Public Private Lives

I’m not the type to know much about, or care much about, famous people.  But I care very much about the things that some famous people make.  I love to read.  I love television and movies.  And I need a stronger word than love to describe how I feel about music.  Every once in a while, something about the personal life of an author, actor or musician will infiltrate my consciousness.  It bothers me when it happens.  It bothers me because it affects the way I feel about the products that these famous people make.  I went years without listening to Michael Jackson’s music.  It was only after he died that I felt comfortable listening to his songs again.  Now, the dirty laundry of Hollywood is unavoidable.  I’m still a little unclear why Harvey Weinstein is famous, but I know all about his history as a sexual predator.  I actually know who Kevin Spacey is, but with the recent revelations, I wonder if I can ever watch The Usual Suspects again.  I guess that’s the question.  Can I, or should I, separate an artist from his* work?

I think I should be able to separate an artist from his work, but I can’t shake a certain feeling once I know of something bad that the artist has done.  With Michael Jackson, whatever he did with those kids was inappropriate and downright creepy.  But, that doesn’t change Billy Jean or ABC.  Michael Jackson was only 11 when he recorded ABC.  He was an abuse victim himself.  But I just couldn’t listen.  It made me feel creepy by extension when I did, no matter how I tried to rationalize it.

Of course, affecting my enjoyment of a work depends on the type of bad things the celebrity does.  I don’t expect my celebrities to be perfect.  I know there are plenty of adulterers, womanizers and sexists among the celebrities that I enjoy.  I’m not OK with Mick’s behavior, but I can still enjoy the Rolling Stones.  It’s really when the bad behavior turns to rape, abuse or something with children that it taints the artist’s works for me.

It’s lucky, in a way, that I’ve found the Woody Allen movies I’ve seen to be dull.  It makes it easy to skip his work.  But Louis C.K. had a recurring role in Parks & Recreation, and I love Parks & Recreation.  Do I need to skip all of his episodes now?  I know I don’t have to, but I probably will.  Bill Cosby used to be one of the funniest comedians I’d ever seen.  Nothing he can do now can make me laugh.

I feel bad saying this, but I think I may just need to wait for all these sexual predators to die.  It worked with Michael Jackson.  I listen to his music regularly now, and my band has even started covering Billy Jean.  I’m pretty sure Picasso was a despicable person, but he was dead before I was even born, so I’ve never had any trouble enjoying his work.

It’s funny, but rationally I know that an artist’s death doesn’t affect his work, just like his personal shortcomings don’t affect his work.  It doesn’t make sense that someone’s personal life would change my opinion of his public works.  Nor does it make sense that their death would rehabilitate that same work.  Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but I can’t seem to help it


*I’m using his because all of these people that I know about are men.

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The Wonders of a Good Divorce

Now hear me out. I know that divorce is a wrenching experience. But divorce is also the seventh anniversary of your wedding day after the ink dries on your papers. It’s the first awkward date when you’re trying to get back into the game. Divorce is not only the explosive fights and protracted custody battles. Eventually, the pain will fade, and you’ll still be divorced. That’s when the perks of ending a marriage really kick in, and they’re actually a pretty great set of benefits!

Consider:

1) Less parenting, same credit- If you have children with your former spouse, it may seem like the hassle of shuttling kids between homes is a burden you have to bear. Yet the clearest benefit of divorce has to do with children: you have potentially doubled the number of people who will take care of your kid.

When you and your ex move on to new relationships, there are now FOUR incomes to care for the kids. Children are expensive, and splitting the cost of a bike four ways is better savings than any sale could ever offer. Paying for college will be a lot less stressful since at least one of you will have the credit score to cosign on those loans.

Your new partner, or your ex’s, can also cover the weaknesses you have. Suck at math? Pass it off to the step-dad! Need to explain the birds and the bees? Time for your new girlfriend to earn her parenting stripes. You get to remain Mom or Dad, and force your former spouse’s new partner to do the same work without the title!

