I am a free thinking, freedom-loving baseball fan unburdened by a moldering conscience or a capitalism fetish. Thus, I root against the Yankees, particularly during the playoffs.
Living in Philadelphia these past four years has made me a Phillies fan (particularly with the Mariners not giving me much to write home about). However, with the prospect of another Yankees-Phillies World Series upon us, I am forced to consider the possibility that the Phillies resemble the Evil Empire more than I would prefer to admit. So let us examine the two likely starting playoff rosters for each team:
[WAR numbers from Fangraphs.com. The salary figures are in the millions. The sparkle/shit index (SSI) is a carefully constructed metric weighing how much a golden retriever would root for that player in the playoffs. Positive numbers indicate golden retriever support.]
I was surprised to see that the Yankees roster manages to overcome A-Rod’s massive -10 SSI and even out to golden retriever-neutral. This is the time of year when you have to respect the hell out of Rivera for his post-season performances. Gardner, Granderson and Swisher are all likeable guys worth cheering for. This is also the time of year when you root against Jeter just to combat the noise of national baseball journalists humping his leg.
Now to the Phillies:
I’m relieved to see significant discrepancies between the Phillies and the Yankees in SSI and salary. The Phillies also have the best story of the two teams, that of Roy Halladay finally making it to the playoffs. So it’s clear which team is easier to root for (golden retrievers agree).
But how about each team’s path to the playoffs? The Yankees roster is spearheaded by massive free agents Sabathia and Teixeira, plus A-Rod (the Haliburton of baseball players). The Phillies are less free-agent heavy, but are absolutely banking on Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt to make it through October. The Phillies used their farm system and financial resources to acquire Halladay and Oswalt from teams who could not afford them. Very Yankee-like if you ask me.
So it seems we have two teams here whose financial resources have provided a few key players which separate them from the other strong teams in the league. Neither team can boast the home-grown, DIY credentials of the Twins or the Rays. But if roster construction and WAR do not make it clear which cheering section we should occupy this October, the SSI index provides us with an answer: