2013 MLB Preview: NL West and Playoffs

This is arguably the most entertaining division that isn’t the AL East; there’s talent here, but there’s also a slew of combustible elements liable to explode at any moment. Except, perhaps, for the Padres.

1. San Francisco Giants – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it–and so the Giants stood pat, bringing back all of their key contributors from last season while foregoing any major additions. On the one hand, there’s definitely something to be said for stability; on the other hand, this isn’t the NFL, and keeping together a group of guys that’s comfortable with each other probably doesn’t matter nearly as much as a lot of analysts might try to lead you to believe. Regardless, Buster Posey’s the man, Matt Cain’s a legit ace, and the rest of the roster is stacked with seasoned professionals. I’m not particularly afraid of the regression monster here, especially given the competition.
Beer equivalent – Narragansett. Steady. You know what you’re going to get, and it’s probably good enough.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks (wild card) – GM Kevin Towers finally blew it up…mostly. The team is still loaded with swing-first-look-at-the-plate-second hitters. The rotation is solid if uninspiring. That said, they’re good enough to score some runs while stopping the opposition from doing the same. A quick exit in the wild card sounds about right.
Beer equivalent – Pabst Blue Ribbon. All of your friends will suddenly start drinking it a few months from now and you’ll wonder how you missed the trend.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers – Building a good baseball team means more than just spending money; it means making sure the left side of your defense isn’t a black hole of suck. Third base, shortstop, and left field are legitimate questions for the Dodgers due to injuries, a lack of depth, and what seems like general forgetfulness. The rotation beyond Clayton Kershaw looks deep at first glance…but who really trusts these guys?
Beer equivalent – Whatever will convince Robinson Cano to sign this offseason. Barring that, whatever Josh Beckett prefers with his fried chicken.

4. Colorado Rockies – An all-world shortstop and right fielder are flanked by…um…sure. A baseball team, I guess.
Beer equivalent – That last Harpoon IPA in a sampler box that’s now mostly full of Raspberry.

5. San Diego Padres – At least they should get something good for Huston Street at the deadline.
Beer equivalent – Water.

American League Champion: Tampa Bay Rays
National League Champion: Washington Nationals
World Series Champion: Washington Nationals

A Novel Idea for Sports Ownership

Few things have so thoroughly infected modern American life quite like sports. Sundays between September and February should be considered national holidays. Certain areas of the country consider a clean sweatshirt boldly declaring one’s allegiance to the local squad essential formal wear. Our language is rife with metaphorical sports references. Fans live and die with the fates of their teams. Like it or not, sports is important.

Sports is also a business. Although many fans treat their loyalty to their teams as something akin to religion, the teams themselves are focused on one thing and one thing only: making money. It just so happens that putting together a successful team that wins more often than not is a great way to make money.

A rash of ridiculous labor disputes has brought that focus on business into the limelight. The NBA lost almost 20 games due to a lockout last season. The NFL is using replacement officials of questionable caliber due to issues with their usual referees. And the NHL, a league that just recently pulled itself out of the years self-inflicted hell caused by their previous labor problem, just locked out its players. Watching billionaires clash with millionaires over a few million bucks is, quite frankly, disgusting, and such pettiness makes me wonder why the hell I should give a crap about (or any of my hard-earned cash to) these shitheads.

At the risk of sounding like just another fuck-the-wealthy crackpot, the problem lies solely on the out-of-touch rich douche bags that own our sports franchises. I’m all for paying people their due for services rendered, but what, really, do most franchise owners actually contribute to their products? Competent owners who exert positive influences upon their organizations are a rare breed. For every Mark Cuban or George Steinbrenner, there’s an entire league of James Dolans, Jeffrey Lorias, and Mike Browns. Many of these guys either inherited either their teams or the money required to purchase them. What the hell do they do to justify the ridiculous amounts of money they’re making? In a lot of cases, jack fucking shit.

“But Scott Colby!” you say. “These are the guys financing your teams!” To a point, yes. Guess who has to foot the bill for the stadiums and the infrastructure required to get fans to them? Taxpayers. You and me. We don’t like it, but we do it because we can’t imagine life without our favorite teams or because we believe that hosting a team is economically beneficial. They’ve got us bent over the sink with our pants down and we’re just begging for more.

The Green Bay Packers, the only community-owned professional sports franchise in the major American leagues, have it almost right, but they don’t go far enough. Put our sports teams under the umbrella of our local governments. Set a percentage of profit that goes back into improving the teams and their facilities, and set a percentage of profit that goes to useful things like schools, roads, and public transportation. Make sports franchises nonprofit entities that truly exist only to better the communities that host them.

And before all you capitalists jump down my throat and burn me to death atop a pile of Marx’s writings, let me say this: I’m not anti-capitalism, I’m anti-douche-bag. I’m sick of buying into an ideal and seeing it ruined by some twit’s greed.