2) A good reference- Do you cook well? Are you a fastidious homeowner? Are you good in bed? Are you handy with tools? It can be difficult to advertise these skills to a potential partner without sounding like you’re bragging or conceited. That’s when you can call your ex for a personal testimonial. Sure, you may have been emotionally unresponsive or a serial cheater, but they’ll confirm that you actually do make the best sweet potato pie they’ve ever had.

3) Pathos on Demand™- Imagine a person sitting at the end of a bar. Their hair is slightly disheveled; their clothes are stylish, but not pressed. The person has a hollow look in their eyes as they stare through the amber-hued liquor in their glass, trying to find meaning at the bottom. The rest of the patrons are intrigued by this mysterious stranger, but too intimidated by their detached aloofness to approach them. Glances dart in your direction the entire night. Everyone wants to know the pain those eyes have seen.

My divorced friend, you are now that mysterious, interesting stranger. And you can be that person whenever you want.

Everyone else’s trauma requires too much setup or gets way too dark. You’re in the perfect position for interested sympathy that doesn’t become pity. All you have to do is find the right time to drop your emotional bomb. For example:

Party Goer A: “Hey, isn’t this party great?”

Party Goer B: “Yeah, I love music from the 80’s!”

You- *Looks up, shooting a steely gaze off into the distance. Speaks in a low, gravelly voice*

“…so did my ex-wife.”

BOOM. You’re now the center of attention as you recount your star-crossed love. Trust me, it works every time.

So to my fellow divorcees, always remember that you have a bunch of privileges that regular single people can only dream of. And to my married friends, you’re already halfway there, so start planning for the divorce of your dreams now!

 

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Spoilers Don’t Ruin Stories, Avoiding Spoilers Does

One of my friends told me about a habit he has when he starts to watch a new show. If the show is available in its entirety already, he watches the last episode of the series first, and then starts the show from the beginning. I find this to be an odd way to watch television, but not for the reason you might think.  I respect my friend’s decision more than I am perplexed by it, because it flies in the face of the fetishized rituals audiences enact to avoid spoilers.

People disengage from the internet, shut themselves off from the media, and even become angry with family and friends who accidentally reveal plot developments. Remaining spoiler-free has taken on an importance which has long passed absurdity and borders on parody. On some level, I get why audiences like to remain spoiler free. They want to maintain the surprise of the story, and to experience the shock and awe of big reveals and plot twists without them being “ruined” by forehand knowledge. I get it, but I think this desire fundamentally misunderstands what makes reveals and plot twists work.

Surprise is a legitimate emotion to seek when we’re interacting with a story, but the feeling of surprise can come from different sources. The surprises that we are most familiar with derive from the unexpected- twists, reveals and developments that we didn’t expect or anticipate. I argue that this is the weakest form of surprise for two reasons. First, it only works the first time; once the unexpected happens, it is no longer unexpected upon revisiting the story and loses most, if not all, of its impact. Second, and most importantly, it betrays the audience’s expectations. An unexpected surprise works because it manipulates the audience by hiding information, distorting plot elements or, in the most extreme cases, outright lying to the audience. It’s one of the cheapest and laziest way to elicit an emotional response from the audience, and is little more than narrative “catfishing.” And as with real-life catfishing, the audience feels betrayed by the dishonesty needed to maintain the payoff of the big reveal.

The other source of surprise comes from being subtly told what to expect, and then having that expectation fulfilled in a meaningful way. A well-crafted story which progresses logically, consists of characters with clear motivations, and follows through on consequence builds up to its reveal with clues and hints. It’s not the shallow, flash-in-the-pan surprise of being blindsided by a sudden plot development. Instead, anticipation grows slowly and organically with the story as beats and scenes develop and imbue character interactions with meaning and value. When the reveal comes, it doesn’t feel like a shock. It feels like a promise has been kept.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but really think about it. Which surprises have given you the greater sense of pleasure, those which came out of left field and left you scratching your head, or those that hit you like a moment of understanding when you realize the clues were there all along? If you’ve answered the latter, then you have to understand that it was possible for you to figure out the surprise the entire time. The pleasure you feel in the moment of reveal comes from the pieces falling into place, not from the curtain being pulled back to show you something crazy. You had the pieces the whole time.

