Rooting Interests

Texas Rangers fan antlers

via Flickr user keko1984

We spend a good amount of time parsing out which team we’re rooting for in the playoffs. Eric and I go back and forth about these concerns, mostly because it’s a fun way to talk about the players and personalities of the teams and the players. You root for a team because of the vibe that it throws off, then you break down that vibe and, voila!, a baseball conversation.

Which brings us to the impending World Series match-up. I can’t decide which team to root for between the Rangers and the Giants.

Both teams are riding the momentum train, the hard-work train, and the eccentric Jesus Christ Superstar train. They each have their running jokes, their pleasing mix of old veterans and young burners. They both feature some fantastic hairdos, and they both have players who play the game with aggressive joy. Neither has spent much time in the spotlight or the postseason in the last few years. Each is a kind of transplant from traditional East Coast bastions of culture.

Michael Moore is trying, it seems, to make this into some kind of culture war in his tweet: “The wk b4 election, the World Series matchup couldn’t be a better symbol of the war at home: San Francisco v Texas, w/ W. in the front row.”

That’s bullcrap. This series is not a war between, but a celebration of cultures. Of the cultural reps for each team, Brian Wilson is a New Englander who went to LSU playing in San Francisco who touts S&M paraphernalia in interviews, and Josh Hamilton is a tatted addict from North Carolina playing in Texas who instigated the use of an antlers gesture to commemorate running fast, which his Latin teammates have wildly embraced. Each of these players is their team rep because they appear to have the support and admiration of their teammates.

Both of these teams are filled with the reclamation projects and the kids and the kooks that make the playoffs great for the distillation of participants that draw the individuals closer. Making it tough to choose which to root for, though in the end these matters of affinity work themselves out on the reptile brain level, and tend towards the involuntary.

For example, I like the Giants and their band of starting pitchers right this moment, but when I see Elvis Andrus throwing a claw the dugout, I involuntarily grin.

Here’s a pretty good explanation of The Claw & Antlers, which is a fine name for a men’s fraternal organization or a pub.

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