Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series

With the Red Sox losing game 7 of the ALCS, a game they had no right even playing in, there will officially be a new World Series champion. The nice thing is, the two teams vying for this honor are actually two of the losingest franchises in MLB history instead of two franchises accustomed to perennial success. Now the question becomes, who to support in tonight's game 1?

First off, lets compare the historical stats... Philly has been around since 1883 and has lost more games than any other franchise (8942-10093 for 47.0%) and has one WS title to its credit (1980) in six attempts. Tampa has been around since 1998 and has by far the worst winning percentage (742-1037 for 41.7%) which is including their 97-65 dominance this season. (Depressing to think they entered this year with a 645-972 record for 39.8%... sub 40%!!!). Going into this postseason, I would have been fine with either of these teams winning (though I of course wanted Boston or the Cubs to win it)... after all, who doesn't root for the perennial loser to finally win big? It is practically bred into us that Americans have to support the underdog and Tampa is the extreme underdog considering their miserable history.

Then I thought about it all... they have only been around for eleven years! They have no right taking the title from a team that has existed for a full century longer than they have... one that has lost over 5 times as many games as Tampa has PLAYED! The fact that Philly has only one title to show for those 125 seasons just makes it that much more apparent that they are the more deserving franchise.

Delving even deeper into the comparison, one arrives at the fanbases of these two disasters to discover an even more telling statistic. Philly averaged 42K fans per home game compared to 22K but these figures alone mean little... after all, Boston only averaged 37K per game and no one can doubt their popularity in Boston or their fans' devotion. The reason is, Fenway Park is one of the smallest stadiums in MLB and the 37K average represents a 104% attendance rate which is simply astounding. With that in mind, it is the attendance rate that truly matters, NOT the raw attendance figures. This past season, Philly was fourth with 97.1% home attendance while Tampa was a pathetic 24th with 52.8%. [Top five: Boston 104, Cubs 99.1, Tigers 98.6, Philly, Yankees 92.3] Philadelphia fans also travel better than their Floridian brethren, coming in 14th road in attendance rate (72.7%) compared to Tampa's 24th (66.5%) [Boston once again came in first with 84.1% a full 2.5 higher than the second place Cubs] Now, I grant you that Tampa has been atrocious for their ten season existence, having never posted a win total higher than 70 (2004) but that by no means makes up for a division winning team (that led said division for most of the season) only filling HALF the seats! Had they not played the extremely popular (and well-travelling) Red Sox and Yankees for 18 of their 81 games at home, they probably would have been below the 50% barrier and exceeded only the Florida Marlins (hmm... anyone notice a trend here?) Quite simply, their fans just don't deserve the title anymore than their franchise does... hell, their franchise deserves a hell of a lot better fans!

The final reason I have for pulling for the Phillies... the ridiculously fake fans in Tampa. Suddenly everyone shows up for the playoffs and decides to support them only AFTER they have proved themselves. The team even went so far as to open up some 8000 seats that had previously been tarped over! [Their excuse for this was that they had bad sight-lines... big deal, so does most every seat at Fenway but those tickets still sell! My theory is they were tarped over to make inflate their attendance figures to barely respectable numbers a la the Oakland A's shutting down the second level.] Now everyone is a die-hard Rays fan who has followed them their whole life (even though they are in their 20s and 30s...) and bangs their cowbells while sporting their trendy 'Rayhawk'. What a joke! They are pathetic. They are just the latest in a long trend of bandwagon jumpers (the Red Sox sadly have far more than their share), something I absolutely detest. The majority of their fans have no clue about the history of their team, their league or anything else... they are just jumping on the hot new trend of the day, only to forget about it within a couple months once the next shiny object catches their eye. I actually had a Tampa 'fan' try to tell me their attendance wasn't that bad and that it mirrored that of the Sox in the 90s. When I informed him via email that we last had attendance lower than 18K (their highest value after their debut season) was in 1966 (1966!!!), he countered by sending me the attendance figures for each stadium during its first eleven years. Problem is, Fenway opened in 1912 so he is trying to compare Tampa's 1998 attendance with that of Boston's from 80+ years prior! Just absolutely laughable and goes to show the 'knowledge' and 'loyalty' of their fans.

With all that in mind, here is hoping the Phillies take the title and end the city's tormented sporting history (so long as the Flyers keep sucking!). I don't really like the city or the fans, but they are a far more palatable option than are the Tampa Bay Rays...


Muzz said...

Yeah, but Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli are two local boys who were Sox fans growing up. That's gotta mean something.

The Bastard said...

Yea, but the Rays are gonna be good for the next few years so they will get their chance again. Guys like Moyer and Stairs (both former-Sox) won't get this chance again. Besides, how can you not root for "who admits he swings for a homer every time up, and says he'd rather score a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals than hit a game-winning homer in the League Championship Series." The guy belongs in your beer league, not in MLB!

Rian Murray said...

Okay, so now I'm rooting for the Phillies. And I hope Matt Stairs joins my beer league soon so I can "hammer his butt." Not in a gay way though.