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Do you believe in sports karma?

October 6, 2010

The Major League Baseball playoffs begin today and as always I’ll be rooting for my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, the first professional team to ever lose 10,000 games and the losingest team in sports history with a current record of 9,135 wins and 10,232 losses.

That seems like a weird lead sentence, doesn’t it?

The Phillies have won the National League’s division crown for four straight years. In the last two seasons, they have won and lost a World Series. I am living in the second golden age of the Phillies during my lifetime (1976-1983 and 2007-2010).

I mention that to say this, God forgive me, I believe in sports karma. Sports karma is that intangible that envelopes a team or a city. It can’t really be quantified, you just know it’s there. Sometimes the sports karma doesn’t claim the winner (1997 Cleveland Indians, 2000 New York Mets, 2004 Philadelphia Eagles, 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers) and sometimes it does (2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004 Boston Red Sox, 2005 Chicago White Sox, 2008 Boston Celtics, 2009 New Orleans Saints).

I knew the Phillies were going to win the World Series in 2008. How did I know? Jamie Moyer was on the team and the baseball gods were going to smile on him and the Philadelphia phaithful. I knew the Phillies were going to lose in 2009. It was the New York Yankee’s C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira‘s turn to taste baseball glory after years on second-rate teams. I knew the 2009/2010 Stanley Cup would go to the Chicago Blackhawks because they had the longer NHL cup drought versus the Philadelphia Flyers (47 seasons to 34 seasons). Good luck to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues as they try to end the longest current streak they share at 42 seasons.

So for this year, which MLB postseason team has the greatest amount of sports karma on their side?

The leader in the clubhouse has to be, the Texas Rangers, only one post-season game victory in their 49 year history as both the Washington Senators and their current incarnation. In addition, they sport arguably the best lefty in the American League, Cliff Lee, without a title to his credit. His sports karma wasn’t good enough last year to get him over the hump with the Phillies. But he got a karma boost this year when he was unceremoniously dispatched in the off season to the horrible Seattle Mariners by a short-sighted Rueben Amaro, Jr. (GM of the Phillies). A win for Cliff would be a karma F-U to Reuben.

Next up, the San Francisco Giants. Several postseason showings, but never the final champagne bath. Their last organization win was in 1954 when they were the New York Giants. In 1957, they moved to the city by the bay and have been held World Series winless ever since. They’ve also been shaken by two natural disasters. The earthquake that disrupted the 1989 World Series against the Oakland A’s for 10 days and the Barry Bonds era. If you take out Bonds, this is a deserving city.

Minnesota Twins. Two words, Jim Thome. Two more words, Joe Mauer. Two of the nicest guys in sports who have been playing at the top of their game for years and are currently ringless.

The hometown Phils really only have two bullets in the karma Glock, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. Two of the best pitchers over the last decade who haven’t won the big one yet. In the .22 holstered in the Phils sock is Mike Sweeney, another recipient of the Good Guy award.

Next up, the Atlanta Braves. Their longtime manager Bobby Cox is retiring this year. However, with a record 14 straight division championships and a World Series already in his pocket, I don’t think he’s getting the karma nod.

The Cincinnati Reds return to the postseason after a 15-year drought, but I don’t think that’s enough karma to make much of a run.

The Tampa Bay Rays have a great young team but absolutely no hometown support. The baseball gods do not smile on teams who have a majority of bandwagon fans, especially only two years removed from a World Series run. Sorry, no karma for you.

My dear cousins, the New York Yankees (yes, I’m a sports bigomist, so sue me, it’s a family thing), round out the list. Quite simply, you won last year, no karma for you. But I wish you well.

So there you have it, if karma were the only element in the playoffs, I would say the Rangers have a slight edge over the Giants. And if the Phillies get an early postseason bounce, I will root for the team that’s highest on the karma scale. But, until then, GO PHILS!


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