Friday, October 16, 2009

A near perfect hatred in time for baseball playoffs

Baseball playoff season is the only time every year when I wish I was one of those foaming-at-the-mouth knuckle draggers who call sports talk shows to vent.

Fall baseball is so much more fun when you can manufacture some soulful hatred for the competitors.

But this year I just don’t have the hate. And without hatred, why would I care who wins or loses? On the surface, there is no team upon whom I wish the soul crushing misery of defeat.

First you have the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies. They have a great, cagey manager in Charlie Manuel and I love the city. It is the birthplace of democracy, is home to some of the nation’s best restaurants and my all-time hero, Ben Franklin, is a heavenly Philly fan.

They’re playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. I have no strong affection for the city, but hating Los Angeles would be like hating The Wiggles. Sure they have Manny Ramirez, but my true hatred for him is offset by Joe Torre, one of the classiest men in sports.

The American League features the compelling Los Angeles Angels. They have a very appealing team of players led by Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, plus they’re playing for the ghost of beloved pitcher Nick Adenhart who was killed by a drunk driver in April. That they’re so lunk-headed that they, irony be damned, doused his old jersey with beer and champagne in a recent celebration only makes them more loveable.

Then there is the New York Yankees. Like many sons, I was raised to hate the big money Yankees. My late father, a man consumed with hatred when it came to sports, used to say rooting for the Yankees would be like rooting for General Motors. Of course, he said that before we taxpayers became to General Motors what the Steinbrenner family are to the Yankees, so that aspect of the issue has become almost moot.

But these 2009 Yankees aren’t like the Yankees of old. They’re not even like the 2008 Yankees. They don’t have the nasty swagger of the discredited Roger Clemens-led teams of recent years and they have as their captain the great Derek Jeter, my favorite athlete who doesn’t wear Pittsburgh colors.

So can I find some creative hatred to help me have a rooting interest?

Of course, I can.

Now, pay attention: I am rooting for the New York Yankees to win the World Series because I hate scarecrow rocker Chris Robinson.

He’s the co-leader of the Rolling Stones tribute-band the Black Crowes. More importantly, he’s the ex-husband of actress Kate Hudson.

Those of you who aren’t baseball fans might wonder what Robinson and Hudson have to do with any of this.

Well, I’ve been hating Robinson and his band of fellow posers since they first arrived on the scene in 1989. They dressed in stoner paisley, wore ratty bell bottoms and looked like they’d stepped straight from a 1972 time machine.

Riff-for-riff, it was obvious they were ripping off vintage Stones in dress, sound and ‘tude. Mick Jagger was asked what he thought about it and said a very Mick-like, “Their look and sound reminds me of a time in my life of which I have no recollection.”

I could live with all that. Really, if you’re going to mimic any band you could do a lot worse than the Stones. Like, say, The Black Crowes, for instance.

But what really tore it with me was when I heard Artie Lange on Howard Stern talk about his exchange with the rocker.

Lange said he complimented Robinson on his new wife, Kate Hudson, about her beauty.

And let me make this clear: She’s beautiful to Lange, not me. I’d go out of my way to compliment the husbands of voluptuous lovelies like Kate Winslett or Elizabeth Banks.

But zipper thin anorexia is in these days so to each his own.

Here’s what Robinson told Lange: “Well, enjoy the view from the cheap seats, dude, ‘cause that’s as close as anyone like you is ever going to get to her.”

How rude. He treated her like a possession. And it was clear that, unlike me, the guitar player was no connoisseur of Hollywood marriage customs.

I knew then that the marriage was doomed. Predictably, it came to a crashing end in 2006.

Which brings us back to the New York Yankees of today. In what must have been a bitter insult to Robinson, Hudson began dating Yankee star Alex Rodriguez this spring.

Whether it is a coincidence or not, Rodriguez has been on a tear ever since and, besides hitting records, he is smashing perceptions that he’s a pouty choker. I’ve liked A-Rod since he was a phenom for the Seattle Mariners. He seemed like a good kid awash in brilliant baseball talent.

He’s admitted to dabbling in steroids -- yawn -- briefly dated Madonna -- yikes! -- but compared to Robinson, he seems like a good guy.

All told, Robinson is the first person in history to make me side with a jock over a burned out rocker. But the guy just seems like such a poser jerk. And it must just kill him that his ex-wife, in a stinging rebuke to everything he stands for, is madly in love with a guy who plays ball for a living.

So now I have someone to hate. It took a while. Had to jump through a few hoops, but I’m hoping the Yanks win because it’ll infuriate Robinson.

I will say this for Robinson.

At least he probably didn’t have to go through as many contortions as I did to find someone to hate in this year’s baseball playoffs.

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