In Week 1 of the Around the Dorm playoffs, the “Ref,” Bobby Olivier, challenges Staff Writer Krystal Spencer, Editor-in-Chief Caroline Russomanno and Sports Assistant Alex Wolfe to answer questions about who is the favorite to win the American and National League so far this year, how important Derek Jeter’s move to the No. 2 hole is and what the best sports video game of all time is.
1. Opening Day is finally upon us. I give you the ridiculous task of predicting which two teams will make it to the World Series this year. Feel free to be creative.
KS: The New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. Let’s face it, people, this is the only World Series that makes any sense to people in New Jersey. After last year’s debacle, this would generate so much buzz and revenue and would really put the MLB in the forefront of sports in October. But in all seriousness, Philadelphia really can make it. Cliff Lee’s back where he belongs, making them one of the best squads on paper this season. And the Yankees are the Yankees. They’ll always make the post season so they always have a chance of advancing to the World Series.
CR: As much as I know I should be saying the Boston Red Sox, the Yankee fan in me actually made me hit the backspace button and type, “The New York Yankees!” Yes, yes, I know. But I really think the two biggest differences for the Yanks this year are a) Jorge Posada moving to the DH spot and two-time All-Star Russell Martin catching instead and b) A.J. Burnett finally rising to his true potential. It’s too soon to tell, but I think this is Burnett’s year. With the help of a new pitching coach, he’ll be more consistent and show New York City what he could have done all along. As for NL, I’m going to say the Atlanta Braves. Their loss in the divisional series was tragic last year, but now that Bobby Cox has retired, with new leadership and Dan Uggla’s added bat and defense, they have their first shot in more than 15 years.
CF: I’m going to go with the Brewers in the NL. The Brew Crew have no problem producing runs, and with five players returning from last year’s team that had over 20 homers and 80 RBI on the year, they have perhaps the most complete top-to-bottom lineup in the NL. The biggest difference for this year’s Brewer team, though, will be Zack Greinke. C.C. Sabathia proved a couple years ago that when you put a solid starter on this team, they have the potential to be dangerous. I have Boston coming out of the AL (sorry Yankee fans). They made some serious moves this offseason, picking up Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres and signing Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks in free agency. Add that to the players on this team that already have a championship pedigree and you have a team that could very well return to the promised land this year.
BO: Alex gets the 3 here for growing a pair and picking the Brewers to come out of the NL. If they pull it off, I owe you a beer, sir. Carrie gets 2 for mentioning the addition of Larry Rothschild to the Yankees, which I agree will help A.J. Burnett. Krystal gets 1.
2. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will be batting second in New York’s opener. Does this matter? Why or why not?
KS: I don’t know that much about baseball to really answer this, so I’m just going to say no. Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter. Does it REALLY matter where he is? Is there some
statistic that says the Yankees have won every World Series when Jeter bats second? No, it doesn’t. Only Yankees fans and pundits care. The rest of us just want to see the Yankees fail because they’re the most successful team.
CR: This doesn’t matter in the least. People seem to forget that Jeter batted second for years, most recently behind Johnny Damon (and they were a killer one-two punch). Plus, his average is exactly the same in the No. 2 spot: .313 batting both one and two. This way, when the Yanks are facing a righty, Brett Gardner can work his 2010 best OBP, steal some bases and Jeter can move him over or drive him home. Against lefties, it’ll basically be the same with Jeter at one and Gardner at nine. Hey, if it doesn’t bother Jeter, it shouldn’t bother us.
AW: In the grand scheme of things, this shouldn’t end up being a big deal. Jeter is familiar with the second spot, considering he has spent a decent amount of his career there, and Brett Gardner proved last year that he is both an efficient hitter and a solid base runner. Both guys have shown to be durable, as each of them played in 150 games or more last year, so substituting Gardner doesn’t expose the Yankees to having to shuffle lead-off hitters through the year due to injury.
BO: You all said pretty much the same thing, that it shouldn’t matter, but Carrie gave the most solid answer. I agree that if Jeter doesn’t care, neither should anyone else. Alex gets 2 for mentioning durability. Krystal gets 1.
3. Name the best sports video game of all time. It can be a franchise or an individual game. Go.
KS: “Mario Kart 64.” I DARE you to fight me on that. While gaming has reached heights we never imagined would exist in 1998, this game is STILL relevant! People obsess about how recent games have crystal clear graphics, but nothing beats the crappy graphics of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis. And sports games are more popular with males, especially hockey and golf, but “Mario Kart” is popular with everyone over multiple generations. Besides, “Mario Kart” has spawned multiple games over many Nintendo platforms and even a viral video of a French man on a go-kart in the streets of Paris. (Remi Guillard…YouTube him.) All I know is that I can’t eat a banana in a car without getting the urge to throw it out the window. “Madden” has never given me the urge to tackle every person I meet.
CR: So, being handicapped by not having a gaming system until I was 14, my answer will be limited. I think the best sports game right now is “Wii Sports.” So, OK, I know that the graphics aren’t that great, and the handling can be iffy sometimes, but it is truly a game that brings the whole family together and that absolutely anyone can play, including my 82-year-old grandmother. I’ve had more fun mocking people’s bowling skills or getting my ass kicked in tennis by my 8-year-old cousin than should be allowed. A game for everyone that is also loads of fun and great at parties? The winner. And seeing my grandma boxing? The winner times 1000.
AW: I’m giving the final nod to “NFL Football 2K5” because it was one of the most creative sports games ever. It had everything from first-person football to Chris Berman (yes, Chris motherfucking Berman!) doing the post-game reports, complete with his signature “Bwap!” and “He could … go … all … the … way!” Also, the killing off of this game series by EA Sports (the makers of “Madden”) took away the only competition that “Madden” had, and every subsequent “Madden” since that year appears to have less and less effort put into it.
BO: My housemates and I could not agree more with the “Mario Kart 64” call. We play this game excessively – literally almost everyday. FOUR points for this answer. I like Alex’s answer, as I was a big fan of “NFL Football 2K5” and its before-its-time game play – 2 points. Carrie, sorry, I like “Wii Bowling” too, but not that much – 1 point.
Alex wins this week’s AtD, 7 – 6 – 6.