Spoilers are those pieces. They are the pieces of plot which are taken out of context and regarded as if they are the meaning of the narrative instead of the means by which narrative is delivered. Plot is treated as if it’s the story, but it’s not. Plot is the tool which carries characters, settings, action and consequences. It’s the road, not the journey. So what if you know that the exit is two miles away? In fact, you WANT to know where the road is going, to make sure that you can focus on the journey and ensure you arrive at the proper destination.

The major test of whether something is a good story is whether or not it can be enjoyed a second time. A good story still works even if every plot point is known. And it of course follows that a good story still works even if some plot points are known because of spoilers. The obsession with secrecy, surprise and spoilers has allowed for some poor stories to flourish in our cultural landscape, because we confuse plot and story. Instead of evaluating the story on the merits of what actually makes it good (characters, stakes, etc.) we’ve instead become enamored of the parts of story (plot, reveals, secrets) and the way those parts are delivered.

I want you to try something the next time you watch a movie or television show, or read a book, or play a game. Learn everything you can about it first. Read all the spoilers, fan theories, reviews, everything you can find, and then experience the story. Walk into the story with your eyes wide open, knowing what to expect, and see how it alters your experience. I guarantee it will not ruin your story, and I’d bet money that, in fact, you will enjoy it more. You’ll find that you’ve freed yourself from looking for plot. You’ll be looking for story, for the thing that truly matters when you enter someone else’s creation. Spoilers are real, but they aren’t spoiling the story. They’re spoiling your enjoyment of story because you’ve been convinced that the best way to experience something is to know nothing about it. Try starting at the end, like my friend does. I think you’ll be surprised in the good way.

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Vote

We are fast approaching an off year election.  We are not electing a president or a new congress.  That means most people won’t bother to vote and that’s just wrong.  Off year elections have a huge impact on our day to day lives.  They are when we elect our mayors, our town councils and our boards of education.  They are when we decide local issues like whether to build a new town hall or make a change to the zoning rules.  Some places elect judges in the off years.  They may not have the star power of presidential and mid term elections, but off year elections are where the action is.

All it takes to see what I mean is a look at our current situation.  Last year, we had a presidential election.  There was tons and tons of news coverage.  People got all fired up about it.  We elected the worst possible candidate and now we’re living in the Trump Administration.  This administration has been an unmitigated disaster so far.  It has been incompetent, corrupt, stupid and pathetic.  I feel a little weird saying this since I usually believe it takes 20-25 years to properly assess a presidency, but Trump is the worst president we’ve ever had.  Yet, for most Americans, our day to day lives haven’t changed very much.  We still get up every morning and work too hard for too little.  We spend time with our families and friends.  We go to the movies.  We watch TV.  For most of us, life goes on.

This is just the nature of the American system.  Trump has tried to make significant changes, but he has failed, so far.  Obamacare repeal can’t get through Congress.  The travel ban and the transgender military ban have both been blocked by the courts.  There is no wall along the Mexican border.  We haven’t gotten into any new wars, there is no need to restart the draft.  Trump has even appointed a new Supreme Court Justice, but abortion is still protected.  None of this is to say that we should be complacent.  Trump and his administration are fundamentally immoral and should be fought at every opportunity.  Despite their incompetence, they might get some of these things through if we lose our vigilance.  What it is meant to say is, as I said before, the federal system is set up in a way that preserves the status quo.

Most real change, at least the kind that impacts most Americans from day to day, happens at the local level.  Betsy DeVos is a high profile, easy target, but she doesn’t decide what your kids’ school is going to be like.  That’s up to your town’s board of education.  It’s the local governments that decide which roads will get repaired and where to put the stop signs.  It’s the local governments that decide what to do with those blighted buildings.  It’s the local governments that police us and put out our fires.  They create the zoning rules.  They handle the nitty-gritty work in a crisis by setting up shelters and organizing evacuations.  Not a day goes by without a local government’s decision impacting you or someone you care about.  These are the things that we can all see, hear and feel.  They are the important things.

I believe people should vote in every election, big and small.  But, if you decide you’re only going to vote in the important elections, make it the off year elections.  These are the elections where your voice matters and where things get done.  Make an important difference, go out and vote.

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Blackness

What would James Baldwin have written if he didn’t have to literally defend his humanity? How much time did one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th century spend talking to white people? How much time did he waste talking about white people?

As I think about that, I realize that I don’t want to spend much (if any) time convincing white people that whiteness is bad, or that white supremacy needs to be torn down. That’s white people’s problem, not mine, in the broadest sense, of course; segregated housing and police brutality is definitely my problem in the practical sense, but I’m not interested in shouldering the burden of white pathology anymore.

In fact, I don’t even want to spend much time thinking about white people as a group, or whiteness as a concept. I respect the hell out of Ta-Nehisi Coates, but writing what he writes over and over again sounds like a version of Sisyphus that I can’t even begin to fathom, and that I have zero interest in.

Instead of talking about whiteness, I’m going to talk about blackness. Blackness in space. Blackness in science. Blackness in love. Blackness in education. Blackness in its fullest expression, without defining it in relation to anything else. Whether we’re saying that blackness is deficient, or blackness is better, we’re still orienting ourselves on someone else. Blackness just is.

I don’t mean turning a blind eye to racism, or pretending that everything is A-OK. But instead of “ending white supremacy,” I’m thinking about black fulfillment on its own terms, without even considering white people. Framing black life through the lens of white supremacy STILL centers whiteness. As a friend of mine put it, “Shit. De-centering whiteness is still about whiteness.” And I’ve had enough of worrying about whiteness.

I’m black, and that means a great deal to me. My social and cultural touchstones and perspectives come from that, but are also mixed in with influences from across time and space. I want to live my life as a black person who has access to more information and cultural influences than any other group of people in history. That means writing, cooking for my son, working in my community, spending time with friends, traveling, and doing all of the things this unique moment in time affords me. With all of the wonders this life offers, I can’t be bothered to think about what white people mean or don’t mean. In the spirit of Senator Maxine Waters, I’m reclaiming my time from arguing about how others perceive and value my life.

 

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There’s Just No Word For It

According to the internet, there is no word in the English language for hating to be photographed.  That really surprises me.  It seems like such a common thing, how can there be no word for it?  I know I suffer from this affliction.  But every time I talk about it, I just say I hate having my picture taken.  I think we need to coin a new word.

The most obvious word would be photophobia, but that’s already taken.  It means an extreme sensitivity to light.  While there are cases of stealing words and giving them new meanings, I’m not really comfortable with that.  I think we need something new.  Unfortunately, and this is another strange thing, there aren’t that many other words for being photographed.  You can have your picture taken, but picturephobia is ugly and unclear.  It might mean a dislike of having your picture taken, but it could just as easily be a fear of eight by ten color glossies.  You can take a selfie, but that only covers a small fraction of the issue.  So selfiephobia is out.  Other words for it, like taking a snapshot or a snap just aren’t common enough to be effective.  And snapshotphobia is even uglier than picturephobia.

Maybe we’ll have better luck looking at why we hate the experience of being photographed.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll bet I’m fairly typical of the type.  A lot of it comes from the fact that I photograph badly.  I never look like myself in a picture.  I can’t smile on command.  My eyes are closed more often than not.  I react to seeing myself in a picture the way most people react to hearing a recording of their voice.  I honestly can’t believe it’s me in the picture.  Everything about a picture is uncomfortable for me.  Vampires are lucky.

So, where does that get us for words?  I’m not sure it gets us anywhere.  Maybe malephoto, but that could just be a bad photograph, not necessarily a person who photographs badly.

