This weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to an actual “Hollywood party” in the actual “Hollywood Hills.” The music was very cool. The adult beverages were flowing. And the waffle/bacon/brie sandwiches they served would blow your mind apart. Also, and I’ve never been much of a name-dropper, so I won’t say who, but there were familiar faces from both film and television at this party. A good time was definitely had by all. I’m not much of a “party” guy, but I do enjoy having a good time.
The opposite of a good time is when the party is a kid’s birthday — if you are not yourself a kid. Why the hell am I being invited to a kid’s birthday party? If I were a parent, I wouldn’t want anyone like me anywhere near my kids. I don’t know why parents do this to people. The kid has barely any idea who these random adults are. The adults have barely an idea who the random kids are. The food is below-average. The drinks are gross syrup water. The cake is always disappointing. And I can’t fit in the bouncy castle … all because they are for kids.
The adults mostly know each other, but they’re all just doing time watching the clock tick excruciatingly slow until they’ve been there long enough that their lies about having to be somewhere else will not be so upsetting to the parents throwing the party who are always upset when you have to leave, ever. And to top it all off, we get to pay for this “fun” with a present.
And this is pretty much what the final month of the baseball season is this year. There are eight playoff spots available, and we pretty much know who those eight teams are going to be, so we’re all just doing time until the season ends. I wish it were the Hollywood Hills party, but we are lined up for just about the most boring September in the history of baseball. I guess there are still some questions as to who will win their divisions and who will be the wild card and who will have the best overall record, but there are no real doubts as to who the eight teams are.
Okay, so now what do we do? Sure, most of us are still tracking along with individual players for our fantasy baseball teams. It will be interesting to see if Jose Bautista and Justin Upton win the MVP awards that they currently deserve. And watching if Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw can continue their dominance and win the Cy Young awards. Other than that, there ain’t much.
So, here’s what we have to do: we start rooting for one of the eight playoff-bound teams to collapse. It sounds horrible and mean and spiteful, but I swear it is for the greater good. If any one of these eight fall apart this last month, they will easily be put in the conversation for worst collapses in the history of baseball.
It’s really amazing when these happen. A few years ago the Mets had a seven-game lead with a month left and lost the division to the Phillies. The Dodgers have had a few late-season disasters, which really don’t seem that bad now that Frank McCourt has helped set the new standard for team suffering. And a few decades back, the Phillies had what most people consider the worst collapse ever when they had a seven-game lead with only 13 games left in the season, broke down and lost the division — brutal.
Okay, so what team are we going to root against? Hmm. Maybe all of them. Nah. That’s too easy — and too hard. That’s a lot of rooting against — and most of us have jobs and families and hobbies and whatnot. All right, I understand. You’re feeling a little squeamish about wishing a debacle upon a team that isn’t your natural rival. I dig it. You’re a good person. That’s why I’m here. I’m a bad person. Just tell them I made you do it.
Right now, in the American League, the three division winners are the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers with the Red Sox in the wild card. And in the National League the Phillies, Brewers and Diamondbacks are winning their divisions with the Braves holding down the wild card. So, who do we cast our first spell on? This is tough, because I really want this to work. I want to know that I have the ability to influence the course of people’s lives with whom I have no contact.
Yankees: It’s easy to root against the Yankees. Everyone hates the Yankees. Most Yankee fans are the most obnoxious people this country has and they may be single-handedly responsible for global warming. [Editor’s note: Despite extensive research into the matter, the only evidence of this we could find was an email from Jed saying he was sure this is true.] They’re going to win the division or the wild card. The Rays are still slightly alive, and they’ve got the talent, but that team just seems like it’s missing what it takes.
Red Sox: Coming in a very close to the Yankees in obnoxiousness is the Red Sox Nation. Now, full disclosure, I am a Red Sox fan. More full disclosure, I am really obnoxious about it. But this is a team that has suffered greatly over the decades and they already had one of the all-time epic collapses in 1978 when Bucky Dent ruined everybody’s life with his unlikely game-winning home run. It doesn’t really matter whether they win the division or the wild card; they’re in the playoffs.
Tigers: Here’s a team that nobody really gives rat’s butt about and would be a really good candidate for our jinx. But they are in the Central Division. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Central Division. It’s not good. It’s bad. Very bad. It’s like the Detroit of divisions. I thought the White Sox might be able to make things interesting, but then they got swept this last weekend and now their season is over. RIP. Oh, but there’s still the Cleveland Indians! Just kidding.
Rangers: So far, these have got to be the guys we work our voodoo on. I know it’s going to ruin things between me and Josh Hamilton, but I hope he can see that this isn’t personal. I need this to happen. We all need this. Of course, if the Rangers collapse, then that means the Angels are in the playoffs with their “baseball the right way” garbage-style of play. I’d rather watch a “Celebrity Rehab” marathon while Dr. Drew made me eat vegan food while he paraded around in nothing but a smoking jacket and a thong.
Diamondbacks: This seems like the team that is most likely to collapse. And nobody in Arizona seems to care either way. I kind of like these guys. Also, if they collapse, then that means the Giants will be in the playoffs. There are a few things wrong with this. First, I always enjoy seeing the previous year’s champ not make the playoffs — any sport, doesn’t matter. Probably because I’m evil, but maybe just because I enjoy seeing the randomness of sports so clearly depicted. Second, the baseball world needs to know that last year’s Giants team was a fluke and they hair-brained way that Brian Sabean assembled that team should not be anyone’s standard. And third, I think the baseball gods (or God, depending on your belief system) already did the them a favor last year when they sent the Padres on a 10-game losing streak to help the Giants win the division.
Brewers: These guys are a lock. They’ve got a cake-walk schedule the rest of the way, and the Cardinals and Reds already look like they’ve quit. Besides, there is no way Bud Selig would ever let that happen to his “former” team. The only question for them is who do they play first.
Phillies: I think we’re all starting to get a little tired of the Phillies. One more year of them and they’re definitely in that Red Sox/Yankees den of obnoxiousness. As a city, they’re already there, but they haven’t quite done it for long enough as an elite team to bother everybody. The offense is still suspect and Ryan Howard’s skills, like all fat athletes before him, are quickly fading — and his contract extension hasn’t even started yet (yikes). But this pitching staff is crazy good. They’re in. A jinx would be a waste of time.
Braves: I saved them for last because as I was writing this column, I realized that I would actually have to pick someone to collapse. This is a very good team. But it has flaws everywhere and their manager Fredi Gonzalez spends his time hovering between not-terrible and did-he-really-just-do-that. The players keep getting injured, the offense is middling and, as incredible as the bullpen has been, there’s a really good chance that all of their arms will fall off from overuse.
So, here it is: Atlanta Braves, I root against thee. Your collapse is imminent. Better luck next year.[Editor’s note: Jed, are you sure this has nothing to do with the founder of this website being a Braves fan?] [Note to Editor: WHAT? Outrageous! I would never do such a thing. That would be totally out of character for me!] [Editor’s note: So, yes?] [Note to Editor: Maybe.]
Hold on a second. I just had an idea. Oh, man! What if we had two collapses? Wow! The Braves and the Yankees. Now I’m starting to get excited. This is starting to sound like the greatest party that ever happened. And everyone’s invited (except kids, of course). No velvet rope. Unlimited capacity. Open bar. All-you-can-eat buffet. No restrictions based on race, creed or color. Everybody hooks up with a guy or girl or both or whatever.
Now, that would be a September to remember. Fingers crossed.