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TEN REASONS TO ROOT AGAINST BASEBALL VERSION OF THE FISH

Saturday afternoon, as I was riding along the highway, searching desperately for an exit, it suddenly occurred to me that I don't care much for this city.

Maybe it's because Miami is a sprawling, crime-ridden wasteland, a land without a soul. Or perhaps it's because I've lived in Buffalo long enough to have absorbed the football fans' latent hostility toward the place.

So after the usual two or three minutes of deep deliberation, I've decided that Western New Yorkers should have a clear bias in this World Series between the Indians and baseball's version of the Fish.

Rather than labor through a conventional, structured column, I've decided to string together 10 reasons why folks back there in Buffalo should be rooting against the Florida Marlins:

1. They play in the same stadium as the hated Dolphins.

At this very moment, I'm looking out at all the empty teal and orange seats in Pro Player Stadium, which you used to know and hate as Joe Robbie Stadium, back when they still named stadiums after people. I'm told Pro Player is an arm of Fruit of the Loom, which I just thought I'd pass along.

2. Cleveland is the Bisons' parent team.

It's perfectly reasonable for Buffalo fans to look at the Indians' pennant run as a natural extension of the Bisons' first American Association title a month ago.

Brian Giles. Brian Anderson. A bunch of other guys who aren't named Brian. Yes, there's former Bisons all over the Indians' clubhouse, many of them playing key roles for Mike Hargrove.

3. Marlins, Dolphins, it's no matter.

You can break out your old "Squish The Fish" posters for the World Series. Unlike dolphins, I believe marlin are actually fish, though I'm not entirely sure about that.

4. Wayne Huizenga owns the team.

By rooting against Florida, you can get psychic revenge for all those times when you showed up at the Blockbuster Video checkout counter and found out you owed $9.72 in overdue charges.

5. Wayne Huizenga wants to sell the team.

How can anyone root for a team whose absurdly rich owner has already announced he's losing too much money and wants to sell the team? It makes you appreciate a relatively stable owner like the Bills' Ralph Wilson.

6. This was supposed to be Buffalo's franchise.

I know Buffalo never really had a chance at a major-league team (and, of course, you never really wanted it), but remember the good old days when we were actually ahead of Miami on the list of expansion cities?

Just imagine, Buffalo could have been hosting Cleveland in the first game of the Series on Saturday night. And you'd have a good excuse to ignore the Sabres.

7. Buffalo doesn't share a body of water with Miami.

Cleveland is our spiritual cousin on Lake Erie. The city has waited 49 years for a World Series champion. How could you not root for the Indians? Diehard Browns fans actually come to Rich Stadium nowadays to get their NFL fix. Accept it, they're one of us.

8. The Albert Belle factor.

If Cleveland wins the Series one year after sending Belle on his way out of town, it will be sweet vindication for general manager John Hart, and for any journalist who has even been abused by the game's biggest jerk. And yes, that includes yours truly.

9. Florida fans haven't suffered nearly enough.

Just think how Red Sox and Cubs fans must feel when they see the Marlins in the World Series after five years of existence. The Red Sox haven't won it since 1918, the poor Cubs since 1908. The Cubs haven't even been in it since 1945.

Fans in Chicago, Boston and Cleveland have waited their entire lives for a Series title. The only people who can say that here are in kindergarten.

10. Didn't you see the movie "Major League?"

Cleveland's owner wanted the team to lose so she could move the franchise -- to Miami. And you know who won that one.

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