Perhaps instead of looking at what we people who hate to be photographed are, we should look at what we are not.  That’s actually easy.  There is a word for people who photograph well and like being photographed.  They are photogenic.  People like me are not photogenic.  What if that makes us antiphotogenic?  It is a bit of a mouthful, but it doesn’t sound too bad.  And it has the advantage of sounding like a real word.  Plus it sounds all official.  Saying that I don’t like getting my picture taken makes me sound whiny.  Saying I’m antiphotogenic makes it sound like a condition, something beyond my control.

I think I like antiphotogenic.  That’s how I will describe myself from now on.  I don’t simply hate having my picture taken, I am antiphotogenic.  Now the trick is to get others to use the word.  All the antiphotogenic people of the world should unite and use it.  Maybe, in time, it can reach the dictionary.  Then, when someone searches the internet to find a word for someone who doesn’t like having their picture taken, there will be a word for it, antiphotogenic.

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Has Donald Trump Ruined The Star-Spangled Banner

A guest post from my mom, Maryann Glotzer:

I went to The Hartford Symphony concert Saturday night. It was wonderful featuring some classics and some new music and instruments I’d never seen before. To celebrate some newly minted citizens, including Director Carolyn Kuan, the concert started with The Star-Spangled Banner. I automatically stood as I have my whole life. My whole life I have felt chills listening to our national anthem – not Saturday night. Saturday night I felt ambivalent. Standing was a reflex but once I’d stood I had second thoughts. Black lives do matter. Should I have knelt? Just because you are successful doesn’t mean you forfeit your right to take a stand. Even with Trump as President, employers don’t get to dictate their employees’ politics. Should I be linking arms with my fellow concertgoers? Ultimately, I just stood there and Ms. Kuan seemed delighted that her audience joined in her celebration. Today I’m wondering, has all the bigotry and hatred spewing from The White House ruined The Star-Spangled Banner?

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So About Dragon Ball Super Episodes 109 & 110…

 

I wrote just a few weeks ago about how Kale’s sudden ability to control her Berserker Super Saiyan form was symptomatic of DBS’ main problem, that transformations and power have become untethered from any grounding in the reality of the show’s universe. Power just happens, and the relationships between characters and their relative strength is absurd. Episode 109 continues that problem, as illustrated by the screencap above. Even though we’ve known about this transformation for weeks, it still managed to feel like it came out of thin air, because in the context of the show, it did. No one has any concrete explanation for how Goku achieved Ultra Instinct, what it means or even how it happened.

I think I was wrong though. The power level complaint still feels incomplete for why I’m so consistently dissatisfied with DBS. And in the end, I’m willing to accept deus ex machina and alot of narrative nonsense in anime if I’m enjoying it (*looks at Attack on Titan*). I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks trying to understand exactly what the problem with DBS is, and I think Ifinally have the answer. I feel silly because the issue has literally been in front of my face the entire time. Dragon Ball Super has very poor production quality, and that negatively affects my enjoyment of it.

Believe me, I take no pleasure in writing that. I understand that anime production is hard, and often limited by cost and the difficulty of animation generally. But Dragon Ball is not some unknown anime from a small production house which needs to make a shoestring budget work. It is one of the premiere media franchises in the entire world, stretching across dozens of movies and specials, hundreds of episodes, thousands of pages of manga and millions of dollars in merchandise. Given that pedigree, it’s reasonable to expect not only competent animation, but a level of quality which rivals the best the industry has to offer. When measured up against the other great anime of this era though, Dragon Ball Super falls glaringly short. Take a look at some of the fight scenes from other popular anime in the last couple of years:

My Hero Academia (Midoriya vs. Stain)

One Punch Man (Saitama vs. Boros)

Attack on Titan (Mikasa vs. the Female Titan)

And then, the fight we’ve been waiting for, that’s been hyped since the Universe Survival Arc began: Jiren vs. Goku

I’m not an artist, composer or a director, so I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the differences in quality between DBS and the other anime. Yet I can see it with my eyes; I can hear it with my ears. Those other anime frame their action with more dynamic camera angles. The animation is more fluid. The audio design captures the sounds of combat better. The voice acting and scripts convey emotion more clearly. The music compliments the drama. In essentially every production regard, the other scenes I’ve included here are better than DBS.

