It’s really hard for me to pick between the two teams in the World Series. I have some history with both of them. But, this is the nature of sports blogging…I have to put something out there.
Help me work through it, k?
Ahead of the Curve
Way back in 2013-14, the ‘Stros were bottoming out and taking heat from the Buster Olney’s of the world, whie I was manning The Wall defending them. In a particularly heated email exchange with the guys just before the 2014 season, I really wanted to plant my flag, and told Liberti that the 2017 World Series would be Astros- Cubs…a BLAZING take at the time and I took a lot of shit. Well, you may recall, the Cubs won in 2016, and the Astros in ’17. So I technically wasn’t correct, I was even BETTER than correct. Your boy knows his shit.
I’m a fan because the Astros built the thing the right way. They stockpiled a killer system, and groomed some studs. They spent money on scouting, coaching, analytics- everything to get an edge, which has paid off in the form of some of the most successful pitching reclamation projects in recent memory. Then, when they finally arrived on the scene, they pulled the trigger on some big trades to round out the round out the roster. And they are a powerhouse.
Aside from bringing in a scumbag domestic abuser at the back of the bullpen, everything they’ve done makes me love the ‘Stros. Bregman is one of my favorite players. The front end of their rotation makes it move from 6 to Midnight. Clearly, I’m Flying High with Space City!!!
NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND!!!
Old Takes Expos – ed
Way before the Astros were sniffing AL Titles- actually before they were in the AL- my relationship with the Montreal Expos/ Washington Nationals began. Truthfully, I mainly just loved the tri-color hat, but I grew to love the team too. They were a forgotten franchise… but with a little TLC you could see something beautiful. I made sure to hit up a game in their final season in Montreal (worst park of all time, btw, barely edging out The Vet). I bought one of my beloved hats at the epicenter of the Expos.
We drifted apart a little during their forgettable first few years in Washington, but when the Nats took certified Stud Stephen Strasburg at #1 overall in 2009 I was ALL IN. This piece on Strasburg from Friend of the Blog, “McDuck”, sums it up perfectly. Then, they followed it up in 2010 with Bryce Harper? Kidding me??? I’m a slut for talented prospects…and these two were among the biggest in decades.
“I’ve been known to glance through the minors and the college system from time to time, hoping that maybe I could discover the next Sidd Finch. So when I came across this player, all I could do was protect my emotions by casting doubt on the reports.
It’s easy to doubt these stats:
He struck out 23 players in one game. This year, he’s struck out 88 batters in 42-and-one-third innings pitched.
This must be Sidd Finch. Is this April Fool’s Day?”
- “McDuck”, April 1, 2009 (BleacherReport)
With the core in place, Washington built a perennial NL Contender. Only hitch was, they couldn’t win a goddamn Playoff Series. They were a huge postseason disappointment, and not in a “lovable loser” kinda way. It should be enough to have driven me away. But, I just could never quit these guys.
Today, Harper’s in Philly, but Strasburg is still there, and he’s surrounded by a new generation of studs. Anthony Rendon is one of the more underappreciated superstars in sports. Juan Soto has arrived as a star, and Victor Robles may be by this time next year. Max Scherzer, Trea Turner…this is a fun team.
And there are storylines galore. Howie Kendrick has been in the league since the Reagan administration, and all of a sudden now he’s a postseason hero. Ryan Zimmerman has been in Washington as long as the Nats have. Who doesn’t love the veteran chasing a ring story?
Lastly, there is the whole Montreal angle. The Expos were a franchise that was constantly being toyed with and screwed over by MLB. They managed to build a winner in ’94, and ended up getting torpedoed by the strike. They deserved a break, and even though the team has been gone for the better part of two decades, I feel like the Expos’ fans can take some pride in a Nats’ title.
Ultimately, more than anything I’m rooting for some good pitching matchups, and some of these young stars to step up and deliver some excitement. But, I’m also pulling for the Nats. It’s a better story, and it’s always more fun to have a “new” winner. The ‘Stros paid off for me in 2017, now it’s time Washington does the same. And I’ll be alternating wearing my two hats to represent.