I know to whom I can belong

Pedro returns to Fenway in 2006 (Photo taken by me).  Next to Fred Lynn, he's my favorite Sox player of all time.  How can I NOT root for him?

Pedro returns to Fenway in 2006 (Photo taken by me). I still adore him so how can I NOT root for him?

Okay so I caved and watched most of the first game of the NLCS.  Baseball has my heart, I can’t help it.

The tough part, for me, about the NLCS is deciding which team I want to win.  The Phillies won it all last year (and I was only happy about that because it happened against the Rays) so it isn’t like their fan base is desperate for another win.  Plus there is Brett Myers.  I just absolutely hate to have to actually cheer for him.  Add to that my fondness for the Mets and you see my problems.  But then there’s Manny.  Honestly, were it not for Manny, this would be a no-brainer.  I’d be cheering for the Dodgers to go all the way if only so Joe Torre could drop  his pants and moon the entire state of New York.  I would love for Joe Girardi to choke on his own bitter bile while watching Joe Torre get doused in Champagne.  Alas, as I wrote to a friend last night, I’d rather pick out each of my eyelashes one at a time than watch Manny Ramirez win another World Series.  These types of decisions shouldn’t be so tough.

So one player on each team makes me not want to cheer for that team.  Let’s take Myers and Manny out of the equation.  I, pretty much, like the rest of each team.  I like their managers too.  I don’t care much for either of their fan bases.  None of this helps in making a final decision on which team I want to win.  I know, let’s watch a game.

It wasn’t until Manny hit his home run last night that I realized how much I didn’t want him to be in the World Series (I think we’ve established that I’m spiteful, yes?).  So, at that point, I knew (at least for a night) that I was rooting for the Phillies.  I had a lot to do last night and did it while mostly just listening to the game.  When I heard Chip Caray announce that Brad Lidge was coming in to pitch the ninth with just a two-run lead, it became clear to me how much I really wanted the Phillies to win.  I cursed Charlie Manuel up and down, left and right…conveniently forgetting that Lidge pitched well in the NLDS.  In the end, it all worked out.  “Brad Lidge is back!” read more than one message on Twitter.  Well, at least he was back last night.  (Sidenote about Manuel…he seems to have taken the Terry Francona approach with Lidge, acknowledging that he has struggled but determined to support  him by letting him pitch his way through.  I respect him for this and so far it has worked.  But I’m still not totally sold.)

My heart isn’t still completely on the Phillies bandwagon.  I worry that, regardless of what ends up happening, the Dodgers are a stronger team than the Phillies and if the Yankees happen to make it to the World Series, they’ll be better equipped (the Dodgers, that is) to beat them.  Then again, I’m relatively convinced that the smugness is going to choke all who play for the Bronx and the Angels will be in the World Series…so it could be a moot point.

Tonight, though, I won’t lie, tonight I’m rooting for the Phillies.  Pedro Martinez is pitching.  Pedro Martinez.  In a playoff game.  I still get chills thinking back to Cleveland in 1999.  So the idea of Pedro pitching against Manny – again – and coming out victorious – again – gives me a new set of goosebumps.  I’ll be watching (maybe via dvr given the game starts at 4:07 ET on TBS) and I’ll be excited and hoping for Pedro to dominate.  I’ll settle, though, for Pedro to pitch well and get the win.

Oh yeah, the ALCS begins tonight.  I should be more enthused, I suppose, but I’m not.  My fingers will be crossed that Lackey does that thing he does and Sabathia does that thing he used to do and the game ends with the good guys winning.  I guess that’s all I can ask for now.

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