I’m on to you, Sports Illustrated. You’re picking the Houston Astros over the Chicago Cubs in the World Series just to be quirky. You’re going with hipster picks – just a little off the beaten path, but still kinda making sense. Good for you.
You went quirky last season, too, picking the Cleveland Indians when everyone else was certain it was the Washington Nationals’ year.
You didn’t pick the Royals. No one did.
You all make a living knowing baseball and you still get it wrong.
That’s why, once again, I turn to my own panel of experts – those who admit they have no real knowledge of baseball – to help me pick the 2016 World Series champion.
Sure, go with the ‘Stros if you must. Or, come with my experts.
You want quirky?
Let’s settle this.
AL East ~ Clinton picks the Red Sox
Clinton is a handyman who does lots of fix-it jobs around the building where I have my massage studio in Madison, Virginia. Last year he replaced all the aging and water-stained ceiling tiles in my studio, which may seem like a small thing to you, except when you realize that the average massage client spends a fair amount of their time looking up at the ceiling.
I’m pretty sure the entire building would fall apart without him.
Clinton was, as always, busy working when I stopped him to help me choose an AL East winner. He’s not a baseball fan, he’s all football and roots for that team from Washington.
Why the Red Sox? Clinton may not know that the Red Sox play in Boston, but he does know that his mother is a Red Sox fan, so he picked them for her. (This is especially sweet, because, if you remember last year’s experts, Andrew chose the Red Sox because they were his mother’s favorite team. Based on this anecdotal evidence, I believe that the Red Sox are the favorite team of every mom in America.)
AL Central ~ Parker picks the Detroit Tigers
I met Parker at the local grocery store where he was feeding the goats.
What? Your local grocery store doesn’t have a barnyard of goats? Well, aren’t you all fancy pants with your city-slicker Smart Water in bottles and 20 kinds of Oreos …
“I used to be a dog until I drank SmartWater.”
Parker is in first grade and plays first base and pitches for his local Little League team. When I asked him the name of his team he said he couldn’t remember, but I think he was just afraid I would show up at his game on Saturday if he told me.
Parker’s favorite team is the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the AA affiliate of the SF Giants.
Why the Tigers? Parker thought for a good bit before choosing the Tigers. (He almost went with the White Sox. He had his pen poised and was just about to circle them when he jumped ship and went Tigers.) “Why’d you pick the Tigers, Parker?” “I don’t know.”
AL West ~ Carol picks the Seattle Mariners
OK, Carol is almost a ringer. She knows the game and cheers for the Nationals. I was afraid she might be too expert for my panel, so I had to make sure she fit my criteria.
“Carol, who won the World Series last year?”
[Long pause] “The Cardinals?”
[Another long pause.] “One of those California teams?”
Whew. She’s in.
Carol attended her first baseball game when she was about seven in the 1950s. Her grandfather and one of his friends took her to see the Albany, Georgia Cardinals, a Class D minor league team.
“My grandfather could have told me to jump to the moon and I would have, so an outing with him was a big deal.”
Her grandfather and his friend taught Carol to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame and then filled her up with peanuts, Cracker Jack, hot dogs, ice cream, and Orange Crush. “I have little recollection of the game and no idea who they played. We got in big trouble with my grandmother for all of the junk food, but I didn’t get sick.”
Oh, almost forgot …
Grandpa’s friend? Baseball Hall of Famer George Sisler, one of the greatest first basemen ever to play the game.
Carol didn’t learn who Sisler was until many years later.Embed from Getty Images
“Sisler batted .407 in 1920 and .371 a year later, and then came ’22. It was said that no other ballplayer — not Ty Cobb, not the Babe — ever had a better all-around season than Sisler had that year. He led the American League with 246 hits, 51 stolen bases, and 18 triples. He batted .420 and hit in a league-record 41 consecutive games. He dominated on defense, too, fielding his position with a range and agility unlike that of any other first baseman, before or since.” ~ Sports Illustrated, (3/14/2011)
“I’m kind of a fair-weather fan,” Carol, a local dance and tap instructor, admits. “But, my dad played fast-pitch softball for a number of years and I played slow-pitch through most of high school, so I think I know the game reasonably well. But, clearly not well enough since I couldn’t remember the 2015 World Series!”
Why The Mariners? “I have a high school friend who follows them and we sometimes bet on games when they play the Nats.”
NL East ~ Phebe The One-Eyed Possum picks the Philadelphia Phillies
You know the old saying, “Even a one-eyed possum can pick a division winner.” Well, if it’s not an old saying it ought to be.
Phebe, a one-eyed possum, lives at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. To make her pick, she raised her head about as far as she could to choose the Phillies.
I was already a little suspicious, seeing as she’s recovering from an illness and clearly didn’t have the energy or the neck length necessary to pick anyone except the Phillies.
To top it off, I discovered that the “phix” was in.
Come to find out Phebe was just a fan-girl of George “Possum” Whitted, who played with the Phillies as part of their pennant-winning 1915 team.
1915 Philadelphia Phillies. Possum Whitted is second from the right.
Possum played 11 seasons total, was a versatile infielder/outfielder, and is best known for his hustle and for his 1914 rookie season with the Boston Braves where he started at least one game at every position except pitcher or catcher.
I think Phebe was just starry-eyed over Whitted’s nickname. I really can’t say. Possums are hard to read.
In any event, the Possum Whitted conflict of interest forces me to disqualify Phebe.
