This was the year I was supposed to become less obsessed with baseball. I was going to follow it only as a passing fancy in the wake of the Red Sox miserable 2011 and 2012 seasons. But then my
six-year-old became obsessed with baseball.
“When can we play baseball?” is a common refrain at my house. This is usually followed by a trip outside to play Wiffle Ball. We’ve christened our Wiffle ball field after the name of our street. We’ve worn out dirt patches where I pitch and he hits. We pretend to be different teams depending on the matchup he is most interested in. My ERA is hovering around the 29.00 range.
Being a voiceover talent, I also get the job of “announcing” the game as well. Going into my windup I might say, “Here comes the 2-2 pitch.” Let’s just say I am better at voiceover than pitching. I’ve faced the realization that as I get older and weaker, my son will get older and better, and my fastball will be a barely breaking the school zone speed limit while he begins to crush 300 foot home runs.
My son obsessively checks the stats for all the teams and players on a daily basis. My son claims to like all the teams, although we are by birthright Red Sox fans. So to make it easier for him, I have broken down all 30 teams into a “Rooting Rank.” In other words the team that I, his father, root to win in any given game.
1. Boston Red Sox – My first game at Fenway Park saw the Sox win in 11 with the game winner driven in by Yaz. I’ve seen Pedro, Clemens, Rice, Boggs, Dewey, among others. I’ve seen the Sox win, and I’ve seen them lose. My son recently saw Big Papi hit a home run, and his excitement was sheer joy. He then got to run the bases at Fenway Park.
2. Chicago Cubs – We have a stuffed bear that we call Little Brown Bear. He happens to be a Cubs fan (get it?) Little Brown Bear channels his voice through me as do all our stuffed animals (I am a voiceover artist, after all). Plus we get to watch some Cubs games on cable.
3. San Francisco Giants – I would actually live in San Francisco, which puts the Giants higher on my list. They were a lot lower when a certain large headed outfielder was hitting lots of chemically aided home runs, but their recent World Series teams have been fun to watch.
4. Kansas City Royals – I have always liked the KC uniforms, and recall those early ‘80s teams fondly. Kansas City has long been part of baseball’s history also – from the Kansas City Monarchs to the Kansas City Athletics, and home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – My son played for the Diamondbacks in T-Ball this year, and wore #7 in honor of Cody Ross who was his favorite player on the Sox last year and is now on the D’Backs. I wouldn’t like to come across a real diamondback in the wild, though.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates – After years of misery it’s nice to see the Pirates winning. The Pirates won the very first World Series I paid attention to. Although I was rooting for the other team at the time. Isn’t it time for them to bring back the cake tier hats?
7. Cincinnati Reds – I was three when the Sox lost to the Reds in 1975, but it was an all time classic. The 1990 Reds beat the original juicers.
8. St. Louis Cardinals – Cardinals fans showed a lot of class when the Red Sox won in 2004. Great team with lots of tradition. Then there was my grandmother. When I saw a cardinal outside I said, “A St. Louis Cardinal.” She replied, “No, that’s a Kentucky Cardinal and it followed me here.” She was from Kentucky.
9. Seattle Mariners - Seattle is another city I would actually move to. Or at least near since so many friends and family are in Oregon.
10. Baltimore Orioles – The team I rooted for in the first World Series I actually watched. They lost, but I still have a soft spot for them. Camden Yards is a great place to see a game.
11. New York Mets – I know. For a Sox fan the Mets are too high on the list. 1986 was 27 years and two Red Sox World Series titles ago. Plus, the Red Sox have had much better recent history. When I was a kid, we could watch Mets games on TV. If I ever move to New York I could not root for the other team.
12. Philadelphia Phillies – If only for the Phillie Phanatic. And memories of Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton. The Phillies were also the first National League team I saw at Fenway Park.
13. Washington Nationals – If they were still the Montreal Expos this team would easily be #2 on this list. The Vallancourt name comes from Quebec. It does not come from DC.
14. Detroit Tigers – Classic Uni. Great team. Bankrupt city. Plus, Magnum P.I. always wore a Tigers hat. I should grow a mustache and wear a Tigers hat.
15. Los Angeles Dodgers – Yasiel Puig? It’s like Fernando-Mania all over again. The Dodgers would be higher if certain disgruntled former Red Sox players were not on this team.
16. Colorado Rockies – They had the kindness to give the Red Sox a 4 game sweep in the 2007 World Series. Colorado is on my list of places I would actually live.
17. Minnesota Twins – When I was a kid I thought the TC logo on the hat was for Top Cat, one of my favorite cartoons. Just kidding, I had no idea what it was for. Now I know: out door baseball in April is “Totally Cold.”
18. Oakland Athletics – The original juicing team. The original Moneyball team.
19. San Diego Padres – What happened to those ugly brown and gold uniforms from the 1970s and 1980s? I miss them.
20. Los Angeles Angels – They play in Anaheim. They used to be the “California Angels” and now they are the poster children for paying too much for players past their prime.
21. Texas Rangers – The losing team in my very first visit to Fenway Park.
22. Milwaukee Brewers – They used to have much better unis with the classic interlocking “mb” logo. Now they look like a generic advertisement for Miller beer. Since they play in Miller Park that may be the point.
23. Houston Astros – If they were named after the Jetson’s dog we could talk about them being higher.
24. Chicago White Sox – We also have a polar bear who likes this team because he has “White Socks.” Get it?
25. Cleveland Indians – With years of misery former Red Sox manager Terry Francona at the helm, this team should be higher. But they aren’t. No one said this was an objective list. It’s highly subjective.
26. Atlanta Braves – There is a Boston connection. Meaning they played in Boston many decades before I was born. Then moved to Milwaukee. Then they moved to Atlanta. You used to be able to watch their games on TV, but I always rooted for the other team to win.
27. Toronto Blue Jays – True story: my left-handed son just got glasses and now loves lefty reliever Brett Cecil of the Blue Jays who wears glasses. But the Rogers Center is one ugly looking field. Baseball was littered with Astroturf fields in my childhood, and Rogers Center gives me flashbacks.
28. Tampa Bay Rays – They should still be the Devil Rays because Tropicana Field is the collaboration between a weak willed architect and Satan. I’ve been to a game in that monstrosity of a stadium that looks like a drunk decided to park a UFO in St. Petersburg. Seriously.
29. Miami Marlins – Why root for a team that hustled a city into building a stadium? There is no good reason for a city, state or any government entity to use funds to build a sporting complex to enable wealthy people to make more money. None. Although those Negro Leagues throwbacks were nicely done.
30. New York Yankees – Another New York team that is too high on the list.It’s been fun watching the Red Sox compete against this team year in and year out, but no matter how classy Mariano Rivera is, I am always rooting for them to lose. Even if I would live in New York over, say, some other areas. One caveat – as the Yankees continue to lose ground in the AL East, I’ll be rooting for them to beat Baltimore and Tampa Bay.