Again, animation is hard and expensive. All of the anime listed above have been criticized at one point or another for dips in animation quality. But when the time comes, they’ve delivered the visual and audio spectacle we expect from them. I didn’t expect for Goku vs. Ribrianne to wow me, but I DID expect it from Goku vs. Jiren. The result was underwhelming to look at and listen to, and visually indistinguishable from the other fights we’ve seen in DBS so far.

When we’re talking about anime, the one element that matters the most is what it looks like. Still, cult classics like FLCL have managed to rise above the limitations of their animation by giving us quirky worlds, fun characters and stories that challenge us. DBS has none of these elements, but then again I don’t watch Dragon Ball for any of those other elements (although it has certainly had them in the past, and is depressingly close to having another one in Caulifla [if they would just explore her more!]). I watch it for the visual excitement, and sadly, that’s the element it disappoints the most in.

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Tom Petty

Tom Petty holds a very special place in my musical life.  I have been music obsessed ever since I can remember.  However, I have almost never liked popular music at the time of it’s popularity.  I love a lot of popular music, like the Beatles and the Stones, Motown and Aretha.  But all of them peaked in popularity before I got around to being born.  The one exception to this pattern for me was Tom Petty.  From my last year of middle school right through the beginning of college, I was a big Tom Petty fan at the same time he was immensely popular.

This period covered four releases by Petty, Full Moon Fever, Into The Great Wide Open, Greatest Hits and Wildflowers.  Songs from these albums were all over the radio.  And videos from these albums were all over MTV (Not that I had access to MTV, so I’ve never seen the videos, but they were famously popular videos).  I loved all of it, from the singles like Free Fallin’ and Mary Jane’s Last Dance to the album cuts like Two Gunslingers and Cabin Down Below.

I don’t know why it was Tom Petty instead of R.E.M. or U2 or Nirvana or Pearl Jam or any of the other hits from my high school and college years.  The easy answer is that Petty is better.  That can’t be all of it, though.  It must come down to the fact that he spoke to me in a way that none of the others could.  When I listen to Tom Petty, it feels the same as listening to the Stones or John Lee Hooker (both of whom I was super into at that time).  It seemed like he had something important to say.  The music felt deeper than anything else at the time.  I don’t mean that to sound as pretentious as I’m sure it does.  Petty’s music isn’t pretentious.  It’s very accessible with a ton of humor.  I just mean that I could listen to it over and over again without ever feeling like I had heard everything.

Until he died, I didn’t realize how important Tom Petty’s music was to me.  I knew I liked it, naturally.  But his death really affected me in a way that celebrity deaths normally do not.  I think it’s so important to me both because I really enjoy it and because it was a real cultural phenomenon that I was part of.  There’s a real nostalgia attached to his music, and not just for me.  It’s something that I share with lots of other people my age.  I haven’t had many of those generational connections, so I cherish the ones I do have.  I’m grateful to Tom Petty for the great music and giving me that connection.  I will miss him.

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The MLB Postseason

October is the best.  The weather is beautiful.  The leaves change colors.  And, most importantly, the baseball playoffs happen.

The hard part for the casual fan, or the fan whose team didn’t make it, is deciding which team to root for.  As someone who watches a lot of baseball, I think I can help.  This won’t be just a list of what teams I am rooting for.  Nor will it be me telling you who to root for (there’s only one wrong answer in this year’s field).  This will just be me laying out the pros and cons of each team in the hunt.

The National League has a good group.  Both wild card teams came out of the NL West.  The Arizona Diamondbacks will be hosting the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card game.  The Washington Nationals won the NL East and will be hosting the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.  Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West with the best record in baseball.  They will host the winner of the Wild Card game.

The American League is mostly a good group.  There’s just one glaring exception.  The New York Yankees will be hosting the Minnesota Twins for the Wild Card game.  The Houston Astros won the AL West and will host the Boston Red Sox, winners of the AL East, in the ALDS.  And the Cleveland Indians had the best record in the American League.  They will host the winner of the Wild Card Game in the ALDS.

