I’ve been promising this post for nearly two months. Time to share it, I guess.
As promised, here is my accounting of how I would evaluate each major league franchise were the Royals ever contracted/moved away from Kansas City and I was in the market for a new team.
There are several factors that would go into selecting a new team. The team would need to be competitive. Not necessarily a shoe-in for the post-season, but at least in the running for a division title more often than not. They need a history I could glom onto. And they would need to have cool hats/uniforms. If I’m jumping on a bandwagon I need to look good when doing so.
I crunched the numbers and divided the league into these groups:
The Definite Nos:
The entire AL East. I’ve hated no team in any sport in my life more than I’ve hated the Yankees. Part of that hate made me jump on the Red Sox bandwagon for several years, but unless we move to Boston, I can’t see myself ever being a true Sox fan. I’ve been on the Baltimore bandwagon before, and that will never be as good as it was in the 1990s. Tampa Bay is a great story, but odds are they’re going to fall back to mediocrity, and remain there, soon. And while there are many things to like about Toronto, you kind of have to be a masochist to pick a non-NY/BOS team from the East.
White Sox: Blech. Why would you ever pick the Sox if you were jumping on a Chicago bandwagon?
Colorado: I’ve never had strong feelings for this franchise. I have relatives and friends in Denver, but they still aren’t compelling to me. Bad colors, too.
San Diego: Great city, but a thoroughly uninteresting team with a long history of heinous uniforms.
Philadelphia: They made me cry in 1980. And they’re beginning an epic fall from grace.
Atlanta: Never liked them. No reason to now, especially since you can’t see all their games for free anymore.
NY Mets: I can’t be liking a New York team.
Miami: There is a certain romance in liking what should be MLB’s most Latin franchise. But their owner is an ass and their uniforms are hideous.
Arizona: Bad uniforms, bad park.
Houston: See Arizona.
Minnesota: Great new park, nice uniforms, some likable players, friendly Midwestern fans. But they seem destined to fall from their success of the last decade and only be in the pennant chase occasionally.
Pittsburgh: They’re a great story this year, Andrew McCutchen is a joy to watch, and the Indianapolis Indians are their AAA affiliate. Great park, great uniforms, great history. But a tiny market in a division that also has St. Louis and Chicago does not make for a promising future.
Cincinnati: On TV here in Indy, and Great America Ballpark is two hours away, so they would be the easiest team to follow. It would be fun to sit down with the girls each night to watch the Reds and explain the details of the game. But, even with their recent spending binge, a small market team destined to be looking up at the Cardinals and Cubs most years. Plus, everyone in Cincinnati thinks Pete Rose is great.
Oakland: The most unsettled franchise in the game. If they stay in Oakland they’re going to be awful. If they move, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get better. And they abandoned Kansas City in the 60s, so it would be tough to get onboard with them. Keep in mind my summer 2012 hat is a 1955 A’s hat.
LA/Anaheim/California Angels: Some of their uniforms have been cool over the years. Others awful. And I think going to a game in Anaheim would be nice. I like several of their current players. But there are better choices if I pick a West Coast team.
Milwaukee: Shitty uniforms and the foul stench of Bud Selig is on the franchise. If they brought back the Harvey’s Wallbangers unis, I’d reconsider.
St. Louis: I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with the Cardinals. I’ve been to many games in St. Louis, and they’re always a good time. I have lots of friends, in several cities, who are Cardinals fans, so that would be cool. I can be at Busch Stadium in four hours. But, having spent most of my life in Western Missouri, it would be difficult for me to fully get on board with an Eastern Missouri team. They would get a long look, though.
Detroit: Historic franchise, great uniforms, Midwestern and in the American League. You don’t think I’d like wearing that old English D hat? The bonus of cheering for them to beat up on the ex-Royals if the franchise left KC.
Cleveland: GREAT uniforms, with one notable exception. Midwestern and AL. Have a history of understanding how to build with youth. At least when they invest in a rebuilding process there is hope that it will show results within eight years. Not a ridiculous drive from Indy.
Seattle: I like the Pacific Northwest. I dig their hats. They’re not likely to contend, but I think it would be cool to be a Mariners fan for some reason.
Los Angeles: Tons of history, so I could get away with wearing sweet, old school Brooklyn hats. Eventually they’re going to turn it around and be a player again. Yet, even with their recent struggles, it seems a little douchey to become a fan of a club like them.
Texas: Popular bandwagon pick #1. A franchise that seems to be headed in the right direction, both short and long-term. If you’re going to hop on a bandwagon, might as well be them rather than the Yankees or Red Sox. Of course, once they finally win a World Series, it’s going to be like 2004 was for the Red Sox bandwagon and everyone will suddenly be a Rangers fan.
(Update: I saw the Rangers in KC earlier this month. The bandwagon appears to be full, as there were tons of Rangers fans in the house, something that was unthinkable not too long ago.)
Washington: Popular bandwagon pick #2. I should have jumped on this one a couple years ago, before it was cool to do so. A definite up-and-coming franchise, but as they’re based on so much youth, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever capitalize on their potential. Hmm, sounds familiar.
Would also provide excellent conversation shifters:
“Can you believe what’s going on in Washington? Somebody needs to clean that town up.”
“No kidding. I can’t believe how much money they gave Jason Werth!”
San Francisco: I lived there briefly, so have some geographic claim to them. Great hats. Some pretty big history. Fantastic ballpark.
The Wild Card:
Cubs: I’ve hated the Cubs most of my life. But becoming a Cubs fan in Indianapolis would be pretty easy. Quick road trips to Wrigley. Lots of other fans to commiserate with. Tons of cool hats. And odds are Theo Epstein is going to get the franchise turned around. Whether he breaks their curse or not is another story, but I expect the Cubs to be good again soon.
All that said, aside from random people who are Yankees and Red Sox fans, there may be no douchier team to follow than the Cubs. And when I mentioned this to my buddy here who is a life-long Reds fan, he said he would no longer be my friend if I ever became a Cubs fan. So they’re a mostly no, but with the tinniest glimmer of hope.