h2h Corner ~ Encino Man, Baseball Fan

I was going through my 1991 Upper Deck set the other day and saw all the wonderful Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley cards as Orioles…then I got to the Astros and saw them all as Astros, then I got to Glenn Davis and remembered I tossed away his Orioles cards.

Then I watched Encino Man on TV and wondered, what if I was frozen in the backyard of someone’s place in California, thawed, and had to decide what baseball team I would root for.

Clearly, there’s a graphic for this already, but I wanted to go one step further and see what team unfrozen caveman lawyer would root for. To give a caveman’s astute analysis as he travels through the graphic.

The (not-so) Obvious Candidates

New York Yankees – While all those championships and, mostly, consistent excellence is unparalleled, there’s no chance EM is becoming a Yankees fan. Quite simply, no one likes a bandwagon jumper. He didn’t grow up in a time when the Bronx existed, so he’d be nothing more than a frontrunner – lame!

Boston Red Sox – he was frozen for the 86 years of misery; he doesn’t earn the opportunity to bask in the glow of one of the smartest front offices.

Backyard Ball Clubs

Los Angeles Dodgers – Given location, location, location, the Dodgers would seem to be the front-runner. However that team is a mess and you know which ways s*** rolls. After EM gets use to showers, he can’t go back to that sort of stench.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – A somewhat schizophrenic owner has put a decade worth of strong moves into jeopardy. An aging outfield without a real dynamic offensive player makes the squad quite uninspiring. Give us Edmonds roaming the outfield like Tarzan or Christopher Lloyd bending foul polls. Also, when evolution occurred EM likely split from the monkeys for a reason – there’s probably some serious bad blood between the groups.

San Diego Padres – There’s just nothing exciting here – their best and youngest commodity was traded. Possessing an amazing ability to turn fringy relievers into sandmen is a nuance lost on EM.

San Francisco Giants – A beautiful ballpark, city, and starting rotation is certainly enviable. In addition, having a panda on board should clearly excite EM. However, it’d be hard to jump on the bandwagon. In addition, there are some aging offensive players with just Posey and belting Brandon Belt on the way. EM is just concerned about their potential for thriving for the next eon.

Oakland Athletics – A sleeper pick to be good this year, possessing young pitchers and great defense and a little pop. However, their “sabermetrics” approach does not have enough actual sabers to interest him.

Not Close to Contending

Baltimore Orioles – Tough division, no real chance that they will continually be a .500 team – some exciting players, but at least 3 better teams in the division, no upside with this group. Points for the ballpark and Boog’s cooking, but not close.

Toronto Blue Jays – Canada is too cold – would be an attractive option in another division, but Lind, Bautista, Hill, Snider, young pitching and company aren’t enough to get EM to give up sunny California. Maybe if they had a good RBI man like Joe Carter around.

Seattle Mariners – The fishing would be superb; however it’s hard to trust that Smoak/Ackley will lead the Mariners to sustained promise alone. Also, he bows to no king.

Cleveland Indians – Probably the last choice by far – a good city and park, but no healthy talent really. Choo is fun to root for, but he does not a team make – also doesn’t score enough runs or get enough RBIs.

Arizona Diamondbacks – In reality not much keeps them from being the Cleveland Indians. The lack of much development from their young prospects scares EM. While Upton and Young are fun players, Parker/Allen/Miranda aren’t young or dynamic enough to quite win the day – especially when 2011 will be a miserable year. Randy Johnson as a hairstylist would help though.

Milwaukee Brewers – Bold moves in getting Greinke and Marcum excite EM. However, the cupboard is clearly bear and could be quite a long draught of winning seasons once Prince Fielder takes his clubbing expertise somewhere. Outside of 2011 and potentially 2012, the future seems quite murky for the squad. Mat Gamel needs more Ts in his name (or an S).

Detroit Tigers – Similar to the BrewCrew, the Tigers are built for now and have serious pitfalls coming – although the starting pitching should be good. There’s just nothing super exciting about the Tigers, outside of Miggy…

Philadelphia Phillies – A surprise? Given they have a rotation the Braves from the ‘90s would be envious; you’d think they’d deserve much more consideration. Well, their best player has a bizarre knee injury, the best prospect is hurt and a lot of money is going to several players who are old. The decline will come fast, EM thinks.

