Thought I'd chime in on the LCS while Daniel is busy finding a job (good luck, man!).
I've temporarily deactivated my Insta-Boycott of Fox TV and watched all of the LCS games broadcast on free TV (I'm one of those weirdos who refuses to pay for cable). My pathetic attempts to apply all I've learned this season into meaningful predictions over on Small Ball have done only one thing: made me look incredibly stupid. That doesn't mean I'm not having fun.
When the White Sox blew through their series with the Angels, I was regularly on the horn with my peeps in Chicago, people I knew during the 7 years I lived there. I wondered if Fox's representation of the explosive celebrations was accurate (questioning Fox's accuracy is, like baseball, a national pasttime). I was pleased though not shocked to learn that the fervor for White Sox successes isn't quite as pandemic as Fox would have you believe. The traditional north-side/south-side tension between Cubs fans and White Sox fans is in full force. The Cubs, for reasons no one really understands, evoke a frenzy of loyalty that makes religious fundamentalists look like lazy non-believers. White Sox fans, on the other hand, appear as if summoned by magic whenever the White Sox seem to be doing well.
My favorite TV moment occured in a nondescript Chicago sports bar the night the Sox took the pennant. While the cameras lingered on girls gone wild and drunk guys hootin' and hollerin', one guy in the background who was wearing a White Sox cap tore it off when he saw the lights and cameras pointing in his general direction, and replaced it with a Cubs cap. That hilarious gesture revealed so many things. As my friends have confirmed, Cubs fans who want some--any--gratification this year are throwing their dashed hopes in the White Sox's ring so they at least can say they live in a championship city. Which makes me wonder what that very same bar scene would have looked like if the Cubs and Sox positions were reversed. Would it be empty because the White Sox were out of the picture? Would the exact same patrons be there, wearing Cubbie colors instead? At what point in a 2-team city do the fans of one team throw up their arms and hitch to the other team's wagon? Even I'll admit that for about three weeks this season, I was an As fan (don't disparage me...what else did I have to root for?)
I found the ALCS monumentally boring. There's no there there. Rooting for the White Sox is like rooting for Chevron or Dell Computers. I found in my heart a little California lovin' for the Angels, but that was an empty, callous love fueled only by my desire to see the Sox fail.
The NLCS? Now, that's some baseball. Exciting at nearly every turn, with heroes and villains out of the best pulp fiction. My mom and I were talking about the differences between the National and American Leagues. Why, I asked, does she, like I do, feel so strongly about NL teams, but nearly nothing for AL teams? She said she always felt like a participant in the goings on of the National League, and simply a spectator for "that other" league. So, it's entirely possible that my fascination with the Cardinals/Astros struggle and my indifference to the Angels/White Sox struggle boils down to a matter of what feels warm and toasty to me.
The Astros and Cardinals, although I'm not a fan of either, are kind of warm and toasty.
Last night's gut-wrenching turn of events for the Astros was better than anything Hollywood can pump out under the auspices of drama. Two three-run homers, one by each team late in the game, turned the contest into an offensive tennis tournament. Astros were down by a run, then up by two, then down by one again too late to get back up again. As I sat there stuffing my face with chocolates, I realized after the Pujols homer in the top of the ninth that, yeah, it's cool that St. Louis won, although I would have prefered to see Houston win. And saying that is more excruciating than I have time to describe.
So, here we are. White Sox going to the World Series. White Sox probably winning the World Series. More Cubs fans masquerading as Sox fans turning into deluxe girls and guys gone wild. Two Curse Reverses in a row. The return of baseball might to the midwest. Ozzie Guillen for governor. AJ Piersomething-something's ego seen floating over Lake Michigan on a collision course with the John Hancock building.
Or they could lose. And wouldn't that be warm and toasty?