Monday Superlatives
January 27, 2020

The Dodgers shouldn't get the 2017 World Series—the Yankees should

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Six

Elsa/Getty

Now that we've discovered beyond even a shred of reasonable doubt that the Houston Astros are loathsome cheaters whose antics would make even the Patriots blush, there's a big movement to strip them of their 2017 World Series win and give it to their opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who the Astros defeated in seven games thanks to trash cans and body sensors and whatever other high- and low-tech methods they used to steal signs. ESPN asked the Dodgers if they actually wanted it, and they all said that despite being pissed off at the Astros, they wouldn't want the retroactive championship. To which I say, good! They don't deserve it!

You know who deserves it? The New York Yankees.

Like the Dodgers, the Yankees lost to the Astros in seven games that year. It happened one round earlier, in the ALCS, but that's not the Yankees' fault—that's how the leagues are set up. They have just as much claim from that standpoint as the Dodgers, so in order to determine which team should be awarded the championship that should be vacated (but won't be, because "tradition"), we need to look at history. Without the Astros involved, it would have been the Yankees and Dodgers playing for the World Series. To know how this would play out, we only have to look at the 11 times it's actually happened. That's an enormous sample size, and the Yankees have won 8 of them, so we can accurately project that they had a better chance to win in 2017 as well. Hence, they should be champs.

Speaking of which, the 2018 champions, the Red Sox, were managed by Alex Cora, who was tainted by the Astros cheating and who left the team because of it this year. Who did they beat in the playoffs? Again, the Yankees. In 2019, the Astros again made the World Series, and guess which non-cheating franchise they stopped in the ALCS? That's right, the Yankees. You see where I'm going: The Yankees should be retroactively presented with the last three titles, at least. (I'm working on a case for the last decade.)

Now, some of you may be thinking, "wait, isn't this guy a Yankees fan?" To which I say, "time for the next topic!"

The "For God's Sake Let Him Stay Healthy" Man of the Week: Zion Williamson

I swear to you I'm not bitter that Zion Williamson hit four three-pointers in his first NBA game when he never hit that many in a single game last year at Duke, in a season when our lack of three-point shooting cost us a championship:

Actually, I'm telling the truth: I'm not bitter. Zion Williamson is a joy to watch, with a body of thunder and moves like lightning, and I root for him to succeed beyond even the wildest hype...even if I worry about him, a lot. The knee situation is dicey at best, but he's back now, and beyond a newfound touch from three, he's doing his usual Zion things. I mean, this block belongs to a different universe, where the people have transcended the very idea of blocks:

This dunk is nothing special, by his standards, but it's still Zion dunking again:

And by the way, if he can do this consistently, the NBA should just shut down now:

I have very little cachet with the sports gods at this point, having made frivolous requests and tempted their wrath with stupid predictions for so long, but if any of them are listening, please: Keep. This. Man. Safe.

The "It's Best to Be Lucky AND Good" Team of the Year: Liverpool F.C.

I've turned into a Liverpool fan this year, and I've done it in the purest, most despicable bandwagon way you can imagine. I deserve nothing but scorn. However, I'm glad I did it because English soccer is fun in ways I never realized, and rooting for Liverpool is the most rewarding experience imaginable since they literally never lose. And I mean "literally" very literally—I've watched all 23 league matches so far, and they haven't lost one of them. They barely even have a draw! (Just one, against Man U.) This is partly because Liverpool has several of the best players in the world, including incredible studs in center-back Virgil van Dijk and keeper Alisson, not to mention an army of incredible scoring threats that includes my spirit animal Roberto Firmino. But it's also because anytime Liverpool is in danger of losing or drawing, including this past week against Wolverhampton, things like this happen:

This is not exaggerating—every piece of luck and timely scoring goes Liverpool's way, and my only regret is that I wish I cared about them more because, beyond the first Eli Manning-led Giants Super Bowl run, I have never experienced this kind of charmed existence as a fan. It touches everything, too—VAR goes our way, bad shots go our way, late goals, you name it. Look at this chart:

Even with good chances, nobody can score on this team! At some point, there will be a regression, but it will be too late this year—Liverpool is going to win the league going away, and I will enjoy every moment.

The "This Is Too Tense to Bear" Match of the Week: Rafa vs. Kyrgios

By the time you read this, the match will already have finished (likely very early on Monday morning U.S. time), but I want to mention it here because I know it's going to rip my guts out. Rafael Nadal is the only sports hero I have left in my cynical middle age, and I had only one wish for a sports genie, it would be that he breaks Federer's record and retires with the most grand slams. At this point, I think it's almost inevitable—he has 19 to Fed's 20, with plenty of French Opens left—but to win in Australia would be doubly meaningful because it would give him something neither Federer or Djokovic have, which is the double career slam. The second Aussie title has always eluded him, sometimes just barely, but he's in with a chance yet again.

Standing in his way is Kyrgios, the baffling, infuriating opposite of Nadal in most ways, but in attitude above all else. I mean, I'm the guy who wrote a whole essay on how they represent the angel and devil on my shoulder....when Kyrgios beats Rafa, actual pain singes my neural pathways. It's not rare, either—Kyrgios has a 3-4 record against Rafa, which is pretty incredible, especially by comparison to everybody else in his generation. When Rafa beats him, it's not worth the tension. They play gorgeous, dramatic matches, and I don't even really know why I'm including this section, except that I'll turn into a puddle of anxiety early Monday morning, and I need to tell somebody about it. Thank you for listening.

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