Over the last 24 hours, I’ve asked several dozen of my friends and family members (1) who they think will win the World Series and why, and (2) which team they would like to see win the World Series and why. I got 24 responses, from Red Sox, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, A’s, Mariners, Brewers, and Expos fans. Here are the results:
Who Will Win?
The most significant finding was that people think the Rangers will win. 14 people picked the Rangers and 4 picked the Giants, while 6 picked neither. Among those who think the Rangers will win, 8 mentioned Cliff Lee, far more than any other individual player. Nick may have put it best: “Two words: Clifton. Phifer. Lee.”
Several people cited the Rangers’ superior offense, including Mark, who said the Rangers “have scored runs against good starting pitchers, and a whole lot of runs in the late innings. The Giants have not”. Matt offered a similar theme: “I think the Rangers will win because I like their bats a little better against SF’s pitching than I do SF’s bats against Ranger pitching”. That’s what it’s all about, right? John S. likes the Rangers’ “better impact players at key positions.”
Joe echoed my sentiment that the Rangers came out of a tougher league and beat the Rays and Yankees in the playoffs, and Pat agreed that Texas is a “vastly better team”.
Those who picked the Giants all mentioned their pitching depth, which I can only assume, although no one said it in so many words, means that they prefer Matt Cain to CJ Wilson and that the Giants’ bullpen had better numbers this year and is playoff tested.
Meanwhile, Kelsey thinks the Yankees will win because “they’re the best”, while Tyler notes that the winner will not be the Yankees, who are “evil”. I’m not sure why I put that in quotes.
Whom We Want to Win
This one was a dead even split, with 9 voters pulling for Texas and 9 for San Francisco. Again, 6 voters abstained, though not precisely the same 6 who refused to prognisticate. 3 Ranger rooters and 1 on the SF side chose on the basis of league preference- 3 Red Sox fans would root for any AL team except the Yankees, and Tim, a Brewers fan, roots for the NL team (except the Cubs, maybe?) in the World Series.
Among my favorite reasons to root for the Rangers: Toho, a long-time Bay Area resident, prefers the A’s, so he can’t root for their cross-bay rivals. Joe likes Josh Hamilton’s story so far, but would “really like to see him get all messed up on booze and drugs once he celebrates the championship”. Both Bill and Ryan mentioned that if Cliff Lee wins a title with the Rangers, he’s less likely to bolt to the Yankees next year. While I’m not sure I agree with that logic, I like the sentiment.
Mike P., in Texas, and Rob, in Cliff Lee’s home state of Arkansas, are choosing based on geography. Conversely, James watched game 6 of the NLCS in San Francisco and got caught up “in the middle of all the Giants excitement”.
Among others donning Giants black and orange this week, two mentioned Tim Lincecum (Sean likes his “great lettuce”), and two mentioned Brian Wilson’s beard. John A. and Jill prefer the city of San Francisco and its values (always root for the blue state team) to Dallas/Arlington/Texas (no knock on Austin, Mike), and John A. throws in the Giants’ orange, which his Mets adopted from the Giants when the Giants moved from New York in ’58.
Two fans mentioned the Giants’ more tortured past, which I agree is a reason to pull for them. I think Michael H. said it best, after a Poz-worthy diatribe on the Giants’ playoff failures: “Until Game 1 of this year’s ALCS, Texas really hadn’t suffered a defining, gutwrenching playoff loss. The Giants have had countless such defeats. I’d love to see a great baseball city such as San Francisco finally have a World Series championship parade, but the Rangers appear destined to go all the way.”
There were also 2 voters who mentioned that it’s easier to root for the Giants with Barry Bonds retired, and I might add Dusty Baker’s departure to that justification. At least we know that Tim Lincecum’s arm won’t fall off in spring training because Dusty asks him for 150 pitches on three days’ rest in game 4.
Gary, who isn’t rooting for either team, is “more interested in some of the individual match-ups”. He cited Josh Hamilton against Tim Lincecum, who’s retired Hamilton three times in the early innings tonight.
The Yankees came up again in response to this question, as Tyler doesn’t care who wins because “let’s be honest, no one cares once the Yankees are done”, and Kelsey hopes the Yankees win the series because they’re “so beloved, it would make the world smile”.
One early trend was that people rooting for one team tended to believe the opposite team would win. I’m guessing this is more common among my friends and family than with the general public. I’m inclined to root for the underdog, and this series is no exception, although I would have no problem watching Lee and the Rangers take the title. By the time the final votes were tallied, this was not a trend at all, as 8 people are rooting for the team they considered the favorite (the Rangers in 7 cases), while 8 more are rooting for their perceived underdogs (the Giants in 6 cases).
As I mentioned above, I polled a pretty good cross section of baseball fans. 11 Red Sox fans think the Rangers will win (7-3-1), but are evenly split as to preference (5-5-1). 3 Mets fans all think the Rangers will win, but 2 of 3 are rooting for San Francisco. Any theories as to why Mets fans are pessimists?
Fans of the teams who lost in the League Championship Series are less inclined to choose sides. The two Yankees fans I queried said this is “not an official World Series” and “is there any way they both could lose?” Stay classy. Meanwhile, neither Phillies fan I asked could root for the team that beat the Phillies, although Liz would prefer to see the Rangers win, while Nick notes that “baseball ended for me when Ryan Howard decided not to swing”.
Pinstripe fans aside, I think my friends speak pretty well for me. I believe the Rangers are better. Cliff Lee (who, after his second-inning double, might have a case to be the best athlete in the world right now) and the powerful, speedy offense make the Rangers favorites to win, but the Giants deep rotation and playoff-tested bullpen and the vagaries of chance make this a series worth watching. And while the Giants have a great “tortured underdog in a great (baseball) city” case, it’s hard to root too fervently against the team that just humiliated the Yankees.
One reason no one else mentioned to root for the Rangers: they get regular playing time from Latino players named Vladimir, Elvis, Nelson, and Bengie. I don’t think the 1929 A’s or 1960 Pirates could make that claim. The Giants couldn’t match that unless they had guys named Buster Posey and Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval. What? They do? Ok, I’m rooting for the guys from the blue state.