This Thursday, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving. While our popular traditions surrounding the holiday involve eating too much, getting ready to shop for bargains and watching football, the federal holiday of Thanksgiving was created during the Civil War as a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
So at the very least, I invite you to spend a few moments this week thinking about some of the things that make you feel thankful.
I’m thankful for all of the people who chose to spend a few minutes signing autographs for me.
The number of cards arriving in the mail last week decreased as I’ve had less time to write letters, but I did get my first 2014 Topps Update cards signed.
Until his All-Star selection this year, Pat Neshek probably had a bigger fanbase among autograph collectors than the fans of whichever team he happened to be playing for in a particular year. Neshek is among a small number of Major League Baseball players who collect cards, and the only one who will actually trade signed cards with his fans.
George Greer, the Mets’ Triple-A hitting coach who received credit for “fixing” Travis d’Arnaud during his midseason demotion to Las Vegas, has been reportedly been snagged by the St. Louis Cardinals. (Adam Rubin, ESPN New York)
So, scratch one potential candidate off the list for the Mets’ major league hitting coach vacancy….
The Division Series games didn’t really turn out the way a lot of people expected. The Angels and Tigers both got swept. The Nationals and Dodgers are out after winning just one game.
For the most part, that was what I wanted to see. I was rooting for the Royals over the Angels, the Orioles over the Tigers and the Giants over the Nationals. Unfortunately, I wanted to see the Dodgers win it all so ex-Met Justin Turner could get a ring and they couldn’t make it past the Cardinals.
So, it’s time to pick new teams to support. The ALCS opens tonight with “Big Game James” Shields on the mound for Kansas City against Chris Tillman and the Orioles. Shields may have baseball’s dumbest nickname, but the Royals are baseball’s Cinderella-story team this year and I can’t find a good reason to start rooting against them now. (I know I will miss tonight’s game – let’s see how much of the series I actually manage to watch.)
While the American League match up features two teams I don’t have strong feelings about, the National League is a different story. I don’t see any way a Mets fan could root for the Cardinals after 2006, 1987, 1985 and all of the history between the two teams. But the Giants present their own problems – I still haven’t forgotten Matt Cain‘s beaning of David Wright in 2009. And this year’s team went 6-1 against the Mets. Still, the Giants have some New York history and are probably the lesser annoyance, so go San Francisco… I guess.
When it comes to the World Series, I know I will be rooting for whichever American League squad makes it through the ALCS.
Of the remaining playoff teams, who are you rooting for?
The National League teams get into action today, though thanks to a television rights deal that relegates the games to FOX Sports 1, I suspect I will see more of the American League games this weekend. While the National League teams are more familiar to me, it was harder to decide who to root for.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Asking a Mets fan to root for the St. Louis Cardinals is a tough sell. Fans of a certain age recall the late 1980s rivalry between the two teams. Newer fans still have bitter memories of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. On the other hand, if you mention the names Mike Scioscia, Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson to a Mets fan old enough to remember 1988 and you won’t be likely to get a positive reaction.
The ex-Met factor is enough to sway my decision in favor of the Dodgers. After the Mets unceremoniously dumped him to save a few dollars, Los Angeles picked up Justin Turner. He had a really good year in a part-time role: .340 / .404 / .493 with 7 home runs, 43 RBI and 6 stolen bases.
San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
The Nationals might be the best team in the National League, but as long as Bryce Harper plays for them I will find it difficult to root for Washington. Harper has the brash rock-star personality, but his on-field achievements haven’t quite matched that star status yet. Add in some stories I’ve heard about people who sought his autograph at the ballpark… no, I won’t be rooting for the Nationals in the playoffs this year.