Minnesota Twins – Joe Mauer is too pretty and expensive. The Twins refuse to start their best pitchers. A good and successful team, there isn’t anything exciting about them…and, no, Danny Valencia doesn’t count. If only they still had Nick Punto.

New York Mets – ha! If only Lenny Dykstra wasn’t traded for Juan Samuel!

Washington Nationals – Doesn’t like how they treat Mr. Rough Rider Ted Roosevelt. Strasburger doesn’t have enough meat. If the team all looked like Jayson Werth, they’d have a chance, but they don’t!

Houston Astros – The least likely candidate. JR Nowles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Getting Closer

Pittsburgh Pirates – Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker – all nice players with futures, some bright some just futures. A great foundation; however there is not a pitcher among them. It’d be nice to root for the Pirates to rebound, but Drabek is in Toronto and the Andy Van Slyke curse is too much.

St. Louis Cardinals – Too much flux. Matt Holliday is a fun player, Colby Rasmus is a good spitfire, but without Albert Pujols, things could get hairy. It also appears they’ll be in a dog fight for the play-offs in 2011. A great city, fan base and organization don’t quite elevate them.

Chicago Cubs – A real dark horse as the organization tries to win, but does so in not smart ways. Still, it could be years until they win, so he could have signs at games saying: I rose from the dead 90 years ago, it’s been double that since the Cubs won anything. Then star in a film with Jimmy Fallon’s great great great granddaughter. Still, you don’t sleep for eons dreaming of losing, you want a winner.

Chicago White Sox – Ozzie Guillen speaks in words EM understands and approves. He also approves of his ability to construct a bullpen. While short-term the White Sox have real potential, there aren’t quite the young players to lure him to the North Side. Maybe if Tyler Flowers had a more manly last name.

Kansas City Royals – A strong contender. They posses years of anguish (which he has missed out on) without having won anything really. They have a winnable division and one team that is clearly in a worse place than they are. They have legitimate and numerous young pups. However they have a stinky stink rotation right now. Lots of things can happen on the way to contending in 2012, potential is nice, but he needs more of a sure thing.

Atlanta Braves – They have one of the most exciting players to come along in baseball in awhile. They have the pitching surplus to be contenders for awhile and an electrifying bullpen. However, EM doesn’t go for conspiracy theories, so he’ll be damned if he gives L. W. “Chipper” Jones the time of day.

Colorado Rockies – Two awesome, young, dynamic players. Three young and fun starters. Ty Wigginton. Injury concerns and lack of offensive depth hurts the potential longevity of the squad. There could be some down years if Tulo or CarGo goes down. Pitching depth is nice and the division should be winnable for the foreseeable future – they just don’t have enough offensive players to make it happen.

The Contenders

Texas Rangers – Nolan Ryan speaks EM’s language, most notably in the debate with Robin Ventura – serious points for that. Serious points also for the young fun players the Rangers have. The problem is this selfish Michael Young character and his team-killing attitude. EM loved playing DH during the “club iguana game”. Major points for CJ Wilson being awesome.

Cincinnati Reds – Depth at starting pitching, lots of whom have major league innings on their resume. A deep and potent line-up with dynamic (young) forces in Votto, Bruce and Stubbs. A curmudgeonly manager – all recipes for success. And we haven’t even mentioned his not-so distant cousin Edgar Renteria plays shortstop for the club. Unfortunately, while the Reds have a lot of pitching, they lack that true dynamic presence (until we see Chapman as a starter). Close, but not quite a trip to the water park.

Tampa Bay Rays – Obvious knocks for being the obvious choice. The ultimate little guy, David trumping Goliath. A bunch of guys who hit the ball hard and play all over the place. Plus they have Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez – California-esque players! (and the hair!). It’s really hard to not pick them – although the stadium sucks and islands are scary.

Florida Marlins – A young team with Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Dominguez and a rotation to match (a bounce back guy in Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson, etc.). With the tailspin of the Mets, the age of the Phillies, and the mismanagement of the Nationals, could be in a position to win for awhile. Still, very hard to trust the Florida Marlins.

These four are so hard – the chili in Cincinnati, the bigness of Texas, the cavemen of Tampa and the young promise/deliciousness of the Marlin.

Ultimately Nolan > Damon.

EM should fit in nicely in Arlington, the clubbings good there. The Rays get knocked for strength of competition, while the Rangers have the youth to contend in the West for awhile as it appears the Mariners/Angels are not due to be good for awhile.

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