CURRENT STANDINGS (after the games of August 11, 2013)
Explanation from early 2012:
A few Augusts ago, I found myself in all-too-familiar territory. The Kansas City heat had turned my lawn into an ugly mass of Grass Crispies and spiky weeds after being green and lush just a few months before. It occurred to me that this progression was like the baseball season for so many teams–a fresh and exciting beginning that wilted as the heat and dryness of late summer came and stayed. There were many weeks left in the season but the Royals and Cubs chances for a pennant were as cooked and dead as my lawn. (Yes, I root for both the Cubs and Royals. No I don’t hit myself in the head with bricks or wear ill-fitting clothing just to make myself miserable. Thanks for asking.)
It was still too early to turn to football. And I felt guilty for even considering such a move. Baseball is what I love. The rope throw from third to first. The majesty of a flashing arc of ash or maple connecting with horsehide (which is actually cowhide) The 6-4-3. And so on.
But the boxscores were depressing and so I began to idly brainstorm on what the Royals could do to rekindle my interest. I thought perhaps they should just throw in the towel and have some fun. Wear fright wigs instead of caps. Pick fans at random from the stands and let them pinch hit. Throw away the bats and use 2x4s. Anything.
I came to see that the problem wasn’t KC or northside Chitown-centric. It was a league problem. How could MLB maintain fan interest in local teams in the latter stages of the season when the losses mount and the chances for a postseason appearance dwindle, other than expand the playoffs to a ridiculous degree and thereby dilute the importance of the regular season and trash a hundred years of tradition?
The answer came to me one afternoon while I was in my workshop hitting something with a hammer, which is how I fix most things. Combine teams! Sure! If your team stunk, smush their record in with another team. Ee-yah! I would no longer have to wear the weight of the Royals but could cheer on the Mighty Missourians. Under my scheme, Houston Astro fans could choose to accept, if they so desired, the raised status of being supporters of the “Lone Star Rangros.” I burbled in excitement and, for once in my life, was happy that the Cardinals were doing well.
So I spent a giddy evening deciding which teams should be combined. To make it fair, I decided it was necessary that each new combo team have a member of the American and National League. Since the NL has more teams than the AL, this was an impossible task. No matter. I was on a mission to save baseball.
Many of the combinations were no-brainers. It was obvious that the teams of single cities or metropolises (metropoli?) should be conjoined: Cubs-White Sox, Mets- Yankees, Dodgers-Angels and Giants-Athletics. Expanding that thought to states shared by teams, more teams emerged: Missouri (Royals-Cardinals), Ohio (Indians-Reds), Florida (Marlins-Rays) and Texas (Rangers-Astros).
Okay, I hear grumbling. I know that this scheme asks folks to ignore decades of loyalty and cheer for that damn team over there. If you are feeling the need for an antacid, let me point out again that this is just for amusement purposes. May I also suggest a brisk walk?
Other pairings also seemed to be natural. Since the Brewers and Twins hailed from the northern Midwest, I combined them and dubbed the result the “Minnewaukee Brewins.” Similarly, the proximity of Washington D.C. and Baltimore begged for an intermingling. I called them the “Washimore Nationoles.”
Then it got tougher. But the thought of wistful, dull-eyed fans languishing in pain and disillusionment in baseball-challenged areas kept me going.
My initial reaction was to combine the teams in Pennsylvania but they were both NL teams so that went against one of the laws of nature I had established for the new league. Undeterred, I decided that the important historical roles of Philadelphia and Boston in our colonial and revolutionary past made a combination of the Phillies and Red Sox sensible. They became the “Bostadelphia Phisox.”
To deal with the remaining teams, I had to twist and/or abandon logic. Not to worry. I’m a lawyer. I can do that in my sleep. I noted that Pittsburgh is pretty close to both Toronto and Detroit but decided to staple the Bucs to the Blue Jays because I really liked the name “Pittronto Pi-Jays.” I then combined the Tigers with the D-backs (creating the “Detrizona Tigerbacks”) and found myself left with three NL teams and the Mariners. I glued Seattle to Colorado because “Colorattle Marinockies” made me chuckle and the Padres to the Braves because they were the only teams left. Then I rested. And it was good.
I made some initial calculation of standings and realized that, with teams paired, standings could change in short order. Both teams could get hot, dumping daily deuces into the W column and flipping the standings rapidly. Or, of course, double L’s could pour through the floodgates sending the team to the bottom faster than a bang-bang play at first. Now this was exciting!
So we will see how useful this new tool is in the battle against loss fatigue. As the end of the season is forged in the heat of summer, perhaps this new angle from which to view the local nine will keep the fires burning and help everyone keep their eyes on the ball though September.
NOTE: In 2013, the Houston Astros got thrown into the American League which gave each league the same number of teams but screwed up my original team pairings. Team Texas had to go. So I lifted the hood and began tinkering. What I decided on was to combine the Rangers with the Diamondbacks, the Astros with the Braves and the Tigers with the Padres.