Ladies and gentlemen, the 2014 World Series began last night.
And this year, I think we all know the World Series means just a little bit more.
Because this was the last year that Derek Jeter graced a baseball field, and all that happens in his wake this post-season will happen under a large shadow in the shape of the number 2.
Both the Royals and the Giants have obviously dedicated their seasons to the Captain, and are playing to earn his undying respect. Sorry: re2pect. Therefore, we can safely assume that whoever wins the Series will do so by playing the most Jeterian game possible under the circumstances, and reinventing themselves in Jeter’s image.
So let’s this break this down so we can make a scientific prediction: who will win the 2014 World Series?
In order to pick a favorite, we need to answer these essential questions: Who is Derek Jeter rooting for in the World Series? Which team cares the most about living and playing up to his standard? And of course, who has the best intangibles?
Neither the Royals nor the Giants currently have a captain, as both teams astutely realize that they don’t have anyone on their rosters worthy of wearing the (invisible) “C” yet. For God’s sake, no one on either squad has more than two rings.
Alex Gordon’s eyes are certainly calm…perhaps a little too calm? Vacant, almost?
Madison Bumgarner, on the other hand, has got it going on. Check out that cool, confident gaze. So calm. Nothing can faze him.
Face of Baseball
Joel Sherman of the New York Post has anointed Buster Posey as the new face of baseball in the year of our Lord 1 A.J.
The Royals don’t have any legitimate candidates to be the new face of baseball.
Edge: Royals — Beware false idols! None other than Pedro Martinez has warned against electing a new Face of Baseball so soon after The Great One has gone. Especially Buster Posey. Give the Royals credit for not pretending to be something they’re not. Did the Yankees immediately appoint a new Captain when Jeter retired? Did Christians immediately decide on a new Messiah when Christ ascended? When Nicholas Cage dropped out of the new Superman movie, Hollywood waited years to pick a new Man of Steel — and they still made a too-hasty decision, spoiling the franchise forever.
Ah, one of the most important intangibles.
The Royals spent most of their season mired in mediocrity while their outfielders immersed themselves in iPad gaming. Can you imagine Jeter’s reaction if Mark Teixeira sauntered to his locker after an 0-4 with K’s and casually started playing Angry Birds: Transformers Edition? No. No, you can’t. Because it would never happen.
Meanwhile, the Giants’ de facto leader Hunter Pence gets entire stadiums to do Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant.
The Royals are one of the best underdog stories in years. They’ve become America’s darlings, defying predictions and rising against increasingly difficult odds to reach the World Series.
The Giants have won two championships in the last four years. Ho hum.
Edge: Giants — Derek Jeter hates underdogs. Being an underdog means you didn’t apply yourself for every step of the journey and be the best that you could be.
The most important position on the field.
The Royals have Alcides Escobar, who started playing baseball at 4 and grew up emulating Omar Vizquel, a classy, borderline Hall of Fame player (though not quite in Jeter’s class, of course). Escobar bats leadoff. He also wears Victoria’s Secret perfume for luck, and Jeter likes to date Victoria’s Secret models.
The Giants’ Brandon Crawford bats 8th in the lineup and doesn’t like to groom himself.
Both teams have exhibited mild clutch behavior this September and October, with big hits and big innings out of the bullpen. But has either ever hit an extra-inning home run to win a World Series game…in November? Didn’t think so.
Derek Jeter always called his most famous manager “Mr. Torre” — both as a sign of respect and to let his teammates know that the manager was to be trusted and obeyed.
“Mr. Yost” sounds like a 9th-grade biology teacher. One whom kids make fun of as soon as he disappears into the teachers’ lounge for wearing the same shirt three days in a row.
“Mr. Bochy” isn’t fantastic, but it has a hint of Torre to it. The names share a certain distinguished Mafioso quality.
All Derek Jeter ever wanted to be was a New York Yankee. The franchise’s tradition of excellence spoke to him, and he wanted to not only be a part of it but help extend that tradition into a new millennium.
The Royals only began their existence in 1969, by which time the Yankees had 20 world championships and Willie Mays had already begun his long, slow, sad decline.
Plus, the best player in Royals history is a cheater.
It’s close, as I believe both teams respect Captain Intangibles and honor him with their play. In return, Jeter respects both the Royals and Giants (as he respects all his peers who form the unique, elite club of professional baseball players). But the Giants have more tradition, both recently and in the long term. The Giants are going to win the World Series, because that’s what Jeter is going to will to happen.