Who will win the 2011 World Series? Science has an answer, and we'll get to the bottom of it in this week's Power Rankings. Warning: spoilers.
If you've followed these power rankings this year, you know that they use algorithms designed by the NSA. They're ultra-scientific, and you should take them seriously.
This power ranking is a little different, though, because there are only two teams involved. It's World Series time, folks, and the Rangers and Cardinals are the only teams that matter over the next ten days or so. So here are seven different categories, totally not selected at random. They correspond to a game of the World Series, and the winner in the power ranking will almost certainly win that corresponding game. So let's see who will win the World Series, shall we?
1. Current Major Leaguers From the City or Area
There are three notable players with connections to Arlington. These three players are seemingly unrelated, but when you connect the dots from those news stories from yesteryear, it all starts to make sense:
Orange County Register: August 14, 2009
(Vernon) Wells doesn't like to make excuses for how he's been playing, so he was reluctant to tell Gaston about the incident
"I woke up with a bite mark on my neck, and ever since then, I've felt weak. I know I have to play through it, so I don't want to make excuses," Wells said. "I'm not sure if it was a spider bite or what, but it's almost as if someone sucked out my talent."
Boston Herald: September 18, 2009
Lackey will miss at least one start with an infection. "I'm not sure what bit me," he said. "But the bite marks are huge, and I haven't felt right since. Feel kind of weak, to be honest."
Yep. Wells and Lackey are both from Texas. Wells went to high school in Arlington, and Lackey pitched at the University of Texas at Arlington. Isn't it weird that they both appeared to have their talent sucked out at the same time they woke up with mysterious bite marks? I wonder if there's a connection. Is there anyone else who went to school in Arlington who might have the awful capacity to suck the talent out of a living human being?
Holy crap. If you can think of a better explanation, feel free. Until then, this explanation is Occam's choice.
But St. Louis has a couple of current major leaguers, too. And maybe in a few months, they'd have the edge over two bad players and the good one who defiled them. But right now, Max Scherzer and Ryan Howard shouldn't count as positives in a playoff-centric post. Too soon.
Game 1 Winner: Rangers, 4-3
2. Funny Names in Team History
The Rangers are seriously hurt by their relatively short existence. They weren't around for the turn of the century, where some forward-thinking genius decided to make up ridiculous nicknames for every player in baseball. As such, the Cardinals turn this into a rout. If you sort all of the Cardinals players by height, you don't even have to leave the first page to find this assortment:
How can the Rangers compete with that? They can't. And even if the Cardinals didn't use old-timey names, they'd have Stubby Clapp. It's a blowout. Here's what the Rangers can muster:
Don Zimmer isn't necessarily a funny name, but Don Zimmer is inherently funny, so he makes it.
I even tried to rig the category to see if it could be closer, like "Funniest Dirty Name in Team History," but the Cardinals had a player named Dick Cole. That's ... it's just ... they'd beat every team, not just the Rangers. All the Rangers would have is Rusty Staub and Rusty Greer, which both sound dirty if you precede the names with "The," as in if you were to give someone "The Rusty Greer." That's all they had, though.
The Rangers do get a couple of runs back for having a mayor in the 1800s named George W. Finger, though.
Game 2 Winner: Cardinals, 14-2
3. Beloved Hall-of-Famer from the Area
Quick, think of two Hall-of-Famers who are still alive, and are both as beloved as any players in the history of baseball. Difficulty: Dick Cole is not in the Hall of Fame.
There are few possibilities, but each World Series area can claim one. Yogi Berra is from St. Louis and Ernie Banks is from Dallas. It's always tough to compare players across positions, but off the top of your head, which one was better? Exactly. Both players had long valuable careers, playing substantial time at a premium up-the-middle position. It's as close as can be, even if you go by Wins Above Replacement: Berra accrued 61.9 over his career, and Banks put up 64.4. That's basically a coin flip.
But this is a post about the World Series. Yogi played in 14, and Banks played in ... let's see, carry the four ... divide by the remainder ... zero. He played in zero World Series. It wasn't his fault the Cubs stunk, but as a tiebreaker, it's unavoidable.
Game 3 Winner: Cardinals, 5-4
4. Reviews of Area Hooters from Yelp
"If you want to know how classy and erudite a city is, look at the quality of their Hooters." -- No one, ever.
Until now, that is. So here's the best review for each. First, the representative from Arlington:
The store was not very busy which made fast service very easy, but for some reason it was taking a while for the beer to poor. This hooters has free beer due to the liquor license not being given to them yet.
