Using the Pet Shop Boys to Understand the AL Central

Don't you just love our quaint little baseball neighborhood? Really, she's grown up quite a bit in the last six or seven years. Round the turn of the century it was hard to find two average teams in the AL Central, nowadays, we've usually got three more or less competent outfits around these parts. And you'll find people that like (Cleveland) and love (K.C.) the minor league systems of the other two. The division has featured two one-game playoffs recently, and once again seems setup to provide us with that most exciting baseball animal: a three-team pennant race.

Well, with Opening Day approaching. I decided to offer a novel heuristic for understanding the AL Central: the Pet Shop Boys. Here's a song for each team:

Cleveland: "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" Two World Series losses in the 1990s. A dramatic pennant drive in 2005, followed by a last week choke (that included a meltdown against the Royals). A 3-1 collapse in the 2007 ALCS against the Red Sox. Trading away two Cy Young winners. And about a million other things, capped with Grady Sizemore mysteriously breaking down in his mid-20s. What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

 

Chicago: "West End Girls" No team is weighted with more class associations, rightly or wrongly, than the South Side Sox. Perpetually unfashionable, the Sox lack the supposed romance of the Cubs and the supposed brains of the sabermetric teams. They can't even play the grit and hustle and fundamentals card, that belongs to the Twins, their bitter rival. They play in a stadium that other fanbases like to joke about as some kind of din of iniquity, but hey, it's been years since shirtless dudes randomly attacked a coach and an umpire. Every three months of so, their GM and Manager will say something crazy, inappropriate, bitterly funny and often smart. Still, they're the second team in the Second City and that's probably how they like it. You have to imagine a few Sox fans have thought it a special victory, to conquer the... heart... of a Lincoln Park Trixie. You think you're mad, too unstable kicking in chairs and knocking down tables...

Minnesota: "Suburbia" The Twins play by the rules, their rules. Even if they're illogical and counter-productive. Matt Garza, see, he wasn't a Twins guy. Gone in a bad trade. Kevin Slowey? Franky Liriano? Same thing. Run up against what Dad says and see what happens. Mind the rules, and you'll get rewarded with more than you really deserve. Paying for it all, the brilliance of Mauer and Morneau, who really would just like to enjoy a nice evening at home, without Delmon Young breaking a lamp. The safest team in baseball, though there's a ceiling. In suburbia
You can't hide...

Detroit: "Paninaro" The Tigers seem like a fun team to take a road trip with. They've got a chain-smoking manager from the 1930s who seems likely to recommend a night on the town as the best way to get out of a slump, or to stay hot, or to focus, or anything. There's a high percentage of facial hair on this team, for what that's worth. Oh, and their most famous player is well... ok, maybe its not all and games after awhile. In any case, even the organizational philosophy seems to be hedonistic, or at least epicurean. Sure, they're an aging team with some problems, but they've got strengths too, so why not avoid tomorrow and keep playing for now. Food, cars, travel...

Kansas City: "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" It might not work out, but if there's one team in the division that all the baseball world now feels is about to make their move, it is the Royals. Armed with the best farm system in baseball (and maybe ever) and now no bad contracts long-term, the Royals look ready to step forward. You've got the brawn I've got the brains Let's make lots of...

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