Get well soon, Phebs!
NL East ~ Jaz the Crow picks the Miami Marlins
There’s another old saying that goes, “When the possum lets you down, turn to the crow.”
Jaz, a crow who also lives at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, looked over her choices, seemed to understand what we were asking her to do, and picked the Miami Marlins. (You might argue that she was leaning Mets, but upon careful review, we’re confident she’s all-in on the Marlins.)
Jaz confirms — it’s the Marlins.
(Fortunately, Aaron Crow was briefly with — but never played for — the Marlins. He is currently with the Chicago Cubs. No conflict.)
Why the Miami Marlins? Crows are incredibly smart, so really, I’m thinking Jaz might be on to something here.
NL Central ~ John picks the Cincinnati Reds
John doesn’t do baseball. He does landscaping and mows grass all summer long and the mowing season started early this year in Virginia. “With all this work to do, and grass to mow, I don’t have time for baseball.”
Why The Cincinnati Reds? His brother-in-law is a Reds fan and that’s good enough for him.
NL West ~ Curtis picks the Colorado Rockies
I knew I’d found the perfect baseball expert when Curtis looked at the teams representing the NL West and asked, “Why are the New York Giants in the West?”
Curtis is a busy dude. Too busy for baseball. He built our barn and earned the permanent nickname “Barn Dude” from me. Today he does various carpentry jobs, is a singer-songwriter, and has a sailboat that will, I’m sure, someday sail him and his love Christina around the world. (But, not until our projects are done, right?) You can see his carpentry work here and find his music here.
Our Awesome Barn by Barn Dude.
Curtis used to live in Boston and worked at a company that supplied pasta to the Red Sox’ Fenway Park. That Fenway has a very small kitchen should come as no surprise to anyone who has played there and used their very small visitors’ clubhouse.
Why the Colorado Rockies? Because Colorado makes certain things legal that are illegal just about everywhere else. Which is a reason, sure. And, the one that Curtis chose.
Wild Card Teams ~ Lindsey and Sarah pick the Baltimore Orioles and the Atlanta Braves
Lindsey and Sarah were renting a movie from a Red Box kiosk in Orange when I asked them to choose my Wild Card teams. Neither has much time for baseball.
Sarah is in third grade and would rather be doing flips in her yard, playing soccer, and swimming. Lindsey will be shuttling her kids to the pool this summer while going back to school to pick up some additional courses to further her teaching background.
Why the Baltimore Orioles? Lindsey was quick to pick the O’s (with no encouragement from me, I promise), because the O’s are her husband’s and son’s favorite team. They also went to a game at Camden Yards last season and they had a great time.
Why the Atlanta Braves? Sarah looked over her choices carefully. “I just like their name.”
I taped each division and wild card winner chosen by my experts to playing cards, so that my next experts could choose the pennant winners.
American League Pennant ~ Larry Picks The Orioles
I know, I know, you think the fix is in, but I promise you, I had never met Larry before finding him drying clothes at the local Laundromat on Friday afternoon.
Not only does he not follow baseball, he actively dislikes it. “It’s a boring game,” he insists. He would much rather watch tennis and will tell you that Bjorn Borg is the greatest player of all time.
But, he was still a good sport to help pick the American League division champion.
Why the Orioles? “They’re usually in contention.” Take that, every other expert in America, who nearly all pick the Orioles to finish with one of the worst records this season. Larry is sending them to the World Series, and I’m hanging with Larry.
National League Pennant ~ Conway picks the Rockies
Conway and her father own the neighborhood hardware store. Faulconer’s Hardware has been around since the 1930s and it has everything you need to fix things in your home, build stuff, and grow things in your garden. If they don’t have it, you probably don’t need it.
Conway is a Yankees fan because her father is. She hates the Braves. She’ll probably be working all summer, but if you gave her three hours off she wouldn’t waste it on baseball. She’d take a nice long bike ride instead.
Why the Rockies? She picked a card at random, so there you go.
The World Series is set: Orioles vs. Rockies
(I’m reasonably certain that no other panel of experts has come up with this World Series, which will only make it sweeter when we end up being right.)
To pick the World Series Champion, I turned to Mookie, a feral cat who moved in with us last year along with his brother Tom-Tom and sister Zuzu. Mookie was named for Mookie Wilson and Mookie Betts, so I guess you could say he’s as close to a baseball expert as I’ve got around here.
He also is an expert when it comes to shredding toilet paper. He’s destroyed probably a dozen rolls and now we must hide the rolls in faraway spots, lock them in cabinets, and zip them into camping containers, which makes trips to the bathroom slightly more complicated. (I can’t tell you where they are hidden on the off-chance he learns to read and finds this post.)
We tucked the pennant-winner cards into two rolls of toilet paper.
And, we waited.
Tom-Tom, Zuzu, & Mookie knocking things over & checking them out. It won’t be long now …
No, Mookie, No! You were supposed to pick the Orioles!
There you have it. Congratulations, Colorado Rockies, on your unexpected and miraculous win in the 2016 World Series. What a year you had … errr, will have.
A special “thank you” to my experts for being good sports. An extra special thanks to Phebe and Jaz at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and to their “people,” Lacy and Chapin, who took this task very seriously (and had no idea that Phebe was cheating). If you’re a Phillies or Marlins fan, or just like a place that helps wild animals in need, visit www.wildlifecenter.org and make a donation in honor of Phebe and Jaz. I did.