Who’s got Heart is back, and for the very first time we’re talking about baseball. We are already 5 games into the 7 game World Series, with the Houston Astros in the lead, very possibly taking home the championship in game 6. The Dodgers are looking to get out of a 29 year champion slump, with the Astros going for their FIRST EVER World Series win. But who deserves it more? Who wants it more? And who should you root for? Let’s find out.
The L.A. Dodger’s are a mammoth team rocking the all American red, white, and blue. They have lots of money, and were able to buy the very best team their aforementioned money allowed. They are a narrow favourite to win the series, and though I tend to love an underdog, I like these Dodgers a lot. The Dodgers are one of the oldest teams in baseball, starting out in Brooklyn in 1890. The story goes that Brooklyn had an awful lot of trolley cars to take its pre-hip population around the city. When they were converted from horse and buggy to electric, there were accidents en-masse, with people dodging out of the way in order to miss the fast-moving cars, a name was born, and it followed them to L.A. when they moved in 1957.
One of the things I like about the Dodgers is that they, historically, have been pretty progressive. A list of baseball firsts litter their wikipedia page. They were the first MLB team to employ and start an African-American player in the 20th century – the one and only Jackie Robinson. The first MLB team to open an office and clinics in Asia, the first team to start a South Korean player, and to start a Taiwanese player. They were the first team to allow a female journalist into the locker room, to employ a female lead trainer, and the first team in ANY American pro sports franchise to hire a Muslim General Manager (Zaidi, who currently works for the team). Their current manager (Dave Roberts) has already clinched another first, by being the first manager of Asian Decent to take his team to the World Series. They broadcast in Spanish as well as English. With a history like theirs, you might expect that the Dodgers would be following suit with the anthem protests, but in the MLB, only one player has taken a knee during the anthem. The Dodgers (and Astros) have been standing throughout the post season. Interestingly, just this week Stevie Wonder reached out the Dodgers on Twitter and told them that he would be happy to perform the anthem during the World Series. Wonder, has publicly taken a knee before during anthem performances before. This could be the Dodgers chance shake things up a little, and live up to their progressive history– while getting a performance from Stevie Wonder!!!!! We’ll see if they take it. They’re owned by a large organization: Guggenheim Baseball Management, so it’s hard to tell who’s running things from up high, and what their thoughts would be on a little MLB Dodger Protest.
The Dodgers play in the originally named Dodgers Stadium, where their fans come out in droves. They have an All-you-can-eat Pavilion, so it sounds pretty great. It’s used for concerts and events in addition to baseball, and on the same field that the World Series is being played, The Beatles played their second to last show there, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass, and The Amazing Race and The Fast and the Furious filmed scenes and episodes. But what really matters, is the Mascot, and here is where the Dodgers get strange. They are one of three teams in the MLB that does not have a mascot. More accurately, they are one of three teams in the MLB that denies having a mascot, while parading around a ‘Unique Performance Personality’ with no name and no gender. That being said, this is what it looks like.
In baseball, control of the team lies in the hands of managers and general managers. Both roles in The Dodgers are fairly interesting. Farhan Zaidi is a Canadian, born to Pakistani parents, and raised in the Philippines. He does not have a history of playing sports, like so many do, but instead is a real ‘Money ball’ concept guy. I’m a fan. The on the ground manager is Dave Roberts. He’s a former baseball player, even playing for the Dodgers for a few seasons. He’s a cancer survivor and part owner of a winery.
But you need to know about some of the players. The biggest name is a good one: Clayton Kershaw.The dreamy Kershaw seems to be wildly accepted as the best pitcher in the MLB. He reached the majors when he was 20 years old and occupied the position of youngest player in the league for a full year. Since then, he has become the highest paid pitcher in MLB history. Off the field, he and his wife, are big humanitarians. They started a charity for youth in Africa called ‘Kershaw’s Challenge’, where money gets donated to the charity ever time he throws a strikeout. Ellen Kershaw has been with Clayton since high school and they had a Dodger themed wedding, including the dance off that I invite you to watch sometime when you have nothing else to do. (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mr+and+mrs+kershaw+dance+off)
Their first child, a lovely little lady named Cali threw the first pitch of a Dodgers game last season. Kershaw hasn’t been living up to his usual standards in the post-season. He’s broken a record for the most runs allowed while he’s pitching in a post-season. It will be interesting to see if he can swing back in game 6 or 7. He’s endorsed By Wilson Sporting Goods, Under Armour, Muscle Milk and Subway but the best thing about Kershaw is that his great-uncle discovered Pluto. I guess it would be cooler if Pluto was still considered a planet, but still…pretty cool.
Cody Bellinger is a rookie. He’s going to be one of the ones swinging the bat. He loves Frappachinos and he famously doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. That being said, he seems to have a good sense of humour. Here he is dressed up like Elvis for my favourite discovery of this year: Rookie Dress-Up Day! He seems to be pretty good at baseball too: he broke the MLB record for most home runs by a rookie this year.