Not only do they have free beer for some completely nonsensical reason, but they give it to the disadvantaged too. That's hard to top. But here's the one from St. Louis:
You've seen one you seen them all but let me tell you. There is some drama between the girls at these places. I think some of them really are competitive against each other.
That kind of teaches you about life, you know? It's one thing to order some wings, get your ogle on, and chow down, but if you can learn an important sociological lesson at the same time, I think everyone benefits. You, society ... everyone.
Game 4 Winner: Cardinals, 8-4
5. Movie Filmed in the City But Entirely Associated with Another City
There have been movies and TV shows set in both cities. You and your friends probably quote John Larroquette Show lines back and forth, so it's not like you need me to tell you that. But there was also a movie shot in each city that had no earthly business being shot in that city. They shot Robocop in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex, for one. That's the story of post-millennial Detroit being such a crime-infested wasteland that they needed robot police, and it wasn't even shot in Detroit. For shame. Though it's possible that the Detroit Film Office wasn't going to be so quick with the filming permits.
Paul Verhoeven: Okay, so it's the future. And Detroit is a teeming shithole.
Detroit Film Office: No.
So you can kind of understand why it had to be shot somewhere else. But Escape From New York was shot in St. Louis, which is just absurd. I'm sure there were logistical reasons, and there's an easy joke in here about apocalyptic settings and St. Louis, but it's not like John Carpenter couldn't find parts of New York that already looked like a futuristic prison.
Game 5 Winner: Rangers, 7-5
6. Unintentionally Hilarious Quote about the City from Wikipedia
This is a rigged category. St. Louis has a very boring Wikipedia page. Really, this is the only mildly amusing quote in the whole thing:
St. Louis has long had a reputation as being one of America's soccer hotbeds.
That's hotbeds, plural. Look out, Columbus. St. Louis is gunnin' for you.
But the category makes it in this article because to ignore the entry on Arlington would be a crime:
The brothers Vinnie Paul Abbott and Darrell Abbott are the two most notable musicians from Arlington who formed the metal group Pantera. Ever since Darrell died on December 8, 2004 friends, family, and the community participate in the Ride For Dime event every year on August 20, Darrell's birthday. This attraction includes music, a ride by his cemetery, and booze.
The danger of Wikipedia is that some well-meaning fool could come by and fix everything that's right in that passage. The grammar could be fixed, the description of the Ride For Dime event could be elaborated ... it would ruin everything. So in case that treasure of the internet is ever lost to us, just know you can find it here. And it's also the reason why the Rangers will win Game 6.
Game 6 Winner: Rangers, 10-0
7. Famous Position Player Pitching
It's one thing for a utility guy like Wilson Valdez pitch, but both teams in the 2011 World Series have had legitimate superstars pitch in a regular-season game. The Cardinals seem to have the upper hand because their representative is Stan Musial, one of the greatest players to ever live. He was signed as a pitcher by the Cardinals in 1937, but he injured his arm before reaching the majors.
On the last day of the 1952 season, though, Musial pitched to one batter as part of a publicity stunt, giving up a line drive on the only pitch he ever threw in the majors to a left-handed hitter who was hitting right-handed.
Managers need to screw around like that more often these days.
But the competition is the Rangers and Jose Canseco and, man, is that tough competition. When Canseco pitched a game in 1993, he blew out his arm and eventually had to miss the rest of the year. This is the second-most Jose Canseco thing to ever happen in the history of Jose Canseco. It's one of the funniest injury-related stories in baseball history. Kind of.
The Cards take it, though, only because ranking Canseco ahead of Musial on any list -- even if it's a list made up of people with twin brothers named "Ozzie" -- would bring down the wrath of the baseball gods like you wouldn't believe.
Game 7 Winner: Cardinals, 9-5
Again, these rankings are very scientific, so don't even bother arguing with them. Looks like St. Louis in seven. The computer said so.
Power Rankings of Yesteryear:
9/30 - Likable Playoff Stars
8/24 - Perfect Utility Infielders
8/17 - Franchise home run loners
8/10 - Ballpark quirks
8/2 - General manager conversations
7/26 - Trade deadline strategies
7/19 - Ballpark names
7/5 - Mascots
6/27 - Promotional giveaways
6/21 - Health inspection reports
6/13 - Random ex-major leaguers in minor-league system
6/6 - Awesome names in draft history
5/31 - Team logos
5/24 - Annoying people
5/17 - Song titles
5/10 - Hair metal bands
5/3 - Sitcom locations
4/24 - Team names