DETROIT, MI: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers goes after his 25th win against the Baltimore Orioles during a MLB game at Comerica Park. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Every team has a star, a guy who gets people lining up at odd hours before his bobblehead day. But how likable are the stars for each team playing in the NLDS and ALDS? This completely objective and scientific study aims to figure that out. Here are the teams ranked by how likable their star is.
1. Yankees - Derek Jeter
Do you seriously know how much you would love Derek Jeter if he played for your team? Do you realize how smitten with him you'd be? He was a rookie who led a team that broke a decade-plus championship-less streak for the Yankees. That's pretty much Cubs territory for them, and then he won four more with them. The best way to explain it is that he's an obnoxious Buster Posey, only more so, and that's still a pretty likable fellow.
Also, he's first on the list because I'm trolling for angry comments that lead to angry links that lead to completely non-judgmental and beautiful page views. Do your worst, Red Sox Nati ... oh, right, they haven't logged onto the internet for a few days. We should probably bring them a baked ziti like the characters do in The Sopranos because they're sad and don't feel like cooking.
2. Rays - Evan Longoria
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who realize that all of the Eva Longoria/Evan Longoria jokes were dried up before and those who don't. It's a useful way to classify people so you can ignore them. Unfortunately, one of those people is your Uncle Stanley, and he just realized that their names are similar. So look out over the holidays.
Though we were close to a renaissance. If the actress Longoria had a different photo op than this, that might have been the inspiration for a full-length screenplay. Hey, That Girl's Got My Cap!, staring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eva Longoria. As is, what can you do with a picture of her in an Angels hat?
Wait, don't answer that.
3. Diamondbacks - Justin Upton
Justin Upton is the closest thing they have to a star, and he's pretty underrated. He plays on a rival of my favorite team, and I don't think that most Giants fans hate him just yet. That says something. But more importantly, he gives me a chance to write about this video. I'd love to embed it, but MLB is weird with what they let you embed.
But watch that play. Skip to the meat, which is about 30 seconds in, if you need to. You have:
a. Justin Upton getting hit in the head with a baseball, which is especially horrific if you're aware if his concussion scare earlier in the week, was accompanied by ...
b. ... Mark Grace exclaiming that Upton got hit "right in the coconut", as ...
c. ... a Doobie Brothers song blared over the P.A.
All of that awful was just swirling around a thirty-second span. I watched the video ten times, and it made me feel like I had a concussion myself, which then made me feel like I was part of a secret government experiment on sending concussion rays through the computer via concussion videos, Mark Grace, and the Doobie Brothers. The more I think about it, the more that seems like the only possible answer for that much awful. Occam's Razor.
I like Justin Verlander, though. He throws a 100-mph fastball. He was drafted just after Matt Bush in the draft, which annoys Padres fans. And finally, he's responsible for this:
If it was on purpose, it was hilarious. If it was accidental, it was even more hilarious. It was someone picking up a running hair dryer when they heard the phone ring. It was probably the most magical play of 2011, if not the decade.
5. Cardinals - Albert Pujols
People who hate Albert Pujols weird me out. I can't imagine going back in a time machine and booing the hell out of Honus Wagner or Joe DiMaggio. This is your chance to watch Albert Pujols, dammit. He's now. He's the guy you'll be prattling on about when you have liver spots.
He's not especially likable, though. Too good. That's annoying. So middle of the pack for him. Plus he can heal broken bones with his mind, which is just creepy.
But now more than ever, it's hard for this to not be about Albert, not when he was standing there with a black soft cast/splint wrapped around his broken left wrist and updated medical reports forecast that he could be lost for six to eight weeks instead of the earlier optimism of a four- to six-week absence.
Two weeks later:
Oh, golly, looks like I'm better and great again! Hooray!
6. Red Sox - Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia is a ... oh, crap, that's right. Sorry.
6. Brewers - Prince Fielder
Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder? Considering who got the extension, it's clear who the Brewers would like you to think of as their star. But if I pick Braun, I don't get to put this video up again:
So Fielder it is. Little-known fact: Prince was five years old in that commercial. But the commercial made me hungry, so he drops in the rankings. Wish I could find some three-year-old frozen hamburger patties at midnight in this podunk town, but no.
7. Rangers - Josh Hamilton
He's likable enough, but because he exists, he's created an annoying sub-species of baseball fan: the guy who moans that he's sick of Hamilton's story. "Man, okay, we get it, dude kicked drugs. Move on."
He kicked heroin, showed up four years after leaving baseball, had 50 at-bats in low-A, and became a star in the majors the next year. Take any one of those things, stick it together with the eventual outcome, and it's a great story. He kicked heroin and became a star in the majors. Awesome! Touching story. He left baseball for four years, then came back and became a star. Gee, that's unusual! He had 50 at-bats in low-A, then hit well in the majors the next year. What a natural!
All four? That's ridiculous. It's an all-time story, and you'll have to hear it every year or so. The people who complain are why Hamilton is as low as he is.
Here's where I really have to use my discretion. Who is the "star" of the Phillies? Well, there isn't just one, so it's dealer's choice. Ryan Howard's an affable guy. I'm really interested in sociolinguistics, so the series of grunts and clicks that Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay use to communicate with the rest of the world really interests me. You can't hate on that.
Chase Utley it is, then. He's a great player. But I don't trust him. I'd trust Jeter. Heck, I'd let Jeter take my wife out to dinner when I'm out of town, and I'm not saying he'd be a saint. There's a chance I'd be stuck raising a baby Jeter, but that wouldn't be a problem, most likely on account of the baby Jeter getting all of the little things done. Like, you'd ask baby Jeter to pick up his toys, and not only would that already have been done, but he would have given 110% and organized his sister's toys too because we're all just out here for one goal, and we do what we can, pushing each other toward that goal.
Utley though ... can't put my finger on it. I don't actively dislike him. Just don't trust him. His peers feel the same way, voting him the second meanest player in baseball. Maybe he's just misunderstood, like Luke Perry. But someone has to finish last.