michael Young was on the cusp of being major league ready way back in 2000, the Jays decided they would rather have pitcher Esteban Loaiza from the Rangers. Loaiza was 25-28 for Toronto before leaving as a free agent. Young bats cleanup for the defending AL champs and is the franchise’s all-time hits leader with 2,061.
Are any Angels fans wondering what could have been if Mike Napoli had been in an Angels uniform this season instead of with Texas? The Angels finished just 10 games behind Texas, and Napoli, who was traded to Toronto (and subsequently dealt to Texas) over the winter for Vernon Wells, could have made a difference. The Halos would love to have that one back.
A’s fans may be enjoying reliving some good ole days with the movie Moneyball this fall, but they are reminded of the organization’s financial realities watching Matt Holliday play leftfield for St. Louis. Convinced he would not be re-signed, the A’s traded him to the Cardinals in 2009. Losing Alexi Ogando to Texas in the Rule 5 draft is another matter.
Any other fan groups passing on this World Series?