In team news, Craig Counsell came in second in the manager of the year balloting, while Christian Yelich was officially named Most Valuable Player of the NL for 2018, winning 29 out of 30 votes. I still say Cousnell should’ve won Manager of the Year. He did the most with the least.
Rooting for Laundry
To expand on some of the topics I discussed in last week’s entry, I wanted to take a moment to discuss more about the “performative rivalry” between the Cubs and the Brewers.
I don’t really put a lot of stock in “fandom,” especially in sports, as it’s mostly just empty tribalism with nobody having any real justification for the team they support other than happenstance. I happen to be a Brewers fan, because my dad took me to Brewers games at Milwaukee County Stadium growing up. I mostly love baseball. If I had grown up outside Pittsburgh I’m sure I’d be a Pirates fan, or if I lived in Michigan, like some of my cousins, I’d be a Tigers fan.
As Jerry Seinfeld observed in his recent “Jerry Before Seinfeld” special on Netflix, what you’re really doing when you’re a sports fan is “rooting for laundry.” The players change teams, the teams change cities and managers and ownership. The only constant is the uniforms, so you’re really just rooting for the guys wearing the shirts of the team you like, hence rooting for laundry.
Still, there’s something to be said for “rootability” of a given team. For instance, you can’t really convince anybody outside New York City that they should be fans of the Yankees. They have too much money, and they treat the rest of the league as their farm system. If I lived in New York, I’d be a Mets fan for sure. It’s so much more fun rooting for David than for Goliath. Sure, the odds are against you, but what’s the fun in rooting for something with heavily favored odds?
Maybe it’s because I’m a middle child. My older brother is the oldest. My sister is the first girl. My younger brother is the youngest. But me? There’s nothing especially remarkable about being the third child, the second son. I was never the “-est” of anything growing up. Not oldest, not youngest, not fastest, and not slowest. Daddy sang bass, mama sang tenor, me and little brother joined right in there.
They also have a pretty good track record of not having a lot of hateable players. Aside from Ryan Braun’s PED suspension, they’re not a team that tends to play dirty. Even under several different managers and owners, I’ve never seen the Brewers be the type of team that intentionally throws at hitters for breaking some unwritten rule of “how the game should be played” or any of that stupid nonsense.
So I think that might be part of what I like about the Brewers. They’re not the oldest team - established as the Seattle Pilots in 1969, and moved to Milwaukee in 1970 after the Braves moved back to the east coast in 1966. With a single World Series appearance in 1982, they’re not the winningest team, but they’re also not the worst, having only finished in last place in their division 3 times since moving to the NL.
They’re the “middle child” of MLB franchises. And that’s something I can root for.