If you’re looking for a character though, look no further than Yasiel Puig. He’s a wild-card in a usually very reserved sport. He flips bats and seems to constantly have his tongue out. Andy McCullough from the LA Times, maybe puts it best: “Puig has starred in a one-man reality show during the playoffs. He licked his bat before walks. He flipped it after singles. He chopped his crotch after doubles. At one point during the final rout of the Cubs, the camera spent two minutes fixed on Puig attempting to smooch hitting coach Turner Ward in the dugout.” I’m a huge fan.
Kenley Jansen is a closer. King of the Bull Pen they say. What is a Bullpen you ask? I was also confused by this. But in baseball, the first pitcher out on the field is the ‘Starter’. They pitch a lot, and then at some point (very often after the 6th inning) the Manager decides that they have had enough, and brings out the bullpen: A group of pitchers full of speciality throws that cannot be sustained for a whole game, but that used strategically can close the game. This is why the second half of a baseball game, especially a close one, is more interesting than the first. A pitcher can only be used once in a game, so once they are pulled, they cannot be put back in. The Manager has to be smart about who to put in when, and against whom. Anyway, Jansen is the closer and has been nearly invincible this season. No one could hit his pitches…..until Game 2 when at the end of the game, he let in quite a few which led the Astros to take the game. All eyes will be on Jansen to see whether we can get his confidence back. No matter who I end up rooting for, I’m rooting for Jansen because he’s very likeable. He’s from a very small island in the Caribbean called Curacao, and he gives a ton back to the small community. He sponsors their baseball leagues and clubs and goes home and lives with his parents in the off season.
Special shot out to Justin Turner who looks just like Tormund from Game of Thrones!!
Now I know that the Dodgers sound great, but the Houston Astros have quite a lot of heart themselves. The Astros have never won a World Series. If they won, they would make history! And although the teams are well matched, the Astros do seem to be a bit of an underdog team. They certainly are financially. The Astro’s have been very lucky that their young team has not come up for free agency yet. If they had, they would likely not be competing with the diamond soled Dodgers. The team hasn’t had quite as much time to accumulate the Dodgers wealth. They originated in 1962 and were originally named The Colts in a city-wide naming contest. They were named after the Colt 45’s – the gun that won the west. Lucky for everyone except the NRA, it was the 60’s, and it wasn’t long before the space race, led to space fervour, and Houston had to capitalize on their proximity to the American Space Program. They became the Astros, and the Astro Dome was soon built – The 8th wonder of the world – the world’s first ever domed shaped stadium. Unfortunately they don’t play there anymore. They moved in 2000 to Enron field, which quickly went bankrupt, and so it is now named Minute Maid Field. The stadium has a retractable roof, which is nice for Houston’s unpredictable weather, and it’s built on the old Houston Union Station, so every time Houston hits a home-run or wins a game, there is a little train (filled with Minute Maid oranges) that runs through a portion of the stadium. It’s not a wonder of the world, but its pretty nice. The Astros do not have mascot denial. They have Orbit! He’s an alien with baseball antennae.
My favourite thing about an Astro win, would be Paul Walls promise. Paul Wall is a rapper, who’s very proud of his Houston home-town. He has promised the Astro’s that if they win, he and his business partner, will gift each player with custom diamond grills. Can you imagine those happy, shining faces, made even shinier? With diamonds??? Its a phenomenal idea!.
Now onto the people in charge. Unlike the corporate owned Dodgers, the Astros are owned by a very successful and funny man by the name of Jim Crane, considered the worlds best CEO golfer. Crane just got married to a lovely, and surprisingly age appropriate woman by the name of Whitney Wheeler.They got married at a golf course (which he owns) and there were swans, and everyone wore white!
A.J. Hinch is the manager of the Houston Astros. I couldn’t find anything even remotely interesting on him until game 1. Apparently after their loss, Hinch got into an altercation at his hotel bar and the police were called. Now this is coming from TMZ, and Hinch denies the incident, but it sounds like some people were trash talking the Astros, and the coach rather aggressively, stood up for his team. He’s got pride, maybe too much, but I like him!
Hinch is not the only one who has been making unfortunate headlines this week. A player that I was not actually going to mention: Yuli Gurriel hit a home run, in game 3 off of Yu Darvish (a pretty wonderful member of the Dodgers Bullpen). Gurriel then went back to the dug-out and pulled his eyes to the side, apparently saying “chinito” which can be translated to mean ‘Little Chinese Boy’. The gesture was seen as mocking Darvish, who is Japanese. Now Gurriel has apologized, and was given a suspension of 5 games next season. Darvish sent out a really beautiful social media message inviting everyone to move on, but the incident was unfortunate to say the least.
