Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Championship showdown

Errant Balls brings you the point by point breakdown of both teams in the upcoming World Series. So before you choose sides, check out our detailed analysis of what really matters heading into the fall classic.

Nickname -
What exactly is a Phillie? I can't imagine some intellectual braintrust toiled for weeks on end coming up with this gem. The Philadelphia Phillies is on par with the Houston Texans for the least creative nickname in all of sports. Do you think anyone would really fear the Red Sox if they were called the Boston Massachusites? Don't bother, the answer in no. That's strike one Phillies.

Mascot - Phillie Phanatic
It's hard to say what exactly the Phanatic is, he seems as though he may be the progeny of some horribly mixed up muppet orgy. In any case I don't know what the hell it's supposed to be... but I like it. The Phanatic not only touts the reputation of being one of the most well known mascots in all of sports, but he is also a bonified badass. Look into his eyes. You know what that look says?
"Don't cross me man... you don't know what I'm capable of..." Even the cops know you can't be too careful when it comes to this rebel full of wild-eyed Philly pride.

Team superstition -
Rubber Ducky
The Phillies have figured out the secret of how to stay relaxed amidst the crushing pressure of the World Series... rubber duckies in everyone's locker. Evidently this is a reference to the old saying "Get the rubber duck out of your butt." Now I'm not sure if it's just me here, but I have never heard anyone say that in my entire life. I've heard "get the stick out of your ass," but then again, I can see how putting sticks in each player's locker may not have translated either. All in all... kind of a lame attempt at team unity.
A room full of grown men that each have their own rubber ducky? This doesn't say easy going baseball team, but it screams N.A.M.B.L.A. meeting. No good.

Celebrity fan -
David Boreanaz?
I don't know that this even counts, but it's all I could find after scouring the interwebs to find out who was the most famous Phillies fan. So while he may not be as high profile as the Yanks' Billy Crystal or Boston's Stephen King, he is technically famous, and he'll have to do.
You may recognize him from Fox's "hit" show Bones, but that is based on the assumption that you have at some point been the victim of forced audio-visual torture sessions. It is more likely though, that you remember our friend David as the unkillable-but-loveable-heartthrob-of-a-bloodsucker Angel, from his days on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (take a moment to scoff dismissively as though you didn't watch it... now look around cautiously to see that no one is paying attention... and proceed to squeal for joy at the thought of catching up with the box set of DVD's as soon as you get home).
So it's true that he's not the most notable of celebrity fans. But hey, it could be a lot worse.

Karmic hindrance sure to haunt them -
Brett Myers
Does it seem strange to anyone else that while an entire city is cheering wildly for the scrappy at bats and big-game mound presence of a veteran pitcher, they are quietly brushing aside the whole domestic battery thing? For each unlikely hit he picks up are we allowed to just forget each smack he laid down? I know the Philly fan base doesn't exactly have the reputation for being the most warm-hearted, but even the media is giving this guy a free pass as they shower him with praise.
To be fair though the events of that night were alleged, and I am as hesitant as the rest of you to just blindly believe that this seemingly timid gentleman would engage in such deplorable behavior.

Nickname - Rays
With their brand new, non-Satan related nickname the organization has seemingly closed the book on one of the most unsuccessful runs in sports franchise history. So you already have to like how positively their nickname has affected them.
They adopted what I like to call the Incredible Hulk approach, copying the success Marvel Studios had when it slightly changed the name of an unwatchable turd of a movie they'd already made, did it all over, and pretended as though the first one never even happened.
Devil Rays? Why sir... I have no idea what you're talking about.

Mascot - Raymond
Like his counterpart the Phillie Phanatic, Raymond also falls into the great litany of mascots that are completely nonsensical and totally unexplainable beings. From what I can gather he seems to be what Falcor the Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story would look like if he put on a baseball cap and then sneezed his brains out.
In any case though, I still like what he brings to the table. Forget having a mascot that actually represents your team name, that is so cliche . Just throw a jersey on the thing you pulled out of your clogged vacuum and let him dance on the dugouts all night long!

Team superstition -
The Rayhawk
What says team unity more than looking like unemployable, bring-down-the-man, fight for your right to party punks together? Nothing my friends, that's what. It's way more hip than the overdone playoff beard. And it's way more hardcore seeing a stadium full of these people, than it is bestowing your playoff hopes on some poor helpless animal.
The Rays have already established it, they're the too cool to care younger brother of the rest of the Major Leagues. And after they win the World Series... they're going to take the car without permission, smash the mailboxes of established veterans, toilet paper old man Selig's place, and swing by Jeanne Zelasko's house to show her what's what.

Celebrity fan-
Dick Vitale
Say what you want about Dicky V., but you can't ever call him a fair weather fan. The inimitable Mr. Vitale has held Rays season tickets since their inception, and now that they're actually winning... he's losing his friggin' mind BABYYY!! As evidenced by his gleeful dancing during game 7 of the ALCS, Dick is either ecstatic to see the Rays finally succeeding, or he is trying desperately to fend off an attacker just out of the frame. Either way, he's there, and he is making his presence felt.
And if you're the Rays, you've got to like the advantage of having the loudest mouth in broadcasting on your side. Just sit his ass directly behind the 3rd base dugout and watch as he systematically dismantles the collective psyche of the Phillies with an unstoppable barrage of inane catch phrases and carelessly frivolous alliteration!

Karmic hindrance sure to haunt them -
Steve Irwin
I'm sorry to bring it up, but it had to be said. For as loveable as the 2008 Rays are, we cannot forget just how deadly they can be. Not long ago one of television's most beloved and entertaining personalities was taken from us too young at the hands (barb) of a Ray. The Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's tragic death was a sobering reminder that even what we believe in the most can suddenly turn on us in an instant.
When it comes to sports we all love to see a good Cinderella story, but the Rays and their fans must be wary. They have made it all the way to the World Series on an improbable and seemingly unbreakable wave of success, but pride can be a dangerous thing. And if they're not too careful, by this time next week all of the happiness and hope put on this team could be snatched away by the unexpected and devastating sting of a Phillies sweep.

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