Colorado Rockies:

Pros: The Rockies have never won a World Series.  In fact, they’ve only been to one, in 2007 when they lost to the Red Sox.  Plus, they are definite underdogs this year.  Their stadium is notoriously tough to pitch in, but they put together a nice staff.  And they have quite a few really fun players like Nolan Arrenado, Charlie Blackmon (and his beard) and Carlos Gonzalez (AKA CarGo).

Cons: They came in third in their own division.  They just aren’t as good as the other teams.  This one could be a pro for some people, but I’m listing Coors Field as a con.  It’s just a weird stadium.  I just don’t feel like I can trust what I’m seeing there.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Pros: The Diamondbacks are a really good baseball team.  That gets lost a little bit because the Dodgers were so dominant, but in a normal year, they wouldn’t have needed the Wild Card.   They have a lot of really fun players.  They have Zack Greinke, Fernando Rodney, Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez.  All of those guys deserve the spotlight.

Cons: They’re a wild card team, but they don’t feel like an underdog.  They’re a pretty new franchise and they already have a World Series win.

Chicago Cubs:

Pros: There’s a ton of history with the Cubbies.  Wrigley Field is awesome.  When they win, it makes Bill Murray really happy.  They’re a very good baseball team.

Cons: They’ve underperformed all year.  They just won the World Series last year.  Joe Maddon is their manager.  I know all the baseball insiders love the man, but he overmanages in a very annoying way.  While the Cubs have a lot of very good players, there isn’t much in the way of fun.

Washington Nationals:

Pros: The Nationals have never won a World Series.  They are another really good baseball team.  Bryce Harper.  He’s such a great player and he plays with a fantastic swagger.  Their other good players are all really fun to watch, especially Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.  It would be really poetic for Dusty Baker to lead a team past the Cubs.

Cons: Bryce Harper is coming off an injury, so he may not be at his best.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

Pros: The Dodgers have had a historically good season.  They haven’t won a World Series since 1988.  Dave Roberts is a great manager and an all around likable guy.  Not only is the roster filled with exceptional players, they all play with personality.  Yasiel Puig is as exciting as a player can be.  Corey Seager is just awesome.  Chase Utley is the very definition of gritty.  Cody Belanger has had one of the best rookie seasons I can remember.  And Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game.

Cons: They have a really high payroll.

Minnesota Twins:

Pros: They are this year’s biggest underdogs.  The Twins have surprised everyone this year.  They are the first team in history to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the year before.  They haven’t won the World Series since 1987.  Joe Mauer seems like such a good guy.

Cons: They just aren’t as good as most of the other teams.

New York Yankees:

Pros: Aaron Judge is a freak of nature.

Cons: Everything else about the team.  There is really no reason for anyone to root for the Yankees this year.

Boston Red Sox:

Pros: The Sox have a lot of really good young players like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi and Christian Vasquez.  They play a fun style of ball and take a lot of risks.  They have a lot of personality.  Fenway is awesome.  Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel are two of the most exciting pitchers in the game.

Cons: They have been wildly inconsistent this year.  They just won the World Series in 2013.

Houston Astros:

Pros: The Astros have never won the World Series.  Jose Altuve should be the league MVP this season.  They have the best names in baseball from Marwin Gonzales to Cameron Maybin to Dallas Keuchel.  They are a really, really fun team to watch.  Their uniforms can be great.  Houston could use a win.

Cons: It still feels wrong having the Astros in the American League.

Cleveland Indians:

Pros: The Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948.  Terry Francona is their manager.  They are a really, really, really fun team to watch.  They are a truly excellent baseball team.  They had a 22 game win streak this season.  Francisco Lindor is awesome to watch.  And so is Corey Kluber.  And so is Andrew Miller.  The whole team is just fun.

Cons: I really can’t think of any.

Like I said before, if you’re wondering which team to root for, there is only one wrong answer.  Don’t root for the Yankees.  For every other team, the pros outweigh the cons.  This should be a fun postseason.

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