If that put a bad taste in your mouth about the Astros, let me introduce you to Evan Gattis. Gattis has earned the nickname ‘El Oso Banco’, or ‘The White Bear’ based on his powerful hits when he played in Venezuela. He was heavily scouted in high school, and rumoured to join the MLB right away, but he accepted an offer at Texas A&M to play college baseball. The thing is, he never showed up. Instead Gattis went to rehab and spent four years out of the game working with spiritual advisors, and working as a valet, a cook, a chair lift operator, and hostel employee. After four years of finding himself, he found baseball again. He was drafted by the Braves in 2010 – 6 years after his prospected draft date. My friend Ross (a very reputable source), tells me that taking four years off and returning is unheard of. Anyway, I’m a big fan of Evan Gattis, and he’s a great role model for young men and woman suffering from anxiety or depression. He talks about his time-off, his struggles, and his uncertainties openly. Evan Gattis wasn’t sure he’d ever play baseball again – and now he’s batting in the world series. = Heart Heart Heart!
Jose Altuve is the personality of the team. Don’t believe me? Just listen to this polka song that someone wrote about him.
He’s the shortest player in the MLB. and has a big smile that makes you want to root for his team! Not everyone looks good in orange, but he really does! He’s also pretty darn good at baseball, expect a home-run, or two out of him during your watching. When he tried out for the Astros in Venezuela, the Scouts were convinced he was lying about his age. He showed up the next day with a birth certificate, and he was signed shortly afterwards. Because he’s short, broadcasters sometimes use his height as a measurement. Someone caught on, and made this trusty calculator, so that you too can measure home-run distances in Altuves. http://www.howmanyaltuves.com/ He’s also a backstreet boys fan, and pizza lover – just like you and me!
Now Carlos Correa is the short-stop for the Astros. He’s from Puerto Rico and has been fervently trying to raise money, alongside the other Puerto Rican members of the team, since Hurricane Maria. Carlos Beltran donated a million dollars right out of the gate. Correa, with the help of the Astros, and donations from across the country, has sent 3 planes full of supplies to the hurricane devastated area. He was even able to send a plane to pick up passengers. And by some twist of fate, the father of Dodgers player Enrique Hernandez’s managed to get on the plane. For the Astros, being at the World Series is especially impressive when you take into account how hard Houston was hit with Hurricane Harvey. For Correa and Beltran, and the other Puerto Rican members of the team and management, their homes and neighbourhoods were destroyed just three weeks later, and none of them could reach their families for days after the cell service was knocked out by the Hurricane. They were playing their last series while all of this was happening. I imagine that would drive most people to distraction. But not them. In this series, Correa has shown even more heart by giving dugout access and free world series tickets to a young 12 year old boy who very nearly interfered with one of his home runs from the last series. It’s a whole beautiful sob story, available here for additional reading. (http://m.mlb.com/news/article/259899936/astros-carlos-correa-welcomes-back-young-fan/) I should also mention that Correa did a pretty impressive bat flip in game 2 of the World Series.
But the real question and reason to watch this series, is to see whether Springer will bring back his dig-out dances. He hasn’t been dancing this season, and the fans really liked his dancing. Will he bring back his moves for the World Series? – dancing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NisNQ6LFTFk
Still not ready to decide who to root for? If you’re looking to objectify the teams, I can point you in the direction of the wonderful TMZ sports, which provides us with a ‘would you rather’ format to decide who to root for. In classic TMZ style, they also round-up the celebrity attendance at the games, but as one of the teams is located in the Hollywood Hills, they have an advantage. John Legend, Rob Lowe, Larry King, Ken Jeong and so many more have shown their support for the Dodgers. Tiger Woods even took time out of his busy DUI hearing schedule to go to a game. Kate Upton and Peyton Manning have been on the other side, lending their celebrity to the Astros. Kate Upton is dating Astros starting pitcher Jason Verlander. They’re pretty cute together, and this year when he didn’t win the Cy Young award (even though he had the most votes), Upton took to twitter with a fairly crude message to the MLB. It was very saucy.
Still not sure? That’s okay – Sports Illustrated is equally as confused. They have put themselves in a tricky or genius little position. In 2104, maybe it was a slow news period, but they took it upon themselves to predict that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. Earlier this year however, they featured the Dodgers on a cover issue, stating ‘Best. Team. Ever.’ If even the great, almighty Sport Illustrated is confused, I think it’s pretty okay for you to be too!
I can only tell you that I am rooting for…….The Astros. Gurriel’s racist gesture aside, the Astros have NEVER won a World Series before, and though they are hardly financially hard-done-by, a win for Houston is a win that shows that money can’t buy championships. Houston suffered a hurricane last month, they could use a win and they have the very lovable Altuve and Gattis. Finally, aren’t you a little bit excited to see what Jim Crane buys in a celebratory gesture??? I am, and with this in mind, I plan on getting out the orange face paint, and getting some baseball antennae of my own! Go Astros!!!
P.S. No matter who you choose to follow, I would be remiss in not giving you the right hashtags to use. Dodgers are using #ThisTeam and the Astros are using #EarnHistory.